A Chromebook is an inexpensive alternative to laptops that allows users to gain the benefits of mobile computing, without the need for a hefty price tag. The problem that most users have with the Chromebook is that offline use is somewhat limited, due to the nature of the Chrome OS that it uses. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of a limited functionality device like the Chromebook.
Though more recent models of the Chromebook have made the user experience much smoother, it still struggles with offline functionality at times. That’s not to say that using a Chromebook offline is impossible; there are definitely ways that you can rig certain aspects of it to work offline for you. However, even with more recent models gaining some functionality, offline use is still limited to a select few apps. Let’s take a look at what’s available, and how you can get the most out of it.
Google Drive Offline Editing
In order to use your Chromebook for editing documents, slideshows, and spreadsheets offline, you can activate the Offline Sync within your Google Drive. The only problem here is that you have to first be online in order to activate the sync. To do so, open up Google Drive and go to Settings. It should be the gear-like button on the right side of the screen. You’ll then see the option for Offline. Check the box, “Sync Google Docs, Sheets, Slides & Drawing files to this computer so that you can edit offline.” Keep in mind that this will sync your documents locally on the computer, and there’s an explicit warning that suggests against using this feature on public or shared computers.
Also of note is that this will only sync documents that are created within Google Drive, using your Google Apps. This includes Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides. Make sure that you test that you can access these files before you leave a place with wireless Internet.
You might not be able to send an email with Gmail Offline, but with this app from Google, you can still compose messages for when your device goes back online. This can help you write a message while you’re out and about, and then send it later. Granted, you could just do so in Google Docs, but it’s slightly less convenient.
Your Google Calendar is also available while offline, but it should be mentioned that you can’t add events to your calendar; only view them. This might be helpful at times, but when you need to add an event, you should wait until you have an Internet connection. Maybe you could just jot down a note in Google Docs, or write a draft of an email in Gmail Offline.
The main lesson here is that you can’t expect a Chromebook to provide the same level of experience that you would get with a traditional laptop. However, Chromebooks are still valuable tools that, under the right circumstances, can be exceptionally useful.
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Washington Works has been serving the Bethesda area since 2005, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.
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