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How to Access the Command Prompt on a Chromebook

Posted by Heather on December 7, 2018
Chromebook command prompt

On  a computer, a command prompt is what’s known as a command line interpreter application. In layman’s terms, you enter commands into it, the command prompt performs those commands. The commands you can enter run the gamut from automating tasks, admin functions, troubleshooting, debugging, and beyond. It takes a different form depending on the operating system. Considering it’s not immediately apparent how to access it on a Chromebook or other devices running Chrome OS, it’s not uncommon for people to assume it’s just not there.

The command prompt does exist on a Chromebook, just not in the sense that it exists as a separate application like on a Windows or Mac computer, where it’s known as the terminal.  It doesn’t take much to get to a command prompt on a Chromebook, though.

We’ll be telling you just how you can get there.  You may be new to Chromebooks or the Chrome operating system, but when you’ve become used to having the option of using the command prompt, fret not.  We’ve got your back.

Command Prompt – crosh shell

The command prompt on a Chromebook is accessible from the Google Chrome Browser, which comes pre-installed.  Okay, so, you’re probably thinking ‘well, how do I get there?’  It’s actually quite simple.

Accessing the crosh shell

Chromebook crosh

Just press ctrl + alt + T and this brings you to what’s called the crosh shell (command prompt or terminal) on a Chromebook.  It’ll now launch in a separate tab of the Chrome browser. Once the crosh shell has launched, you’ll type “shell” to get to the root Linux shell from within your Chrome Browser.

To use the shell, you’ll need to be in developer mode; we also recommend knowing what you’re doing so things don’t go haywire and you don’t break your Chromebook. Or at the very least, find a guide that you can put a lot of faith in. This one is pretty beginner friendly and easy to understand, so you won’t need to wade through eight pages of impenetrable techno-babble just to understand your own Chromebook.

To see the basic crosh shell commands available on the Chromebook, you’d type “help” after the crosh command prompt.  When you’re in need of more advanced commands type “help_advanced” instead.  The advanced commands get used for debugging purposes.

Help command

Why would you want to use the command prompt or crosh shell on your Chromebook?  Well, if your just curious and want to poke around on your Chromebook device, there are various commands you can run to check on things.  Like what?  In the basic help portion of crosh, you can use the ping command or the top command.  Top shows you the system information and all the processes that are running during the current session.  This is what it looks like when we type the help command in crosh on our Chromebook;                                                                                                                                       Crosh help

Help_advanced command

To do more advanced poking around, yes, that’s right you’ll need to type the help_advanced command and choose one of the commands that are listed on your Chromebook to check those specifics.                              Crosh help advanced

Even if you’re not a developer and don’t plan on debugging the system, crosh is useful for getting a status update on your Chromebook.

Some of the commands you may want to run are checking on the battery information of your Chromebook.  You can make sure your battery’s firmware is up to date and trigger an update from crosh if you wish.  You could also test your battery to make sure it’s not having any health issues and that it’s working properly.  Having connectivity problems?  You can see what the connectivity status of your Chromebook is and work on getting things back up and running.

Want to check on the free and used memory, even get detailed memory information to test the available free memory? You can do that under the advanced help options.  Other than that, most of the rest of the crosh commands are intended for debugging and mostly used by developers.

This post covers the basics of the Chromebook’s crosh command prompt and the commands that can be used to do basic information checking. Any Chromebook user may want to find out basics and learn how to use the Chromebooks command shell if for nothing else out of curiosity or just because they can. Besides, building a deeper understanding of the tech you use on a daily basis probably won’t be a bad thing. Just don’t get foolhardy with it; the other more advanced commands should be utilized by those who are very knowledgeable about what they’re doing or as intended by developers.

One thought on “How to Access the Command Prompt on a Chromebook”

klayton jackson says:
is there another way a back door of sorts to get into the CMD console because i was trying securly and had a malfunction and won’t let me in my cmd console so I cannot get into my dev mode and it won’t let me in my cmd console so I can’t activate my dev mode from the cmd console
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