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How to Use Google Docs Offline: Complete Guide

How to Use Google Docs Offline: Complete Guide.

Not as powerful as its Microsoft Word counterpart, Docs has a couple of tricks up its sleeve, like typing docs.new in a URL automatically creates a new document. Everything was simple except using Google Docs offline. How to do it?

How to use Google Docs offline

This feature should have been available by default on all platforms, as Google takes a web-centric approach for all of its apps. They don’t offer desktop apps. Only web version and mobile apps for Android and iOS. Although internet connectivity has improved over the past decades, it is still not available around the clock.

Also read: How to download images from Google Docs

Before we start

You will need a Google Chrome browser or a Chromium-based browser like Microsoft Edge or Brave. This is because we will be installing an extension called Google Docs Offline, which was developed by Google’s own development team. Wondering why go the extension path and not create functionality inside the Docs app? I mean, you can’t install this extension in a smartphone app, can you?

This means that Safari and Firefox users are disconnected and they have no choice but to monitor their Internet connection.

Note that while the extension explicitly mentions Google Docs in its name, it works equally well with other Google apps such as slides, tables, and forms. This is a classic case of bad naming policies. I will be using Google Docs for this example only.

Also Read: 9 Best Google Docs Addons to Get the Most Out of It (2020)

Use Google Docs offline on browser

I am assuming that you have already installed the extension by clicking the Add to Chrome button. You may need to restart your browser once for it to work properly, but this is usually not required.

Go to the main Google Docs screen, not the new Google Docs, and choose Settings from the menu.

In the pop-up window, you will see a new Offline option that was previously unavailable. Turn it on and click OK at the bottom to save the settings. But wait, you’re not done yet.

You don’t need to enable this setting separately for Slides, Sheets, or other Google apps. Doing this in one application will allow you to use it everywhere.

What happens here is that only recently created or edited files will be available for offline editing. Why? As Google wants to save space locally i.e. on your hard drive / SSD. If there is an important document that you want to be able to access offline at any time, you will have to manually enable it for that particular document.

Find or find a document in the list and click the three-dot menu icon next to it to enable the Available offline option.

It is impossible to do this for all or selected documents at once. You will have to do this individually for each Google Docs file that you want to make available offline.

Also Read: How to Chat in Google Docs and Why You Should

Use Google Docs offline on smartphones

Most extensions don’t work on Android and iOS smartphones, so how do you use Docs or other Google apps offline? Mobile internet works well in cities, but it often lets you down when you need it most when traveling or on the go. Fortunately, the above method works on smartphones as well.

Select the document you want to work offline and choose the Make Available Offline option from the pop-up menu that opens at the bottom of the screen. The files that you have selected for offline mode will be marked with a gray mark.

Do you want to automate the process? Open Settings in the Google Docs mobile app and enable the Make recent files available offline option.

This setting instructs the Documents app to enable the offline button for all files that you have recently opened and edited. You don’t need to do it manually if you haven’t accessed it recently.

What happens when you take documents without an internet connection

When you open the file on your smartphone or desktop, you will see a lightning bolt in the upper right corner. This means that you have opened the offline version of the document, not the online version. Good to know, because if you’re working on a shared document, chances are that someone else has updated the document and you don’t notice. The documents will be updated the next time you are online.

The Google Docs Offline extension works with only one Google account. If you have multiple accounts and switch to another, you will not be able to create or edit documents offline. The above steps will not work as you will receive a notification that they have already been completed.

You cannot upload images because this will require an active internet connection. Google Docs has a spelling checker to help you write faster and better, but it won’t work offline either. Everything else will work fine.

Also Read: Automatically Transcribe YouTube Videos / Audio with Google Docs

Conclusion: Google Docs offline

I wish Google baked and enabled the standalone feature by default in Google Docs instead of installing the extension. The process is easy to follow, but not necessary for users. Other than that, it works like a charm and is easy to implement if you know it exists. Sadly, Firefox and Safari users are left out.

If you have any doubts or suggestions, let us know in the comments section below and we will do our best to help you.

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