When Chromebooks were first released in 2011, disconnecting from the internet rendered them practically useless. Their reliance on Google’s cloud-based apps meant that an offline Chromebook couldn’t even function as a word processor. Thankfully, Chrome OS has made major progress since its early days. Now, an offline Chromebook can use many of its cloud-based apps, with each app syncing its data as soon as you reconnect to the internet.
How to disconnect a Chromebook from the internet
A Chromebook’s offline features are most useful when the internet isn’t available. However, if you want to test these features before you need them, you can intentionally disconnect from the internet with the following steps:
- Click the clock in the lower-right corner of the screen.
- Click the toggle network connection button. This turns off your Wi-Fi or mobile data connection. If you were connected to Wi-Fi and mobile data, click the toggle network connection button twice.
- Alternatively, click the network namewhich gives you access to toggle switches that can be turned off.
After following these steps, your Chromebook will be operating in offline mode. If you want to reconnect to the internet, toggle on the network connection.
How to use Google Drive offline
Every Chromebook comes equipped with access to Google Drive and its cloud-based productivity apps. Of these apps, the following will work without a hitch when you’re offline:
- Google Docs
- Google Sheets
- Google Slides
- Google Drawings
Any documents you’ve made using these apps are saved to your Chromebook automatically and are available offline. You can edit these documents by opening the apps on your Chromebook or through Google Drive.
When used offline, these apps will mostly function as normal. You can tell you’re using these apps in offline mode when the message “Working offline” appears next to your document’s title.
However, these documents cannot sync with Google Drive while your Chromebook is offline. Instead, changes automatically save locally on your Chromebook. When you reconnect to the internet, the documents sync automatically with Google Drive.
How to use Gmail offline
Unlike Google’s productivity apps above, Gmail requires you to change some settings before it will open while you’re offline. If you wish to have offline access to your Gmail inbox, take the following steps:
- While online, open either your Chromebook’s Gmail app or go to mail.google.com.
- Click the gear in the upper-right corner to open the Settings drop-down menu.
- Click See all settings.
- Click the Offline tab.
- Select Enable offline mail.
- Select whether to keep offline data when you log out.
- Select Save Changes.
When using Gmail in offline mode, you don’t see any new emails you receive. When you compose and send an email in offline mode, it doesn’t send the message until you reconnect to the internet.
How to access Google Play Movies and TV Shows offline
Any movies and TV shows you’ve purchased using Google Play can be downloaded to your Chromebook and watched offline. To download a show or movie, take the following steps:
- Open the Google TV app.
- Complete the initial setup if you haven’t already.
- Click Your Stuff in the lower-right corner.
- Select either the Movies or Shows tab.
- Click the download button in the lower-right corner of the movie or show you wish to download.
- If this is the first show you’ve downloaded, select either HD or SD quality and click Apply.
After the download completes, you will be able to watch the downloaded movie or show offline at any time.
Do More Offline
This guide covers some common things you want might want to do with a Chromebook while offline. A disconnected Chromebook can generally use any app or file that’s been downloaded to it and does not require an internet connection. Many streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus let subscribers download videos to view on the go. YouTube Premium subscribers can download videos to watch when there’s no internet connection.
If you’re looking for more offline entertainment, you’ll want to check out our favorite Android games you can play offline..