I’ve a new post on great apps for bringing maps, documents and more offline! Check it out here.
My travels involve forgoing mobile data, but you don’t have to forgo technology completely! Though I keep paper copies of hostel bookings/directions and the like, it can be useful to keep files on your phone:
- Taking the phone out of the pocket is usually easier than swinging your bag around to retrieve the paper
- Pinch to zoom is really handy with maps, especially those too big to print out
The problem with iOS and Windows Phone is the lack of a file system to download and access files easily. On iOS you can get around this with apps – cloud services like Dropbox and Google Drive allow you to keep offline versions of files, while others such as Sugarsync (sadly not free anymore) and Documents allow you to sync folders to open offline.
Windows Phone has less love from developers in this area, but you can still access Office Documents and PDFs files offline pretty easily. After an initial sync, OneNote is also available offline, but I’ll leave that out for now.
1. Office Documents (Ok, just Excel)
Ugh, you say. Office is associated with work, and who wants to bring that with you?
Well, Excel happens to be a really flexible way to plan itineraries and track shared expenses for splitting later. Real-time collaboration ala Google Drive for Word and Powerpoint is coming, but the Excel Web App has had some this capability for a while – so this is still pretty useful, plus you get to pin the document to your start screen.
Anyhow, keeping an offline version of the file is simple – open the Office app, go to places > SkyDrive and find your file. Open it.
Once opened, the file will also appear in the “recent” section, and you’ll be able to access this version offline. If you get on an internet connection and open the file again, it will prompt you to sync if the file isn’t the latest version.
Of course, to be really sure you could save the file to your phone. Tap and hold on the file to open the context menu, and tap “Save to…” and select “Phone”.
PDFs are a good file format to store travel documents such as maps, and are still widely used for tickets and reservation confirmations. PDF Reader is a simple app for viewing, as well as storing PDF documents. Basically, any PDFs that are downloaded and opened with PDF Reader and saved in the app – there are two ways you can do this:
- Download from SkyDrive via the Office app (which also means that it will also be visible in the “recent” section)
- Download from other SkyDrive or other cloud services via Internet Explorer
Since the steps for the first option are similar to opening Office documents, let’s talk a little more about the second option.
Downloading via Internet Explorer
To download via Internet Explorer, just login to your cloud service, then search for the file and download it – the page will look something like:
Once the download is complete, the file should automatically open in PDF Reader, else just tap to open it:
… and it’s also saved to PDF Reader!
If you use the SkyDrive apps or third-party cloud service apps (e.g. Boxfiles for Dropbox), they’ll open the download link in Internet Explorer as well.
There you have it – save Office Documents and PDF Documents offline for your traveling! If you have any alternative methods, do let me know – leave a comment below, or find me on Twitter @wasabigeek.