The “Smart Lock” feature on Chrome OS allows you to pair your Chromebook with your Android phone, automatically unlocking it when the phone is nearby and unlocked.
Android 5.0 also has its own “Smart Lock” features, which allow you to automatically unlock your Android phone in a specific location or when a certain Bluetooth device is nearby.
What You’ll Need
This feature requires a few things:
- A Chromebook with Bluetooth running Chrome OS 40 or newer. This is now the latest stable version of Chrome OS, so you can use it without upgrading to beta software.
- An Android phone with Bluetooth running Android 5.0 or newer. You’ll need an Android phone with Lollipop for this, and Lollipop isn’t very widespread yet. Only Android phones will work with this, not Android tablets. You also can’t use an Android Wear smartwatch to unlock your Chromebook, although that would make a lot of sense — hopefully that’ll come later.
If you meet these requirements, you can set up Smart Lock easily. At the moment, this is still a new feature and some people have reported problems. However, you won’t get locked out of your Chromebook by setting up Smart Lock. Even if it doesn’t work — or if you don’t have your phone on you — you can still log in with your password.
Set Up Smart Lock On Your Chromebook
This feature is simple to set up. First, open the Settings app on your Chromebook by clicking the menu button and selecting settings or clicking the “system tray” area at the bottom-right corner of your screen and selecting Settings.
Click “Show advanced settings” at the bottom of the page and then locate the “Smart Lock” section. You can also just type “Smart Lock” into the search box on the Settings page to instantly find it.
Click “Set Up Smart Lock” under the “Smart Lock” header. Your Chromebook will make you sign in again with your password. This prevents people with access to your Chromebook from pairing it with their phones — they’ll have to know your password to pair it with a phone.
You’ll see a “Let’s get started” wizard appear on the desktop after you log back in.
This wizard will walk you through the process of setting up Smart Lock, which will require enabling Bluetooth on both your Chromebook and your nearby Android phone if it’s disabled. Click the “Find your phone” button after unlocking your nearby phone and then click the “Use this phone” button to use that phone.
You’ll need to unlock your phone for this, ensuring it’s signed into the same Google account you’re signed into your Chromebook on. You’ll see a notification pop-up on your phone letting you know it’s paired if everything worked properly.
After you set this up once, your phone can be used to unlock any Chromebook you want to sign in on. In other words, this preference syncs between all the Chromebooks you use.
Log Into Your Chromebook with Smart Lock
With Smart Lock enabled, you’ll see a lock icon on your Chromebook’s lock screen when you’re signing in. Click the icon to log in without typing your password. As long as your smartphone is nearby and unlocked, you’ll be automatically logged in after clicking that button. (Bear in mind that your smartphone must be unlocked for this to work, so you’ll at least need to unlock your smartphone before signing into your Chromebook.)
But Smart Lock is a bonus feature, so this isn’t mandatory. If you’d rather log in with your password, you can always just type that password into the login screen. Smart Lock just adds another, possibly more convenient way to log in.
If you’d like to disable Smart Lock, you can head back to the Settings screen and click the “Turn off Smart Lock” button.
This feature is potentially useful, although the requirement that you have to both unlock your phone and click a button means it can be slower than you might expect. On the other hand, if you’re actively using your unlocked phone as you log into your Chromebook, it could be faster than typing your password.
Smart Lock is in its early days, and it’s easy to see how it might improve. Imagine an Android Wear watch that automatically stayed unlocked while you wore it, and imagine that watch could automatically log you into a Chromebook without clicking anything. That’s the kind of integration we can hope to see in the future, and this is the first step.