Chromebooks are designed to be online pretty much all the time. Sure, you can do a good few things with one when you don’t have a connection, but for the best results you’ll need access to the web.

If there are no Wi-Fi networks available, then the answer to your problems could be sitting in your pocket, as Chromebooks can use your phone's mobile data connection to get online. Almost every modern smartphone has a setting that enables it to broadcast a Wi-Fi hotspot to which your Chromebook can connect - just like any Wi-Fi network.

Here we'll explain how to set it all up and get it working.

Chromebook Instant tethering with Android phones

Although you could simply enable a Wi-Fi hotspot on any Android phone which supports this, there's a better way. 

Instant tethering provides a deeper level of integration with ChroneOS, allowing you to send and receive text messages, for example. It also makes the process amazingly simple, as you'll see below.0

Google provides a list of the Chromebooks which don't support Instant tethering, so you can check if your model does or does not support it. 

Of course, you can also try following the guide below and if you don’t see the option for Instant tethering appear after you’ve connected your Android phone to your Chromebook, then it means one of the devices doesn’t support it.

And if you can't use it, search your phone's settings for Wi-Fi hotspot, and enable that instead. Take a note of the name and password, then use this to connect your Chromebook to that network.

How to let your Chromebook use your Android phone’s mobile data

Gaining access to the mobile data on your Android phone is quite easy on ChromeOS. To do so, follow these steps (although you’ll want to check with your mobile data provider whether tethering is allowed on your plan first):

  • Click on the clock area in the bottom right of the Chromebook’s screen.
  • Select the Settings option
  • Find the section called Connected devices, then under Android phone select the Set up optionHow to tether a Chromebook to mobile data: Set up Android phone
  • Follow the instructions on the screen to connect your Android phone to your Chromebook
  • When your phone is set up, make sure its Bluetooth connection is enabled, then (on your Chromebook) go back to Settings > Connected devices and select your phone
  • You should see a section called Instant Tethering. Click on the setting, then ensure the toggle switch is turned on.How to tether a Chromebook to mobile data: Instant tethering
  • In the list of available networks, click the one with your phone’s name and click the Connect
  • Look for Mobile Data, under which should be your Android phone, and select the latterHow to tether a Chromebook to mobile data: Setting up
  • You should now see the word Connected under your phone, meaning your Chromebook is using its mobile data.
  • If you have trouble connecting, go to your phone and navigate to Settings > Network & internet > Hotspot & tethering> then enable Bluetooth tethering.
  • When you want to stop using the mobile data, return to the settings on your Chromebook and click Disconnect.How to tether a Chromebook to mobile data: Disconnecting Android phone

How to let your Chromebook use your iPhone’s mobile data

You can’t directly connect an iPhone to a Chromebook as you can with an Android phone, but you can still use the Personal Hotspot feature in iOS to access an iPhone’s mobile network. 

To do that, follow these steps:

  • On your iPhone, go to Settings > Personal Hotspot and ensure the Allow Others to Join option is enabled.
  • Below that you’ll find the Wi-Fi Password Make a note of the password as you’ll need to it access the Hotspot.How to tether a Chromebook to mobile data: iPhone Settings
  • On your Chromebook, go to Settings > Network then select your iPhone from the list of Known networks.How to tether a Chromebook to mobile data: Find iPhone network
  • Enter the password for the Hotspot and click Connect. You should now be able to use the mobile data from your iPhone on your Chromebook.How to tether a Chromebook to mobile data: Connecting iPhone
  • When you’re finished, go back to the Settings on your Chromebook and click Disconnect.

You should now be able to get your Chromebook online via your smartphone. Should you find that your device doesn’t have the ability to use Instant tethering, then check out our roundup of the best Chromebooks to find ones that will. Alternatively, you can read our tips on how to use a Chromebook offline.