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The smart worker’s guide to using a Chromebook offline

Cease me in the event you’ve heard this one: A Chromebook is only a glorified browser in a field. Or this one: It is like a “actual” pc however with out all the great things — and it is virtually ineffective offline.

You see the place we’re going with this, proper? These are all wildly inaccurate myths which have plagued Chrome OS since its begin. To be truthful, a few of them did have nuggets of actuality again within the platform’s earliest days, when it was nonetheless a small-scale, beta-like mission inside Google. However for years upon years now, Chromebooks have been succesful productiveness instruments that supply ample benefits over conventional desktop working programs and work simply in addition to another computer systems offline.

In relation to offline effectiveness, the important thing — identical to with a Home windows or a Mac system — is a wholesome dose of planning and preparation. Some cloud-centric providers require a contact of setup earlier than they’re going to be useful offline, and a few frequent work duties want particular third-party software program in place to be able to be dealt with with out an lively web connection. None of that, nonetheless, is tough to do. And it is actually not unattainable.

When you’re utilizing a Chromebook for work, assume via the next 4 areas to ensure your pc is offline-ready and primed for productiveness earlier than the necessity arises. Then, when your subsequent enterprise flight takes off (hopefully quickly?), skip the hardly usable airplane Wi-Fi and as a substitute sit again, loosen up, and luxuriate in your Slack-interruption-free productiveness session.

1. Be certain that your Google apps are ready for offline use

Google’s core productiveness apps are utterly offline-capable — however generally, it is as much as you to take the initiative and set them up appropriately.

For Gmail:

  • Open the Gmail website out of your Chromebook, click on the gear icon within the upper-right nook, and choose “See all settings” from the menu that seems. Click on “Offline” within the menu on the high of the settings display.
  • Examine the field subsequent to “Allow offline mail.”
  • Be certain that to fastidiously think about the remaining choices on the web page — what number of days’ value of e-mail must be saved, whether or not attachments must be made out there offline, and whether or not information ought to stay in your pc even after you signal out (high-quality for a single-person pc) or ought to as a substitute be erased and resynced each time you signal out and again in (extra advisable for a system that is shared by a number of individuals) — and select the settings that take advantage of sense in your scenario.
  • Click on the “Save Adjustments” button on the backside of the display, settle for any affirmation prompts that pop up, after which wait whereas Gmail reloads itself and downloads your information.
01 chromebook offline gmail JR Raphael/IDG

Setting Gmail up for offline use takes all of 30 seconds to do. (Click on any picture on this story to enlarge it.)

There’s only one extra step, and it is an necessary one: Set a bookmark in your browser for Gmail by urgent Ctrl-D — or, simpler but, create a shortcut for the location in your Chrome OS shelf by clicking Chrome’s three-dot menu icon whereas viewing Gmail, choosing “Extra instruments,” after which choosing “Create shortcut.” Both approach will allow you to pull up the location and entry your mail when there is not an lively connection.

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For Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides:

  • Be sure you have the Google Docs Offline Chrome extension put in. (When you see a blue field on its Chrome Net Retailer web page that claims “Take away from Chrome,” you are good to go. When you see a field that claims “Add to Chrome,” you must click on that and observe the steps to finish the set up.)
  • Go to the Google Drive website, click on the gear icon within the upper-right nook, and choose “Settings” from the menu that seems.
  • Search for the road labeled “Offline” within the settings field that pops up. If the field subsequent to the phrase “Create, open, and edit your current Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides recordsdata on this system whereas offline” is not already checked, test it.
chromebook offline google docs sheets slides JR Raphael/IDG

One test of a field, and all of your current Docs, Sheets, and Slides recordsdata can be out there even with out an web connection.

Identical to with Gmail, you may have to be sure you have a bookmark or shortcut created to tug up Drive when your Chromebook is not related. You will additionally have to double-check that the precise recordsdata you need to work with are set to be out there offline forward of time — as, slightly annoyingly, Drive shops solely a imprecise assortment of “current recordsdata” by default, and you do not need to assume that no matter you want can be included.

Here is what to do:

  • Open up the Drive web site whilst you’re on-line and discover no matter Docs, Sheets, or Slides recordsdata you need. (You may as well do that instantly from the Docs, Sheets, or Slides web sites, in the event you’d desire.)
  • Proper-click on every file’s title, then activate the toggle subsequent to “Out there offline,” if it is not already lively.
  • Repeat as wanted for any further recordsdata.

For basic Google-Drive-stored recordsdata:

That earlier part addresses solely Docs, Sheets, and Slides recordsdata — not different varieties of recordsdata you’ve got uploaded to Google Drive, akin to photos, PDFs, ZIP archives, or MP3s. (It is a slightly complicated distinction to need to make, I notice, particularly given how blurred the road is between Drive and the Docs-branded productiveness apps. Hey, that is Google for ya.)

For any non-Docs, -Sheets, or -Slides recordsdata out of your Drive storage that you simply want to have the ability to entry offline:

  • Open the Recordsdata app in your Chromebook, then choose “Google Drive” from the record of selections on the left.
  • Discover any file or folder you need to make out there offline, right-click it, and choose “Out there offline” from the menu that seems — or simply click on it after which activate the “Out there offline” toggle on the high of the Recordsdata window.
  • If a file or folder is already out there offline, you may see a checkmark subsequent to its identify.
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chromebook offline google drive files JR Raphael/IDG

The Chrome OS Recordsdata app holds the important thing to creating Drive recordsdata and folders accessible offline.

