These are the most common Pixelbook problems, and how to fix them

The Google Pixelbook features a slick design, quick internals, and — like any new product — a few minor issues. As early adopters can tell you, small usability kinks tend to get ironed out pretty quickly with new releases. However, if you picked up a Pixelbook on day one and are having some issues, look no further.

Here are some of the most common Google Pixelbook problems and how to fix them.

Chrome OS is damaged

This is one of the first issues you might encounter if your Pixelbook is misbehaving. Shortly after booting up, you might get an error message that says, “Chrome OS is missing or damaged.” This error comes in a variety of different forms, but it’s a fairly common one, and the fix is the same across the board.

First, reboot your Pixelbook and see if that fixes the problem. If not and you can’t sign in, your first step is to reset the device to the original factory settings.

Step 1: Press the Ctrl + Alt + Shift + R keys.

Step 2: Select Restart when prompted.

Step 3: Once the Pixelbook reboots, click the Reset button and sign in to your Google Account.

Now your Pixelbook will reset itself to factory settings, and, hopefully, your boot issues will disappear. For more information on giving your Pixelbook a Powerwash, read our guide on how to reset a Chromebook to factory settings.

If resetting doesn’t fix your Chrome OS issue, you have a more “nuclear” option available: Reinstall Chrome OS entirely. This process requires a second PC, downloading a new copy of Chrome OS, and creating a bootable flash drive. After that, you must place your Pixelbook in recovery mode.

The whole process is very lengthy and involved. Google’s instructions will walk you through it step-by-step.

Google Assistant not responding

Google Pixelbook Keyboard

This one isn’t a huge deal, but given how important Google Assistant is to the Pixelbook’s overall appeal, it’s pretty irritating when it doesn’t function properly. Thankfully, you have a few options here.

First, press the Google Assistant button. As shown above, it resides between the Ctrl and Alt keys, and it’s labeled with the four-sphere Assistant symbol. One of two things will happen when you hit this key:

  1. You’ll hear the Assistant ask, “Hi, how can I help?”
  2. You’ll be presented with the option to turn the Google Assistant on. If that’s the case, click Yes.
Chrome OS Google Assistant Setting

Now say, “OK Google,” out loud and see if it responds. If not, do the following:

Step 1: Click the System Clock, followed by the Gear icon on the pop-up menu. This opens the Chrome OS settings window.

Step 2: Scroll down until you locate Search and Assistant.

Step 3: Verify that Google Assistant reads Enabled, as shown above. If not, click the setting and then click the toggle on the following screen. It should turn blue, indicating that Google Assistant is now enabled.

Chrome OS Listening Google Assistant

Step 4: Verify that “Ok Google” is enabled by pressing the Google Assistant key or simply saying, “OK Google.”

If nothing happens, move on to this next fix.

Step 1: Click the System Clock, followed by the Gear icon on the pop-up menu. This opens the Chrome OS settings.

Step 2: The settings window appears on your screen. Scroll down until you locate Search and Assistant.

Step 3: Select Google Assistant.

Step 4: On the following screen, make sure the “Ok Google” setting is Always On or On (Recommended). If it’s set to Off, choose one of the two other options on the drop-down menu. Follow the steps to retain Google Assistant so it can recognize your voice.

Chrome OS Ok Google Always On

This should solve the problem most of the time. If you’re still having problems getting the Pixelbook to answer you or hear you correctly, there are a couple of different reasons for that. If you’re too far away from the Pixelbook, or if you’re in a noisy room, you can still access the Google Assistant via the Assistant button.

Tabs refresh constantly

Task Manager

This next issue is both bizarre and a huge headache. Sometimes the Pixelbook decides to continuously refresh tabs in your web browser. Why? It’s due to low memory.

This annoyance has a simple fix, so don’t worry if your browser is currently going haywire.

Step 1: Close all your open tabs and reboot your Pixelbook.

Step 2: When you log back in, press the Search + Esc keys (the Shift + Esc method is retiring, but still may work).

Step 3: The Task Manager appears on your screen. Close anything you’re not currently using, but leave all the System items alone.

Step 4: Open the Chrome browser and type the following into the URL field: chrome://extensions

Step 5: Your extensions library appears on the screen. Disable or uninstall anything you absolutely do not need. This will make sure Chrome doesn’t end up using more memory than it needs to.

