Advanced Chromebook users might want to take their experience to a higher level. They can try a more complicated setup using the advanced modes of the operating system: Beta Mode or Dev Mode – short for developer mode. We’ll show you how to switch your Chromebook to Beta Mode or Dev Mode and back to Stable Mode.
The Chromebook offers simplicity that most mobile laptop platforms can’t match. It’s nearly immune from viruses and significant malware. It’s as simple as your browser to use. ChromeOS does face complications, but unlike Windows, macOS or Linux, if a user faces a catastrophic failure, they can simply Powerwash their Chromebook in under fifteen to thirty minutes and it’s back up and running like before with all their apps and settings in place. The simple Powerwash gets a little more complicated for Chromebooks with Android apps installed on them. After the simple restoration process completes, it takes more time to then install the Android apps that the user installed before the Powerwash.
Why Switch to Beta Mode or Dev Mode on a Chromebook?
Users usually switch their Chromebook to Beta or Dev mode because they want to take advantage of features that Google plans to add to a future version of ChromeOS. These features typically aren’t ready or stable enough for the Stable mode of ChromeOS. For example, the Google Play Store only works on some Chromebooks in Stable Mode, but works on a few more if they’re running in Beta Mode or Dev Mode. Also, the new Settings screen looks cleaner and better organized in more recent builds of ChromeOS, but only shows up in Beta or Dev Mode.
If you want Android apps but don’t see the Play Store logo on your ChromeOS Shelf, then you might get the store if you switch to Beta or Dev Mode. Go to the Chromium list of supported systems to find out if your model supports the store yet and in which ChromeOS mode. See the screenshot above. Notice the name of the manufacturer in the first column and the model name in the second. Then see whether your computer has the Play Store and whether it works in Stable, Beta or Dev Mode.
Remember that switching to either Beta or Dev Mode will make your Chromebook less stable. If Stable is the most reliable of the three modes, Dev Mode is the least and Beta Mode sits between them on the spectrum of stability. Don’t switch unless you’re ready for some glitches, freezes and apps shutting down without warning. You can lose work and this can get frustrating. I run my Samsung Chromebook Plus in Dev Mode with few problems. Fortunately, if you experience an issue, you can just return to Stable Mode following the steps below.
How to Switch to Beta Mode or Dev Mode
Before going any further, back up any data on your Chromebook that you want to keep. If your Chromebook has an SD card or micro-SD card reader, then copy files to it using the Files app. You can also upload them to your Google Drive.
Open Settings on your Chromebook. Do this by clicking on your user icon in the lower right corner and then choose the Settings icon. It looks like a gear icon and sits above the date in the pop-up box.
Now click on the About Chrome OS link at the top center of the Settings screen.
Click on the More info… link below the Check for and apply updates button. Now, you’ll see a Change channel button in the center of the next screen. Click on it.
Choose the Mode you’d prefer and click on the Change channel button. Remember that Developer – is the most unstable of the three options.
After you pick your mode and click on the Change channel button, then the Chromebook will offer to Restart. The Chromebook will restart and ask you to sign in to “Install a critical update”. Sign in and then choose Update from the dialog box that shows up once it restarts. The Chromebook will install the update and then restart again, erase the drive and install the new version of ChromeOS.
How to Return to Stable Mode in ChromeOS
What if you’re not pleased with Dev Mode or Beta Mode? You can easily change the channel again and go back to Stable.
After you update to Beta or Dev Mode in ChromeOS version 59 or 60, the Settings screens will look very different. Follow these instructions to change channels in the newer version of Settings in ChromeOS.
You still open Settings the same way. Click on your profile icon and choose the Settings icon that looks like a gear above the date. A new box will open. Click on Settings in the upper left corner of the box.
Now click on the About Chrome OS link in the bottom of the list that flies out from the left edge of the Settings dialog box. This takes you to a new screen. Find the Detailed build information item in the new screen in the center of the box. Click on it and then click on the CHANGE CHANNEL button about a third of the way down on the right (see below).
A new box pops up with the three options. To go back to Stable, select it from the list and choose CHANGE CHANNEL AND POWERWASH.
You may prefer to try Beta mode, if you’re running Dev Mode and it’s too unstable. Beta Mode will not cause as many problems for as many users as Dev Mode. However, to get a reliable experience with the fewest crashes, pick Stable and then click on the button.
The Chromebook may seem to do nothing, but it’s downloading the Stable version of ChromeOS. Give it time. When it’s finished, click on the button that says RELAUNCH AND POWERWASH. The Chromebook restarts and shows a screen telling you that it’s Powerwashing the computer. This erases the system and restarts in factory state as if you just opened and turn it on for the first time. Go through the typical process of setting up your Chromebook and you’re ready to go again.