With Google Drive, you can access all your documents from any computer or mobile device where you’ve signed into your Google Account. That makes working entirely in the cloud an enticing possibility. In this guide, we will be explaining how to setup and use Google Docs offline.
You can leave what you’re working on your work PC and continue later at home, or make quick changes on your phone. Provided that you have an internet connection, it’s super convenient. The downside comes when you lose your connection.
There are going to be times where you don’t have internet access but still need to edit a document. When you get on an airplane, or the internet goes down, all your work remains embarrassingly unreachable. Luckily, you can get around this with a few quick steps so you can keep using Google Docs—and still have access to all your files—even when you’re offline.
Note: Using Google Docs offline requires Google’s official Chrome extension, so you can only use it in Google Chrome. It works for Docs, Sheets, and Slides, but not Forms.
Here’s how to set up Google Docs to work offline. The same directives work for Google Slides and Google Sheets.
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How To Set Up Google Docs Offline On Your PC
We’ll be using Google Docs in our example, but it works the same in Slides and Sheets
- First, you’ll need to install the Chrome extension Google Docs Offline.
- After installing it, you’ll find a new setting in each of the main Google apps that lets you set things up for offline use. Enabling that setting in one app, it becomes automatically enabled in all supported Google apps, so you don’t need to go to each app to enable it.In the app, click on the hamburger icon in the top left corner, and then again on “Settings.”
- In the Settings window, toggle the “Offline” switch to the on position and then click “OK.
- Doing this permits offline mode across all the Google Drive applications (Docs, Sheets, and Slides).
- In an effort to save space locally, Google Docs only saves freshly opened files locally for use offline. You have to manually enable it by clicking on the three dots icon to the side of a specific document, then toggle “Available Offline” to access your file from anywhere.
- Any file that is available offline shows a grey check mark in the bottom left corner of your Docs, Slides, or Sheets homepage.
- Now, when you open the file in offline mode, a lightning bolt icon appears at the top of the document, signifying you are opening the file while offline.
You can now create, open, and edit any files without connecting to the internet. The next time your computer connects to a network, all the changes you made are synced to Google’s servers.
How To Set Up Google Docs Offline On Mobile
Enabling offline access for Docs is slightly straightforward on your mobile devices.
- Download the Apps You Need
- Google has separate apps for Google Drive, Docs, Slides, and Sheets on iOS and Android. Download the ones you need to the phones and tablets you’ll use while you’re offline.
- Make Recent Files Available Offline
- On the Drive app of your choice, tap the hamburger menu () in the top-left corner, tap Settings, and enable the “Make recent files available online” toggle.
- When you enable the above toggle, it will apply to each account on your device. However, you’ll need to do so for each app, so repeat on the Slides and Sheets apps as needed.
The mobile apps will automatically detect which files you’ve used frequently and keep a local copy available for you to use offline. However, if you need to make sure specific files are available, follow the steps in the next section.
Automatically, Google will try to save space by only keeping local copies of files you’ve recently edited on your device. However, you have a couple of options if you want to make sure that certain files are always available. On your laptop, you can download Google Drive Backup and Sync to keep a local copy of all your files, or just certain folders, on the desktop. This will make Drive function a lot like Dropbox.
However, if you only want to download specific files, find the file you want to keep in the app. Tap the three-dot “More” icon () and enable the “Available offline” toggle. Repeat for each file you need. You can also open the file you need and the app should download it, but it never hurts to make sure.
When you have a file available for offline use, you’ll see a circular symbol with a check mark inside it. When you’re editing the file without an internet connection, you’ll see a circular symbol with a lightning bolt next to the document’s name.
Once you’re back online, changes will sync up and the symbols will disappear.
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