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How to Download and Install Chrome OS (Flex): The Ultimate Guide

Written by:

Wesley Akkerman

All content is written by smart home experts, not AI and robots.

Downloading Chrome OS is a snap, but installing it requires some work. In principle, you can turn any laptop or computer into a Chrome OS device, provided it has good specs, of course. If you use Chrome OS Flex, this all becomes a lot easier. Installing Chrome OS Flex is done in no time and can also be done on old and less fast devices.

What is Chrome OS Flex?

Chrome OS Flex is a new operating system from Google. The big advantage of this system is that you do not need modern hardware. So you run it on (far) old(rde) computers. You can read exactly how to do that in this extensive article.

But first: what is Chrome OS Flex? This is an operating system, based on Chrome OS, intended for companies and educational institutions. The software is also based on the CloudReady platform, developed by Neverware, so that any computer can run it.

With CloudReady you convert existing, often obsolete computers into secure, fast machines. As a result, those computers will probably last longer. This is beneficial for budgets, but also for people who are looking for safe and simple operating systems for their PC.

That is also a goal of this OS (OS is an abbreviation for operating system, which means operating system in Dutch): to reduce e-waste. One thing to keep in mind: Chrome OS Flex relies heavily on the cloud, just like Chrome OS.

What do you need for Chrome OS Flex?

Google has a handy list with devices that natively support Chrome OS Flex. But in principle, the OS should work on systems with the minimum specs below. However, we do not guarantee that you will receive the necessary support.

  • A 64-bit Intel or AMD processor
  • 4 GB of working memory
  • A USB stick of at least 16 GB
  • The computer must be able to boot from a USB stick
  • Administrator rights to BIOS/UEFI settings
  • An internet connection

Please note that Chrome OS Flex is – at least at the time of writing – experimental software. This means that the system can show errors or not work on a system that does meet the minimum requirements. So try this first on hardware that you never use.

Chromebookrecovery program

Chrome OS Flex Install

Before installing Chrome OS Flex directly on an old computer, you can try the system first. So you don't have to install anything on the hard drive right away, but you can first use a separate USB stick. You follow the steps below for this.

Get up Chromebook
Limited availability
Official version of Office 365
Suitable for Chromebook
Can also be used in browser
Try Chrome OS Flex
Do not immediately install Chrome OS Flex on an old computer, but try it out first by following the steps below.
Install it first Chromebookrecovery tool from the Chrome Web Store for Google Chrome.
You will find the recovery program here . Open the link on a computer (can be the regular computer you normally use). On the page that opens, press Add. to Chrome. Press Add extension.
Meanwhile, plug the USB stick into the computer.
Then press the puzzle piece icon in the Chrome browser. Here you will find a list of installed Chrome extensions. Select the recovery program.
Now press the Get Started button.
Then press the text Select a model from the list. That's the blue text below the search field.
Under the heading Identify the Chrome, you now find Google Chrome OS Flex in the first field. In the second field, select Chrome OS Flex (Developer-Unstable).
Press Continue. Then select the USB stick that is in the computer and proceed to the next step. Make sure the USB stick is empty and does not contain any important files; everything will be erased after you proceed to the next step.
On the next page you indicate that you want to prepare the USB stick for use. This takes a few minutes.
After those few minutes you can close the program by pressing the blue button again.

Start up Chrome OS Flex

After installing, make sure that the PC uses Chrome OS Flex as the operating system after booting up. How to do this differs per computer. But in most cases, you press the F2 or Delete button on the keyboard during startup to get this done.

You may also need to use F1 or Esc; so make sure you know which button to press. If you use the right button, a small menu will appear with a few options. It may be that other things apply to you; so check this out first.

If you manage to boot Chrome OS Flex as the operating system, you will again be presented with two options. Make sure you choose the option to try the system. You can then choose to log in with your Google account, but you don't have to.

The great thing about Chrome OS Flex is that you don't have to Chromebook required to use the system. Do stay alert. So the system is experimental; so experimental that Google advises against downloading it now. Can't wait? Then you now know how to do it.

