Computing

Troubleshooting Common Chromebook Problems

Chromebooks are excellent alternatives to MacBooks and Windows 10 laptops, but like any computer, they can encounter issues from time to time. The good news is that most common Chromebook problems have simple solutions that you can implement on your own. In this article, we will guide you through troubleshooting the most frequent issues Chromebook users face.

The Diagnostics App

Chromebook Diagnostics
Image used with permission by OnSpec Electronic, Inc

Chromebooks come equipped with a Diagnostics app designed specifically for troubleshooting. This powerful tool provides valuable information that can help you identify and resolve issues efficiently. With the Diagnostics app, you can:

  • Check detailed model and motherboard information.
  • Monitor battery health, cycles, and capacity loss.
  • View CPU usage, speed, and temperature data.
  • Check your current memory status.
  • Run tests to automatically troubleshoot apparent issues.
  • Enjoy additional features as Google improves the app.

If you’re having trouble understanding a problem, open the Diagnostics app and run the appropriate test. Keep an eye on the data as you follow our guide for more specific issues. Follow these steps to use the Diagnostics app if your Chromebook has the latest updates.

Step 1: Open the app drawer by selecting the round Launcher button at the bottom-left corner of the screen. Then, use the search box at the top to type in “diagnostics.” The app will appear with an icon resembling a heart monitor line. Select it.

Step 2: Review the information provided and check for any suspicious issues. If you’ve narrowed down the problem to an issue like your battery or noticed an abnormal CPU temperature, select the appropriate option.

Step 3: Tests may take a few minutes to complete, depending on what you are measuring. Battery tests will display basic charging info, while other tests will generate a detailed list of the functions performed. If everything goes well, you should see a success marker beside each function. If you encounter a function that doesn’t register as a success, it may be the source of your problem. You can choose to save the session log to record all the current information for later analysis or repair notes.

Systemwide Issues

Acer Chromebook

Your Chromebook Runs Very Slowly

If your Chromebook is running sluggishly, try restarting it to see if the performance issue clears up. Follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Press and hold the Power button.
Step 2: When prompted, choose the Power off option.
Step 3: Press the Power button again to turn on your Chromebook.

If the restart doesn’t improve the performance, check for system updates. Sometimes, issues arise that Google needs to address through software updates. In most cases, Chromebooks automatically check for updates and install the latest version when connected to the internet. If an update is available, your Chromebook will prompt you to restart to complete the installation.

You can manually check for updates by following these steps:

Step 1: Click the System clock located in the bottom-right corner of the screen.
Step 2: Select the Gear icon in the pop-up menu. This will take you to the Settings page.
Step 3: Navigate to About Chrome OS on the left sidebar.
Step 4: Click the Check for updates button. The system will search for the latest version and install any available updates.
Step 5: Once the update is complete, select the Restart button to finish the process.

Your Chromebook Keeps Restarting

If your Chromebook continuously restarts without any apparent reason, it may indicate a problem with the operating system (OS). In such cases, performing a full recovery is necessary. There are three options for wiping your Chromebook: hard reset, powerwash, and recovery.

Hard reset: This option resets the hardware settings, such as the keyboard and camera.
Powerwash: This option resets the Chromebook back to its factory settings, erasing all personal data. You’ll need to link it to your account and reinstall apps afterward.
Recovery: This option reinstalls Chrome OS from an external source, such as a flash drive, when the OS is damaged or corrupted beyond repair.

To recover your Chromebook, you’ll need the Chromebook itself, a separate computer with access to the Chrome browser, and a portable SD or USB drive with 8GB or more of storage space for data backup. Please refer to Google’s official guide for the full list of Chromebook models that support recovery and detailed instructions.

“Chrome OS Is Missing or Damaged” Message

If you see the “Chrome OS is missing or damaged” message after booting your Chromebook, you need to insert a recovery drive. Follow the instructions provided earlier for recovering your Chromebook via a USB drive.

