How to Download and Install Chrome OS

The Chrome operating system (OS) was reserved only for Chromebook users, but now, it’s available for other devices. It’s a great alternative to Windows or Linux, and you can run it without an installation. You need to download Chrome OS to a USB drive and use Etcher or some other software to make it bootable. In this article, you will learn how to get Chrome OS working on any computer.

How to Download and Install Chrome OS

Chrome OS Pre-Installation Considerations

Chrome OS is technically made for Chromebooks that are designed to be lightweight and straightforward. Google does all of the updates. It’s one of the simplest operating systems you can get. Chromium OS (not Chrome OS) is an open-source version of Chrome OS, and it can work with all devices, including Mac, Linux, and Windows. Some hardware won’t work perfectly, but most PCs can run Chromium without any issues.

The company behind Chromium is called Neverware. They used the open-source code to create Neverware CloudReady, which is the same as Chromium OS, but with some extra features and mainstream hardware support. Their OS is now used in schools and businesses all over the world.

The open-source version of Chrome OS is ideal for older Windows XP and Windows 7 PCs because it provides more protection and it’s easier to update. However, you can also use it on newer computers or laptops using Windows 10 or Linux. It’s an operating system that doesn’t take too much space, and it works great for basic operations and surfing the internet. Don’t expect high-level gaming functionality, though.

chromium os

Installing Chromium OS on Your Device

Before getting to the installation, there are some prerequisites you need to fulfill. After that, you start the installation process. Here’s what to do.

1. Prerequisites to Installing Chromium OS

First, you have to download the latest version of Chromium for your particular device. You will also need a program to work with the OS image. In this example, Etcher was used, along with a USB with at least 8 GB capacity and the PC for the Chromium installation.

Here are the links to software you should download to make things work:

Download 1: 7-Zip for Windows, Keka for macOS, or p7zip for Linux

Download 2: Etcher for Windows, macOS, and Linux

chrome logo

Prepare your USB, but ensure it’s empty. Transfer all valuable data to your PC before you begin. When you’ve got everything ready, here is what to do:

2. Download Chromium OS

Google offers an official Chromium OS build you can download to your PC. You can find many websites that provide Chromium for free, but we advise you to get it from Arnold the Bat. You will see a long list of Chromium versions because it’s continuously updated with new releases. Follow the on-site instructions and download the latest version.

chromium download

3. Extract the Image

When the download is completed, you will have to extract the image using 7-Zip. Right-click on the downloaded file and extract the data to a new folder. The process takes a few minutes to complete.

4. Prepare Your USB Drive

  1. Get the USB you want to use to boot Chromium and plug it into your PC. If you are using Windows, find the USB in My Computer, right-click on it, and select Quick format.
  2. When the pop-up window appears, choose FAT32 as your file system and click Start. Know that all of the data on your USB drive will be wiped clean. For Macs, skip to Step 3.
  3. macOS users can use the Disk Utility to format the USB as FAT32. If it says MS-DOS DAT instead of FAT32, don’t worry because it’s the same format. Complete the process to prepare your USB.

5. Use Etcher to Install the Chromium Image

You have done most of the preparation by now. Your Chromium is downloaded and extracted, and the USB is formatted, so you are ready to continue. Download Etcher using the link provided above. Here is what you have to do from there:

  1. Run Etcher.
  2. Click Flash from file and find the Chromium OS image you have previously downloaded and add it.
  3. Click Select Drive and select the USB you prepared.
  4. Hit Flash, and Etcher will install a bootable version of Chromium to your USB device.

The creation process takes a few minutes to complete. When it’s done, wait for Etcher to verify that everything works as expected. You are now ready to install Chromium on your PC.


6. Restart Your PC and Enable USB in the Boot Options

You have to run BIOS to set USB as your primary boot device.

  1. When the PC is first starting up, you can run BIOS by pressing F8, F10, F12, or Del. The key you need to press will vary based on your BIOS.
  2. Every PC has different-looking BIOS, but you should look for an option labeled Boot Manage or Boot.
  3. Set the USB as your primary boot device and then select Save & Exit; the actual name may differ in your BIOS.

On a Mac:

  1. Mac users also have to restart their computers and hold the Option key to enter the boot menu.
  2. Select the USB drive instead of Macintosh to boot Chromium from your USB drive. Restart your Mac when done.

7. Boot into Chrome OS Without an Installation

The great thing about Chrome OS is that you don’t need to install it, and it doesn’t take any space on your hard drive. You can boot it right from the USB without installation, so your primary OS won’t be affected. You can set up your Chrome OS with a Google account and use it only for surfing the internet.

8. Install Chrome OS on Your Device

If you’ve tested everything and found it to your satisfaction, then it’s time to install it.

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve included this section to answer more of your questions about installing Chrome OS.

Should I install Chrome OS Flex instead?

Users can get early access to Chrome OS Flex using this link. It is a lightweight and secure operating system that is designed to refresh older hardware. While it works well with a lot of devices and it’s certainly worth downloading, users should check the certified device list before downloading.

