How to Reset Your Chromebook: Troubleshooting Guide

Is your Chromebook running slower than usual? Are you experiencing lag and can’t figure out the cause? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’ll show you how to reset your Chromebook and get it running like new again. Whether you need to perform a hard reset, powerwash, or recovery, we’ll walk you through each step to help you troubleshoot and fix the problem.

A Note Before We Begin

Before we dive into the details, let’s familiarize ourselves with the three methods available for resetting a Chromebook:

  • Hard Reset: This option resets the hardware settings, such as the keyboard and camera.
  • Powerwash: Powerwashing your Chromebook restores it to its factory settings, erasing all customizations and user accounts.
  • Recovery: If your Chrome OS is damaged or corrupted, recovery allows you to reinstall the operating system from an external source.

With these methods in mind, let’s start troubleshooting by attempting a hard reset.

Performing a Hard Reset

A hard reset might be all your Chromebook needs to get back on track. Give it a try before resorting to more drastic measures.

Step 1: Turn off your Chromebook by holding down the Power button.

Step 2: While holding the Refresh button, tap the Power button.

Step 3: Once your Chromebook starts, release the Refresh button.

If the issues persist, let’s move on to the next section.

Restart Your Device dialog box appearing on a Chromebook screen.
Image used with permission by OnSpec Electronic, Inc

Powerwashing Your Chromebook

If a hard reset didn’t resolve the problem, it’s time to consider powerwashing your Chromebook. This built-in tool resets all settings, bringing your Chrome OS back to its original state. Keep in mind that powerwashing will remove all customizations, user accounts, and local files stored on the device. Here’s how you can do it:

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Step 1: Click on the System clock on the Shelf and then select the Cog icon in the pop-up menu. This opens the Settings panel.

Step 2: In the Settings menu, choose Advanced on the left, followed by Reset settings at the bottom.

Step 3: Click on the Reset button next to Powerwash.

Step 4: A pop-up prompt will appear with a blue Restart button. Click on it to proceed.

Step 5: After your Chromebook reboots, you’ll see a message from Google. To proceed, select the blue Powerwash button.

Confirm Powerwash dialog box on Chromebook screen.
Image courtesy of OnSpec Electronic, Inc

Step 6: Another pop-up window will appear. Select Continue to proceed.

Your Chromebook will reboot once again and restore its default settings. You’ll need to set it up as if you just purchased a new Chromebook. Please note that powerwashing does not reinstall Chrome OS; a full recovery is needed if you need to repair or replace the operating system.

Recovering Your Chromebook

If you’re unable to reach the sign-in screen or encounter an error indicating that Chrome OS is missing or damaged, a full recovery is necessary. This process wipes the internal storage device and reinstalls Chrome OS. Before you proceed, make sure you have a second computer with Chrome installed and an external storage device like a USB flash drive or SD card with at least 8GB of space. Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1: Disconnect any accessories (such as external storage or a mouse) from the Chromebook you want to recover.

While holding down the Esc + Refresh (circular arrow or F3) keys, press and release the Power key. Keep holding the Esc + Refresh keys until a screen appears with the message “Chrome OS is missing or damaged” or “Please insert a recovery USB stick or card.”

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Step 2: On another computer, insert your USB drive or SD card, open Chrome, and install Google’s Chromebook recovery utility.

Step 3: Launch the utility and click on the blue Get started button.

Step 4: Enter the model of your Chromebook, which should be displayed on the error screen. Make sure to copy the text exactly. Alternatively, you can choose the Select a model from a list option to select the manufacturer and product. Click the blue Continue button when you’re ready.

Step 5: On the next screen, select the USB drive or SD card you inserted earlier. Double-check to ensure you’re selecting the correct one. Click the blue Continue button.

Chromebook Recovery Utility screen prompting you to insert a USB flash drive or SD card.
Image courtesy of OnSpec Electronic, Inc

Step 6: Finally, click the blue Create now button to start the recovery image’s writing process. Wait for the process to complete, and if the operating system asks you to confirm any software installations, do so.

Step 7: Once the process finishes, select Done and remove the USB drive or SD card from your other computer.

Step 8: Insert the recovery drive into your Chromebook. It will restart automatically and begin the recovery process.

Step 9: Remove the USB drive or SD card from your Chromebook when the message “System recovery is complete” appears.

Step 10: Your Chromebook will restart. Log in to your Google account to complete the setup. Make sure you have a secure Wi-Fi connection to finish.

And that’s it! Your Chromebook should be back in working order.


By following the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll be able to troubleshoot and reset your Chromebook with ease. Whether it’s a hard reset, powerwash, or recovery, these methods will help you fix common issues and restore your Chromebook to its optimal performance.

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For more tech-related tips and tricks, visit OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

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