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Issues Updating Chromebook

If you encounter an error while updating your Chromebook, start by checking your internet connection. Make sure you have a stable Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection. Avoid using your cellular data connection, as it may consume your monthly data allowance and often leads to update errors.

You can also try restarting your Chromebook to resolve connectivity issues:

Step 1: Press and hold the Power button.
Step 2: When prompted, choose the Power off option.
Step 3: Press the Power button again to turn on your Chromebook.

Trouble Downloading Important Updates

If you’re unable to download an important update, and repeated attempts fail, try rebooting your Chromebook:

Step 1: Press and hold the Power button.
Step 2: When prompted, choose the Power off option.
Step 3: Press the Power button again to turn on your Chromebook.

If a restart doesn’t resolve the issue, sign out of your account and powerwash your Chromebook. Powerwashing erases your settings and hard drive, so ensure that all necessary data is saved to the cloud before proceeding.

Step 1: Sign out of your account.
Step 2: Press and hold Ctrl + Alt + Shift + R.
Step 3: Select Restart.
Step 4: Click the blue Powerwash button in the pop-up window.
Step 5: Confirm by selecting the blue Continue button.
Step 6: Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the process.

Sign-In Errors

If you encounter sign-in errors on your Chromebook, refer to Google’s comprehensive guide for troubleshooting these errors one by one. In general, double-check your password, username, and Google account to ensure everything is up to date and functioning properly. The issue may be related to one of these three factors.

Blank Screen on Chromebook

If your Chromebook screen goes blank, try the following solutions:

Start with the basics: Check if your battery is charged, restart your Chromebook, and ensure the screen brightness is set at an appropriate level.

Hard reset your Chromebook: If you suspect a hardware problem, follow these steps:

Step 1: Turn off your Chromebook by holding down the Power button.
Step 2: While holding down the Refresh button, tap the Power button.
Step 3: Release the Refresh button when the Chromebook starts.

This hardware reset can fix screen-related issues, although the process may vary depending on your Chromebook model.

Get it serviced: If none of the above solutions resolve the problem, and your Chromebook is still operational based on noise and indicator lights, it may be time to check your warranty and send it in for service.

Microphone Not Working

If your Chromebook’s microphone suddenly stops working, try the following solutions:

Hard reset your Chromebook: Perform a hard reset by following the instructions provided earlier. Also, ensure that Chrome OS is fully updated.

Switch to Google Meet: You may have better luck with audio during conference calls by switching to Google Meet, an alternative video-conferencing platform.

Camera Malfunction

If your Chromebook’s camera stops working or triggers an error message, try the following solutions:

Restart your Chromebook: Perform a restart by following the instructions provided earlier.

Use a different app: The app currently trying to access the camera may be experiencing issues. Open a different app to check if you’re still encountering problems. If the issue persists, uninstall and reinstall the troublesome app. If the camera issue continues, proceed to the next solution.

Powerwash your Chromebook: Powerwashing your Chromebook brings it back to its original out-of-the-box state.

Recover your Chromebook: If the Powerwash method is unsuccessful, perform a full recovery by referring to the instructions provided earlier.

Browser Issues

HP Chromebook x2

Reloading Browser Tabs

If your open browser tabs keep reloading, causing overall system slowdown, follow these steps to address the issue:

Start with the basics: Close unnecessary browser tabs to free up system memory and improve performance.

Use the Task Manager: If problems persist, disable memory-intensive tabs, apps, and programs using the Task Manager:

Step 1: Press the Search + Esc buttons (or Shift + Esc) to open the Task Manager.
Step 2: Identify memory-hogging apps or programs, especially those you don’t recognize, and click the End process button. Avoid shutting down any entries labeled as “system.”

Frequent Browser Crashes

If your Chromebook frequently crashes while browsing, try the following solutions:

Restart your Chromebook: Turn off your Chromebook, wait a moment (to clear the memory), and then restart the device.

