Why New Chromebook Users Should Always Update in Guest Mode

Ben Stegner 16-03-2017

Chromebooks are advertised as simple, cheap devices that are meant to do one thing: access the web. They’re quite good at this, and thus make perfect computers for those who doesn’t need much 5 Reasons Chromebooks are the Perfect Computer For an Elderly Person It's your granddad's birthday — but what should you buy him? You could get him socks (again), some gardening equipment, or perhaps a large bottle of whisky… Or you could buy him a Chromebook. Read More more than basic internet access.


However, occasionally Chromebooks do run into some issues. Aside from issues inside the Chrome browser 10 Annoying Chrome Issues and How to Fix Them If you are experiencing Chrome problems, you've come to the right place. In this article, we take a look at some of the most common flaws and provide guidance on how to fix them. Read More , one of the most annoying things that new Chromebook owners encounter is a flurry of updates when they’re setting up their machine.

Chances are that the laptop you bought isn’t up-to-date when you take it out of the box, so it takes Chrome OS a while to check for and download updates. If you’ve just signed into Chrome Sync and are waiting for your browser to bring all your bookmarks and extensions in, your laptop might not check for updates for a while.

What makes this worse is that out-of-the-box problems like black screens and non-responsive touchpads are often solved by an OS update. If you’re waiting on Chrome OS to check for updates, you could be waiting all day, which is frustrating.

There’s a better way: you can force the update in Guest Mode.

On the login screen, click Browse as Guest instead of your own account. Then, click the bottom-right corner of the Shelf and choose Settings. Click the About Chrome OS button at the top of this window, then Check for and apply updates. This will force your Chromebook to check for updates, and you can simply restart when it’s done.


Using this method prevents updates not appearing for hours or having to reboot multiple times to install a series of updates. It’s definitely the best way to get going with any new Chromebook. Once you’ve got your Chromebook set up, make sure you know how to keep it from slowing down 5 Ways to Stop Your Chromebook Slowing Down Has your Chromebook crawled to a halt? Is your Chromebook slow to load pages? Is your Chromebook slowing down generally? Time to speed up Chrome again. Read More .

Have you had problems with a new Chromebook that were solved by an update? Tell us if you knew about this trick, and share your Chrome OS tips, in the comments!

Image Credit: thodonal88 via Shutterstock

Related topics: Chromebook, Troubleshooting.

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  1. ka
    March 30, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    Hi this sounds like a great idea but doesn't the Chrome Guest account automatically wipe itself every time it boots? (This is one of the appealing safety features of using the guest mode). So wouldn't updates from the Guest account be temporary?

    • Ben Stegner
      April 2, 2017 at 5:03 pm

      The browsing information from the account does erase every time you reboot, but system updates applied in guest mode will stick for the entire system.

  2. Legion
    March 19, 2017 at 4:00 am

    So by "Chromebook Users Should Always Update in Guest Mode" you actually mean "the first time you start up a new Chromebook you should update in guest mode"
    Don't you people have editors?

    • Ben Stegner
      April 2, 2017 at 5:04 pm

      Sometimes the titles we write for articles are changed before they go live. I apologize for the confusion.

  3. MarkInStPaul
    March 17, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    Had Chromebooks for 4 years and have never experienced this. Checking takes no more than a minute and the update installs in another minute.

  4. Randy
    March 17, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    Are you sure your using a Chromebook? My updated have always been really fast and take no time at all. If Chromebooks are slow at updating then you must really hate Windows. If you have a new Chromebook with the Google Play store, then you can do a lot more than just web based apps. I have the Samsung Chromebook Plus, it includes touch screen, HD display, and a stylus (great for one note).

    • Ben Stegner
      April 2, 2017 at 5:06 pm

      Yes, I actually had this problem with the first Chromebook I bought. The touchpad was skipping around and barely usable, so I had to use an external mouse for the initial setup. After 10-15 minutes, an update icon appeared in the system tray and once I applied it, the touchpad issues were gone.

  5. Jacqueline A Zapata
    March 17, 2017 at 1:44 am

    I have a Samsung Chromebook when it first came out for 3 1/2 years that if I would of known it doesn't download I would of never brought. Great for other things and fast too. And if it has update why not an update to download any thing from the laptop.

  6. Martin Ellis
    March 16, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    I'm sorry but I have to ask. Are you sure you've been using Chromebooks? I have never had, nor even heard, of these issues anywhere else. Sign in, setup, there'll be an update and that's it.

    • Ben Stegner
      April 2, 2017 at 5:07 pm

      Yes, I actually had this problem with the first Chromebook I bought. The touchpad was skipping around and barely usable, so I had to use an external mouse for the initial setup. After 10-15 minutes, an update icon appeared in the system tray and once I applied it, the touchpad issues were gone.

      This reddit thread where the inspiration for this piece came from has plenty of people who experienced this issue as well:

  7. Daniel Karpantschof
    March 16, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    Why do I need to log in as guest? I can always do this.

    • Andrew Hartley
      March 16, 2017 at 6:44 pm

      Not sure which Chromebooks they have experience with (or not). I have set up lots of chromebases both new and old and have never a) had to wait all day b) experienced loads of updates. As for Chromebooks only being useful for basic web browsing - someone is a little confused (or has a hidden agenda!).

      • Ben Stegner
        April 2, 2017 at 5:08 pm

        There's no hidden agenda. Chromebooks are designed for light web access. There are plenty of apps to do other things with them, but it's not as if a Chromebook is meant to be your main photo/video editing machine.