How to turn an old laptop or Mac into a Chromebook
Want to repurpose an aging laptop? Chrome OS Flex might be the answer.
If you have an aging computer that struggles to keep up with newer software, turning your old laptop or Mac into a Chromebook may be the solution.
Google offers an experimental—and potentially unstable—version of Chrome OS called Flex that you can use to revive your ailing electronic artifact. While the software doesn’t officially support a great number of machines yet, you’re free to take the adventurous approach and install the OS anyway.
Are you ready to join the Flex experiment and potentially destabilize your device? Let’s discuss how you can convert your Mac or PC into a Chromebook.
How to turn a laptop into a Chromebook
When selecting a USB drive for the process, the ideal candidate should have at least an 8 GB capacity and no important data stored on it.
The setup process erases all information from the device, so you should double-check your drive before proceeding. Also, you can inspect Google’s list of certified models to help you understand what to expect.
Create a Chrome OS Flex USB Installer
Your first order of business when turning an old laptop into a Chromebook is creating the actual installer. We’ll show you how to do that below:
Using the Chrome browser, go to the Chromebook Recovery Utility web store page
Click Add to Chrome
Then, click Add extension when prompted
Click the Extensions icon and select Chromebook Recovery Utility
Find and click Get started
Click Select a model from list
Select Google Chrome OS Flex in the first box and Chrome OS Flex (Developer-unstable) in the second and click Continue
Select your USB drive and click Continue
Click Create now to erase all data and format the USB drive
When the process completes, click Done
Install Chrome OS Flex on your Mac or PC
Once you’ve created the installer, you’ll need to load the software onto your device to turn it into a Chromebook. Here’s how to boot to a Chrome OS Flex USB installer:
- Connect the USB drive to the appropriate Mac or PC
- Shut down the device
- Load the computer’s boot manager. Generally, you’ll need to press or hold a certain key during startup. For example, holding Option on earlier Mac models loads the Apple boot manager
- Select your USB drive and boot to it
Once you load Chrome OS, you can either test the software from the USB drive or install the operating system directly to your device.
READ MORE: 11 ways to fix Chrome not saving passwords
While running Flex via USB is ideal for testing, you’ll experience greater performance and stability with a direct installation.
Google Chrome OS Flex alternatives
Google’s Chrome OS Flex can be highly unstable and may not load on your device at all. If you’re a particularly tenacious pioneer, you can attempt to troubleshoot any problems.
In most cases, however, you’ll likely need to wait for further development to remedy the software’s biggest issues.
READ MORE: How to add a printer to Mac
If Flex refuses to function and you absolutely need a less resource-hungry OS for an older Mac or PC, a light version of Linux may be the superior solution.
- How to record your screen on Chromebook
- Can you run Android apps on a Chromebook?
- How to stop your MacBook from automatically adjusting screen brightness
- Should I get a mechanical keyboard for my laptop?
Just a heads up, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale. It’s one of the ways we keep the lights on here. Click here for more.