Fix Chromebook With Blank or Black Screen

Besides ease of use, another great feature of Chromebooks is they usually just work. However, they are machines and machines sometimes need maintenance.

Before sending your Chromebook out for a costly repair try these troubleshooting techniques first.

Note: These steps assume you own your Chromebook. If your Chromebook is owned by a school system or other entity, check with them before performing any of the steps that require opening/removing screws from the Chromebook. Also, I have provided links to purchase parts and tools. Check with your organization to find out what vendors they purchase from if necessary.

Force Your Chromebook To Hard Reboot

Sometimes your Chromebook is running, but the screen is black and the touchpad does not respond. This can give the impression that it won’t turn on. Other times, the Chromebook is on, but is unresponsive or frozen.

In either case, this keyboard shortcut will often force your Chromebook to reboot allowing you to logon again.  This is essentially the software equivalent of removing the battery and power cord. It is very easy do and I show you how in my How To Force Reboot A Chromebook post. Here’s the steps.

Reload button plus power button; Force Reboot; Force reset; Force power off Chromebook

Press and hold the Power button. Then press the Reload button at the same time. Release both buttons. Some flip style Chromebooks have the power button located on the side of the Chromebook.

Your Chromebook should turn off and turn back on within 5 – 10 seconds.

Force Chrome to Turn on Using the Power Cord

Chromebook Plugged In

Sometimes a Chromebook will not turn on using the power button even when you know it is charged. I’m still amazed how often this power cord trick works.

  1. Close the lid of your Chromebook.
  2. Plug in your Chromebook power cord into a wall outlet and then plug the other end into your Chromebook.
  3. Open the lid of your Chromebook without pressing any keys

After a few seconds you just might see that beautiful white screen with the Chrome logo on it. In my experience after doing this once the power button works again.

Note: Chromebooks ship in a state that requires you to plug in the power cord to turn them on the first time. It’s possible for your Chromebook to re-enter this state.

Let The Chromebook Battery Run Down

I’ve had Chromebooks sent to me for repair that are reported to not turn on. The first thing I do when troubleshooting is plug in the power cord and try to turn the Chromebook on. One thing I’ve noticed is one Chromebooks that do turn on is often the battery charging status is around 1%.

Basically what has happened is between the time that the issue was reported and when I received the Chromebook, the battery died. That flushed whatever the issue was and the Chromebook worked correctly when I plugged it in and powered it up.

Is My Chromebook Charging?

I’ve run into charging issues on most of the Chromebooks models we have at some point. Plug in the power cord and see if the light on the Chromebook next to the plug, lights up.

Orange / Red = charging
Green/ White= charged
No Charging Light = bad news

Some Chromebooks let you know they are charging by blinking their LED light. Basically, if you get any color light you know the Chromebook is accepting power from the power cord.

If you do not see a light then probably have a bad charger, a bad charging port, or system board issue. You can buy a replacement charger pretty cheap on Amazon. You can compare prices here. Before buying one, I’d try to find another charger to test with.

Thankfully, Google has forced all manufacturers to standardize on USB-C charging going forward. This makes the power cables for all future Chromebooks more or less universal.

Sometimes the issue is the power connection on the Chromebook. You can by these DC power jacks on Amazon too. Click here to see examples. replacement. These are not difficult to replace, but are a bit time consuming. There are lots of how to videos out there. If the issue is the system board, there’s not much you can do. Unless the Chromebook is covered under warranty or it is a high-end model, I doubt it is worth the cost of replacing the system board.

The one last thing you could try is disconnect the battery. This requires opening the Chromebook case. Then reattaching the battery and plug in the power cord to see if the Chromebook will charge.

Wipe Or Factory Reset Chromebook

Sometimes the easiest way to fix an issue is also the fastest. You can try wiping the Chromebook. Factory resetting your Chromebook will wipe all data from the Chromebook. This is also called powerwashing. The only difference will be it will continue to run it’s current Chrome OS version.

You won’t lose any information. Your settings and apps will automatically install when you log back on. Make sure you have moved anything that you have saved locally (such as in the Downloads folder) to your Google Drive before you wipe the Chromebook.

To wipe or powerwash your Chromebook, follow the steps in my How To Powerwash or Factory Reset a Chromebook post.

Note: The first account used on a personal (non-managed) Chromebook becomes the “owner” of the Chromebook. Its the one account profile you cannot delete. To delete other profiles follow the steps in my How to Remove User Profiles from 1 or Several Chromebooks post. 

To remove the “owner” Google account profile from a Chromebook you will have to powerwash (factory rest) it. Managed Chromebooks, such as ones registered to a school domain, do not have “owner” profiles.

If you powerwash a managed Chromebook (which is OK to do) it will clear all of the profiles and rejoin the domain of which it was previously joined. Among other things this serves as a theft deterrent.

Leave Chromebook Plugged In Overnight

This tip is one I wouldn’t believe unless I’d tried it. It has surprisingly worked a few times. Connect your Chromebook power cord to a wall outlet and then plug the other end into your Chromebook. Now open the lid. If nothing happens, walk away.

I have left Chromebooks sitting this way overnight figuring what did I have to lose. On more than one occasion, the next day I found the Chromebook on the logon screen.

Disconnect The Chromebook Battery

As I mentioned before, one sure way to completely remove all power from the Chromebook is to remove the power cord and the battery. For most Chromebooks, you have to open up the Chromebook case to disconnect the battery.

There are a lot of how to videos online. Just search for your model. Once again, only do this with a Chromebook that you own. You can cause more damage to the Chromebook if you are not careful and possibility void the warranty.

Chromebook Won’t Charge Past 1%

If the Chromebook works when plugged in, but the battery will not charge past 1%, you likely need a new battery. Amazon sells batteries for most Chromebooks. You can check current prices here. The Chromebook will work plugged in, but a bad/damaged battery could begin to swell.

If you notice your keyboard beginning to bulge up, you should remove the battery even if you are only going to use the Chromebook when plugged in.

Check If The LCD Display Screen Is Broken

If none of these tips work and you see a power light when you press the power button, you may have a broken screen. Many Chromebooks have an HDMI or micro HDMI port you can use to test with. Connect the Chromebook to a TV via an HDMI cable.

New Chromebooks may only have USB-C ports. For those, you will need a USB-C to HDMI Adapter like this one on Amazon. These will be useful for connecting your Chromebook to a projector as well.

11inch Chromebook Screen

For the purpose of the test, if you see an image on your TV screen,  but do not see an image on the Chromebook, you may have a bad/broken LCD screen (likely) or a bad LCD cable (less likely.) Most non-touch 11″ Chromebooks use the same keyboard regardless of manufacturer or model.

The screens are not hard to replace (remember lots of videos) and the same screen can be used in different models. You just need to pay attention to the screen size and pin connection on the LCD screen you have. Click here to see current prices.

Also important, is whether or not your Chromebook has a touch screen. You can typically replace a touch screen with a non-touch screen which is a much cheaper solution.

I hope these tips help you get your Chromebook back up and running again!

Dave Carty

K12 district technology administrator, Google domain admin, Certified Google Trainer.

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