You will then be capable to entry these recordsdata from that very same Recordsdata app anytime you are offline. And, in fact, any recordsdata you’ve got manually downloaded or copied to your Chromebook’s native storage will already be out there for offline use.

2. Determine what different offline-ready apps you’ve got — and what you continue to want

Chrome OS comes with a handful of offline-ready fundamentals, akin to a calculator and a plain textual content editor. The aforementioned Recordsdata app is totally offline-friendly, too, and it features a easy picture viewer and editor together with an audio participant.

chromebook offline image editor JR Raphael/IDG

Your Chromebook’s Recordsdata app has its personal built-in picture editor.

Your Chromebook in all probability additionally got here with Google Play Motion pictures; that’ll will let you obtain motion pictures and TV reveals to maintain your self sane throughout an extended flight (offered you are keen to pay to lease or purchase the movies, in fact).

Google’s official Chrome Net Retailer has all kinds of different offline-capable Chrome apps, however that native Chrome app kind is about to be phased out and eliminated in June of 2022, so it is not probably the most advisable long-term choice to get invested in at this level.

Fortunately, although, you’ve got bought loads of different prospects to select from.

three. Discover progressive net apps, Android apps, and Linux apps to fill any remaining voids

Although it is nonetheless technically a cloud-centric platform, Chrome OS helps all types of apps today — and odds are, you’ll discover no matter you want among the many software program’s extra traditional-seeming app choices.

The primary class to contemplate is the progressive net app, which is a flowery approach of claiming an app that depends on the internet and your browser to function however appears and acts like a daily, standalone packaged program. When an app you want is on the market as a progressive net app, that is typically the quickest, easiest, and simplest kind to make use of.

The issue is that progressive net apps do not all work offline, and at this level, it is principally a recreation of trial and error to determine which of them do. Google had been working towards a requirement that’d drive all progressive net apps to function offline assist to be able to be suitable with Chrome, however that plan has been delayed indefinitely — so it is nonetheless annoyingly hit or miss as of now.

To see if a service you employ has a progressive net app out there within the first place, go to the related service’s web site in Chrome. Look towards the best finish of the tackle bar and see in the event you discover an icon that appears like a pc display with a downward-facing arrow on high of it. While you signal into the duty administration web site Todoist, as an illustration, you may see that icon seem. And if you do, you possibly can click on it to put in the location’s progressive net app — after which level it’s going to seem in your launcher and be nearly indistinguishable from another sort of program.

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chromebook offline todoist progressive web app JR Raphael/IDG

Todoist affords an offline-capable progressive net app that works completely within the Chrome OS surroundings.

By embracing Android apps in your Chromebook, in the meantime, you need to use each Google Keep and Google Calendar offline — one thing no different desktop platform helps. You may as well keep related to your information in providers akin to Evernote, OneNote, and Trello with or with out an lively web connection, and with the best subscriptions, you possibly can even obtain movies from YouTube and Netflix for offline viewing (one other perk that is not doable on a lot of common laptops — here is lookin’ at you, MacBook!). Principally, if an app works offline on Android — which most do — it’s going to work offline on Chrome OS, too.

chromebook offline google calendar android app JR Raphael/IDG

With the Google Calendar Android app put in, your whole agenda is all the time at your fingertips — even when the web just isn’t.

For much more highly effective prospects, you may need to take the time to consider some Linux apps in your Chromebook — offered you’ve got a current sufficient system to deal with such utilities. It is positively power-user terrain, nevertheless it’s not unattainable to navigate. Click on over to my step-by-step Linux-Chrome-OS information to get began, after which take a look at my record of Chromebook Linux app suggestions for some standout concepts.

four. Give your self some offline-ready studying materials

You might not be capable to browse the net whilst you’re offline, however that does not imply you possibly can’t make amends for some worthwhile web-based studying.

The only strategy to retailer articles for offline use is to avoid wasting them instantly in your browser: Whereas viewing any web site in your Chromebook, click on the three-dot menu icon in Chrome’s upper-right nook, hover over “Extra instruments,” after which choose “Save web page as.” (Or hit Ctrl-S for a good quicker strategy to get to the identical place.) Hit Enter or click on the Save button, and that is it: All the web page you have been viewing is now out there in your offline studying pleasure.

While you’re prepared to search out the article, open Chrome’s Downloads web page — both by searching for the “Downloads” possibility in the primary browser menu or by hitting Ctrl-J whereas a browser tab is open — after which click on on its title within the record that seems. All the web page will load as in the event you have been taking a look at it dwell.

06 chromebook offline web pages JR Raphael/IDG

A web based article, offline — no advanced hoop-jumping required.

When you’d slightly have a extra totally featured article-saving setup that works throughout a number of platforms, you need to use a service like Pocket, which affords an offline-friendly Android app — or my very own private decide for optimum article group, Notion, which additionally has an Android app with some offline capabilities. Each providers are free with non-compulsory premium upgrades that you simply in all probability will not want for fundamental link-storing functions.

If books or magazines are what you are after, in the meantime, Amazon’s Kindle Android app and Google’s Play Books Android app each present commendable studying experiences (extra so than their web-based counterparts).

And with that, your Chromebook is formally prepared for compromise-free offline productiveness — and possibly even just a little offline procrastination.

Don’t fret: I will not inform.

This text was initially printed in August 2019 and up to date in Could 2021.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.