How to Install Chrome OS on Your PC

Open source software helps you create your own version of a Chromebook

What to Know

  • You can't install Chrome OS, but CloudReady Chromium OS offers a similar experience.
  • To install and use, create a CloudReady installation file on a USB drive.
  • Boot CloudReady from the USB drive.

This article explains how to install Neverware's CloudReady version of Chromium OS on your Windows, Mac, or Chrome computer using an 8- or 16GB USB flash drive.

How to Create a CloudReady Chromium OS Installer on a USB Drive

This process is a little different on Windows than it is on MacOS and Chrome OS, and Neverware recommends that you use Windows for this step even if you aren't planning on installing CloudReady on a Windows computer.

If you have access to a Windows computer, the first step is to download the CloudReady USB maker from Neverware:

  1. Navigate to Neverware.com.

  2. Scroll down to Get the Free Version and select it.

    The Neverware homepage with 'Get the Free Version' highlighted
  3. Select Install the Home Edition.

    The Neverware website with the 'Install the Home Edition' button highlighted
  4. Select Download USB Maker.

    Neverware website with 'Download USB Maker' button highlighted

Once you have downloaded the USB maker, you're ready to create the USB installer. You will need an 8 or 16GB USB stick for this step. You will lose any data that's stored on the USB stick, so back it up before you create your USB installer.

Neverware recommends that you don't use SanDisk USB sticks, but if that's all you have, it should work.

Here's how to create a USB installer for CloudReady:

  1. Launch the CloudReady USB maker program that you downloaded from Neverware.

  2. Click or tap Next.

    The Cloudready installation window with the Next button highlighted
  3. Select 64-bit or 32-bit, and click or tap Next.

    The Cloudready installation window with '64-bit' highlighted
  4. Insert your USB stick and click or tap Next.

    The Cloudready installer with the Next button highlighted

    Do not proceed if you have any important data on your USB stick. Back up any important data first.

  5. Select the USB stick that you want to use, and click or tap Next.

    The Cloudready installer USB device selection screen
  6. Wait for the installation to complete, and click or tap Finish.

  7. Once you have finished making your CloudReady USB stick, you're ready to try it out.

What If You Only Have a Mac or Chromebook?

If you don't have a Windows computer, you can still make a CloudReady USB installer. The process is a little more complicated, and Neverware recommends you use Windows instead, but it is possible.

The first step is to download a CloudReady image to place on your USB stick:

  1. Navigate to Neverware.com.

  2. Scroll down and select Get the Free Version.

  3. Click or tap Install the Home Edition.

  4. Click or tap Download 64-BIT or Download 32-BIT.

    Use the 64-bit version unless you're going to install CloudReady on an older 32-bit computer.

The next step requires you to have Chrome installed on your computer. This is a given if you're using a Chromebook, but if you only have a Mac, and you don't already have Chromium, you will need to install it before you proceed.

Add the Chromebook recovery app:

  1. Navigate to the Chromebook Recovery Utility on the Google Play Store.

  2. Click or tap ADD TO CHROME > Add app.

    The Chromebook Recovery Utility on the Google Play Store. 'Add to Chrome' is highlighted.
  3. Open the Chromebook Recovery Utility.

  4. Click or tap the gear icon > Use local image.

    The Chromebook Recovery Utility app with 'Use local image' highlighted
  5. Select the CloudReady .iso that you downloaded from Neverware.

    If you have a Mac, Neverware recommends that you unzip the .iso using the Unarchiver utility. If you don't, the USB installer creation process may not work.

  6. Click or tap continue.

  7. Wait for the process to finish, and click or tap Done.

How to Run CloudReady From a USB Drive

Once you have finished creating a CloudReady installation USB drive, you're almost ready to go. The last thing you need to do is shut down the computer you want to use CloudReady on, and make sure that it is capable of booting from USB.

If you insert the USB stick in your computer, and it boots to its normal operating system, you will need to change the boot order. Check out our guide to changing boot order in BIOS if you are unsure how to accomplish this. On a Mac, just hold down the option key when booting up and you'll be given a choice of which device to use to boot your Mac.

Here's how to run Chromium OS from a USB stick via CloudReady:

  1. Select a computer that you want to use with CloudReady.

    You can use a laptop, desktop, Windows, Mac, or even Linux computer. The hardware may not be perfectly compatible, but you won't know until you try.

