How to Work Offline on a Chromebook: Make Your Google Docs and Emails Available Offline

Chromebooks are designed to be clamshell devices for accessing web and cloud services. Unlike Macs and Windows PCs made in the pre-internet era, some apps may not work immediately when you’re offline. All of this is designed to make your data available anywhere, anytime and safe from theft and physical damage to your computer. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t use your Chromebook offline. You can actually put some of your documents or emails offline.

Before you take your Chromebook offline, you need to decide which apps and services you want to take offline and whether they support offline mode. Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides and E-mail for example, all work offline. Other applications such as Netflix, YouTube, Spotify can also work offline by allowing you to download movies or music offline. System utilities like calculator, calendar, diagnostics, text editor all work offline.

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So, in this article, I will show you how to take your Google Drive documents and emails offline.

Prepare Google Drive for offline use

Go to Google Drive settings and under the Offline section, check where it says “Create, open, and edit your recent Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides files on this device while offline.” Your Chromebook will start saving your last opened files offline.

Enable Google Drive Offline Mode

However, if you just want make specific files available offline instead of everything on Google Drive, you can also do it through Google Drive itself or the Files app.

Using Google Drive: To make specific files available offline from Google Drive, open Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides. Select the file you want to create offline, tap the menu option (3 vertical dots), then select Available Offline.

Make specific files available offline using Google Drive

Using the Files app: To make Google Drives available offline from the Chrome OS Files app, open the Files app, then select Google Drive > my Drive from the left panel menu. Your Google Drive documents will start showing up. Select the file you want to take offline, then enable the Available Offline option from the top menu.

Make specific files available offline from the Files app

You can now access all documents offline by selecting the Offline option under Google Drive.

Access files offline on the Files app

You can remove files available offline at any time by following the same steps and toggling the “available offline” switch.

Make Gmail work offline

If you’re traveling or expect spotty internet connections, you can take your offline emails with you.

Go to the mail.google.com settings page and select the offline tab. You clicked on this link, it will open the offline tab. Now check the box “Enable offline e-mail”. You will need to enable a few options. You can choose to download attachments, choose how many days you want to keep your emails offline, and select what Gmail should do with downloaded data when you sign out of your Google Account. Gmail can either store the data on your Chromebook even after you sign out or delete it.

Offline Gmail settings

Use Youtube offline

Even with streaming apps like Youtube, you can also take them offline with you. You will need to install the Youtube mobile app from the Google Play Store instead of visiting youtube.com. Select the video you want to take offline and click Download. Now not all videos are downloadable offline. This is all subject to creator permissions.

Youtube Mobile App on Chromebook

Keep in mind that taking your documents and videos offline consumes your local Chromebook storage space, which is already small. Most Chromebooks come with between 32 and 64 GB of internal storage, which is quite small. This is why files and media are stored or streamed from the cloud in the first place.

Maria D. Ervin