Turn nearly any laptop into a Chromebook for free

If you want to try a Chromebook without spending any money, a free method from Neverware makes this easy.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor
Chromebooks are not for everyone and those wondering if Chrome OS will meet their needs now have a free method to check it out. All that's needed is a laptop that's not being used and an 8 or 16GB USB stick.

The key is a free installable version of CloudReady by Neverware. Following a simple set of instructions, a bootable image of Chrome is created on a USB drive. This image is live, meaning it can be booted and run directly from the USB stick without actually being installed, but to get the best impression it is recommended that it be installed to the laptop. Note that this will wipe everything off the laptop so be prepared for that.

CloudReady will work on most laptops, MacBooks included, but is recommended on those certified by Neverware. Here is a long list of certified laptops. There are clear instructions on the Neverware web site and it's recommended these be followed to make sure the installation goes smoothly.

The process has several basic steps noted below.

1. Install the Chrome Recovery Tool from the Chrome Web Store.

2. Download the Individual version of CloudReady from Neverware. Note there are other versions for educators and the enterprise but these are paid versions.

3. Launch the recovery tool app and follow the instructions to point to the location where you downloaded the CloudReady image and also the USB stick.

That's it, you're ready to go. Note that some laptops may require special settings in the boot process to allow booting from the USB stick. In those cases Neverware has complete instructions to enable both running directly from the USB stick and installing the OS locally.

The price of Chromebooks is not high but those wanting to give one a try at no cost can use CloudReady free and be testing Chrome OS in just a few minutes.

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