  2. Make sure the computer is off.

  3. Locate a USB port on the computer and insert your CloudReady installation USB.

  4. Turn the computer on.

    If it boots to its normal operating system, you will need to change the boot order.

  5. Wait for the welcome screen to appear.

  6. Click Let's go.

    The welcome screen on the CloudReady app
  7. Check your internet connection.

    The CloudReady app with local networks displayed
  8. If you aren't connected to ethernet, plug in an ethernet cable, or click Add other Wi-Fi network.

  9. If adding a Wi-Fi network, click on your network, or enter the SSID and click Connect. Skip this step if you are connected via ethernet.

  10. Click Next > CONTINUE.

  11. Enter your Gmail address or email that's associated with your Google account, and click Next.

    A CloudReady user signs into their Google account

    If you don't already have a Google account, click More options and follow the on-screen instructions.

  12. Enter your Gmail or Google account password, and click Next.

  13. If prompted, enter your two-factor authentication code and click Next.

This will complete the setup of CloudReady. It's ready to use in this state, and you can immediately start browsing the internet with Chrome, access your Google Drive files, and anything else you would normally do with a Chromebook.

Optional: Run CloudReady From USB Without Permanently Installing It

If you don't want to permanently replace your existing operating system with CloudReady, you can simply leave the USB stick in your computer. Every time you turn it on, it will boot to CloudReady instead of the original operating system. If you ever want to use the original operating system, just turn off the computer, remove the USB stick, and turn the computer back on.

If you don't install CloudReady permanently, you will not receive updates. CloudReady receives regular, automatic updates from Neverware once it has been installed. You will need to periodically create a new CloudReady USB stick to take advantage of updates to the operating system if you choose to not permanently install it.

Installing CloudReady deletes your original operating system and all of the files on your computer. After you install it, your computer will have a version of Chromium OS on it instead of the original operating system. The rest of the data on the computer, including any images or videos you have saved, will also be gone.

Before you install CloudReady permanently, you will need to back up all of your files to the cloud or an external hard drive. You should then boot up CloudReady using the method that was described in the previous section.

If your computer doesn't operate normally when running CloudReady from the USB installer, permanently installing CloudReady won't magically fix the problem. Make sure that all of your devices, including the keyboard, mouse or touchpad, Wi-Fi, and everything else functions normally.

CloudReady is compatible with most computers, but some hardware just isn't compatible with ChromeOS or CloudReady. If you find that your computer won't connect to Wi-Fi, CloudReady probably doesn't have a working driver for your Wi-Fi card. In that case, permanently installing CloudReady would be a bad idea.

If CloudReady works well on your computer, installing it is extremely easy:

  1. Turn your computer on with the CloudReady USB stick already inserted.

  2. Wait for CloudReady to boot up.

  3. Click your user icon in the lower right corner of the system tray.

  4. Click Install CloudReady > INSTALL CLOUDREADY.

    A CloudReady user installs it from USB
  5. Read and agree to all warnings, and wait for the installation process to finish.

  6. Once the installation process has finished, you can turn the computer off and remove the USB stick. When you turn the computer on the next time, it will boot into CloudReady.

Chrome OS vs. Chromium OS

Chrome OS is based on Chromium OS. Chromium OS is an open-source project that anyone (really) can copy, modify, and use in any way they like. That means you could get pretty close to a Chrome OS experience by installing Chromium OS on a computer. It does take some rather technical expertise, however.

What Is CloudReady?

CloudReady is an operating system that is based on Chromium OS, just like Google's official Chrome OS. Both Neverware and Google take the base code from the Chromium OS open source project and add their own proprietary code to create a working operating system.

The advantage of CloudReady, in comparison to Chrome OS, is that you can install it on a wide variety of hardware. If you have an old Windows laptop or MacBook that has slowed down over time, you may be able to turn it into a very close approximation of a Chromebook by installing CloudReady.

Because CloudReady isn't as resource-intensive as modern versions of Windows and MacOS, you may see a performance improvement if you install it on an older computer or laptop.

CloudReady isn't compatible with all computer hardware. Before you install it on your computer, boot it from a USB drive and make sure that your mouse or touchpad, keyboard, Wi-Fi, and other devices work.

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