When you're a road warrior without a consistent, reliable connection for your device, how do you work with your Google Drive documents? Simple — you install Google Docs and Google Sheets on your Android device and make them available offline. Of course, it's not quite that straightforward. Fear not, all of the instructions you need for this process are here. After going through this post, you should be working with documents, sans a network connection, like a champ.
What you'll need
Here are the requirements:
- An Android device (preferably updated to the latest release available)
- Google Docs and Google Sheets installed
- Your Android device associated with your Google Drive account
If you don't already have Docs and Sheets installed, here are the steps:
- Open the Google Play Store on your Android device
- Search for Google Docs
- Locate and tap the official Google app
- Tap Install
- Read through the permissions listing
- If you agree with the permissions listing, tap Accept
- Allow the installation to complete
Repeat the above steps for Google Sheets.
Once you have everything installed, it's time to start working with a document offline.
Because of the cloud-nature of Google Drive, all of your documents are not automatically available offline. In fact, you have to manually configure each document you want to use offline — so, this is best done on a per-document basis. Of course, you'll want to make sure to set those documents for offline use before you need them. Should you find yourself without a connection and needing one of those documents, you'll be out of luck.
With that said, here's how you configure a document for offline usage.
- Open up the app to be used (either Sheets or Docs)
- Locate the file to be used offline in the file listing (Figure A)
- Tap the information icon (on the far right) associated with the file
- In the resulting window (Figure B), switch Keep on this device to ON by tapping the slider
The file is now available for offline usage. In order to open the file to edit offline, do the following:
- Tap the overflow menu in the upper left corner
- From the resulting sidebar (Figure C), tap On device
- From the listing of documents, tap the document to be edited
- Edit away
If you need to remove a document for offline editing, do the following:
- Go to the file listing in the app (either Sheets or Docs)
- Tap the information button associated with the file
- Tap the Keep on this device slider until it is in the OFF position
Naturally, you can edit any document while connected to either 4G (3G, etc) or Wi-Fi. But when you do not have that connection available, the only means to edit files is when they're stored on your device. After you've edited those offline documents, the moment the device is back online, the changes will sync with your Google Drive account (there's no need to manually re-sync).
Editing Google Documents offline is not a difficult task — you just have to get use to making the necessary documents available for offline usage.
What do you think? Is this system a workable solution? Or does Google need to rethink how documents are managed when a device is offline? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.