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Summary:

I loaned a Chromebook to a friend who didn’t factory restore the device when returning it. And if you can’t sign in to a Chromebook, you can’t restore it… or can you? A four key combo is the secret to do so.

2013 Chromebooks

One of the maintenance benefits of using a Chromebook is how quick and easy it is to restore the device to its initial factory state. Even on devices with the most meager of specifications, the process shouldn’t take longer than a few minutes. All you have to do is navigate to Settings > Advanced Settings and click the button labeled Powerwash. Chrome OS will then “remove all user accounts and reset your Chrome device to be just like new.”

Of course, this assumes you’re actually signed into the Chromebook to begin with.

HP Chromebook

I ran into a situation where I actually couldn’t get to the powerwash option. I had loaned a Chromebook to a friend, providing it to them in a fresh, out-of-box setup. Obviously, to use the device, they set it up with their Google account. And when I got the device back, I found out they hadn’t restored it back to the factory state.

While I could use the Chromebook as a Guest, I couldn’t take control of it because it was still associated with my friend’s Google account. And as a Guest, the powerwash option isn’t available; rightly so.

It turns out, you can still wipe the Chromebook clean with a keycode combination.

At the first login screen, simply press Alt+Ctrl+Shift+R and tap the Restart button. Doing so brings up the Powerwash prompt, which you can choose to wipe the device clean within a few minutes.

chromebook powerwash

Before finding this key combo, I was in a bit of a panic, thinking I’d have to waste time getting the Chromebook back to my friend to wipe it clean, but now all is right with the world. After a quick factory restore and sign-in with my own account, the Chromebook is as good as new!

  1. how did you figure out the key combo?

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  2. I have an Acer Chromebook and I’m trying the key combo and not getting anywhere. I’m pressing and holding Alt+Cntrl+Shift+R (in that order) and while still holding those keys pressing the power button (I also tried lifting up before pressing the power button). What am I doing wrong here??

    Thanks.

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