Why can’t I unlock a Chromebook with my phone?

Woman using Chromebook with phone
Locked and loaded: unlock your Chromebook with a phone

Google offers a very neat feature called Smart Lock, which allows Chromebook owners to unlock their computer with their phone. It saves having to type in a password on the lock screen, which is handy if you have a long, hard-to-remember password on your Google account – which you should have. However, even after setting up Smart Lock, you may find you can’t unlock a Chromebook with your phone.  

Here, we’re going to explain how to set up Smart Lock and why it might not work quite as you expected.

How to unlock a Chromebook with a phone using Smart Lock

To switch on Smart Lock on your Chromebook, do the following:

1. Click the clock in the bottom right corner of the Chromebook screen

2. Click the Settings cog

3. Select Connected devices from the left-hand pane

4. If you’ve not already connected your Android phone to your Chromebook, follow the onscreen instructions on how to do it

5. Once connected, select your phone from the list under Connected devices and switch on the Smart Lock button

6. You will be asked to enter your Google password and you may be asked to accept prompts on the phone too

Why am I not seeing the option to unlock my Chromebook with my phone

Once you’ve gone through the above process, every time your screen is locked – either because you’ve manually locked the screen or you’ve closed the laptop lid – you should see the option to unlock with your phone when you revisit the lock screen. Note, however, that your phone’s Bluetooth must be on and the phone itself must be unlocked for this to work. 

What Google doesn’t make clear is that Smart Lock doesn’t work if you’ve chosen to sign out of your account, or if you’ve fully powered the laptop down and restarted the system. Here, you will need to re-enter the password or whichever log-in method you’ve chosen.

That still makes logging into your Chromebook a pain if you’ve got a long, secure Google account password. 

One way around this is to create a PIN to log in to the device. The PIN (or password) can be used after you’ve powered down or signed out, and it’s normally easier to remember than a strong password. Needless to say, it’s a bit less secure too, so you might want to avoid setting a PIN if you often take your Chromebook away from home.

To set a PIN for your Chromebook:

1. Re-open the settings menu, by clicking the Settings cog found by clicking the clock

2. Select Security and privacy from the left-hand pane

3. Select Lock screen and sign-in and enter your password

4. Choose PIN or Password from the screen and create a PIN – don’t make it obvious, such as your own date of birth, as that information is normally incredibly easy to find online

 If you’ve got bigger problems, read our guide to fixing a Chromebook that won’t start!

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at

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