How to Change the DNS Server on a Chromebook

Chromebooks allow you to set a custom DNS server, but Google doesn’t make the option easy to find. There are many reasons to change your DNS server, after all.

The fastest way to do this may be to simply change the DNS server on your router. This change will then take effect on every device on your home network, but only while they’re on your home network.

Change a Wi-Fi Network’s DNS Server

This feature was previously experimental. It required you to type chrome://flags into your address bar, locate the “Experimental static IP configuration” option, enable it, and then restart your Chromebook. Thankfully, this is now a stable feature that no longer requires such tweaking.

To access this option, click the menu icon in Chrome and then click Settings. On the Settings page, click the name of your current Wi-Fi Internet connection. In the list that appears, click the name again.

Click the Network tab. By default, “Automatic name servers” is selected here. This option chooses the DNS servers provided by your DHCP server — in other words, the default DNS servers on your Wi-Fi router.

Choose the “Google name servers” option to use Google’s DNS servers on your Chromebook or select “Custom name servers” and enter your own.

By default, the automatic DNS server addresses are entered in the boxes when you select Custom name servers. You’ll want to delete them and enter your own preferred DNS server addresses into the first two boxes. If you just add them to the third and fourth boxes, the first two DNS servers will be used in preference to your custom ones.

For example, if you want to use OpenDNS’s NDS servers, you’d need to enter and into the first two boxes here. You can enter up to four DNS servers, but you generally only need two. You could even get by with one, but most DNS services provide two different DNS server addresses — just so there’s a fallback option if one fails or doesn’t have the data you’re looking for.

Repeat This For Every Wi-Fi Network You Use

Note that you’re changing an option specific to a Wi-Fi network itself. This mean you’ll actually have to go into the Settings screen and manually set your DNS server for every new Wi-Fi network you use. After you set the option once, your Chromebook will remember it. So, once you set it on the Wi-Fi networks you normally use, you’re good to go. But, if you’re using a new Wi-Fi network and want to use your preferred Wi-Fi network with it, you’ll need to take a quick trip to the Settings screen and modify its network settings.

Chromebooks are similar to Android and iOS devices here. They all don’t provide an option to set preferred DNS servers for your Wi-FI interface in general. They only offer options that apply to the individual Wi-Fi networks you connect to.

Just Change The DNS Server on Your Router

To save time, you may want to change the DNS server on your router. Follow the instructions in our guide to changing the DNS server on all your devices and change it on your home router. Whenever a device is connected to your home network with DHCP — the default settings, unless you change them manually — it will use the DNS server you set on your router.

However, when you leave your home network, your Chromebook will use the DNS server specified on the Wi-Fi network you connect to. Manually setting your preferred DNS server on your Chromebook will allow you to continue using that DNS service when you leave the house and get online in coffee shops, hotels, and airports — or anywhere else. But, if you just use your Chromebook at home, changing the DNS server on your router is all you’ll need to do!

Unfortunately, some Internet service providers don’t allow you to change the DNS server on the combined router/modem devices they provide their customers. They do this to keep support costs down, as an incorrect DNS server address could prevent a custom from browsing the web.

You may want to perform a Google search for your type of modem and “change DNS server” to see if there’s an option hidden there. (I once managed to find a hidden administration page that allowed me to change this option on an ISP-provided router, even though my ISP didn’t want me to. Your mileage may vary.)

This may not be the most convenient way to change your DNS server, but it’s not that bad. You can still reap the benefits of a custom DNS server, even if you can’t configure the DNS server on the Wi-Fi router you’re connected to.

Image Credit: Carol Rucker on Flickr

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Twitter.