Installing Chrome OS: The 'old' method

Google offers no official method for installing and trying out Chrome OS (except, of course, by downloading a Chromebook to buy), but developers have discovered a trick that allows you to try the operating system on your own hardware.

Install Chrome OS

Before we can start installing the Chrome OS, let's take a look at the essentials. What we want to achieve is preparing a USB stick, on which the Chromium OS disk image can be found. That is a disk image with which you ultimately use the system.

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, cake for macOS or p7zip for Linux
  4. called a program Etcher; you can download it for Windows, macOS and Linux

The USB stick is completely used in this process. That means that it is completely emptied before we can use it. So make sure you use a USB stick that does not contain any 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 this 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
Street: Google, C.C

Download ChromeOS

Before we can use the Chrome OS on a device, we need to download a recent version of the operating system. Google doesn't provide an official version of the base code, so we'll have to get it from somewhere else. 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 get 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 access. For example, think of a folder on the desktop. Grab the USB stick so we can format it.


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. Windows users, however, 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. Press the USB stick with your right mouse button
  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 one Chromebook
Via: | Photomix, C.C

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 SelectDrive
  5. Now choose the USB stick 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 have to wait for Etcher to complete the process. That means you have to wait until the screen shows that the program is 100% ready. After that, the stick is suitable as a USB drive 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. To use Chrome OS, you must tell 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 startup. Mac users will then have to hold down the Option key briefly during startup.

In both cases, you will end up in 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 do not have to remove another system and you can therefore 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 one Chromebook or a Chrome box? Then you read here what you can expect from a Chromebox.

Street: Wikimedia Commons, C.C

Spotted an error? Email me! I would really appreciate that.

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Writing about technology since 2006. Whether it's the Chromecast, Chromebook or Google Home, he doesn't turn his hand around for it.

13 thoughts on “How to Download and Install Chrome OS (Flex): The Ultimate Guide”

  1. Hi. I installed chrome os flex on a usb stick. The USB stick is now not recognized in Windows. How can I remove Chrome os flex so that I can use the stick again?

    To answer
  2. Good morning, would like to install chromeflex on an old Acer chromebox, is there also a method to get this done

    thank you very much

    To answer
  3. You manage to install chrome os on a 9 year old PC that meets the requirements. I can also work with the guest user. But I can't install my own Google account. (Chrome OS complains about missing APIs.

    To answer
  4. Works fine, may take a while to start up.
    Also had the logo in the picture, only after about 5/6 minutes did he start walking.
    Installed directly on a Sony vaio (model PCG-31111M).
    Runs like a charm.
    Does run on Chrome OS (Flex).

    Greetings Leo

    To answer
  5. I can't manage to restore chrome via the extensions when writing, it remains at 0%, so nothing comes on the usb, it is a usb 32 GB from the powder keg.

    To answer
  6. @Ad van de Sanden:
    Perhaps run in a virtual machine (e.g. virtualbox)? Just Google how and what (I believe that the latest version is not compatible due to graphic related issues).

    People, also pay attention: Chrome OS and Chromium OS (which this article is about, title and texts are misleading) are not the same (very similar). For example, you don't have Android support in Chromium OS.

    To answer
  7. I've done all the steps but I can't get Chrome OS to boot from a USB stick. I tested on an Acer Swift 3 (1 year old).
    Doesn't work in any way. Is it possible to order a USB stick with Chrome and an explanation of how to set up the bios?

    regards Cees

    To answer
  8. Can't boot Chrome OS from the USB unfortunately. Isn't it possible to make a self-booting USB? In other words, if it is in the computer during startup, ChOS will start itself or you will be given a choice option. My HP does not like the rumble in the bios, I notice. Would like to try out Chrome OS before having to buy a machine to find out if it fits yes or no. Renting is offered very little or not at all, and 2 minutes me the media market on 'n chromebook is really insufficient. How could I do that do you think?
    Thanks for contributing ideas..

    To answer
  9. All I want now, after all these wonderful stories, is to download an OS chrome for a lenovo chromebook.
    I can't find that anywhere which part of the text I have to tap to start the download, Win zip worked fine, etcher worked fine, only now that OS chrome

    To answer

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