Download and Install Chrome OS: The Ultimate Guide

Chrome OS downloading is done in no time, but installing does require some work. In principle, you can turn any laptop or computer into a Chrome OS device, provided it has good specs. Really old devices are of course discarded.

Google doesn’t offer an official method for installing and trying Chrome OS (except, of course, by buying a Chromebook, for example), but developers have discovered a trick that lets you try the operating system on your own hardware.

Install Chrome OS

Before we can start installing the Chrome OS, let’s look at the essentials. What we want to achieve is preparing a USB stick, where the Chromium OS disk image can be found. That’s a disk image that you end up using the system with.

You need this:

  1. A working computer with at least one USB connection
  2. A USB stick with at least 4 GB of storage space
  3. A program for extracting a zip file, such as 7-Zip for Windows, Keka for macOS, or p7zip for Linux
  4. A program called Etcher; you can download it for Windows, macOS and Linux

The USB stick is fully used in this process. That means it will be completely emptied before we can use it. So make sure you use a USB stick that doesn’t contain valuable files. It doesn’t matter if you use Windows, macOS or Linux.

Why it is important to use a USB stick in this case is because it is a safe and effective way of working. You can use Chrome OS whenever you want, on suitable hardware – without having to uninstall Windows or macOS first.

Chrome OS on Chromebook
Via: Google, CC

Download Chrome OS

Before we can use the Chrome OS on a device, we need to download a recent version of the operating system. Google doesn’t offer an official version of the base code, so we’ll have to get it elsewhere. A good alternative source is Arnold The Bat.

Chrome OS is based on Chromium OS. This is an open source project that was set up with the aim of building an operating system that is fast, simple and secure. Via the Chromium OS you get to the Chrome OS. You can access the most recent version of the system via the aforementioned website.

After downloading it is important that you extract the file with the programs mentioned above. Save the files in a folder that you can easily reach. For example, consider a folder on the desktop. Grab the USB stick, so we can format it afterwards.

Discount on Office 365 for Chromebook


Formatting is important, since we use the stick for one purpose. You are supposed to format it to FAT32. How you do that differs per operating system. However, Windows users proceed as follows:

  1. Insert the USB stick into the USB port
  2. Open the file manager
  3. Go to This PC or Computer
  4. Right-click on the USB stick
  5. Select format
  6. Press where it now says NTFS and change it to FAT32
  7. Now press Start and then OK
  8. Name the USB stick Chrome, purely for convenience
Working on a Chromebook
Via: | Photo Mix, CC

Chromium OS

Now that we have made all the preparations, it is important to install and open Etcher. After opening, proceed as follows:

  1. Select Select Image
  2. Go to where the Chromium OS write copy is located
  3. Add that disk image to Etcher
  4. Select Select Drive
  5. Now choose the USB stick that you just formatted
  6. Now click on Flash, so that the copy is installed on the USB stick

Before you can use Chrome OS from a USB stick, you’ll need to wait for Etcher to complete the process. This means that you have to wait until the screen shows that the program is 100% ready. After that, the stick is suitable as a USB write with Chrome OS on board.

Boot Chrome OS

If everything went well and Chrome OS is on the USB stick, you need to restart the computer. In order to use Chrome OS, you have to instruct the computer to start up with Chrome as the operating system.

Windows users can control this in their BIOS settings. The necessary Boot Options menu can be found by holding down the Esc, F2, F10 or F12 button during boot. Mac users will then have to press the Option key briefly during startup.

In both cases you will arrive at the intended menu, perhaps after a moment of waiting. You are supposed to select an operating system that will be loaded from an external drive. In this case, you should not choose the option related to the internal hard drive.

So choose an external source. The Chrome OS will appear on your screen in no time and you can get started. Again, by working this way, you don’t have to uninstall another system, so you can use both operating systems side by side.

With the USB stick in your arsenal you can now turn many hardware with Windows, Linux or macOS into a Chrome OS machine. After the initial installation, it is still important that you set up Chrome OS. You do this by logging in once with your own (or a new) Google account.

Are you still hesitating between a Chromebook or a chrome box? Then you can read here what you can expect from a Chromebox.

Via: Wikimedia Commons, CC