While Google Docs excels at collaboration online, you can also use Docs offline. Whether you are offline due to your location, personal preference, or a connection problem, you may continue to create and edit files with Chrome and Google’s mobile apps (Docs, Sheets, and Slides) on Android and iOS devices. Any files you create or edits you make while offline will synchronize when you connect to the internet.
Why Google Docs?
The nifty part about Google Docs, Google Sheets, and even Google Slides is that you can edit your files offline. When you are not connected to the internet (or on a limited or bad connection), you can continue what you are doing. When you reconnect later, the changes will synchronize.
Turning on the feature is quick, which is handy since you must enable it per device. Once you do, you then toggle it per document with a single click. Here is how.
To enable offline capabilities, you will need to connect online first and adjust a setting. Follow the steps below to enable offline work.
Enabling on a desktop or laptop computer (Windows, Linux, MacOS)
For offline mode in Google Docs or Google Sheets to work, you must use Chrome or Edge in standard mode. The option does not appear in Firefox or Opera—even though the latter is a Chromium-based browser. It also will not work in incognito mode.
You can activate this feature in one of two ways:
- Go to Google Docs or Google Sheets, then click on the hamburger menu icon in the upper left of the screen. In the Offline section, click the toggle.
- In a Google Docs or Sheets file, go to File > Make available offline.
For both methods to work, you must be have an internet connection. If you need the Google Docs Offline extension, you will be have to install it. Once that is complete, you will be able to turn on offline mode. After the feature is active, you will enable it per document.
Either navigate to Google Docs or Google Sheets and right-click on the file or go to File > Make available offline within an open document. To disable offline access, use either of the same commands.
You will have to repeat these steps for every computer you use. That may sound like a hassle, but it is a decent security feature. All your offline files will be saved locally, so it ensures that only the docs you select get pulled down from the cloud. You do not have to worry about copies of sensitive documents being left on every computer you use.
Enabling Google Docs on Android or iOS
In the Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides app, you can choose to make all your recent files available offline, specific files available offline, or both.
For recent files, tap on the hamburger menu icon in the upper left of the app, then choose Settings. If the toggle is blue, the setting is already on, otherwise, tap to activate it.
Only recent files will be available offline automatically if this toggle is on. For older files, you will have to turn on the feature manually.
For specific files, you can either tap each file’s three-dot icon on the app’s main screen (found next to the file name) or at the top right of the screen when the file is open. Tap “Available online” to activate the feature. You will either see a green checkmark or a blue toggle when enabled.
You can see all the files available offline by tapping on the hamburger menu icon on the app’s main screen, then choosing Offline.
Disabling offline access
To disable offline access, repeat the above commands. The green check mark will disappear or the toggle will turn grey when offline access is off.
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