Google Docs is great as far as word processing programs go. It is a worthy alternative to Microsoft Word, assuming you don’t mind using your browser to create documents. After all, since Google Docs is web-based, you can access your files anytime across multiple devices. What’s more, you can collaborate on a document with other users. However, what happens when you need to make a quick edit to a document and notice that your Wi-Fi network is down? So, you cannot connect to the Internet – Bummer, right?

What if I told you that there’s a way to access your documents offline? Yes, that’s right. However, first, you have to set it up while connected to the Internet. It’s a good idea to get it done now before you actually find yourself in the hypothetical situation described earlier.

How to Work on Google Docs Files Offline

The instructions presented in this guide do not only apply to Google Docs. They also work on Google Slides and Google Sheets.

When you turn on offline access within the Google Drive settings, the same will happen on other platforms, including Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides. Note that Google Forms does not yet grant offline usage.

How to Edit Google Docs Offline on a Windows 10 Computer:

Before you can work with Google Docs without an internet connection on your PC, you must have a Google Chrome browser.

  1. Open your Google Chrome browser. Download the browser if you don’t have it. Then, log in to your Chrome profile with your Google account.
  2. Once you are on Chrome, ensure that you have not enabled private browsing or Incognito Mode.
  3. Visit https://drive.google.com/drive/settings.

Note: If you’d like to see how to get to the Google Drive Settings page without using your address bar, here it is:

  • Visit drive.google.com to open Google Drive.
  • Once you are on Google Drive, you’ll see your recent documents, new document templates, and the option to create a blank document. On that interface, click the Menu icon (the hamburger: three horizontally-stacked lines) in the top-left corner.
  • Click on Settings from the menu.
  1. Locate Offline and mark the checkbox for the option that says, ‘Create, open and edit your recent Google Docs, Sheets and Slides files on this device while offline.’
  2. If you have any open documents, refresh them.
  3. In an attempt to help you manage your local storage space, Google Docs will only save recent files to your computer automatically for offline use. If you’d like to save other files as well, then:
  • Open Google Docs.
  • Open the file you want to work on.
  • Click the File tab and click on Make Available Offline.
  • Alternatively, open Google Docs and click ‘More’ (hamburger icon) on the file you wish to access offline.
  • Click Available Offline. Once you do, an indication will appear in the bottom-left corner as confirmation that the file is now available offline.
  1. To see all the documents that are ready for offline use, open Google Drive and click the ‘Ready for Offline’ option in the top-right corner of the page. Then, click on Offline Preview to see the files you will be able to work on without being connected to the internet.

Keep in mind that when you edit a Google Docs file offline, the changes will not reflect on the online copy of the file, and other users that have access to it will not see the changes you made. You won’t see changes made by other users either—not until the next time you connect to the Internet. The files will then sync to Google’s servers.

Also, the spell-check feature and other add-ons will not be available.

How to Use Google Docs Offline on Your Mobile Device:

  1. Go to the iOS or Android Store and download Google Drive and Google Docs. You can also download Google Sheets and Google Slides if you need them.
  2. Open Google Drive and tap the hamburger icon in the top-left corner of the screen.
  3. Tap on Settings in the menu.
  4. Click the toggle to enable the ‘Make recent files available offline’ option. You can also open the Google Docs app and enable the same option. Once you’ve turned on the option, the apps will save a copy of the documents you accessed recently to your local storage so that you can work on them offline. If there are specific files you wish to download for offline access, then locate the file while online and open it. The Google Docs app will save the file for offline use automatically. However, to ensure that it has been saved, here’s what you have to do:
  • Locate the file and tap ‘More.’
  • Then click the toggle to enable the ‘Available Offline’ option. Do this for every file you need to work on offline.
  1. When a file is saved for offline use, there’ll be a grey circle with a checkmark on it. When editing the file offline, the circle will have a lightning bolt on it and is displayed right next to the title of the document.

Overview:

Let’s go over the facts once more:

  • You can view, edit, and create files on Google Docs even if you don’t have internet connectivity.
  • Before you can enable offline access, you must:
  • Connect to the Internet
  • Use a Google Chrome browser
  • Have enough space on your local storage to save your files
  • Install and activate the Google Docs Offline extension on your Google Chrome browser
  • Not use private browsing

What to Do if You Are Having Issues with Google Docs Offline Access

Now, you know how to use Google Docs without an internet connection. However, some users might encounter some roadblocks. We’ll show you how to overcome them.

Problem 1: “Another User Has Already Enabled Offline Access on this Computer.”

The most common problem that users encounter is when they open Google Docs on Chrome and try to log in with a different account. When they enable offline access for their files, they get an error message that says, “Another user has already enabled offline access on this computer.”

The solution to this problem is simple. The reason why the issue occurs is because of your Google Chrome user profile. Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Sheets, and the rest of them can identify your browser’s user profile. Moreover, you can only enable offline access for one account on each user profile you have on Chrome.

