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How To Access The Hidden Canary Mode On Chromebooks

Kenny Strawn's Chrome OS Canary Desktop

Chrome OS Canary (via Kenny Strawn)

Did you know that Chrome OS has a hidden Canary Channel setting? Until recently, neither did I.

Much like the desktop browser version, Canary mode contains the latest development changes, new features and interface tweaks.

But, unlike the desktop version that can be run safely alongside regular stable Chrome, there is a good reason why it is hidden on Chrome OS: it’s buggier than a swamp full of rotting meat.

Crashes, half-implemented features, and a general lack of polish on UI changes; unexpected hardware issues, broken external monitor support and runaway resource-hungry processes are all scenarios that Chrome OS Canary can throw up.

Sounds like a nightmare. If, despite the potential for headaches, you do want to enable Canary mode you can. The awesome Kenny Strawn has detailed the entire switching process on his blog – from enabling developer mode to accessing the command-line prompt needed to issue the update edict.

But be warned: this is not a procedure to be carried out by the curious or inexperienced and there is no easy way to revert back to a stable build after updating.

Enable Chrome OS Canary

  • Wesley Files

    “there is no easy way to revert back to a stable build after updating.”

    When I ended up on the Developer channel by my own haphazard means, it seemed at first like there wasn’t a way to force it back, which was a real headache because the Dev channel made my ARM Chromebook run like garbage. But thanks to the way most of your settings are tied to your Google account (and cloud storage for moving important local files around) it’s actually pretty painless. The built-in Powerwash setting gets you back to a factory fresh state.

    • Kenny Strawn

      The Canary build is a whole different animal. As mentioned on my blog, even chrome://imageburner recovery images will also be Canary builds if written from a Chromebook with a Canary build running. So the only way to possibly revert is to make a run over to chrome://imageburner BEFORE you update.

  • Matthew Wright

    “it’s buggier than a swamp full of rotting meat” Hilarious! :)


      It’s very discouraging because of how true it is.

  • Peter Currie

    “But, unlike the desktop version that can be run safely alongside regular stable Chrome…”

    What is this “desktop version”? I’d like to know more about that and Google hasn’t helped at all. Links would be appreciated.

    • João Victor Schiavo

      ChromeCanary is a stand-alone program, just like Chrome. Google don’t allow you to easily make Canary your default browser, but this can be done anyway with enough messing about if you’re keen. Though when I was using it I noticed little in the way of new features and more in the way of sync’ errors and ram-hogging background processes from apps failing to release the RAM they’d been allocated once they were done with it.