With Chrome OS, Google is looking to dethrone Windows and MacOS from the PC market. Chrome OS is very new to the market, whereas Microsoft and Apple have been developing their operating systems for a few years now. Google is not very far behind though, and is rapidly rolling out neat little features to give Chrome OS an upper hand over traditional operating systems. While these features take time to reach the average Chromebook user, you can, with a little tinkering, easily get access to Google’s latest additions to Chrome OS.

First, let’s understand how Google releases its updates. There are three ‘channels’ that are available on Chrome OS –

  • Stable – This is the channel that Chromebooks run on by default. New updates only come to the stable channel after they have passed exhaustive tests. This channel is for people who just need their Chromebook to function properly.
  • Beta – The Beta channel is the middle path between stable and unstable. This channel is for people mildly interested in checking out the newest features on Chrome OS. However, it is prone to bugs and might interfere with proper functioning of your Chromebook.
  • Developer – This channel is highly unstable, and is prone to frequent crashes and improper functioning. Running your Chromebook on this channel is not recommended if your Chromebook is your primary computer. If you are enthusiast, though, it might be fun to get early access to the latest changes to Chrome OS.

Now that we understand our options, let’s see how we can easily switch to any of these channels. Keep in mind that you can always switch back from the Beta or Developer mode to the Stable mode. Reverting to the stable channel will erase all the locally stored data on your Chromebook, though.

Changing your Channel on Chrome OS

  1. Open ‘Settings’ by clicking on the gear icon on the shelf on Chrome OS. (Bottom-right corner of the screen by default).
  2. Click on the sidebar on the top left corner of the Settings window, and select ‘About Chrome OS’. Alternatively, you can also go to chrome://settings/help through the address bar on Chrome.
  3. (The Settings page was updated with Version 59 of Chrome OS. If your settings page doesn’t look like the screenshots provided below, update to Version 59 or scroll to the end of the article for the tutorial using the old Settings page).
  4. Under ‘About Chrome OS’, click on ‘Detailed Build Information’.
  5. Under ‘Detailed build information’, click on ‘Change Channel’ under the ‘Channel’ section.
  6. Once you click on ‘Change Channel’, a pop-up window will show up asking you to choose a Channel for your Chromebook. Click on the blue ‘Change Channel’ button.

Your channel has now been changed successfully! Your Chromebook will automatically download the latest version of Chrome OS on your channel, and prompt you to restart the device. Once you do so, you will have the latest (and slightly unstable) version of Chrome OS with experimental features.

Switching Back to Stable Mode

Switching to Stable Mode is similar to the steps for switching to Developer or Beta mode, but with one important difference. Once you switch to stable mode, all your locally stored files will be erased. You should hence backup any important files before switching back.

For Older Versions of Chrome OS

  1. Go to ‘Settings’ from the options menu on the shelf.
  2. In the Settings window, click on ‘About Chrome OS’ on the top right corner of the window.
  3. In the new window that opens, go to ‘Change Channel’ under Channels.
  4. Select your preferred Channel, and you’re all set. (You will be asked to restart your Chromebook once the update for your channel is downloaded.)

You can now enjoy testing the latest developments for Chrome OS. In case things get a little too unstable, remember to switch back to the safe Stable channel.