Having your computer freeze is extremely annoying and if you’re new to Chromebook you might not know how to fix it immediately as it is slightly different to working with Windows or Mac. Although a frozen Chromebook might be troublesome there is usually little reason for genuine concern that there is a serious underlying issue.
Basic tips: if there is an error message visible on the screen, then try finding out what this means before proceeding with anything else as the solution to that particular problem may be very specific. A good way of doing this is using a search engine to identify the meaning of the message and how to respond to it using your phone.
If you’ve recently plugged in new headphones, camera, or microphone or required a software update for any existing external devices it may be worth unplugging these and seeing if it makes a difference.
Once you’ve tried the above if required in your case there are various options for troubleshooting and fixing a non-responsive Chromebook, we’ll discuss these in order, and you’ll hopefully find the solution to your Chrome OS malfunction in due time.
Table of Contents
Fixing the Chromebook Through the Task Manager
It is a great sign if your Chromebook is still responsive to opening the task manager. This means you might be able to close an offending application without having to restart the device.
The task manager is an overview of the system usage of CPU power and memory among other things. It allows you to see a list of apps and organize them by memory or CPU usage by selecting the tab you want at the top. This is basically the same functionality as the Windows task manager and the Force Quit functionality on a Mac.
If an app is using disproportionate amounts of memory or CPU power, it is likely the culprit for why your Chromebook as frozen.
To open the task manager, click Shift + Escape. Once you have found the culprit click on it and select End task. If nothing seems to be misbehaving, then start closing down applications based on which is newest to you as it is more likely that a new application or one with a recent update will cause an issue over one that you’ve been using without problems for a long time.
As a consideration, don’t immediately force quit the Chrome browser, since Chrome OS is based on the browser this is similar to turning off your laptop and you may not find the culprit for the issue this way as it is likely a plug-in, extension, or application rather than the browser itself causing the aberrancy.
Sometimes though, the machine is so jammed that it will not respond to a request for opening the task manager. If this is the case for you, read on for how to proceed.
Rebooting Your Chromebook
A hard reboot is your next option, here you will turn off and restart your Chromebook to get it working again. How do I do this you ask?
Easy peasy, press and hold the Power Button for a few seconds until the device starts shutting down. Once it’s off restart it after a few minutes, login and it should be unfrozen. You will still need to check the task manager at this point to see if there are any issues with any of the applications you are running.
If your Chromebook is freezing recurrently then it might be worth keeping an eye on the task manager while you are using it to see if any applications suddenly spike activity – these are the likely underlying issue.
In rare circumstances, the Chromebook will remain frozen despite attempting a hard reboot. You have two options then, either draining the battery or performing a hard reset.
Draining Battery Vs Hard Reset
The disadvantage of draining the battery is that your Chromebook will be out of action for as long as its battery lasts, and we recommend a little while longer to let it cool off completely if you choose this option i.e., you’re probably not going to be working on it again that day. The advantage however is that you will not lose any files and unlikely to lose much work if you did.
If you need to use the computer sooner, then you may have to perform a hard reset. A Hard reset basically rests the hardware of the Chromebook to its original state. The advantage of this is that you can be up and running again relatively soon, while the disadvantage is that you will lose all the files in your download folder and any preferences you have set for your Chromebook such as trackpad preferences.
To perform the hard reset, press and hold the power + Refresh buttons at the same time. When your computer starts up again release Refresh. For tablets, it’s usually Power + Volume up. Most Chromebooks have power buttons on the top right and the reload button is usually on the top row of keys as depicted below. Some Chromebooks have their power buttons on the side, and the reload button may also be elsewhere depending on your keyboard configuration so check your own machine’s requirements if it’s not identical to the image below.
Factory resetting your Chromebook may help if this is a recurrent issue. It has benefits and issues associated with it as we discuss below.
Factory Resetting your Chromebook
This will take your machine back to the way it was the day you got it. None of your accounts, preferences, settings, or locally stored files will be spared. You can set up your account again though as long as you have your login credentials. You will also lose any apps, extensions, or anything else you have installed and will need to install it all again – so it’s kind of a big deal.
Google recommends Syncing all your information and settings with your Google account and backing up all your files to Google Drive or an external hard drive before you take this step.
Once you’ve made the decision and have made all the arrangements, then factory resetting is very easy. Follow the steps below;
- Log out of your account
- Press Ctrl + Alt + Shift + r and hold
- A menu will appear, select restart
- A box will appear here select Powerwash then Continue
- Follow the prompts until it’s time to log in again
- VERY IMPORTANT the account you log in with first will be the owner account so make sure it is the account you wish for. If you are giving away or selling your device then don’t log in.
Although there is no size fits all when it comes to a frozen Chromebook, there are steps you can take to help fix the problem. On the easy end is using the task manager to close any applications or restarting your Chromebook. For more stubborn issues you may try a hard reboot or a factory reset. If you have tried all the above including a factory reset but your issue persists it’s probably time to ask for help from a professional.