Pen requires too much pressure

The Pixelbook Pen isn’t exactly an essential part of the Pixelbook experience, but it does offer some pretty great functionality — even if there’s no way to attach it to the Pixelbook itself. The pen allows you to circle items you want to search, handwrite notes, and enter text, but sometimes it doesn’t work quite as well as it should.

Some users have reported trouble with using the pen for everyday tasks. Sometimes it requires an inordinate amount of pressure to use — and pressing too hard on an expensive glass display to just write your name isn’t exactly a great user experience. The problem here has a couple of different solutions.

First, try giving your Pixelbook a Powerwash to reset it to factory settings. To do that,  follow Google’s directions, or scroll up and check out the first item in this article. Once your Pixelbook is Powerwashed, try to use the pen and see if you’re still having trouble with pressure detection.

If the pen still needs a lot of muscle to detect that it’s in use, contact Google Support to see if you can get a replacement pen. To do that, visit Google’s Help Center and click Contact Us at the bottom of the page.

Making a high-pitched noise

This one is pretty troubling. It’s never a good sign when your laptop is making an unfamiliar noise, especially a high-pitched whine. In this case, chances are the sound may be coming from your Pixelbook charger.

First, unplug the charger from the wall to see if the noise stops. If it does, it’s definitely the charger. Next, plug the charger into a different outlet. If the noise resumes, it’s most likely defective.

The only option here is to contact Google’s Pixelbook support team and see if they’ll let you exchange the charger. To do that, visit Google’s Help Center, click Contact Us at the bottom of the page, and explain the problem.

Meanwhile, try using a different USB-C charger if you can.

If the noise emits directly from the Pixelbook itself, it may be suffering hardware issues, like a failing fan as the device grows hotter under its workload. Issues with the motherboard or battery may be the culprit as well. Again, you’ll need to contact Google’s Help Center regarding these issues.

Smart Lock is unavailable

One of the coolest features on the Pixelbook is the ability to unlock it using a paired Android smartphone. The Smart Lock feature can be tough to set up properly, and some users have had trouble getting it to work at all.

For Smart Lock to work, you need to verify the following:

  1. Your Android phone is updated to the latest version of Android. Smart Lock requires Android 5.0 or higher (Lollipop or newer).
  2. Your Android phone is on the same Wi-Fi network as your Pixelbook.
  3. Your Android phone and Pixelbook are signed in to the same Google Account.
  4. Your Android phone is linked to your Pixelbook and enabled.
Chrome OS Enable Smart Lock

First, do the following to see if Smart Lock was somehow disabled:

Step 1: Click the System Clock, followed by the Gear icon on the pop-up menu. This opens the Chrome OS settings.

Step 2: The settings window appears on your screen. Click Connected Devices on the left.

Step 3: Under Connected Devices displayed on the right, click on your linked Android phone.

Step 4: On the following screen, verify that Smart Lock is toggled on (blue). If not, click it to turn it blue.

If you don’t even see your Android phone listed under Connected Devices, you’ll need to add it before utilizing Smart Lock.

Step 1: Click the System Clock, followed by the Gear icon on the pop-up menu. This opens the Chrome OS settings.

Step 2: The settings window appears on your screen. Click Connected Devices listed on the left.

Step 3: Under Connected Devices shown on the right, click Set Up listed next to Android Phone.

Step 4: Follow the instructions. You’ll see a Verify button linger for a few minutes until the Pixelbook and Android phone shakes hands over the internet.

With your Android phone now linked, Smart Lock is automatically enabled. Other phone-related options include Instant Tethering and Messaging.

Can’t access the Play Store or Assistant

You’re all set up on your Pixelbook, you’re signed in, and you’re ready to download your apps — but you can’t access the Play Store, and Google Assistant isn’t working. Worry not — there’s a solution (but it’s not an easy one).

The problem here, that some users have reported, occurs when you sign in with a G Suite account instead of a regular Google Account. You can still use your Pixelbook with your G Suite account, but you need to dig deep and set aside some time. G Suite accounts are typically used in education or corporate settings, so if you got your Pixelbook from work or school, chances are you’re logged in using a G Suite account.

One helpful user on the Google Pixelbook support forum created a tutorial that will walk you through the whole process of enabling access to the Play Store and Google Assistant on a G Suite account.

However, you have an easier route: Simply set up a regular Google Account, and you’ll be good to go.

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