One of the advantages of a Chromebook is that it needs virtually no maintenance. There's no need to download large system updates on a regular basis, and when you go from one version of ChromeOS to the next you’d hardly notice anything had happened.

But, like any computer system, ChromeOS does need updating every now and again to ensure that you’re running the latest iteration - particularly if you've left your Chromebook stuffed in a drawer for months or even years. Here’s how to keep your Chromebook in tip-tip shape by updating the OS. 

How do you know when it’s time to update a Chromebook?

ChromeOS regularly checks for updates and will download them automatically in the background. If you restart your device regularly, then the updates will be applied automatically, but if not you will see either a pop-up box telling you that one is available or there will be an orange circle with an arrow inside it displayed in the status area in the bottom right of the screen.

Those using their Chromebooks at work or school will see one of two colours for the latter, blue signifies that an update is recommended, while orange means that one is required (usually to update the security features).  

Clicking on the circle should present you with the Restart to Update option, so click this or manually restart your Chromebook and the updates will be applied.

How to manually update your Chromebook

If you think that your Chromebook might not have picked up an update, you can manually check for yourself. To do this, click the time in the bottom right corner of the screen then select the gear icon for Settings.

How to update a Chromebook: Settings Menu

In the left column you’ll find About Chrome OS at the bottom of the list. Click this.

How to update a Chromebook: Settings

Next, select the Check for Updates option.  

How to update a Chromebook: Update

Your Chromebook should now download any available updates, then you just need to click the Restart to Update option when it appears and ChromeOS will take care of the rest.

What to do when a ChromeOS update doesn’t work

Updates usually go through smoothly, but if you’re having trouble with one, here’s a few things to try:

Turn your Chromebook off and then power it up again to see if that kickstarts the update.

Check that the Wi-Fi or data connection is working properly. If you can, switch to another network to find out whether the connection is causing the issue.

Should you get no joy after repeated attempts to download and apply an update, you can try resetting your Chromebook or in the worst-case scenario completely wiping it back to factory condition by using the Powerwash feature.

If all of those options don’t fix the situation, you should try taking it to a computer repair technician or maybe consider replacing it with a shiny, new model such as those found in our guide to the best Chromebooks.