Slash Your Data Bills: How to Read the Web Offline

by Sandra Henshaw - , Last Updated on December 15, 2015, How To Guides

Having constant access to the internet through your smart phone is pretty awesome, or it is right up until you go over your data limit and start getting huge phone bills. But if you’re a big online reader, there are several ways that you can save money on that data bill. Maybe you like reading web articles, how to guides, or even fan fiction online on your way to work, but your train doesn’t have WiFi. Not a problem. We’re here to show you why you don’t need any internet connection at all to read those articles…

How This All Works

Okay, so we’ll start at the beginning. Say you find a nice long article online that you fancy reading, but you don’t exactly have the time to do it right now. You can, of course, read it on your morning commute, which is pretty handy. But what about if you don’t want to use up your mobile data and you don’t have a WiFi connection? What you need your phone to do is to save a “picture” of that article for later, so that you can read it without having to connect to the internet.

Fortunately, there are a few very easy ways to do this. Whether you’ve got an iPhone or an Android, your phone can natively do this. Plus, there are a few great apps that will help you out here too. But let’s start with your phone’s native ability.

Saving Your Webpage as a PDF

If you don’t want to fuss around downloading apps and the like, and if saving a page for later isn’t something you do particularly often, then saving that page as a PDF is going to be your best bet. How you do it is going to depend on what kind of phone you have.

PDF on iPhone

If you’re on an iPhone, then saving as a PDF is pretty new, and you’ll need to have iOS9 minimum in order to do this. Open the webpage that you want to save in your internet browser and if you look at the top right you’ll see a share button (it looks like a box with an arrow coming up out of it). Hit the share button and then tap the option that says “save PDF to iBooks.” And you’re done. When you want to read the page just open the iBooks app on your phone (which should be installed by default) and you’ll find it, no online connection necessary.

PDF on Android

On Android it’s just as simple, though a little sneakier. Open the webpage you want in the browser of your choice, then tap the menu button on your browser and select “print.” Okay, we know you don’t want to print it, be patient! When the print preview box appears tap on the “Save to” option, and choose “save as PDF.” Your file will then be stored in your phone’s local storage (you can easily find it by going to the “my downloads” or “my files” icon in your app drawer).

Another option with Android is going through the same process but instead of “save as PDF” selecting “save to Google Drive.” This will save the page on your Drive, and you can then access it from any computer or phone you like. In order to get it offline, save it in this way, then open up the Google Drive app on your phone. Press and hold on the file you want and then press the icon of a pin when it appears. This will keep the page available off line for reading.

Other Options and Apps

Saving as a PDF is elegant and simple, but if you do this too often you’re probably going to run into organisational problems, simply because you get a whole bunch of web pages with random names saved, making it tough to find what you’re looking for. There are two solutions for frequent off line readers. If you’re lucky enough to be a Kindle owner, then this is one solution. The other solution is to download a “read later” app.

Own a Kindle?

If you’ve got a Kindle and your Kindle account is all set up then saving all your webpages to read later is dead simple. Just email the webpage to your Kindle account, and you’ll receive them on your device. Don’t forget to connect your Kindle to your home WiFi and synch it before leaving the house, however, in order to download those pages onto the device…

Get an App

Finally, there are actually a bunch of apps around that will do the job for you, but choosing the best of these can be tough. There are three that we really recommend (we’ll get to them in a second), but first, a note about other choices. Yes, there are plenty of options, but if you choose not to go with one of our recommendations then do research your choice before downloading. The problem with a lot of read later apps is that it’s complicated and time consuming to get pages into the app itself. So look for an app that has a browser extension for whatever your favourite web browser is to simplify the process.

However, there are three apps that are widely available for all phone operating systems, and that are pretty easy to use. Pocket is probably the most popular of these three, though Instapaper and Readability are fairly similar in terms of what they do and how they do it. It might be worth getting the free versions of all three and finding out which you prefer. In general though, saving pages is easy. Once you’ve downloaded the app you should just have to click the “share” icon on your webpage and then you should have the option to “share to Instapage/Pocket/Readability.”

And that’s really all you need to know. So don’t waste time reading those webpages at work, just save them and read them on your commute. You don’t even need to have mobile data!