How to create and edit Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides offline

Learn how to create and edit Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides without an internet connection in Chrome or on Android and iOS devices.

G Suite: What is it, and how can it benefit businesses? Still in the dark about Google's cloud-based office software suite? Here's a quick introduction to G Suite.

While Google Docs excels at collaboration online, you can also use Docs offline. Whether you're 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 sync when you connect to the internet.

SEE: Working remotely: A professional's guide to the essential tools (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

To enable offline capabilities, you'll need to connect online first and adjust a setting. Follow the steps below to enable offline work.

Note: If you use G Suite, an administrator will need to allow offline access from the Admin console. To do this, the G Suite administrator will sign into https://admin.google.com, and then go to Apps | G Suite | Drive & Docs | Features & Apps | Allow Users To Enable Offline Access. If you find you can't work offline with your G Suite account, contact your organization's G Suite administrator—some administrators may choose to prevent offline work in order to protect organizational data.

How to work offline with Docs, Sheets, or Slides in Chrome

  1. You need to install Chrome on a laptop or desktop system in order to work with Docs offline.
  2. If you aren't already signed in with your Google account, sign in to Chrome or go to https://drive.google.com and sign in.
  3. Install the Google Docs Offline Chrome extension. If a Remove From Chrome button displays when you follow the link to install the extension, then the extension is already installed.
  4. Go to https://drive.google.com/drive/settings, check the box next to Offline to enable your system to Create, Open And Edit Your Recent Google Docs, Sheets, And Slides Files On This Device While Offline (Figure A). The system will automatically make most files you've worked with recently available offline. This process may take a bit to complete.

Figure A

Screenshot of Google Drive settings screen, with Offline enabled

In Chrome on your laptop or desktop, go to Google Drive settings to enable Offline files.

5. If you choose to make a Docs, Sheets, or Slides file available offline, go to Select File | Make Available Offline when you have the file open (Figure B).

Figure B

Screenshot of File > Make available offline menu option

After the feature has been enabled, you may select File | Make Available Offline when you edit any Google Doc, Sheet, or Slide.

6. To see which files are available to use offline in Google Drive on the web, open https://drive.google.com, select the offline indicator icon (in the upper right area), and enable the Offline Preview slider (Figure C). Files and folders available for offline use will display in a darker font, while files not yet available for offline use will display in a lighter font.

Figure C

Screenshot of offline checkmark icon, with offline preview enabled

In Google Drive on the web, select the offline icon and enable Offline Preview mode to display files you can open and edit while not connected to the internet.

7. After Drive offline access has been enabled, you can open https://drive.google.com and select File | New | choose Docs, Sheets, or Slides, and then Blank Document to create new files while offline.

How to work offline with Android or iOS Docs apps

  1. Install the Google Drive app for Android or iOS, along with each corresponding editor app you want to use (Google Docs: Android, iOS; Google Sheets: Android, iOS; and Google Slides: Android, iOS).
  2. If you aren't already signed in with your Google account in one of these apps, open the Google Docs app and sign in.
  3. Tap to open the Google Docs app, tap the icon of three horizontal lines in the upper left corner, and then tap Settings. Enable the slider next to Make Recent Files Available Offline (Figure D).

Figure D

Screenshot of "Make recent files available offline" slider enabled

In the Docs, Sheets, or Slides apps for Android or iOS, select the three horizontal line menu in the upper-left, then Settings, and enable Make Recent Files Available Offline.

4. The system will automatically make most files you've worked with recently available offline.
5. Within each app, you may choose to make a specific file available offline. While viewing the list of files, tap the three-dot menu in the lower corner next to a file, and then select or enable Available Offline. Alternatively, when you have a file open, tap the three dot menu in the upper right, and then select or enable Available Offline (Figure E).

Figure E

Screenshot from opened Google Doc on Android, showing Available offline menu option enabled

To manually make a file available to edit offline in Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides on mobile, tap the three-dot menu and then enable the Available Offline slider.

6. To see which files are available to use offline in any of these mobile apps, tap the icon of the three horizontal lines in the upper left, and then tap Offline. Only items available for offline use will display (Figure F).

Figure F

Screenshot of Android app, showing Offline menu option.

In the Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides mobile apps, tap the three horizontal line menu in the upper-left, and then tap Offline to view all files available for access while not connected to the internet.

7. In the mobile Docs, Sheets, and Slides app, you can always tap the + icon in the lower right to create a new file. This new file will be saved and sync to Google Drive the next time the app connects to the internet.

Your experience?

Have you worked with the updated offline mode that Google launched in April 2019? If so, has this made accessing and editing offline Docs, Sheets, and Slides easier? How has offline editing of Docs, Sheets, and Slides worked for you on mobile devices? Let me know your experience in the comments or Twitter (@awolber).

Also see

Illustration with word "Offline" and circle with check box to the left; above: small icons of Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides
Image:TechRepublic/Andy Wolber