Use Chrome Recovery Utility to Flash microSD cards

If you’re a developer using a ChromeOS device, such as a Google Chromebook (laptop) or Chromebox (desktop), you might periodically have need to flash microSD cards with Linux operating systems. For example, I wanted to use my Asus Chromebox 3 to flash a microSD card so that I could run the Raspbian Linux operating system on one of my Raspberry Pi devices.

One of the most common tools in the industry, that’s used to flash SD cards on Linux, Mac, or Windows computers, is an open source project called Etcher. Unfortunately, Etcher doesn’t run natively on ChromeOS. Another limitation of ChromeOS is that the Crostini Linux container doesn’t seem to be able to mount microSD card media.

Some people might suggest using an open source project called Crouton, which allows you to run Linux applications on your ChromeOS device. If you don’t want to use Crouton, due to security concerns, you’ll be stuck looking for a native ChromeOS solution to flash microSD cards.

There’s a solution

Thankfully, you can use Google’s Chrome Recovery Utility for this purpose. While this Chrome extension is intended to be used to build recovery media for ChromeOS devices, you can actually use it to build microSD cards from any local operating system image. Go ahead and install the extension to get started. You can launch the recovery utility by hitting the Search button on your keyboard and simply searching for “recovery.”

When you launch the utility, you’ll be greeted with the following screen.

Although you might be inclined to click on the blue “Get Started” button, click the Gear icon in the top-right corner instead. Then, choose the “Use Local Image” option from the menu.

This will launch the file picker utility, so navigate to the OS image file, such as a ZIP archive, that contains your desired OS. Next, choose your SD card from the screen, if it isn’t already selected.

Click the Continue button, then click on the Create Now button.

Your microSD card will begin the flashing process, and you’ll see the progress similar to the screenshot below.

After the flashing process has completed, you’ll see a screen similar to the one below. It’s now safe to remove your microSD card from your Chromebox and move it into your Raspberry Pi, or similar hardware.

That’s all there is to using the Chrome Recovery Utility to flash your microSD cards!