Remove problematic apps: Remove apps that may be causing crashes by following these instructions:

Step 1: Click the Launcher button located in the bottom-left corner.
Step 2: Expand your app tray by clicking the Up arrow icon.
Step 3: Right-click on the app causing problems and select Uninstall (or Remove from Chrome) from the pop-up menu. Confirm the uninstallation.

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Remove problematic extensions: Remove extensions that may be causing crashes by following these instructions:

Step 1: Open the Chrome browser.
Step 2: Click the three-dot Customize and control icon in the top-right corner.
Step 3: Select More tools from the drop-down list.
Step 4: Choose Extensions from the roll-out menu.
Step 5: Click the Remove button on each problematic extension card to delete it. To temporarily disable an extension, toggle the switch next to it. Blue indicates “on,” while gray indicates “off.”

Clear browsing data: If the previous steps don’t solve the issue, delete cookies and other browsing data by following these instructions:

Step 1: Open Chrome and click the three-dot Customize and control button in the top-right corner.
Step 2: Select More tools from the drop-down list.
Step 3: Choose Clear browsing data on the roll-out menu. Alternatively, use the Ctrl + Shift + Backspace shortcut.
Step 4: A pop-up window will appear. On the Basic tab, select the data you want to delete, and click the Clear data button.

If the “Aw, snap!” error persists, try closing unnecessary browser tabs and windows. Chromebooks typically have limited memory capacity, and excessive tab usage can lead to this error. Additionally, faulty extensions can cause problems. Disable or remove them following the instructions provided earlier. If all else fails, check your internet connection, clear your browser cache, or try opening a web page in an incognito window.

“This Web Page Is Not Available” Error

If Chrome cannot load a web page and you receive an “Aw, snap!” error, it may indicate an issue with your Chrome OS or settings. To resolve the problem, start by closing unnecessary browser tabs and windows.

If closing tabs allows you to open a new one, it suggests a system memory shortage. Chromebooks typically have limited memory capacities, so managing your tab usage is important.

Faulty extensions can also cause this error. To address this, follow these steps to disable or remove troublesome extensions:

Step 1: Open the Chrome browser.
Step 2: Click the three-dot Customize and control icon in the top-right corner.
Step 3: Select More tools from the drop-down list.
Step 4: Choose Extensions on the roll-out menu.
Step 5: Click the Remove button on each problematic extension card to delete it. To temporarily disable an extension, toggle the switch next to it. Blue indicates “on,” while gray indicates “off.”

If none of the above solutions work, check your internet connection, clear your browser cache, or try opening the web page in an incognito window.

“This Web Page Is Not Available” Error

Assuming you have the correct web address, the “This web page is not available” error is often caused by cookie or proxy issues. Start by deleting all cookies, but remember to save your online passwords before doing so.

Step 1: Open Chrome and click the three-dot Customize and control button in the top-right corner.
Step 2: Select More tools from the drop-down list.
Step 3: Choose Clear browsing data on the roll-out menu. Alternatively, use the Ctrl + Shift + Backspace shortcut.
Step 4: A pop-up window will appear. On the Basic tab, select the data you want to delete, and click the Clear data button.

Proxy settings may also cause this error. To check and modify your proxy settings, follow these steps:

Step 1: Click the System clock in the bottom-right corner.
Step 2: Choose the Gear icon on the pop-up menu. This will take you to the Settings page.
Step 3: Under Network, select your current connection.
Step 4: Select it again on the following page.
Step 5: Click to expand the Proxy setting.
Step 6: Toggle on (blue) the Allow proxies for shared networks setting.

If you’re using a guest profile on your Chromebook, this solution should resolve the issue. However, you need to input the correct proxy settings as prompted after checking the box.

Compatibility with Word Documents

If you’re struggling to access your Word documents on your Chromebook, consider the following workarounds:

Use Google Docs: Google Docs is an excellent alternative for viewing and editing Word files. While it may not provide all the features and compatibility of Microsoft Word, it can handle most documents effectively.

