Because they tend to be inexpensive and fairly hardy, Chromebooks are often bought as laptops for families — to be shared between parents and kids or passed around among friends. And because a Chromebook may have more than one user, it needs to have more than one login so that each user has access to their own personal apps and content.

Adding a new user to a Chromebook is not difficult. Here’s how to do it:

  • Click on the button in the lower-right corner. (The one that shows the time, battery life, etc.)
  • Click on Sign out at the top of the pop-up window.
  • You’ll be brought back to the sign-in screen. At the bottom left of the screen, click on the button labeled Add Person.
  • You’ll be asked whether you want to add an adult (assuming you’re an adult) or a child. Make a selection and then click on the Next button.

You can choose to add an adult or a child.

  • Have the new user sign in using their Google account. (Or they can create a new account if they don’t have one.)

Screen: Sync your Chromebook

The account’s bookmarks, history, passwords, and other settings will be synced to the new machine.

  • The account’s bookmarks, history, passwords, and other settings will be synced to the new machine. If you want to change any of those options, check the box that reads Review sync options following setup. Then press Accept and continue.
  • Okay, here comes the Google Play terms of service. Go ahead and read them if you want, and then approve them.

Screen: Terms of Service

As always, you have to approve a long terms of service document.

  • There is a check box on that page that allows all your data to be backed up to Google Drive. If you don’t want that to happen, uncheck the box. You will also be asked if you want to allow the system to use your location (you can uncheck that box as well) and if you want to review your Google Play options after setup. You’ll also get a chance to use Google Assistant with the Chromebook.
  • Finished? Then click on Accept.

Lock screen showing two accounts

You now have two separate accounts. (Both accounts in the test belonged to me, but you can add anyone you want.)

And you’re done! Now, when you click on the sign-on screen, you’ll see two names. Each user will have a separate account and won’t have access to the other.

Easily switch accounts

The safest thing to do is to keep your accounts separate and just go back to the lock screen when somebody else wants to use the Chromebook. However, if you want to switch users without having to actually sign out, you can set your Chromebook up for multiple users.

  • Click on the clock in the lower-right corner to bring up the Quick Settings menu.
  • Click on the single-user icon. (It will be in the upper-left corner of the Quick Settings menu.)
  • Select Sign in another user.
  • You’ll get a pop-up window titled Multiple sign-in that will warn you that users will be able to access any sign-in without using a password. Click OK.
  • You’ll then be taken back to the lock screen where you can sign into the other account(s).

Pop-up menu to change Chrome accounts.

You can simply click on the user icon to switch accounts.

From now on, you will be able to simply click on the user icon in the Quick Settings menu to switch accounts.

Remove a user

If you’re no longer sharing the Chromebook, you can easily remove a user:

  • Sign out of your account so that you’re brought back to the lock screen.
  • Click on the downward-facing arrow next to the name of the person you want to take off the computer.
  • Click on Remove this user. You’ll be reminded that everything associated with that account, including files and local data, will be deleted. If that’s okay, click on Remove account.

Lockscreen with dropdown menu to delete user

It’s easy to remove the additional user(s) from the Chromebook.

Keep in mind that, while you can easily remove any additional users that were added to a system from the main sign-on screen, you cannot remove the “owner” of the Chromebook (the first person to create an account on it) without completely resetting the system.

Sign in a guest user

If you want to allow somebody to use your Chromebook just for a few hours, it’s probably easier to simply have them sign in as a guest:

  • Sign out of your account so that you’re back to the sign-on screen.
  • Click on the Browse as Guest button in the lower-left corner of the screen.
  • To exit guest mode, click on the time button in the lower-right corner of the screen, and then click on Exit guest.

When you’re in guest mode, you can browse, use Bluetooth, adjust the font size, and more, but you can’t save anything to the computer. When you’re done, according to Google, your files, cookies, website data, and browsing activity will be automatically deleted.

Photography by Barbara Krasnoff / The Verge

Update June 7th, 2022, 1:20PM ET: This article was originally published on October 8th, 2019, and has been updated to account for changes in the OS.