The addition of Android apps to Chrome OS is a big deal, but sadly it’s also taking a while for Google to push that functionality to all models. So far only three Chromebooks can officially run Android apps, and while more are on the way, there are still plenty of Chromebook users who will be waiting for quite a while.

Luckily, there’s a trick to get early access. Thanks to some savvy Chromebook users over on Google+ (via Chrome Story) we’ve been able to find a way to install the Play Store on any current Chromebook which will at some point officially support Android apps. Please do note that this won’t work with many older models. If your Chromebook is listed here, odds are this will work.

The first thing to note about all of this: it’s unstable. Getting this functionality on your machine requires using the Canary Channel which can at times by very unstable, even unusable. Proceed with caution, 9to5Google assumes no responsibility for anything that may happen to your device if you decide to try this.

With that out of the way, let’s get started. The first step is to enable developer mode on your Chromebook. This varies slightly by model, but for most Chromebooks it should work when pressing Esc + Refresh (F5) + Power. After that the screen should go blank followed by a warning screen. When this shows, press Ctrl + D and you should then proceed to switch to developer mode. This can take upwards of 20 minutes depending on the device you are using, so please be patient.

Note: Once developer mode has been enabled, you will need to press Ctrl + D on boot to skip the verification screen.

The next step is to switch to the canary channel. To do this press Ctrl + Alt + T to open a command prompt. From here type shell to get a prompt and then enter sudo su to attain root access. Last, enter the following command to switch to the canary channel*.

update_engine_client –channel=canary-channel –update

Now that you’ve entered the canary channel, you’ll need to open another command prompt by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T, followed again by shell to open a prompt.

Next, type the following commands.

  1. sudo su –
  2. echo ‘–enable-arc’ > /usr/local/chrome_dev.conf
  3. mount -o bind /usr/local/chrome_dev.conf /etc/chrome_dev.conf

Once these commands have been entered. Press Ctrl + Shift + Q two times to sign out. Once you’ve signed out, sign back in.

Once you have done all of this and rebooted your machine, your device should have access to the Google Play Store and it should launch immediately after you log in. If it does not, check your settings menu for an option to enable Google Play.

So far this tutorial has been tested and proven to work on the following Chromebooks, but should also work with most other models. On some Chromebooks this also seems to work on the developer channel, but you’ll have to try that out for yourself.

  • Dell Chromebook 13 (i3)
  • Acer Chromebook 14
  • Acer Chromebook 15
  • Samsung Chromebook 3
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2 2015

Switch back to stable

If desired, users can switch back to the stable Chrome OS channels, although doing so will require another command. First, hit Ctrl + Alt + T, type the shell command, then sudo su. Following that, enter the following command to switch back to the stable channel:

update_engine_client –channel=stable-channel -update

After this has been completed, re-enable OS verification by pressing the space bar at boot.

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About the Author

Ben Schoon

Ben is a writer and video producer for 9to5Google.

Find him on Twitter @NexusBen. Send tips to schoon@9to5g.com or encrypted to benschoon@protonmail.com.