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How to enable developer mode on a Chromebook

For some, Chromebooks are made to be tinkered with, and developer mode is where one goes to do just that.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

We recently covered how to check out upcoming Chrome OS features before official release, but for some the official channels aren't bleeding-edge enough.

In order to poke around with Chrome OS at the root level (yes, similar to Android devices), install Ubuntu, or join the utmost unstable Canary Chrome OS channel, you need to enable Developer Mode.

Before I hand over the virtual key to unlocking your Chrome OS device, you need to be aware of a couple things. First, enabling developer mode will completely wipe (or if you prefer, Powerwash) your device. Make sure you've moved all locally stored files to Google Drive or similar.

Second, the process takes roughly 20 minutes to complete. Set aside some time, grab a cup of your favorite beverage, and relax as your machine does its thing.

With that out of the way, let's begin, shall we?

  • The first step requires putting your device into Recovery Mode. You can do so by holding in the Escape and Refresh key, then pressing the Power button. Your Chromebook will reboot and display a giant yellow exclamation point if you're successful. Don't panic, it's what you want to see.
  • Next, press Control-D. A new screen with a red exclamation point will appear, asking you to press Enter to verify you want to continue with the process. After pressing Enter, and confirming you want to continue, don't do anything else. A few beeps and boops will come from the device, the screen will flash, and a countdown timer will display along the top of the screen.
  • Eventually your Chromebook will reboot, prompting you to complete the initial setup process again. You are now in Developer Mode. Every time you boot your device you will see a warning message reminding you disk verification is turned off (a feature of developer mode). Simply wait 30 seconds or so and your device will boot.

To disable developer mode, reboot your device and follow the onscreen prompts.

Should the earlier reference of Ubuntu have piqued your interest, Dan Graziano has a terrific post walking you through the process. For more Chromebook how-to content, be sure to check out this page dedicated to all things Chrome OS.