Can you imagine working without Google Docs? I can’t
With 2 billion+ monthly active users and more than a billion mobile app downloads, Google Docs is among the world’s most popular word processing tools.
For a free tool, it offers everything you need to create all kinds of documents and collaborate with clients and team members without the fear of losing your work to a power loss or system crash.
And, in case you didn’t know, you can even use Google Docs offline on your computer and mobile phone.
This means you can create, edit, save, and update your Google Docs files on the go even without an active internet connection.
Sounds amazing, right?
In this article, I’ll tell you exactly how you can do it.
Steps To Use Google Docs Offline
Google Docs Offline allows you to access and edit your documents without an internet connection.
Whether you edit your offline Google documents on a mobile device or your computer, the changes will be saved to your local system and synced with your main Google Docs account as soon as you have an active internet connection.
This makes remote work really easy even when you’re traveling or not using your regular computer system.
But before you can use Google Docs offline, you need to follow a few steps and enable offline access.
Here’s how to do it.
Step#1: Download Google Chrome Browser
To enable Google Docs offline access on your computer, you need to download Google Chrome first. Google Chrome is the world’s most popular web browser for desktop users with nearly 70% of the market share, so you might already have it.
But in case you don’t, download Google Chrome from here and install it on your computer.
Step#2: Sign-In To Your Google Account
Open Google Chrome and sign-in to your Google account (create one from here if you don’t have it).
This is important because, like all other Google tools and services, Docs also syncs your data across devices on the go.
So you need to be signed in to your account on every device where you need offline Google Docs access.
Once you sign-in, move on to the next step.
Step#3: Install The Google Docs Offline Chrome Extension
To enable offline access to your Google Docs files, you need to download and install the Google Docs Offline Chrome extension from Chrome Web Store.
There are a couple of ways to do it.
You can go directly to the Google Chrome Offline extension page in the Web Store.
Alternatively, you can go to the File menu of your browser, go to Settings→ Extensions. Here, click on the menu icon on the top left of your screen to open an options panel.
At the bottom, you’ll see a link to the Chrome Web Store.
Click on this link to open Chrome Web Store.
Once inside, search for Google Docs Offline to go to the same Chrome extension page I shared earlier.
On the Google Docs Offline Chrome extension page, click “Add To Chrome” to install the extension to your browser.
To activate the extension, go to your browser’s Settings→ Extensions and click on the activation button next to the Google Docs Offline Chrome extension.
This extension allows offline access not just for Google Docs but also for Slides and Sheets.
You’re now just a couple of steps away from using Google Docs Offline.
Step#4: Enable Offline Document Access For Recently Used Files
Now open Google Docs in your Chrome browser, click on the Main Menu icon on the top left of your screen and click on Settings.
In the Settings section, enable the Offline option as shown in the screenshot below.
Congratulations! You’ve now enabled Google Docs Offline access for your most recently used files.
Google will show these files based on your recent activity.
But if you want to enable offline access for specific files (or all of them) follow the next point.
Step#5: Enable Offline Access For Specific Documents
You can also enable offline access for individual files in Google Docs. With this option enabled, Google will allow you to now only access and edit your recently used documents but also the ones that you’ve individually selected for offline access.
To use it, head over to your Google Docs account and hover your mouse pointer over the file for which you want to enable offline access.
Click on the three-dotted icon at the bottom right of your file thumbnail.
In the menu, enable the “Available offline” option as shown in the screenshot above.
The files that are available offline have a small tick mark with their names.
You can now open, edit, and save this file with or without an internet connection on any device by signing-in to your Google Docs account.
How To Enable Google Docs Offline Access For Mobile
Google Docs is among the most popular mobile word processing apps with 2 billion+ downloads for Android and iPhone users.
Just like the desktop version of Google Docs, its mobile app also allows you to enable offline document access using which you can open, edit, and save your files from your mobile device even without an internet connection.
As usual, any changes you make to your documents while offline will automatically be synced with your Google Docs account once you’re back online.
Here’s how you can enable offline access from your Google Docs mobile app.
Step#1: Download The Google Docs Mobile App
Install the Google Docs Android app on your smartphone from the Google Play store. Once the app is installed, open it, and sign-in to it with your Google account to access all your files in the Docs section.
Step#2: Enable Offline Access For Recently Used Docs
After you sign-in, click on the menu icon on the top left of your screen.
In the menu that shows up, click on Settings.
In the Settings section, enable Offline access as shown in the screenshot below.
Now all your recently used files will be available to you offline and you can modify and save them using your Google Docs app.
Once you’re back online, all the changes will be synced with your account and you’ll be able to access the updated document from any device by signing-in to your Google account.
