Internet access, whether wired or wireless, has become one of the most precious commodities of our time. But that leaves us singularly unprepared when that access gets cut off—such as when we travel to the signal-free middle of nowhere or a storm knocks out power to our home router. Even when you’re offline, the Google Chrome web browser has a few tricks up its sleeve.
So whatever type of computer you’re on, Chromebook or not, you won’t have to completely give up when your internet connection dies. However, you will have to do some preparation in advance. So we’d recommend reviewing this guide before you set out from the safety of your home Wi-Fi.
Access your email
To set everything up, first install the extension. Next, click the cog icon in the top right corner of the window. This lets you choose whether to sync messages from the past week, two weeks, or month. The interface isn’t as slick as standard Gmail, but it beats staring at an internet error warning.
Google Drive and the three online apps within it—Docs, Sheets, and Slides—have an offline mode you can activate when there’s no internet available. You’ll need to set it up before you lose your web connection: From the main Google Drive interface, click the cog icon on the right, then tick the box next to the Offline heading.
This will sync your recent documents, spreadsheets, and presentations to the local storage on your hard drive. It lets you create new documents and edit existing ones in your Drive account, although you won’t be able to access big files like videos and music (unless you download them separately first). Offline Chrome will save all your changes to disk, just as they would normally be saved to the web. Once your browser detects an internet connection again, it will sync everything to bring your files back up to date again.
Just drag a file from your local hard drive into an empty Chrome window and it will start to play. Of course, this relies on you having downloaded or copied the file to your computer before you lost web access. You can use the Spotify desktop clients for Windows or macOS, or the Netflix app for Windows, to sync music and movies to your computer before it goes offline. Then enjoy accessing the files via Chrome.
Check your schedule
To set it up, load the app in your browser, click the cog icon on the top right, and choose Offline. As with the offline modes in Google’s other apps, this synchronizes some of your data to your local machine, where Chrome can get at it even when you’re not connected to the web. Use the same menu to set which calendars you want to sync.
Catch up on your reading
Crucially, Pocket comes with an offline mode so you can see those articles without any web access. Most types of articles, except videos, will sync up as soon as you save them. So, if your internet connection goes down, fire up Pocket and you can do some reading until you’re back online. The only downside is that you’ll have to wait to share any links of note on social media.
In fact, the Chrome Web Store has a lot of apps that are accessible offline. Just go to the store and click the Runs Offline box on the left to show only those web apps that can also function offline. You’ll find utilities, productivity apps, games, and more besides.
On top of standard apps and games, Chrome has a hidden game that only works while the internet’s down. If you load a page and get the old “There is no internet connection” message with the dinosaur icon, you can tap Space, and then hit Space again to hop the dinosaur over the obstacles. See how far you can get!
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