Download Microsoft Word App: If your Chromebook supports Android apps, you can download the Microsoft Word Android app from the Google Play Store. This app functions just like it does on Android devices, offering a familiar experience.

Zoom Compatibility Issues

If you’re having trouble using Zoom on your Chromebook, try the following solutions:

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Check for Chrome OS Version: Zoom no longer supports the Chrome OS app and has transitioned to a progressive web app (PWA) version. Download the PWA app from the Google Play Store.

Family Link Settings: Google’s Family Link parental control options can interfere with Zoom meetings. To resolve this, switch to a parent account for Zoom video calls.

Enter Zoom Room Number: If you’re experiencing repeat Zoom session issues, manually enter the Zoom Room number to join a session instead of clicking on the invite link. This often bypasses Family Link’s restrictions.

Note that some Zoom features may still be limited due to compatibility issues with Chrome OS, such as the inability to directly record video in Zoom.

Connection Issues

Google Pixelbook

Wi-Fi Connectivity Problems

If you’re unable to connect to a strong Wi-Fi network, follow these steps:

Check Wi-Fi Icon: Ensure that the Wi-Fi icon in the System clock is full rather than empty (hollow). If the Wi-Fi icon is hollow, your Wi-Fi may be switched off. To enable it:

Step 1: Click the System clock in the bottom-right corner.
Step 2: Click the Wi-Fi icon on the pop-up menu.

Older wireless networks may not work well with your Chromebook. If you have an older router, try connecting to a different network to see if you get a better connection. If you do, it may be time to upgrade your router.

If you’re still having trouble, restart your Chromebook:

Step 1: Press and hold the Power button.
Step 2: When prompted, choose the Power off option.
Step 3: Press the Power button again to turn on your Chromebook.

Secondary Screen Connection Issues

If you’re experiencing issues connecting a secondary screen, check the settings:

Step 1: Click the System clock in the bottom-right corner.
Step 2: Click the Gear icon on the pop-up menu. This will open the Settings page.
Step 3: Select Device on the left sidebar.
Step 4: Click Displays on the right side.
Step 5: Choose the name of your external display.

Here, you’ll find options to rotate the image, center the image, check TV alignment, and enable multi-screen functionality. Try adjusting these settings to resolve your problem.

If you’re using a USB-based dock to connect your external display, try disconnecting and reconnecting the dock after waiting a few moments. If issues persist, check if Chrome OS requires an update.

Audio Issues

If you’re unable to hear any sound on your Chromebook, follow these steps:

Step 1: Click the System clock in the bottom-right corner.
Step 2: Adjust the Volume slider displayed on the pop-up menu. Ensure that the volume is high enough to be audible.

You can also try changing the sound input or output:

Step 1: Click the System clock in the bottom-right corner.
Step 2: Click the Right arrow icon next to the Volume slider on the pop-up menu.
Step 3: On the subsequent menu, verify that you have the correct audio device selected as the output.

If none of the above solutions work, you may need to reset your Chromebook using the instructions provided earlier.

Bluetooth Connection Problems

If you’re experiencing Bluetooth connection issues, try the following solutions:

Turn Bluetooth off and on: Disable and re-enable Bluetooth to reset connections. Ensure that all Bluetooth codes are accurate and devices are correctly paired. Also, consider your physical surroundings, as objects and distance can disrupt Bluetooth connectivity. A quick refresh, performed in close proximity, may resolve issues without much frustration.

Printer Compatibility Issues

If you’ve connected your printer to your Chromebook but it doesn’t work, try the following steps:

Step 1: Open your Chromebook’s Settings and verify that your printer’s information is entered correctly. If the information is correct but the printer still doesn’t work, proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Remove the printer from your Chromebook and then add it again.

Step 3: If the printer’s firmware needs an update, ensure that it is up to date.

Seeking Additional Help

If you’re still encountering Chromebook issues after trying these solutions, we recommend visiting Google’s help page. Google provides helpful videos and guidebooks to help you troubleshoot other Chromebook problems that we may not have covered in this article.

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