Step#3: Enable Offline Access For Specific Files
If you want to enable offline access for other than your recently used files, open the Google Docs app on your phone, and long-tap on your desired file to open the options menu.
From here, click on “Make available offline” to enable offline access for the file. You’ll see a tick mark next to all the files that are available for offline access on your mobile device.
How To Edit Files Using Google Docs Offline
When you’re online and have an active internet connection, you can open, edit, save and share documents in Google Docs from its regular URL (docs.google.com)
However, when you’re offline, you can access your offline documents by visiting the URL https://drive.google.com/#offline
This will open the regular Google Drive interface where all your files will be blurred except for the ones that are available offline.
From here, you can open and edit offline documents the same way do when you’re online. But Google Docs will show the offline icon next to your document title.
The changes to the document will be saved to your computer and will be synced when you go back online.
While offline you can also create new documents without any issues. However, some features (like document sharing, renaming, inserting charts, etc.) are not available for now when you’re offline.
If you create a new document while you’re offline, you will be able to give it a title but can only edit the title when you go online again.
5 Reasons Why You Should Use Google Docs Offline
Google Docs Offline is a pretty useful option for anyone looking for a safe and flexible word processor. There are several good reasons why you should use this feature and enable offline editing for all your documents.
1- Google Workspace (formerly G-Suite) Goes Down
Google owns the world’s biggest, fastest, and most reliable servers.
This is why billions of people use Google Workspace (formerly G-Suite) every month and enjoy a better user experience than most other online tools.
In case you didn’t know, Google Workspace includes all of the following Google services.
You’ll hardly ever face a citation in which all Google services go down at once.
But it has happened in the past when G-Suite went down in all of Asia and some parts of Europe.
Any users who didn’t enable offline access for their documents must’ve faced a lot of inconvenience because of this.
So why put yourself at risk when you have the option to enable offline access?
2- Traveling With Spotty Wifi
Remote work has become the norm these days and many people travel full-time while working at their convenience.
But now and then you’ll come across a bad or inconsistent internet connection while traveling.
This is when Google Docs Offline comes in handy.
If your documents are available offline, your work will stay on track even with a poor internet connection and will be synced with your main account when the connection gets better.
3- Your Internet Goes Out
Nothing’s more frustrating than an unannounced internet connection breakdown.
But it can happen.
This is why it’s always wise to enable offline editing for your most important documents.
The Benefits Of Using Google Docs Offline
Google Docs Offline Chrome extension has several benefits.
Edit Offline in Chrome
Once you install the Chrome extension and enable offline editing, it doesn’t matter whether you’re connected to the internet or not. You’ll still be able to work on your documents without worrying about losing your data.
Access Your Documents Anywhere
Google Docs is a cloud solution so it’s already location-free. But with Google Docs Offline, you can use Docs from anywhere even you don’t have an active connection.
Pin Important Documents
You can pin your most important documents for offline access so that you can find them immediately when you get to work.
Seamlessly Copy And Paste
You can copy/paste content from different offline documents without waiting for an active connection. Once you’re back online, your changes will sync with your main account files.
What to Do When Google Docs Says You’re Offline
Even when you’re using Google Docs with an active internet connection, sometimes you’ll suddenly get a message that says “You’re Offline”.
Don’t worry, your work won’t be lost even if you’ve not enabled offline editing as long as you don’t close the browser before you’re online again.
However, there are a few things you should do when you see this message.
Check Your Internet Connection
First of all, make sure you’re still connected to the internet. Click on the Wi-Fi icon on your screen and see if you’re still connected.
If you see a message like “Connecting”, “No Internet”, “Secured” there might be something wrong with your connection.
Reset Your Wifi Router
If your connection isn’t working properly, the easiest way to get things back on track is by restarting your Wi-Fi router. If there’s a problem with the router’s connectivity with your main service provider, restarting it should resolve the issue.
Check If Google WorkSpace (G-Suite) Is Down
Sometimes your internet connection will be working fine but you’ll still get the offline message in Google Docs. This can happen when Google Docs or Google Workspace are experiencing a downtime.
To check if that’s the case, head over to Google’s app status dashboard to see if any of the apps are down. If you see a red light against any app, it means the problem is not at your end.
But if all the apps are showing a green light, you’ll need to work out what’s wrong with your connection.
Are You Ready to Use Google Docs Offline
Google Docs Offline is such a useful feature that I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t use it. If not for all documents, enable it for at least the most important documents that you frequently need to edit. This would save you from a lot of inconvenience in case of a potential loss of connectivity.
Let me know if you have any questions.