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Load apps on Chromebooks

This document describes how to enter Developer mode and enable unknown resources so that you can load Android apps on your Google Chromebook.

Enter Developer mode

To load Android apps, you must enable unknown sources. Enabling unknown sources is available only when your device is in Developer mode.

Caution: Modifications that you make to the system are not supported by Google and may void your warranty. Additionally, modifications may cause hardware, software, or security issues.

Note: On most devices, both the recovery button and the dev-switch button are virtualized. If these instructions don't work for you, see the specific instructions for your device.

To enter Developer mode, complete these steps:

  1. Invoke Recovery mode by pressing and holding the Esc and Refresh (F3) keys, then pressing the Power button.
  2. When the Recovery screen appears, press Control+D. There's no prompt for this action, so you must simply complete it. Afterwards, you are prompted to confirm and reboot into Developer mode.

If you see one of the following screens when you turn on your device, you've successfully entered Developer mode:

Figure 1. Developer mode confirmation screens.

Note: To skip the OS loading screen, either wait 30 seconds or press Control+D, and your Chromebook continues starting.

Enable unknown sources

To enable unknown sources, navigate to Chrome Settings > Settings side panel > Select Google Play Store > Google Play store > Manage Android preferences > Apps & Notifications > Advanced > Special app access, then enable Install unknown apps by moving the slider to the right.

Note:You can enable unknown sources only when your device is in Developer mode.

Load your app

After enabling unknown sources, you can load apps by copying an app's APK file to the Downloads folder and opening it with Android's File Manager app.

You can copy the APK file to your Chromebook using one of the following methods:

  • Using a cloud app – Upload your APK file to Google Drive or send it to yourself via email. Open it with the Android app equivalent (Drive and Gmail, respectively).
  • Using an external storage device – Transfer the APK file to the Downloads folder of your Chromebook using a thumb drive, SD card, or an external hard drive. Afterwards, open the Android File Manager app by navigating to Chrome Settings > App Settings > Device & USB > Explore.
  • Using ADB – After setting up ADB on your Chromebook, enter the following command into a terminal window on your development workstation:
    adb install app-name.apk

    This command pushes the app to your connected Chromebook and installs the app. For more information about copying and installing apps from a development computer, see Installing an app.