How to Jailbreak a Chromebook Step by Step Guide

how to jailbreak a chromebook

Chromebooks are a popular budget-friendly option for students or anyone just needing a laptop for basic activities, like browsing the web and creating documents. Some, however, like a little more freedom with their Chromebooks and opt to work in developer mode.

If you want to look around in Developer Mode on your Chromebook there are a few things that you need to know before even attempting it. Entering this mode has its advantages but also some important disadvantages.

In this article, we’ll give you step-by-step instructions on how to jailbreak a Chromebook and also look at some disadvantages of jailbreaking a Chromebook.

What Does ‘Jailbreaking’ Mean?

Let’s first discuss the term “jailbreaking”. In short, it is modifying an electronic device to remove restrictions put in place by the manufacturer (or operating system). It gives the owner of the device full access to the root of the operating system.

It is most commonly used to install completely different operating systems on a device. The term ‘jailbreaking’ is most often referred to in terms of iPhones and “rooting” is referred to android devices, but ultimately both are the same thing.

What You Should Know Before Jailbreaking Your Chromebook

google page in an open laptop

Before attempting to jailbreak your Chromebook, there are a few things you should be aware of. These warnings should at least make you think twice about jailbreaking your Chromebook.

Firstly, all your locally stored files will be deleted. This means all your documents, images, music, etc. will be gone. You can save all your files on an external memory drive to prevent any permanent losses.

Google has a tool that allows you to install factory-issued software to your chrome device on a USB stick or SD card. You can back up your whole operating system to the drive before entering developer mode.

Alternatively, you can save all your files to the cloud, as jailbreaking your Chromebook will not affect your files in the cloud.

Jailbreaking your Chromebook immediately makes the warranty of the computer void. If you break your laptop (which is possible while attempting to jailbreak it), Google will not provide you with any technical support.

Google does not officially support developer mode. It is intended for developers only, so don’t expect support from google if you do something wrong while in developer mode.

If you have a very old Chromebook that no longer receives updates from Google, many of the features probably won’t work. You most likely won’t be able to enter developer mode or it might completely break your laptop.

Lastly, if you’re not very tech-savvy, you shouldn’t attempt to do this. There will be many features that you just won’t understand or know how to use. It’s not worth the risk if you’re not 100% sure what you’re doing.

How to Jailbreak a Chromebook

Now that we have the warnings out of the way, let’s get into the juicy part of this article: how to jailbreak your Chromebook. You will need your Chromebook, a power supply, and an internet connection (wifi or ethernet cable).

Side note – Remember to backup all the data on your Chromebook before proceeding.

The first step is to turn off your Chromebook and wait until the fans are completely still and the screen is black. Then press and hold ESCAPE, F3 (REFRESH), and the POWER button.

You should see a message on your screen that says “Chrome OS is missing or damaged”. Don’t panic! Press CONTROL plus D. This combination is not indicated anywhere on the screen, you have to know it ahead of time.

This is a way to prevent someone from accidentally entering developer mode and poking around where they might permanently damage their operating system.

Next, you will see a screen saying “To turn OS verification OFF, press Enter”. So that’s what you do, press ENTER.

You should now see a screen that says “OS verification is OFF”. Press Enter (for the last time, we promise).

Your Chromebook will start to wipe all your data, it should take about 5 minutes, and then it will reboot.

That’s it! You have entered the developer mode of your Chromebook. You’ll have to enter developer mode again every time you reboot your Chromebook.

What You Can Do

Woman Using Laptop

Gaining root access to your Chromebook is similar to entering Developer Mode or Jailbreaking your Chromebook. This gives you more control over your laptop.

Many are happy with their Chromebooks as is from the manufacturer, but others who are more tech-savvy like to tweak a few things. These individuals prefer to work in developer mode.

What is Developer Mode?

Developer mode on your Chromebook opens up your computer and frees you from the restrictions that Google imposes. Developer mode is the key to utilizing the full power of your Chromebook. It enables access to usually-locked functions and opens the whole file system.

Chromebooks are limited to applications from the Google Play Store and Linux applications. However, with developer mode, you can download and install applications from any source. You can completely change the operating system of your Chromebook as well.

Developer mode is not all sunshine though, it does make your device pretty vulnerable to malware attacking your system. It disables the security features on your Chromebook.

How to Disable Developer Mode

You might find yourself in way over your head once you are in developer mode, luckily, it’s pretty easy to disable developer mode on your Chromebook.

If you worked on any important files while in developer mode, remember to move them to an external hard drive or upload it to the cloud. Disabling developer mode will erase all your content again.

When you boot up your laptop and a screen pops up that says “OS verification is off” press the spacebar. This will force a factory reset of your computer, so when it boots up again the laptop will be reset like it was when you got it from the manufacturer.

After setting up, you can download all your files from the external hard drive (or the cloud) again and work as per usual on your Chromebook. Any unauthorized apps that you installed will be removed.


Close-Up Shot of a Person Using a Laptop

ChromeOS is the operating system designed by Google. This Linux-based OS is used in all Chromebook laptops. It supports web applications like Google Docs and since 2016 it can also run Android applications from the Play Store.

In the US, the education sector took a liking to Chromebooks being used in classrooms. These reasonably affordable laptops introduce cloud-based learning to students. The School district issues a district-owned Chromebook to every student to help them with school work and encourage computer-based learning.

Is Jailbreaking Your Chromebook Illegal?

Laws vary worldwide, but in the US it’s not explicitly illegal to jailbreak your devices. There seems to be a gray area in the law when it comes to jailbreaking.

However, if you do jailbreak your Chromebook you should be careful not to download illegal applications as this could lead to legal repercussions.

Pros of Jailbreaking Your Chromebook

  • The biggest advantage of jailbreaking your device is having full control over what you see and do on your device. This might not be important to some, but to most tech-savvy individuals it is a big advantage.
  • Jailbreaking your Chromebook allows you to install a different operating system.
  • Jailbreaking allows you to install unauthorized applications and remove pre-installed applications.

Cons of Jailbreaking Your Chromebook

  • Your device is vulnerable to cyberattacks and malware. Developer Mode removes the security features of the Chromebook.
  • You have to wipe all your data on your Chromebook to enable or disable developer mode.
  • If your Chromebook is still under warranty, it immediately falls away when you enter developer mode. So if your laptop were to be damaged in any way, technicians probably won’t be able to help you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you jailbreak a Chromebook?

You can jailbreak a Chromebook to gain full root access to the operating system, download unauthorized apps, or install a completely new operating system. This is not safe to attempt if you’re not completely sure of what you’re doing.

Is it safe to jailbreak a Chromebook?

When you jailbreak a Chromebook you are disabling all the security measures that the laptop uses to fight malware. You are also susceptible when downloading illegal applications. So, technically it is not safe to jailbreak a Chromebook.

Will I lose my files when I jailbreak my Chromebook?

To enter developer mode on your Chromebook, the system will wipe the local memory. That means all your files, photos, music, etc. So, before jailbreaking your Chromebook you should back up your files to an external hard drive or to the cloud.

Final Thoughts

Jailbreaking your Chromebook is relatively easy if you know what you’re doing. We hope you found this article informative and that you understand how to jailbreak your Chromebook, but also what the risks are associated with it.

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