How to Run .exe Files on Chromebook – 3 Easy Options

A Chromebook is the handiest productivity tool you’ll find in the market. Whether you need it for office work, surfing the web, or social media, Chromebooks offer an efficient way to navigate the most popular Google Workspace apps, including Google Docs, Sheets, and cloud storage.

While Chromebooks offer a long list of full-features applications, the biggest limitation is that you can’t run Windows programs, including the full version of Microsoft Office and Adobe apps. This is because Chromebooks are designed to use web browsers as their main operating system while the cloud is the storage system.

Fortunately, there are a few workarounds to running Windows software on your Chromebook. And yes, this means you can run Roblox on a Chromebook.

Can you run .exe files on a Chromebook?

Yes – Users can run developer mode and install a compatibility layer tool like Wine or Crossover to access Windows-based applications. Alternatively, you can run Windows desktop applications remotely on an existing Windows system.

In this article, learn how to run Windows apps directly on your Chromebook using a compatibility layer too or remote access.

Option 1: Use Developer Mode and install Wine

WINE (Wine Is Not an Emulator) is the most popular compatibility layer tool for Linux and macOS. 

It’s a free and open-source application that allows Chromebook users to access over 24,000 Windows-based computer games and software, including Windows, Media Player, Microsoft Office, Adobe apps, Max Payne games, and more. Check out the Wine Application Database for the ratings of the applications you can use in Wine.

While there isn’t a specific version of Wine that runs on Chromebooks, there are workarounds to run Wine: users can use Crouton or a Wine Android app to run Wine on Chromebooks.

  • Go to Settings > Advanced > Developers and enable Developer Mode.
  • Most Chromebooks come with the latest version of Wine in the package repository, but if it’s not available, download it here.
  • Open terminal and type these commands:

For 32-bit Ubuntu:

sudo apt update

sudo apt install wine

For 64-bit Ubuntu:

sudo dpkg –add-architecture i386

  • Before launching Wine, type this command to create a fake C: drive where your Windows programs will be installed.

Winecfg

  • To install Windows applications with Wine, download your chosen .exe file.
  • Open terminal and cd into the directory where the .exe file is saved.
  • Type wine appfilename.extension (example. Wine mediaplayer_installer.exe).

The Windows application or installer should now run using Wine. If a prompt for the directory pops up, choose the C: drive.

 

Option 2: Use Developer Mode and install Crossover

CodeWeaver’s Crossover compatibility layer tool is based on Wine, but new features provide even better support and compatibility with Windows applications.

Some users prefer CrossOver over Wine because of its intuitive user interface and automation for configuration and dependencies. Some apps are also more stable when launched under Crossover thanks to routine compatibility testing.

  • Go to Settings > Advanced > Developers and enable Developer Mode.
  • Download a compatible version of ​​Crossover for your OS.
  • Right-click your downloaded file and install it using Linux (Beta). The Crossover application will now be available on your launcher under Applications.
  • Download your preferred .exe file and save it under the Linux Files folder.
  • Launch the Crossover application and click Install Windows Software.
  • Search for your .exe file and select Unlisted (filename) > Select installer > Choose Installer Files. Your Windows file should start running.

Option 3: Use a Windows computer remotely

Chromebooks are meant to have lightweight operating systems, so you might not be so keen on installing multiple files on your system. If you want to run Windows programs on your Chromebook without too much demand on your device, you can access an existing Windows system remotely.

There are two possible methods to accessing Windows applications remotely:

 

Access your own Windows PC

If you own a Windows computer, there is a way to use it remotely from your Chromebook using Chrome Remote Desktop beta web app. 

This app will allow you to connect to any computer with Chrome from your Chromebook. More importantly, you can have complete control over the remote machine, as if you were using your Windows PC in real-time. 

  • Set up remote access using the  Google Chrome Remote Desktop web app on your Windows computer. Download and install Chrome Remote Desktop.
  • Under Get Support, select Generate Code. Use this code to access your Windows PC from your Chromebook.
  • To access your Windows PC remotely, enter remotedesktop.google.com/access on Google Chrome. Click Acces > enter the PIN > select the arrow to connect.

The only downside with this method is that you need to have your Windows PC running at home for you to access it from your Chromebook. This isn’t a practical solution, especially in the business setting.

Alternatively, you can use a Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) client to access remote desktops hosted on a Windows server. You can do this by installing xrdp on your Chromebook or by entering the following command in Terminal:

sudo apt install xrdp

Run the Remote Desktop app on your Windows machine, then enter the IP address of your Chromebook to connect.

Access Windows Applications on a Remote Server

If you don’t have a Windows PC, there is a way to remotely access hosted servers.

You can use a Citrix Receiver to access Windows apps hosted on a Citrix server.  By downloading the Citrix Workspace app, you can get instant access to applications, data, and desktops.

Aside from your Chromebook, you can access this server using a Macbook, tablets, and smartphones.

What are other Compatibility Layer tools alternatives?

Aside from Wine and Crossover, Linux and macOS users can use these popular compatibility layer apps:

Conclusion

While Chromebooks are incredibly efficient as productivity machines, it lacks the versatility to run essential Windows programs. Fortunately, there are workarounds to launching Windows-based applications on Chromebooks.

One solution is to use compatibility layer tools like Wine and Crossover to install and run Windows programs. The advantage of this method is that you can run the programs natively on your PC. 

Another method is remote access to a Windows computer or server. With the help of Google Chrome Remote Desktop or Citrix Workspace, you can use your Chromebook to have complete access to Windows applications and programs.