Google will soon offer Chrome OS device owners a bit more control over their devices, by letting you turn off automatic updates.

Like every other operating system, Chrome OS receives updates on a regular basis – even recently bumping from a six-week schedule to a four-week one. However, unlike most OSes, Chrome OS updates are installed automatically and currently cannot be skipped or disabled.

In the course of normal online usage, Chrome OS will download updates in the background and install them the next time you reboot. As of today, the only ways to not update your personal Chromebook are to use it offline or just not reboot once an update has been downloaded. Additionally, enterprise IT managers can choose when their fleet of managed Chrome OS devices receives an update.

According to a recent code change, Google is preparing a new toggle in the Settings app which will let you choose whether or not your Chromebook updates automatically. Like almost every other work-in-progress feature, things will initially be hidden behind a flag in chrome://flags.

Allow Consumer Auto Update Toggle

Allow enabling the consumer auto update toggle in settings

#consumer-auto-update-toggle-allowed

Once enabled, a new toggle should appear in the Settings app, under About Chrome OS > Additional details. Using info from the code change, we’ve created a mockup of what the toggle should look like and where it will appear.

Upcoming Chrome OS toggle to disable automatic updates:
Updates
Get the latest features and security improvements
Mockup of the upcoming toggle

When you try to disable Chrome OS automatic updates, you’ll be greeted with a pop-up window reminding you of the reasons why you probably want to keep updates enabled. You’re then able to confirm or cancel the change.

Turn off automatic updates?

Your device may no longer work properly, and you may experience security and performance issues.

One possible motivation for Google to begin letting updates be optional is the recent launch of Chrome OS Flex. For Chromebooks – here meaning devices that run Chrome OS out of the box – Google has a rigorous testing procedure to ensure issues are not introduced on any actively supported device.

Meanwhile, Chrome OS Flex is intended to be installed on almost any PC hardware, a scenario that Google can’t feasibly test to the same degree as Chromebooks. It’s possible that this is simply intended for Chrome OS Flex users to have direct control over when their device updates. That said, there’s no indication that this won’t be available to all Chromebook owners as well.

Even if you do disable these broader system updates, in the near future, your Chrome browser will be able to continue updating as normal. Google has been hard at work for over a year making it possible to separate Chrome updates from Chrome OS updates, which would benefit those who have disabled system updates just as much as those whose Chromebooks have reached end-of-life.

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Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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