If you’ve been following along this week, you likely have heard all about the issues with the incremental update Google pushed out to Chrome OS 91. It was a nasty bug and the only way forward was to figure out a way to get your Chromebook wiped and reverted to the previous version of Chrome OS. While this is an easy enough task most times, this particular bug made the process troublesome enough that even some veteran Chromebook users were reaching out for help on how to get their device back to a usable state again. It was after one of these conversations that we decided a how-to video was in order to help.
There’s nothing in this video that we’ve not technically talked about in the past, but we’ve not had a video with all these steps, all in the same place before. Just as we never saw this latest bug coming and the havoc that it would wreak, we also don’t know what sorts of issues could come up in the future where users like yourself will need to know how to go about getting your Chromebook back to a stabilized position. So, let’s cover what it looks like to get your device Powerwashed and reverted in every possible circumstance.
Powerwash your Chromebook
There are technically 4 ways you can achieve a Powerwash – a.k.a. factory reset. The first two are the simplest and recommended, but like we saw this week, they aren’t always possible. For the first method, simply go to your Chromebook settings, search ‘Powerwash’, select it and follow the prompts. It takes a max of a couple minutes and you’ll be back up and running in no time.
The second method is equally simple. From the log-in screen (you need to be logged out for this one), simple hit CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+R and you’ll be met with the same Powerwash screen you’d get from the settings menu. Again, follow the prompts and you’ll be factory-fresh in just minutes.
The third method is a bit more involved, but with the bug we dealt with this week, it was necessary. It simply requires you to flip on Developer Mode and turn it back off. This process will effectively flash the Chrome OS disk image again and get you back to factory settings. To accomplish this, you simply need to hold ESC+REFRESH and click your power button. You can do this from any screen at any point. You’ll be met with a recover screen where you can then arrow down to Advanced Options and select Enable developer mode. Let the Chromebook enter this mode and as soon as this screen comes up again, simply select Return to secure mode and let the device reboot and you’ll be Powerwashed.
Finally – and usually found to be unneccesary – you can use another device to create a new disc image for your device. We have a guide and video on this and Google maintains a page for it as well. Again, going in and out of Developer Mode is essentially the same thing, so you’d rarely need to invoke this step.
How to revert Chrome OS to a previous version
After you’ve successfully Powerwashed and arrived at the OOBE (out of box experience) screen, you are ready for step 2. Simply hit the same CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+R keyboard combo to bring up the Powerwash screen again, and then repeat this keyboard combo yet again to bring up the Powerwash and revert option. Click the button and your Chromebook will install the prior version of Chrome OS and you should be out of the woods. Remember, a Powerwash alone won’t solve an OS-level problem (it’ll still be there waiting when you log in again), so if the current version of Chrome OS is causing issue, reverting to the previous version is the only path forward.
All in all, it isn’t a difficult process and honestly, the whole thing won’t take but a handful of minutes. Compared with what it looks like to flash a completely new OS on Windows or MacOS, this is a breath of fresh air and a characteristic that is compeltely unique to Chromebooks. Sure, we’d love to never see ugly bugs like the one we experienced this week ever again, but the reality is it could happen again. Now you are armed if/when it happens, and we’d suggest checking out our guide on how to keep all your downloads continually backed up and ready for situations just like this in the future.