How To Work Offline In Google Chrome

There is no menu option to Work Offline in Chrome but a quick workaround can achieve the same result. Work Offline is a web browser mode of particular use to those with an intermittent internet connection or with a very limited data allowance (e.g. 3G).

It can also be used to open saved webpages without having to connect to the internet, to watch a cached video and (by developers) to test a server running on the same computer. Work Offline is fully supported in Firefox and IE via a simple menu option (see bottom of this article for a guide) but, despite years of requests, there is still no equivalent in Chrome.

Obviously you could just unplug/disconnect your internet connection manually but that is a painfully slow solution – and you may want another program to still be able to use the internet whilst you work offline in Chrome itself.

Chrome Workaround – An effective workaround is to set up a proxy server to point to your own PC. This forces Chrome to bypass the internet and attempt to route traffic to your own PC (where it will fail, just as it would do in a true Work Offline mode).

However, saved webpages and cached pages/videos etc will still be viewable if those components are already stored on the PC (in Chrome’s cache). Like the work offline mode of other browsers, this workaround will take only Chrome offline, whilst letting other programs connect to the internet as usual.

How To Set Up A Proxy in Chrome – We will use an extension to set a proxy within Chrome only, allowing other programs access to the internet if required – this is the best and quickest method as we can turn this feature on or off with just 2 clicks.

[For techies – you could manually configure a proxy server in IE \ Internet Options (as Chrome uses your computer’s system proxy settings, set within IE, to connect to the internet). However, this is even more time consuming than disconnecting from the internet manually so is not recommended].

There are many proxy extensions available but most are designed for privacy and simply reroute your traffic over the internet to provide a degree of anonymity i.e. they still provide internet access which is no use to us. The extension we will use is the aptly named Quick & Dirty Proxy Flipper – download and install from Chrome Web Store here.

Once installed, click the extension’s icon in the top right of Chrome to choose a proxy server. The default (shown below) is ‘system’ i.e. whatever connection you currently use i.e. browse online:

Work Offline

Select http://localhost:8080 – unless you are a developer running a server (you should know if you are), your internet traffic will now be routed to your own PC so you are effectively working offline.

Chrome cannot ‘get out’ to the internet so requests for new webpages will fail with an error page ‘unable to connect to proxy server’ (because your own PC is not running a server) but saved webpages/videos or those in your history can be displayed because they are cached in Chrome.

To return to normal web browsing and work online, just click the extension icon and select ‘system’ again.

Quick & Dirty Proxy Flipper has several other options:

  • ‘socks5…’ – these two options would also force Chrome to work offline, unless you are an advanced user running a server (e.g. Tor) or trying to ssh into a VPS.
  • ‘System’ – work online using your standard system network or proxy connection.
  • ‘Direct’ – try to work online, bypassing any global proxy server configured elsewhere on your system (e.g. in IE \ Options). Note: if you are using a company network with a specific proxy required, this option may not provide internet access.
  • A blank input field – this allows you to configure your own proxy. It should not be required for our purpose of working offline.
  • ‘Exclude Google’ – tick this box if you want to exclude Google.com from the proxy i.e. still use Google.com online for searching, even if you have set a proxy like localhost:8080 to work offline. This might be useful if you want to be able to search whilst still remaining offline for all other sites.

A quick note on how to work offline in other major browsers:

Firefox – click the Firefox button then select ‘Web Developer’ then ‘Work Offline’. Alternatively, if you have the Firefox Menu Bar displayed in XP, select ‘File’ then ‘Work Offline’.

IE – select ‘Tools’ then ‘Work Offline’.

Conclusion

Although Chrome does not have a menu option to work offline, using a proxy server directed to your own PC lets you quickly disable or enable your internet connection for Chrome only.

5 Responses to: "How To Work Offline In Google Chrome"

  1. Carly says:

    interesting solution, thx (but i still wish they would add it to the menu)

  2. Ayub Khan says:

    Dude, this worked like a charm. I’m simply amazed by the simplicity of it. Great work man :)

  3. AFd says:

    all i got was ‘webpage not available’ and ‘cannot connect to proxy server’. is that my mistake/does the supposedly cached page not exist? hard to believe; i visited it 10 times in the last few days and history is set to save forever

  4. Sutter Cane says:

    I still don’t know how to view the cached pages.
    If I simply click on page links in my browsing history I get “unable to connect to proxy server”
    rather than a cache of the page as it was last viewed, so the browser is STILL trying to refresh
    the page, but simply unable to. Is there a setting somewhere that I need to change in Chrome?
    (In IE, even if you didn’t go off-line, you could select an option for the browser NOT to use the latest
    version of a page unless you chose to manually refresh it.)

    If instead I bring up the cache itself there is no easy way to find the pages I want
    nor a way to display them except as a load of raw data.

  5. Cathy says:

    Perfect! Just what I needed to test our web app offline! Thanks so much! You’re an angel :)!