While Google Docs is primarily an online service, you can also use Google Docs offline (but you’ll need to set it up first). This guide will show you how.
Google Docs is a great productivity tool, but it has one disadvantage over Windows—it’s an online-based service. If you’re using Google Docs, you’ll generally be expected to stay online. This is where your documents are saved, for instance.
That said, you can use Google Docs offline from time to time. This allows you to work in your document, spreadsheet, or presentation when you lose connection (or need to limit your data usage). Any changes you make will be synced to your online document when your connection is restored.
If you want to use Google Docs offline, here’s what you’ll need to do.
How to Use Google Docs Offline on a PC or Mac
To use Google Docs in offline mode, you’ll need to use Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge on Windows, macOS, or Linux. Currently, neither Opera nor Firefox includes the offline options we will cover in this article. We’re using Microsoft Edge, but the process is virtually the same in Chrome.
To use Google Docs offline on a PC or Mac:
- Open Google Docs, Google Sheets, or Google Slides in your web browser.
- Open a document and select File > Make available offline from the menu.
- You’ll see a prompt to install the Docs Offline Chrome extension if it isn’t already installed—click Install.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to install the Docs Offline Chrome extension in your browser.
- When you return to your document, a message will appear prompting you to reload the browser—click the Reload link.
- Navigate to File > Make available Offline and select whether you want to apply the setting to all files.
- You’ll need to reload the document to allow offline editing—click Reload.
How to Make a Document Available Offline
With the Google Docs Offline extension installed, you can make any document, spreadsheet, or presentation available for offline editing.
To make any Google Docs document available for offline editing:
- Open Google Docs, Google Sheets, or Google Slides in your browser.
- Right-click an item in the file list and select the Available offline slider.
How to Disable Offline Mode in Google Docs
You can also disable offline mode in any document, spreadsheet, or presentation in Google Docs. If multiple users are editing a document, you may want to do this to protect a document from lost changes.
To disable offline mode in Google Docs:
- Open a Google Docs document in Docs, Sheets, or Slides.
- In the document, press File > Remove offline access.
- You can also right-click an offline document and turn off the Available offline option.
That’s it. Now, the documents you set to be offline will be available to edit and work on when you have a lousy data connection or no internet at all.
How to Make Google Docs Available Offline on Mobile Devices
You can also allow documents, spreadsheets, and presentation files to be accessible for offline editing on a mobile device.
For this section of the article, we’re using Google Docs, but the same steps will apply if you’re using Google Sheets and Google Slides. Before you begin, make sure to install the Google Docs app on your Android, iPhone, or iPad device.
To edit a Google Docs document offline on mobile:
- Open your Google Docs app on your mobile device and select a file.
- In the file, tap the menu button in the top right.
- Toggle the Available offline switch.
- To make all recent files available offline, tap the menu icon in the top-left..
- Tap Settings and toggle the Make recent files available offline option from the menu.
Working Offline in Google Docs
Using the steps above, you can work offline in your Google Docs documents. Once you’ve finished, make sure to restore your internet connection to sync your changes to the online version of your document.
If you want to work in Office, you can also export Google Docs files to an Office format on your PC.