Time to face the facts. We haven’t yet reached the point where universal internet access is always available, no matter where we go. That can be frustrating, especially for busy Chromebook users who have projects to tackle, assignments to turn in, tasks to complete, and teams to work with.
Fortunately, just because your internet connection drops doesn’t mean you have to sit back and give up. Google has implemented several ways to use Chrome OS features offline, whether you need to read emails, work on documents, or carry out another task. Here’s how to do it!
The bad news is that there’s no permanent offline email solution for Gmail — at least, not yet. The good news is that Google is working on one, and, in the meantime, you can try out the beta. The problem with betas, of course, is that they tend to have flaws or bugs that still need to be fixed, so this option may not work perfectly for you. However, if you are stuck without email and desperately need to check for any previous updates, it may be more than enough.
Start by enabling the feature. By far the easiest way is to use the Gmail Offline option available in the Chrome Web Store. This provides you with an option to “Add to Chrome” or “Visit Website.” Choose Add to Chrome to download the app, and restart Chrome.
If your Chrome browser isn’t currently open, open it and create a new tab. Look for the new Gmail Offline icon next to the taskbar and click it. This will load the offline syncing option, though you may have to go through a brief confirmation window first.
It’s important to know what this app does. It will automatically sync all your messages and queued actions whenever Chrome is running and your internet connection is good. This allows you to see any of the latest emails or responses that you may have missed while your computer was online. It cannot magically send or receive emails that were created after you went offline unless you connect again. Not even Google is that good.
For working on offline documents, we turn to Google Drive. Perhaps realizing just how many Chromebooks are used for schoolwork and on-the-go jobs, Google has worked to make all Drive documents accessible even when you aren’t connected to the internet… as long as you have the right setup.
First, make sure that Google Drive is fully updated — this isn’t usually a problem on Chromebooks, but double checking never hurts. You need a recent version of Drive to access offline features. Then, head over to your Chrome browser, log into Drive, and visit Settings, which is the first option housed beneath the gear icon in the upper-right corner of the window. Once there, look for the heading that says Offline next to a description that says, Sync Google Docs, Sheets, Slides & Drawings files to this computer so that you can edit offline. That’s pretty self-explanatory!
Make sure the box next to the Offline description is checked. Keep in mind that this solution has its limitations, however, especially when it comes to collaboration. Drive will save a state of the Drive document from the last time you connected to the internet, but it can’t do more than that. Say that your team is all working online at the office with a Google Doc, and you’re working offline in your car. Your team will be able to see and interact with each other’s changes in real time, but you will be working on your own version of the document. This can cause some issues when syncing up changes, so it’s a good idea to use this primarily for your solo work. Also, know that there are a few things that won’t work offline, including the online collection of Drive images, Google Forms, and web-based PDFs.