Besides ease of use, another great feature of Chromebooks is they usually just work. However, they are machines, and machines sometimes need maintenance.
Try these troubleshooting techniques before sending your Chromebook out for a costly repair.
Disclaimer: These steps assume you own your Chromebook. If a school system or other entity owns your Chromebook, check with them before performing any actions that require opening/removing screws from the Chromebook. Also, I have provided links to purchase parts and tools. Check with your organization to determine what vendors they buy 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. That can give the impression that it won’t turn on. Other times, the Chromebook is on but is unresponsive or frozen.
This keyboard shortcut will often force your Chromebook to reboot, allowing you to log on again. This trick is essentially the software equivalent of removing the battery and power cord. It is effortless to do, and I show you how in my How To Force Reboot A Chromebook post. Here are the steps.
- Press and hold the Power button
- Some flip-style Chromebooks have the power button located on the side of the Chromebook.
- Press and hold the Reload button
- Release both buttons
Your Chromebook should turn off and turn back on within 5 – 10 seconds.
Force Chrome to Turn on Using the Power Cord
Sometimes a Chromebook will not turn on using the power button even when you know it is charged. I’m still amazed at how often this power cord trick works.
- Close the lid of your Chromebook.
- Plug your Chromebook power cord into a wall outlet, and plug the other end into your Chromebook.
- If your computer charger is already connected to your Chromebook, unplug it and plug it back in
- Open the lid of your Chromebook without pressing any keys
After a few seconds, you might see that beautiful white screen with the Chrome logo. 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. Your Chromebook can re-enter this state.
Let The Chromebook Battery Run Down
I’ve had Chromebooks sent to me for repair reportingly not turning on. When troubleshooting, the first thing I do is plug in the power cord and try to turn the Chromebook on. I’ve noticed that the battery charging status is around 1% on Chromebooks that do turn on.
The battery died between the time the school reported the issue and when I received the Chromebook. That flushed whatever the problem was, and the Chromebook worked when I plugged it in and powered it up.
Is My Chromebook Charging?
I’ve run into charging issues on most of the Chromebook models we have at some point. Plugin 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. If you see any color light, you know the Chromebook is accepting power from the power cord.
If you do not see a light, you probably have a bad charger, charging port, or a 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 charging.
Thankfully, Google has forced all manufacturers to standardize 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 buy replacement DC power jacks on Amazon. 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 by 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 disconnecting the battery. This requires opening the Chromebook case. Then reattach 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. Factory resetting is also called powerwashing. The only difference will be it will continue to run its 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 you have saved locally (such as in the Downloads folder) to your Google Drive before wiping 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. It’s 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 must powerwash (factory reset) 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), it will clear all of the profiles and rejoin the domain to which the Chromebook 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 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 booted to the login screen. Go figure.
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. You have to open up the Chromebook case to disconnect the battery for most Chromebooks.
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 possibly 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 bulges up, you should remove the battery even if you will only 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. Connect the Chromebook to a TV via an HDMI cable.
New Chromebooks may only have USB-C ports. 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.
For the test, if you see an image on your TV screen but do not see an image on the Chromebook, you may have a broken LCD screen (likely) or a bad LCD cable (less likely.) Most non-touch 11″ Chromebooks use the same screen regardless of manufacturer or model.
The screens are not hard to replace (remember, many videos.)
Also important is whether or not your Chromebook has a touchscreen. You can typically replace a touchscreen with a non-touchscreen which is cheaper.
I hope these tips help you get your Chromebook back up and running again! If your Chromebook screen turns on, but you have performance issues, check out my 8 Things You Can Learn From Chromebook System Logs post.