Chromebook offline

Do I always need to be online with a Chromebook? This is a question I hear a lot. I suspect that’s because Google did such a good job early on of convincing people their Chromebook didn’t need to have killer specs and massive storage because it uses G-Suite. With the applications in the cloud, servers do the hard work and data is stored online for easy access. That message was misinterpreted by some to read the Chromebook must be connected to the internet to function.

That is definitely not the case.

Your Chromebook is designed to be at home as a connected device

Without a doubt, the Chromebook was designed to make the most of online connectivity. 

Google’s Chrome OS uses the Chrome web browser as its primary interface — that’s a dead giveaway. The default productivity application for Chromebooks is G Suite, which is hosted online, and encourages the storage of documents online for collaboration and easy access. Even today, Chromebooks will have a fraction of the storage of other laptops because with so much going on online, they simply don’t need a whole lot of local storage. Chrome OS is designed to check online and automatically download any security updates to provide the most secure user experience possible. You sign into a Chromebook with your Google ID, which ties in to all of Google’s services. And Google Assistant (internet required for most functions) is front and centre on Chromebooks.  

You can do most of what you would online, offline

Although the Chromebook started life as a laptop that was largely reliant on an internet connection, with time it has become much more independent. At this point, you can do pretty much anything you’d like offline.

For example, You can choose to work on G Suite documents offline (you can also download them in other, common file formats and work on them offline using the respective apps).

Chromebook offline

You can download media files like music and videos for offline access. Here I’m downloading episodes of a TV show from Netflix to watch offline on a Chromebook, just as I can with a smartphone or other laptops. The only really issue to be aware of here is that video files can be large, and Chromebooks do typically have less storage capacity.

Chromebook offline

Does it look like this Chromebook is online? Look again at the URL… You can download the content from a website to the Chromebook to read while you’re offline.

Chromebook offline

In other words, you do not need to be online to use a Chromebook.

Any more Chromebook questions?

With September approaching, Chromebooks are on many family shopping lists. They’re an attractive, affordable option that supports both in-classroom, and in-home learning. But not everyone is as familiar with these as they are with Windows laptops or MacBooks. This is the first post in a series I’m doing, covering some Chromebook basics to help anyone who’s still not sure what to expect. If you have any Chromebook questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them.

And if you need any help with any aspect of your back to school shopping this year, be sure to check the Best Buy Canada website. There’s a whole section dedicated to the 2020 back to school season.

Brad Moon
Editor Computing solutions
I’m a long-time electronics and gadget geek who’s been fortunate enough to enjoy a career that lets me indulge this interest. After 13 years as a product manager with a leading Canadian tech company, I transitioned into a full-time career of writing about technology. I’ve contributed to a range of publications and websites including Forbes, Wired, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, About.com, MSN Money, the Winnipeg Free Press, InvestorPlace Media, Shaw Media and—combining technology and my three kids—I’ve been a Core Contributor to the award winning GeekDad blog since its launch in 2007.

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