How to Use a Chromebook Offline

With a little preparation, you can accomplish plenty

Chromebooks are designed to be used in conjunction with the web. The driving force for the design of a Chromebook is that users can accomplish nearly everything they need by accessing apps and services online. Of course, sometimes it’s impossible to be online all the time, and you want your Chromebook to still be functional offline. There’s good news. With a little planning, you can use a Chromebook offline without missing a thing.

Using Chromebook Offline

Your Chromebook offers a lot of capabilities (some of which may surprise you) even if you can't get an internet connection. Much like Windows and Mac computers, however, you’ll need to think ahead if you’re going to be offline to enable some of the functions you may need.

You have two options:

  • Enable apps and services that are compatible with offline work to be available when you’re not connected to the internet.
  • Use third-party apps and services that are available offline.

Fortunately, Google Apps have a built-in offline mode, so once they’re enabled, you should be all set. As for third party apps, there’s an easy way to find apps that are compatible with offline mode, but as a general rule of thumb, if it works for Android devices offline, it will probably work with your Chromebook offline.

How to Use Chromebook Offline

Your first option is to enable the apps and services you’ll use while you’re offline to work in offline mode. That’s most of what you’ll access through Google Drive apps, including:

  • Checking your email.
  • Creating and editing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.
  • Creating and accessing notes or note taking capabilities.
  • Reading saved web pages.
  • Playing movies, music, or games.

To get started, you’ll need to make Google Drive, and maybe some specific files available offline.

Make Google Drive Available Offline

You’ll need to make Google Drive available while you’re still online so it will have time to sync files with your computer before you don’t have access to the internet. To do that:

  1. Open Google Drive while you’re connected to the internet and open the Google Docs Offline Extension.

  2. Click Add to Chrome.

    Adding an extension to Google Chrome.

    If the extension button says Remove from Chrome or Added to Chrome, then the extension has already been enabled.

  3. Then go to Google Drive Settings (while you’re still online).

  4. In the Offline section of the Settings dialog box, place a checkmark in the box next to the option to make your Google Drive files available offline. It may take a few minutes for this option to turn on after you’ve selected it.)

    How to enable offline files on Chromebook.
  5. Once the option is turned on, click Done.

How to Access Offline Files

Now, you’ve granted offline access to Google Drive. This will sync your most recent used files to your Chromebook's internal storage so you can access them when you don’t have access to the internet. You can make any changes you would like to the files while offline and those changes will sync automatically the next time you connect your Chromebook to the internet.

To access your offline files:

  1. Click the Launcher and then click ^ (the up arrow).

    The Launcher on Chromebook.
  2. Select Google Drive.

    Google Drive on Chromebook.
  3. Find and double-click the file you want to open and make changes as you normally would. Your changes will be saved automatically and synced the next time your Chromebook is online.

Make Specific Files Available for Offline Use

By default, the files made available when you enable Offline Use on your Chromebook will be the files you’ve most recently accessed in your Google Drive. If there are other files you would like to have available, you can enable those individually, while you’re still connected to the internet.

  1. In Google Drive select the file you want to enable for offline use.

  2. Select the three dot menu at the top of the documents list.

    The More document menu in Google Drive.
  3. Toggle Available offline to On.

    Making a document available offline in Google Drive.
  4. Give the document time to sync and you’ll be able to access it offline.

How to Remove Offline Access

If you no longer need access to a document while you’re offline, you can remove it from offline access at any time.

  1. While you're online, in Google Drive select the file you made available for offline editing.

  2. Click the three dot menu at the top of the documents list.

  3. Deselect Available offline. Google will immediately stop syncing the document with offline versions.

Other Chromebook Offline Apps

Google Drive isn’t the only Google app you can access while you’re offline. Gmail, Google Keep, and other Google Apps can also be made available offline. Each app is slightly different, but in general, you’ll need to go into Settings for the app while you’re online and toggle on the Available offline app to make the app available when you have no internet service. As with Google drive, any changes that are made offline will sync the next time your Chromebook is connected to the internet.

There are also tons of third-party apps for any purpose you may need that are available offline. You can find those apps by going to the Chrome Web Store and selecting Apps then search for Runs Offline. There you’ll find popular apps like Evernote, Trello, and Pocket (which is used to save webpages for offline viewing) and dozens of others.