So, do you want to turn on offline access for the files you have on all your Google Docs accounts? If so, you’ll need to create a separate Google Chrome user profile for each Google Docs account you want to use.

If you don’t know how to create a new user profile on Chrome, then follow the steps below:

  1. Open your Google Chrome browser and click the Profile icon in the top-right corner.
  2. Click the + Add option under Other Profiles.
  3. Enter a name for the new profile and disable or enable the ‘Create a desktop shortcut’ option depending on your preference.
  4. Click the Done button.
  5. The new profile will open a new Chrome window. Click the Get Started button to proceed.
  6. Click Next and click Next again.
  7. Click Continue once you are on the ‘Sign in and turn on sync to get your bookmarks, passwords, and more on all devices’ page.
  8. If there’s an existing Google account you’d like to use input the account details to continue. Otherwise, click on Create account and follow the on-screen instructions.
  9. Once you’ve turned on sync for the new profile, you are ready to enable offline access for your Google Docs files.

Problem 2: Offline Setup Failed

If you get this message, here’s what you have to do:

  1. On your Chrome browser, open Google Docs and go to the menu (hamburger icon). Then, click on Settings.
  2. Disable Offline.
  3. Close the Google Docs tab on your browser.
  4. Re-open Google Docs and go to Settings in the menu.
  5. Enable Offline.
  6. Now, you’ll have to clear the Docs site data saved on your browser. To do so, copy chrome://settings/cookies/detail?site=docs.google.com’ into your Chrome browser address bar and click on ‘Past and go to’ in the menu.
  7. Click the Remove All button.

The above procedure also helps if you are stuck on the ‘Checking offline status, please wait’ message.

Problem 3: Offline Sync Disabled by Administrator

If you encounter this message, contact the admin and have them grant you access.

Problem 4: Unable to Sync Documents

If you are unable to sync your files after modifying them offline, it could be due to an issue with your network connection. You can confirm whether that is the case. Afterward, disable and re-enable offline access for the file and try syncing it again. Here’s how:

  1. Open Google Docs on your Google Chrome browser.
  2. Open the older version of the file you are having issues with. Then, click on the File tab.
  3. Click on Make Available Offline to disable the option.
  4. Click on Make Available Offline again to enable it.

After following the procedure shown above, refresh your network connection and see if the file will sync. If the issue persists, then it’s likely that the file is too large. You should try making the size smaller. This may require dividing the original version of the file into separate documents.

Problem 5: Multiple Users Working on the Same File

If you are collaborating on a document with other users, a time may come when everyone is working on the file all at once. If you are doing your part while offline, the changes you make will be synced automatically when you come online. However, this scenario might not always be convenient since you might find it difficult to keep up with the changes made by other users while you were offline.

However, there’s a way around it. You can view the file’s revision history. Here’s how:

  1. Turn on your internet connection and open Google Docs on your Chrome browser.
  2. Open the document in question. Of course, the changes you made while offline will be synced.
  3. Click on the File tab.
  4. Click on See Revision History. The users that worked on the file, as well as the time and date of the modification will be displayed to you. If you like, you can roll back to the older version of the file.

Bonus Tip: How to Work On Your Google Docs Files in Microsoft Office

If you have Microsoft Office on your PC, you can use it to modify your Google Docs files offline. However, the edited version of the file will not be synced as it would when using Google Docs offline. Instead, you’ll have to upload it to Google Docs as a new file. This means that the file will exist alongside the old version as a separate file. So, you might have two documents with the same name.

If you’d like to edit your Google Docs file on Microsoft Word, here’s what you have to do:

  1. Open your Google Chrome browser.
  2. Access Google Drive.
  3. Open the file you want to download and click on the File tab.
  4. Place your cursor over Download As in the menu. Then, click on Microsoft Word (.docx) in the submenu.
  5. Afterward, you can work on the file using MS Word.
  6. To upload the edited file, open Google Docs and click on File.
  7. Click on Open.
  8. Click Upload.
  9. Go to the location where you saved the edited file on your computer. Drag and drop the file into the Open a File page on Docs. On the other hand, you can click the ‘Select a file from your device’ button.
  10. Click Open. The file will be converted back to the Google Docs format.
  11. Save the file.

Conclusion

Google Docs is a web-based text editor beloved by many users. In this guide, we discussed how to edit Google Docs files offline on desktop and mobile. You don’t have to be sidelined when you lack internet access. Even if you lose your network connection, you can still edit your documents and create new ones.

However, the only downside of offline mode is that you might not have a couple of functionalities. Even so, it doesn’t really take much away from you. The important thing is that you can continue your task and save time. Imagine if inspiration strikes and you want to add something to your document. However, you can’t do you because your Wi-Fi is down.

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If you’ve benefitted from this guide, feel free to drop us a comment in the comments section below. We’d like to hear from you. Don’t fail to visit our blog for more informative articles.