Experimental features

Being on the cutting edge allows you to try out new features before they’re ready, letting you provide feedback to Google or modify your operating system more deeply than what’s otherwise available in the normal, stable ChromeOS release.

Change ChromeOS channel

Your ChromeOS device is normally on a stable channel. The stable channel is fully tested and supported by Google, and is the best to avoid crashes or other issues with your operating system. There are two other channels: beta and developer. The beta channel allows you to see what’s next with minimal risk, although it is not fully supported by Google. It’s usually updated every week. The developer channel gets updated multiple times per week, shipped with whatever code is currently available.

To change what channel you’re on, open “Settings”->“About ChromeOS”->“Additional Details” and click the “Change channel” button. This will show you a dialog box where you can change your ChromeOS channel. Changing channels will require a download of the new chanel information and a restart in order to apply.

1: ChromeOS channel selection dialog box

Experimental feature flags

Chrome feature flags are experimental features shipped with your current ChromeOS channel but are not enabled by default as they have not been fully tested yet. They provide a look at what Google is working on with some level of implementation available for you to try out until it’s shipped. Hyper-Threading, enabling use of all of the threads of your CPU, is an example of an experimental feature flag that can be enabled.

If you want to enable feature flags on your machine, navigate to chrome://flags in your Chrome browser’s omnibox; a list of flags will be available in either the “Default”, “Enabled”, or “Disabled” state. Find the feature flag you’re interested, and change the state to have it take effect.

Developer mode

Developer mode on ChromeOS unlocks deeper access to the operating system than you have in a normal stable mode by removing some protections and surfacing some functionality that otherwise are enabled or hidden in order to ensure a secure, stable experience. In this way, it’s different than the developer channel, which is instead a frequently updated version of the operating system that otherwise runs in a stable mode. Developer mode gives you more power, but with great power comes great responsibility; you should only enable it if you are comfortable with the risks associated with doing so.

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.
  1. 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 screens from Figure 2 when you turn on your device, you’ve successfully entered developer mode.

2: Developer mode confirmation screens.