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How to Set Up and Use Google Docs Offline

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How to Set Up and Use Google Docs Offline

You can work on your Google Drive files offline, but it takes a few steps to reach an internet-free zone. Here's how to access files on Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides while you're off the grid.

  • By Eric Ravenscraft
  • January 15, 2019 3:45PM EST


How to Set Up and Use Google Docs Offline


For a free text editor, it's hard to get much better than Google Docs. You can update your resume, work on a paper, or even write articles (like this one) right in your web browser.

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. You can drop what you're doing on your work PC and pick it up later at home, or make quick changes on your phone. As long as you have an internet connection, it's super convenient. The rub 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 painfully inaccessible. Fortunately, 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.

Here's how to set up Google Docs to work offline. The same instructions work for Google Slides and Google Sheets.

How to Set Up Google Docs Offline on Your PC

Install Chrome

The offline feature for Docs only works in Google's own browser. If you're using Firefox, Safari, Edge, or any other browser, download and install Chrome.

Sign In to Your Google Account

Everything you do in Google's world is linked to your Google account, and Docs is no different. Sign into your account in Chrome after you've installed the browser.

Download the Google Docs Offline Extension

Chrome allows you to install browser extensions that add new features and enhance your overall experience. For offline access, this extension will let you use Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets even when you lose internet access.

Enable Offline Access

Open Google Docs and sign into your Google Account if you have not done so already. Click the hamburger menu in the top-left corner of the screen (), select Settings and enable the Offline toggle.

Enable Offline


Once you've done this, you'll be able to continue editing and saving your documents whenever you lose internet access. Google will also download some of your most recent files so you can edit them even if you don't already have them open. For older files, however, you'll need to download them beforehand.

How to Set Up Google Docs Offline on Mobile

Enabling offline access for Docs is slightly simpler on your mobile devices.

Download the Apps You Need

Google offers 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

Google Docs Offline Mobile


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.

Make Specific Files Available Offline

By default, 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.


Google Docs Offline Mobile


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.


Google Docs Offline Mobile


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.

This topic was modified 3 years ago by Ajamu
Topic starter Posted : 04/02/2019 12:23 am

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