How to use a Chromebook offline

Chromebooks are designed to be used primarily ‘online only’. But you’re likely to drift away from wi-fi now and then, so it’s worth knowing what you can and can’t do with a Chromebook that’s offline.

Google’s Chromebooks have very little storage space. They don’t run ‘regular’ programs, the way a Windows laptop does – instead, you use Google web apps, which largely expect you to access them over the internet in the Chrome browser.

use a Chromebook offline

use a Chromebook offline

But, if you’re offline, you’re not stuck. We explain some common questions about the way Chromebooks function.

Will a Chromebook work offline?

Yes – A number of popular apps such as Gmail and Google Drive have offline modes built-in. If you’re editing a Google Doc on your Chromebook while offline, it will save locally to the laptop itself. It will then sync with your online account the next time your Chromebook is connected to the internet.

Keep in mind, you may not be able to delve through all the files you have stored in Google Drive while you’re offline. If you know you have a document to edit, and will need to do so while offline (on a train journey, for instance), then be sure to open it beforehand, while you’re still on wi-fi.

Other apps like Kindle Cloud Player and even games like Angry Birds are all available to use offline – just be sure to enable offline use in their settings first.

Can I save files to a Chromebook ?

Yes – Chromebooks have a smaller amount of local storage, compared to Windows and Mac laptops. A Chromebook may come with just 32GB of storage space, some of which is immediately lost to the Chrome operating system itself.

But, you can still store and save hundreds of photos or files to the computer itself. Generally speaking, though, you’re not expected to – instead, you’re expected to store files in Google Drive cloud storage.

Can I use Microsoft Office on a Chromebook?

Yes, in a way – Though it’s not possible to install Microsoft Office on your Chromebook, apps like Google Drive will convert Word and Excel files into Google Docs that you can then edit.

If you have a Microsoft account (even a free Hotmail or Outlook.com address will do), you can also create and edit Office documents via Microsoft Office Online. This isn’t something you’ll be able to do offline, however – you’ll need the internet to create and edit documents with Microsoft’s free Word and Excel apps. They’re stored securely in OneDrive, where you’ll be able to access them by logging in from other devices.

Can I edit photos using my Chromebook?

Yes – There’s an in-built photo-editor in Chrome’s operating system. If this proves unsatisfactory, web-based photo-editing alternatives such as Pixlr are available.

This isn’t the same as running a program on your Chromebook, of course. You won’t be able to install Photoshop, for instance. But, Pixlr’s features are respectable – you can do everything from cropping images to cloning parts of a picture, adjusting the hue, saturation, luminance, white balance and more.

Can I run iTunes on a Chromebook?

No – Apple hasn’t created an iTunes app for Google’s Chrome OS and – due to the two companies’ ongoing rivalry – something unlikely to end any time soon. If you’re an iPhone or iPad user, you won’t be able to manage your device using a Chromebook, plugging it in to sync files or change settings.

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