How To Reset A Google Chromebook

Is your Chromebook acting up? Is it clogged up with unnecessary files, apps, and downloads? Or do you need to erase your presence from the computer, in order to sell or pass it on to a new owner? Whatever your need, resetting a Google Chromebook is a fairly straightforward process. 

Firstly, however, it is important that you ask yourself if you absolutely need to perform this function, as it will erase all information and files on the Chromebook. See the FAQs below for more detailed information, before following this tutorial.

Below, you’ll learn how to perform three types of resets on a Google Chromebook. A ‘Basic Reset’ of Chrome OS and your browser settings, a ‘Hard Reset’ of the Chromebook’s hardware, and finally a ‘Powerwash’ factory reset of the entire device.

Perform a ‘Basic Reset’ of Chrome OS and Chrome Browser Settings

If your Chromebook is underperforming, and you are unsure of the cause, this is the best method of reset to begin with, as your files will remain safe throughout.

  1. Open Chrome Browser, navigate to the Menu
  2. Click ‘Settings’
  3. Click ‘Advanced’
  4. Click ‘Reset Settings’
  5. Click ‘Restore Settings’
  6. Read the pop-up warning about restoring your browser settings, and if comfortable, proceed by clicking ‘Reset settings’
  7. You have successfully reset Chrome, removing any non-factory applications, settings, and plug-ins, including your browser history and bookmarks

Perform a ‘Hard Reset’ of your Chromebook’s Hardware

If the above reset didn’t solve the issue with your Chromebook, or you know it’s a ‘Hard Reset’ your Chromebook needs, then follow the instructions below. 

  1. Turn your Chromebook off, and wait until it has fully powered down
  2. Press and hold the Refresh button, then tap the Power button
  3. Once the Chromebook has started up again, release the Refresh button

Note: This process will reset your Chromebook’s hardware (like the keyboard and touchpad, for instance), and may delete some of the files in your Downloads folder.

Note: These instructions work for most Chromebooks, but for others (Samsung, Lenovo, Asus, and Acer) it is best to reset the computer/tablet by turning it off, removing the battery or power adaptor, replacing it, and then turning the computer/tablet back on. For Samsung Chromebooks, once you’ve removed the power adaptor, push a paperclip into the small reset hole on the bottom of the computer/tablet, and hold it there whilst you plug the power adaptor back in, before releasing and turning the Chromebook back on)

Perform a Factory Reset/Powerwash of your Google Chromebook

If neither of the above reset options worked for you, or you know that it’s a ‘Powerwash’ you need to perform, then (once you’ve backed-up all of the necessary files – see our FAQs below) simply follow these steps to perform the factory reset.

  1. From you Chromebook, sign out of your Google Chrome Account
  2. Now, press CTRL, ALT, SHIFT + R together at the same time
  3. From the options that appear, select ‘Restart’
  4. Then, from the next menu, select ‘Powerwash’, and when prompted to confirm your selection, click ‘Continue’
  5. Your Chromebook will now perform the factory reset, which should take less than five minutes. Once it is complete, you will be prompted to sign back in with your Google Account. Whichever account you sign in with will become the default owner account of the Chromebook. (As such, if you’re performing the Powerwash in order to sell the Chromebook, then don’t sign back in following the reset).

And there you have it! Three simple tutorials for three different types of Google Chromebooks resets, helping you to solve any issues you have, or simply clean up a clogged up computer.

Frequently asked questions

What is a Google Chromebook?

Google Chromebooks are fast becoming some of the most popular, affordable, and light-weight personal computers on the market. A Chromebook is any PC which is designed to store most of its software, files, and settings on the Google Drive cloud network, thus enabling the construction of computers which don’t require large amounts of internal hardware storage. These PCs, manufactured by Google, operate exclusively with Google Chrome as default web browser, and Google Drive as the cloud platform to which all files and software are automatically uploaded and stored. 

Why would I want to reset my Google Chromebook?

Whilst most files and software will be stored on the cloud, rather than on the Chromebook itself, this is not to say that the Chromebook can’t still become clogged up with temporary data, unnecessary applications, and various offline files which you have elected to save locally. As such, it is highly probable that you might find your Chromebook underperforming, thanks to all of these unnecessary files and apps. Restoring your Chromebook to factory settings (in effect, wiping it clean of every change that’s been made to it since it left the manufacturer) is a smart and efficient way to get your computer working as if new, again. Alternatively, you may be selling your Chromebook (or have bought one second hand only to find the previous owner’s files still on it). Either way, you’ll want to reset it, in order to have it fresh for your buyer, or yourself. It may even be the case that your Chromebook, though fairly free of files, etc. is acting up. Resetting it is a good way of making sure of correcting the issue, or at the very least establishing that it’s a hardware issue, rather than a software one. 

What happens when I reset my Google Chromebook?

Resetting your Chromebook is a big step, and should be carefully considered (and resorted to only as a last option) before carrying it out. When you reset your Chromebook, all of the information on your computer’s harddrive will be erased, along with all files you have installed or downloaded since you got your Chromebook. This includes all user information, preferences, and settings. You will literally be restoring your Chromebook to factory settings, and once done, it will be as if you’d never touched the machine before. As such, it is important you are absolutely sure you want to carry out a reset, and even more important that you have successfully and securely backed-up all of the files and information you wish to keep, before resetting the Chromebook.

How do I back-up my files? 

Since a Chromebook automatically stores the majority of your files and application settings on Google’s cloud-platform, Google Drive, you will likely find most of your desired info and files are already backed-up. However, it is always worth double-checking, and visiting Google Drive to manually upload everything on your Chromebook which you wish to save. Alternatively (or additionally, backing-up twice never hurt anyone!), we would recommend backing your files up to an external harddrive or SD card, which you can plug into your Chromebook. You simply plug it in, format it (if not already formatted) to work with your Chromebook, and then drag and drop all of the files from your Chromebook into the external storage device. (Note: there are usually options in any computer’s settings menu – including a Chromebook’s – to conduct a full Back-up save onto an external harddrive, so long as the harddrive’s plugged in).