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

Jayce Wagner
Google Pixelbook hands-on review

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Google Pixelbook features a slick design, quick internals, and like any brand-new product, a few minor issues. As any early adopter will tell you, small usability kinks tend to get ironed out pretty quickly with new releases. But 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 off, just give it a reboot and see if that fixes the problem. If not, make sure your important files are backed up to Google Drive, or any other cloud storage service, because this next step will require you to wipe your Pixelbook clean.

Once you’ve got everything backed up, sign out of your Pixelbook and press Ctrl + Alt + Shift + R, and click Restart. Once the Pixelbook reboots, click the Reset button and sign into 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, head over to our guide on how to reset a Chromebook to factory settings.

If this doesn’t fix your Chrome OS issue, you still have the nuclear option available: Reinstall Chrome OS entirely. It’s a very lengthy and involved process, but head here and Google will walk you through it step-by-step.

Google assistant not responding

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 up, hit the Google Assistant button — it’s the one that looks like three circles, it’s between the Ctrl and Alt keys.

One of two things will happen when you hit that key. One, you’ll hear the assistant ask “Hi, how can I help?” or you’ll be presented with the option to turn the Google Assistant on. If you’re asked to turn the Assistant on, click yes.

Google Assistant Setup

Now say “OK Google” out loud — and see if it responds. If not, let’s head into the settings. Click your Account photo and then Settings, it’s marked with a gear icon. From here, scroll till you find the Search engine and Google Assistant section. Here, what we’re looking for is the Google Assistant sub-section. It should say enabled or disabled here, make sure enabled is checked.

Google Assistant Settings 2

Next up we’re going to make sure “OK Google” is enabled. To do that, hit your Google Assistant button again. At the top right of the menu that pops up, click the little icon that looks like a spacebar. Then click the three vertical dots, then Settings, then Chromebook, and finally, OK Google detection. Here, just make sure it’s switched on. If it isn’t, click it on and follow the steps to re-train your Pixelbook to recognize your voice.

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 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

This next issue is bizarre, but a huge headache for people who have had to endure it. Sometimes the Pixelbook decides to refresh tabs in your web browser over and over and over again. This one has a simple fix though, so don’t worry if your browser is currently going haywire.

If your Pixelbook is doing this, it’s because it’s low on memory. Close all your open tabs, reboot your Pixelbook, then let’s take a look at your task manager. To do that, press Shift + Esc, and from here we’ll be able to see which apps you’re currently running. Go ahead and close anything you’re not currently using, but leave the green “System” items alone.

Task Manager

Then fire up your browser, and let’s have a look at your extensions. Once Chrome is open, type chrome://extensions in your search bar and hit Enter. This will open a list of all your currently installed extensions.

Go ahead and disable or uninstall anything you don’t absolutely need. This will make sure Chrome doesn’t end up using more memory than it needs to.

Pen requires too much pressure to use

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 stick it to the Pixelbook itself. The Pen allows you to circle items you want to search for, 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 require 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 different solutions. First up, try giving your Pixelbook a Powerwash. Not a literal one, this one just resets it to factory settings.

To do that, just head here and follow the directions or scroll up and check out the first item in this list. 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, it’s time to contact Google Support and see if you can get a replacement pen. To do that, head here and click Contact Us in the top right corner.

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 not a high-pitched whine. In this case, chances are the sound is actually coming from your Pixelbook charger. Go ahead and unplug it from the wall to see if it stops. If it does, it’s definitely the charger.

Try plugging it into a different outlet, but if that doesn’t work, you might want to contact Google’s Pixelbook support team and see if they’ll let you exchange the charger, it may be defective. To do that, just head here, and click “Contact Us” on the top right-hand side of the window. Explain the problem — and if you can, maybe try using a different USB-C charger in the meantime.

Smart Lock is unavailable

One of the coolest features the Pixelbook brings to the table is the ability to pair it with your Android smartphone and use your phone to unlock your Pixelbook. The Smart Lock feature can be tough to set up properly though, and some users have had trouble getting it to work at all.

Now for starters, make sure your Android phone is updated to the latest version of Android. Smart Lock requires Android 5.0 or higher — so Lollipop or newer. Next, make sure it’s on the same Wi-Fi network as your Pixelbook, and that you’re signed into the phone and the Pixelbook on the same Google Account.

Pixelbook Screen Lock Settings

To set up Smart Lock, start by going to your Settings menu. To get there, click on your account photo on the bottom right corner of your screen, then click the gear icon. From here, scroll down to the People section, and then click Screen Lock. It’ll prompt you for your password, so just enter it and hit Confirm.

Under Screen Lock options here you should see an option to set up Smart Lock. Now just hit Setup and follow the on-screen instructions.

Can’t access the Play Store or Assistant

All right, 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 your 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’re going to 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 has setup 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, but there’s an easier route. You could just set up a regular Google Account here, and you’re all good to go.