Google is adding a new PIN unlock feature to Chromebooks. You’ll soon be able to set a numeric PIN and more easily unlock your Chromebook without typing your Google account password.
How PIN unlock works
This feature works similarly to the PIN unlock feature found on smartphones, tablets, and Windows devices. After signing in to your Chromebook, you can set a separate numeric PIN. When your Chromebook wakes from sleep, you can enter the PIN on the lock screen instead of typing your (presumably) longer Google account password to unlock it. This is particularly convenient if you’re using a touchscreen Chromebook, where a short numeric PIN will be far easier to type than a string of letters and numbers (a must for email-password security) on a touchscreen keyboard.
Note, however, that PIN unlock will only work on the lock screen, and not the login screen. According to OMG Chrome, a Chromium developer explained: “It’d be great to support login as well, but there are some security considerations that have to be thought through and addressed first.”
This isn’t the only way to more easily sign into your Chromebook, of course. The Smart Lock feature is still available and allows you to sign in to your Chromebook using an Android phone.
It’s only in the Canary channel for now
This feature is currently only available in Chrome OS’s super-unstable Canary channel. It’s not even available in the normal developer channel.
Once you’ve switched your Chromebook over to the Canary channel, you’ll find a “Quick Unlock (PIN)” option under chrome://flags. After you enable that, you can head to Chrome’s new material-design settings page at chrome://md-settings and you’ll be able to set a PIN.
We recommend not jumping to the Canary channel. If PIN unlock works well, it will make its way to the stable channel within a few releases. The Canary channel is very unstable.