What can you do if you’re a Mac user who wants to browse your favorite websites without a connection? Suffer. Think of that scenario as Airplane Mode for the Mac; it is good for games and movies but not much else. Unless you could download web pages and websites and view them offline when there’s no connection. For that you need Offline Pages Pro.
An Offline Browser
Through the years I’ve tried every offline tool available to Mac, iPhone, and iPad users and not had much success. Some just didn’t work, others worked only on a few pages, still others had so many features it became difficult to figure out how to make the app work.
Offline Pages Pro takes a different approach. First, it’s a browser. Just enter a URL, click to the page or pages you want to save, and click a button. Done.
I know what you’re thinking. “Wait a minute, Jeffrey. Safari already has an archive function built-in to preserve web pages for offline viewing. And it’s free.” Yes it does, but it’s not the same thing.
Offline Pages Pro captures pretty much everything in a web page– formatting, text, photos, videos– and makes the whole shebang available to view with a click to a library list of web pages. While Safari’s built-in Archive function works one page at a time, making the capture process cumbersome and slow, Offline Pages Pro can capture an *entire website.
That means you can browse your favorite websites offline, without an internet connection, while flying or stuck on a train or being driven around town by your limo driver. It’s also a good way to save on bandwidth costs, and an excellent way to archive websites for future reference.
Offline Pages Pro can be used as a standalone app– it’s a browser inside so it works much like Safari– but there’s a Download button that works from within Safari so you can browse using Safari, and still click and save a webpage to Offline Pages Pro for later reading.
Unlike other apps which purport to download web pages and keep formatting intact, Preferences in Offline Pages Pro are straightforward and simple.
So far, Offline Pages Pro has managed to capture almost every website I visit, including those with HTML5, embedded video and audio. It even stores websites which require a username and password.
*Caveats? I haven’t tested this, but the Offline Pages Pro developer says it will download up to 50,000 web pages per website (though the controls display a 1,000 page limit). Smaller websites with fewer pages will download and archive quickly, while larger websites will take more time; sometimes, much more time.
Offline Pages Pro has a few useful features not found in the other website capture tools I’ve used. For example, you can organize pages with folders and tags, and some websites can update in the background when you have an internet connection so you’re assured of having the most recent pages when you travel offline. Downloads are paused automatically when a connection is lost.
There’s also an option– untried as yet– to setup a secret mailbox to add website links to the app by email. Offline Pages Pro also has an iPhone and iPad version which I’ve added to my list of upcoming reviews. There’s a way to sync downloaded websites between Mac, iPhone, and iPad using the cloud, but that requires a ‘cloud account‘ and does not use iCloud or Dropbox.
The idea behind Offline Pages Pro is to capture a web page or website, complete with all connected links and code, including images, videos, photos, and make it look and feel as if the website were live and online. I’ve run into a few complicated dynamic websites which did not seem to display correctly, but the app renders most HTML5 websites, including those using modern technologies (AJAX, JQuery, and other tools) without a problem.
The only real problem is this. There’s no try-before-you-buy option and it really, really needs a trial version to be appreciated.