Google Docs runs on the cloud which makes it really great when you’re connected to the internet, but what if you need to access your documents when you don’t have an internet connection?
Well, don’t worry, it is actually possible to use Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides just like normal while you’re offline, but you do need to enable one special setting first while you’re online so that your computer has a chance to download all your documents. And today, that’s what I’m going to show you how to do.
Prefer to watch a video about how to use Google Docs offline? Click here.
How To Enable Google Docs Offline
Unfortunately, in order to use Google Docs offline, you will need to be using the Google Chrome web browser. As far as I know, it won’t work in Firefox, Safari, or any other browser so you will need to install Google Chrome before we begin if you don’t already use it.
But then, to enable Google Docs offline, while you’re still connected to the internet, open Google Chrome and go to Google Drive (drive.google.com/drive/my-drive) and sign in with your Google account if you’re not signed in already.
Now, once you’re in Google Drive, click on the settings icon in the top right hand corner…
And then, in the menu that appears, click “Settings”.
Now, a box will appear on the screen with a whole lot of Google Drive settings, and in the settings, you’ll need to scroll down until you see an option called “Offline”.
Once you find it, if the box is already ticked, that means Google Docs offline is already enabled on your computer, and you’re all ready to go! But, if the box is not checked, you’ll just need to click on it to enable Google Docs offline.
And you can now click the “Done” button in the top right hand corner to close this settings window.
Now, every Google Docs Document, Google Sheets Spreadsheet, and Google Slides presentation on your Google account will begin downloading to your computer, and you’ll see a little message in the bottom left hand corner that says “Setting up offline…”.
While this message is showing, you’ll need to keep your computer turned on and connected to the internet so that it can finish syncing all your documents. But, once that message goes away and you see another message that says “Offline setup complete”, that means you’re ready to use Google Docs offline.
How To Access Google Docs Offline
Now that you’ve enabled Google Docs offline, and waited for everything to sync, you’re ready to use Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides offline.
So now, if your computer is offline and you open Google Drive, you’ll see a message in the bottom left hand corner that says “You are offline. Some functionality may be unavailable.”. And any non Google Docs files will be greyed out and you won’t be able to open them.
But, any Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides in your Google Drive will not be greyed out, and if you double click on them, they will open up in a new tab and you’ll be able to view and edit them all just like normal.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to share documents and collaborate with people in real-time and other things like that without the internet.
But you can view it all and pretty much make any changes you want, and then when you eventually reconnect to the internet, any changes you’ve made will sync to the cloud, and anyone you might have shared the document with will see the new changes then.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to go to Google Drive to open your documents offline, you can go to https://docs.google.com/document/ (Google Docs), https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/ (Google Sheets), or https://docs.google.com/presentation/ (Google Slides) to access your Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides while offline.
It’s a more basic interface than you usually get with the online version of Google Docs, but it does the job just fine. And if you regularly use Google Docs offline, you could bookmark the above URLs to access them more easily.
And if you want to create a new Doc, Sheet, or Slide while offline, you can do that by simply opening the Docs, Sheets, or Slides homepage, and then clicking on the plus icon in the bottom right hand corner.
And that’s all there is to it! You can now use Google Docs without an internet connection!
Just remember, if you’ve created a new Google Doc or you’ve been editing a Google Doc offline, you’ll need to make sure you reconnect your computer to the internet at some point in order for all your changes to sync to the cloud.
This will all happen automatically so you don’t actually have to do anything as long as you turn on your computer and connect it to the internet at some point, but it’s just something to keep in mind.
And, if you want to be able to use Gmail offline, Gmail actually has a similar feature which I show you how to use here.