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Chrome will soon allow certain webpages to be read offline on desktop and mobile. How? By loading them from cache. 

I work out of a coffee shop most mornings and as reliable as the Wi-Fi is it will, on occasion, drop out for a few minutes or so. These moments typically serve as my cue to go and be served in a queue, but if I’m in the thick of researching or still nursing a piping hot latte then any outage, however brief, proves incredibly frustrating.

But, with Google working on bringing a temporary band-aid (of sorts) to Chrome, this could soon become a thing of the past. And the even better news? It’s already available to play with…

Enable Stale Copy Loading in Chrome

Let’s dial back to how things stand at present.

If you try to load a website without an active network connection (or a dodgy one, or when the webpage server is under heavy load, etc.) in Chrome you’ll see a cute and informative error page with collapsable details on the issue.

Certainly useful in helping to diagnose errors. But Google thinks it could be useful-er.

Designed as a fallback of sorts, future versions of Chrome will present you with the choice of reading an older, cached version of the errant webpage having trouble.

The “Show Saved Copy” button is positioned prominently on the connection error page, regardless of whether the issue is the result of woes at your end or theirs. Clicking on the button will load a cached version of the site taken the last time you opened it.

Can Only Work With Cached Copies

Now, obviously, the caveat here is that this feature can only work with websites that have a (so-called) ‘stale copy’ present in the browser cache. But while you won’t be able to peruse new sites or read articles you didn’t get around to opening prior to any network troubles, you will be able to scroll through and view pages, pictures and parts that have been successfully cached.

For moments of intended or unintended offline woe, this feature will really come in handy.

How to Try Cache Loading in Chrome

‘Stale Copy’ loading is already enabled by default in the Canary builds of Chrome on Windows and Mac.

If you’re running the latest Dev Channel or Chrome Beta for Android releases you can flip it on manually by changing the ‘Enable Offline Load Stale Button’ flag from ‘Default‘ to ‘Enabled’.

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