We live in a world in which most of us are connected to the internet around the clock. Chromebook users will remember when critics derided Google’s operating system for being “online only,” but in the last few years, the majority of operating systems have been inching towards the same model — and that includes Windows.
The changing usage patterns can be problematic. There will always be certain times when a web connection isn’t available. Perhaps you’re trying to get some work done out in the field or you want to play a game on a long car journey.
On those occasions, you need to fall back on Windows 10’s offline features and apps. But which apps and services should you turn to when you’re “off the grid”?
Here are six Windows 10 offline apps that’ll keep you both productive and entertained.
I’ve previously written about why I think the Windows Maps app is a worthy competitor to Google Maps: it’s got numerous features that in many cases surpass the Google product.
One feature they both offer is the ability to download and view maps offline. Sure, you’re probably more likely to use Google Maps if you’re on mobile, but if you’re using a Surface tablet or a laptop, the Windows app is better.
Downloading a map for viewing offline is easy. Click on the three horizontal dots in the top right-hand corner of the screen and select Settings.
Next, click Choose Maps in the Offline Maps section of the menu. You’ll be automatically taken to the system-wide Settings app.
In the new window, choose Download Maps. The app will show you a list of continents. Click on your continent of choice, and you’ll see the countries within it. Depending on the size of the country, the app might show you yet another list of either states or cities. Click on a map to download it.
Assuming you have the setting enabled (Settings > Apps > Offline Maps > Automatically Update Maps), your offline maps will update automatically with any changes.
Download — Maps
2. OneDrive Files
Nothing is more frustrating than being unable to access your cloud content when you most need it. Thankfully, if you spend a few minutes configuring OneDrive on Windows 10, you’ll never encounter the problem again.
Assuming OneDrive is already running, locate the app’s icon in your Taskbar, right-click on it, and select Settings.
In the new Settings window, choose the Account tab and then click Choose Folders.
The app will display a list of all the files and folders in your OneDrive account. Simply mark the checkboxes next to the files you want to be able to access offline.
Be warned: if you have a lot of content on OneDrive, syncing all your files might eat through valuable local storage space. Therefore, a sensible approach is to make a OneDrive file called “Offline Documents” documents and save everything in it that you might need when you’re away from a connection.
Download — OneDrive
3. Windows 10 Store Content
If you play a lot of games through Steam, you can make them available offline by going to Steam > Go Offline. Just make sure you do it before you lose your connection.
But did you know you can also play games (and other media) you’ve downloaded through the Windows Store when you’re not online?
To enable the feature, open the Store app, click on your profile picture, and then Settings.
Scroll down to Offline Devices and slide the toggle under Make This The One PC I Use To Run Some Apps And Games That Have Limited Licenses, Even When I’m Offline.
Unfortunately, the feature has some caveats. Firstly, only one of your Windows 10 devices can play games and media offline. If you have a Windows Phone, a laptop, and a Surface tablet, you’re going to have to make some difficult decisions.
Secondly, you can only change your designated device three times per year. As such, if you’re hoping to continually chop and change you designated device between a phone and tablet, you’ll be out of luck.
Despite what you might read on certain websites, RSS readers are still widely-used and form an important part of lots of people’s productivity workflow.
One of the most underappreciated RSS readers in the Windows Store is Newsflow. Unlike the widely-used NextGen reader, you don’t need a third-party account to access the feeds (NextGen requires a Feedly account).
You don’t need to do anything special to make articles available offline; the developers have baked the feature into the app. However, it is still worth heading to Settings > Sync News On Application Start to make sure you’re always looking at the most recent articles.
Download — Newsflow
It’ll come as no surprise to learn Netflix is your best option if you want to save TV shows and movies onto your device so you can watch them offline. It’s not always been the case — the company only introduced the feature on Windows in Spring 2017.
Obviously, before you can download content, you need both a Netflix account and the app installed on your machine.
If you have both of those things, fire up the app and go to Menu > Available for Download.
To download an episode, click on shows thumbnail and look for the download icon. Once you click the icon, the episode will start downloading.
You can monitor the progress of your downloads by heading to Menu > My Downloads.
Download — Netflix
Alongside Netflix, the world’s other most popular streaming service is arguably Spotify. Like Netflix, it allows you to save content so you can enjoy it offline.
You’ll need to have the Spotify desktop app installed on your computer — the feature is not available through the much-criticized new web player.
At the time of writing, you can only save playlists for offline listening. You cannot save albums. As such, if you want to be able to enjoy a particular album offline, you first need to copy all the tracks into a new playlist.
When you’re ready, locate the Download toggle in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. When you turn it on, the app will save the music onto your hard-drive.
You need to go online once every thirty days for the downloaded content to stay available, and the feature is only available to Premium subscribers.
Download — Spotify
What Are Your Favorite Offline Apps?
I’ve shown you three native Windows features and three third-party apps that will help you productive and entertained when you’re away from an internet connection.
Now it’s your turn to share the apps and features you use. How do you stay productive when you’re away from the web? What apps do you install to stop yourself from getting bored?
As always, you can share your suggestions and recommendations in the comments below.