The installation steps are relatively simple, and you can try the operating system for free.

Install Chrome OS to Any Device

Now that Chrome OS is running, you can try it out on any device. You will be surprised at how well it works. Better yet, it supports software from all platforms, including Mac, Windows, and Linux.

30 thoughts on “How to Download and Install Chrome OS”

Andy says:
How do I start speech output on chromium OS? Currently, I use NVDA on Windows10
Sara says:
Hello, May I know if I can directly install it on my phone? My phone is already Windows 11…
Fredrik Erlandsson says:
When booting into chromium, it says I need api keys. And it also says I can’t add new users. How do I fix this?
Steve Larner says:
As of March 15, 2021, Google limited private APIs on Chromium OS and the Chromium browser that allowed Google features to work. That prompts Chromium to say you need API keys. It was a rule but never enforced fully, that is, Google APIs keys were and are not to be publicly distributed in or out of developed applications. Many developers used existing Google API keys in their public distributions (Ubuntu Chromium, custom Linux Operating systems, Sync apps, etc.) to make Google features like Sync function work. Google rarely quivered over it but started taking action. Even though the Chromium Browser, including forks of it, and Chromium OS are open-source software, they technically cannot use Google APIs. This is why you cannot add new users either, simply because it wants the Google accounts (just like Chrome OS), which requires Google APIs. On the brighter side of things, developers are creating their own iterations for sync, accounts, applications, etc. Microsoft Edge is using Chromium and doing that now. Launch Chrome on any other OS and API keys work fine but launch Chromium and they will be missing. Therefore, those features that the Chromium OS or browser desire cannot get Google API keys.
Rob says:
If you’re creating a USB drive and it is not booting READ THE INSTRUCTIONS (I had to!). Make sure you’re downloading the correct image for your hardware. From the image listing…

“CARMOS builds denote ARM processors, Camd64OS builds denote x64 processors and Cx86OS builds denote x86 processors”

I had to download an x64 to get mine booting which worked fine. However, that was just a “Live USB” boot environment. I wanted to try installing it on the SSD drive on the PC it was booted with. That’s a MUCH more involved process (see instructions link on the 2nd line of the build list).

CheeseTechBoi says:
What happens if you install it to a partition on your mac?
Human being says:
Hello. Is there any way to install it instead of live usb run? I remeber there being a terminal for chrome os but can it work in chromium os?
Mark says:
When i connect USB…. Operating system not found
Fess says:
I have Chromium on my PC now but I want to revert it back to Windows. My PC will not boot into USB nor can I get it to go into the boot menu. Can you please help me?
Steve Larner says:
Try resetting your Bios or UEFI to reset the firmware code and replace the OS-controlled software that starts up.
Fadi Sana says:
I followed all the steps but I ended up with my usb drive divided into multiple drives and did not boot and nothing worked
Tom David Lindved says:
Me too; it do not boot on the USB.
When extracting: CARMOS-20211210231251.img.7z it makes a .bin file, not a .img.
What is wrong?
john says:
I now have two completely useless USB drives each with partitions D thru N, who knows where the image file ended up.
WEEEOO says:
Luis Rivas says:
I followed your instructions using the file Camd64OS-20201118200101.img.7z from Nov 19th 2020 at 12:18am. When I boot from USB pendrive made by Etcher, it ONLY allows me to run Chrome OS from the USB drive. There is no option to install to boot from laptop hard drive. How can I install Chrome OS x64bits in my laptop?
Sarah says:
Thank u for detailed explanation but when I run Etcher there is no select image button. There are 3 buttons as:
flash from file, flash from URL and clone drive.
would you please tell me what to do next?thanks
Marcos Loureiro says:
“Flash from file”
Then you search the file in your machine and choose it.
Sarah says:
Thank you for detailed explanations;but after that l run the Etcher,I do not see any” select image”.l only see :”flash from file” ,”flash from URL” and “Clone Drive”. what should I do from now on? .appreciated.
Akshaj Gupta says:
This is really helpfull!
Brian Bonner says:
just flash the image to the hard drive
Alk says:
So, I’m planning to buy a used laptop without any operating system installed. Will it be possible to install Chrome OS on these types of computers?
cat1092 says:
Alk, yes it’s possible!

Although Neverware maintains a list of “known” working computers with their version of Google OS, I’ve installed to at least 10 not on the list. Everything simply works.

However, there’s one con & why I’m happy not to have purchased a Chromebook, as it seems simply to be Google Chrome on hardware. No option for gaming, checking files, adding apps, nothing other than run the browser. This is why I took Neverware for a spin, to get a feel for the OS before spending $1,600 on a particular model Chromebook with an i7 CPU & 1 TB NVMe SSD.

So yes, I’d reuse an older machine for Neverware, just won’t purchase an overly expensive model (many has low quality eMMC SSD’s, rather than SATA-3). If I were to buy one, $150 would be my max price range, unless Google offers more features other than a browser on hardware.

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