How to Open Windows Apps on Chromebook

No matter which app you need on Windows, there's a way to use it on Chromebooks

What to Know

  • Windows apps weren't designed to run on Chromebooks, so consider finding browser-based or ChromeOS equivalents.
  • To run Windows apps directly on Chromebook, you'll need to use a compatibility layer tool or remote access to another PC.
  • Some apps, such as more advanced games, may be difficult to run effectively.

This article provides instructions for how to run Windows apps on a Chromebook.

Do Windows Apps Run on Chromebook?

Most Windows apps will run, in one way or another, on most modern Chromebooks, using a few different methods.

Since Chromebooks are designed to use web browsers as their operating system and the cloud as their storage system, Chromebooks typically have slower processors and limited physical storage.

How Can I Run Windows Apps on My Chromebook?

Since storage and power are limited on Chromebooks, a little preparation goes a long way.

  1. Store any materials that you’ll want access to on a cloud storage system, preferably one you can sync to your apps. Consider backing up materials on both Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive, for extra security and easier access.

  2. Check your Chromebook's manual and note the processor and how much RAM your Chromebook has. Open the Files app in your toolbar and click the three-dot menu in the upper right-hand corner to see how much storage is on your Chromebook. You should also enable the Google Play Store if you haven't already done so.

    A Chromebook menu with the storage space and three-dot menu highlighted
  3. Make a checklist of the apps you need to use and which company publishes them. Prioritize apps by how important they are to your needs, how often you run them, and whether you need to use them offline or in the absence of an internet connection.

    Search for the company as a publisher in the Chrome Store. This query will show you a full list of what they currently publish for Chrome OS. You can also click on their name in either store and it will take you to their publisher page.

  4. For any apps that you can't run on Chrome, check how much space they'll need by looking up their recommended specifications. Verify the app will run; this is available on CrossOver's website or in its documentation.

How to Install CrossOver Chrome OS and Run Windows Apps

As of this writing, CrossOver requires 196MB to install and run. Be sure to subtract this from your available space before you begin downloading apps. Any apps you download will be available from the home screen when you open the CrossOver app, and will load and run like a standard program otherwise.

  1. Go to Settings > Advanced > Developers and turn on the Linux Development Environment.

    The Linux Developers Environment, Turn On toggle, and Developers highlighted in the Settings of a Chromebook
  2. Make the disk partition at least 10 GB.

    The Set Up Linux Development alert in Chrome OS with Disk Size options highlighted
  3. Download the .deb from the CrossOver website, highlight it in the Downloads folder, and use the Open command in the upper right corner. You'll be automatically prompted to install the file with Linux. Click Install.

    A Chromebook prompting you to install a file with Linux with Open and Install highlighted
  4. After installation, launch CrossOver and select Install Windows Software. Search for your preferred app, and download it. It should then be available in your app bar.

    The main menu of CrossOver ChromeOS with Install Windows Software highlighted
  5. If you don't find your preferred app, download the .exe program to your Chromebook directly, and choose Select Installer.

    Selecting an installer in the CrossOver menu with Select Installer highlighted
  6. Choose the installer and the appropriate operating system "bottle" for the app.

    The "bottle" menu for CrossOver Chrome OS with Select Bottle highlighted
  • How do I delete apps on a Chromebook?

    To delete apps from a Chromebook, select the Launcher icon, then select the up arrow to display the full Launcher screen. Right-click on the app you want to uninstall, then select Uninstall or Remove from Chrome.

  • How do I install apps on a Chromebook?

    To download and install apps on a Chromebook, click the Launcher icon, then open the Google Play Store. Browse apps by category or search for an app in the search bar. When you find an app you want to install, select Install. The app will download and appear in the Launcher.

  • How do I run Linux apps on a Chromebook?

    First, make sure your Chromebook supports Linux apps: Navigate to Settings and search for Linux. If you see Linux (Beta), your Chromebook has Linux app support. Then, locate the .deb file of the Linux app you want to download and click Download. You'll find the file in your Chromebook's Downloads folder; double-click it to launch the app.

  • Can I run EXE files on my Chromebook?

    No. Since Chromebooks don't run Windows software, they can't run executable files. If you need to install and run a Windows program with an EXE file, one option is to install and use Chrome Remote Desktop, which lets you access a connected Windows 10 desktop, where you could run the EXE file.

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