How to Use Google Docs Offline: Complete Guide

How to Use Google Docs Offline: Complete Guide

Not as strong as its partners, Microsoft Word, Docs has a few tricks above like how to type a document. New URL automatically creates a new document. Everything is easy except using Google Docs offline. How to do it?

How to use Google Docs Offline

This feature should be available by default on all platforms, seeing how Google takes a web-first approach to all applications. They do not offer desktop applications. Only web version and mobile application for Android and iOS. While internet connectivity has been improved in the last few decades, it is still not available 24 × 7.

Before we begin

You will need a Google Chrome browser or a Chromium-based browser such as Microsoft Edge or Brave. That’s because we will install an extension called Google Docs Offline, which was developed by Google’s development team. Wonder why choosing the extension route and not building functionality in the Docs application? I mean, you can’t install the extension in your smartphone application, right?

This means that users of Safari and Firefox leave and have no other choice but to monitor their internet connection.

Note that while the extension clearly mentions Google Docs in its own name, this extension works well for other Google applications such as Slides, Spreads, and Forms. This is a classic case of a bad naming policy. I will only use Google Docs in this example.

Using Google Docs Offline in the Browser

I will assume that you have installed the extension by clicking the Add to Chrome button. You might have to restart the browser once to make it function correctly but normally, it’s not necessary.

Open the Google Docs home screen, not a new Google Docs document, and select Settings from the menu.


You will see the new Offline option in pop-ups that were not previously available. Activate and click OK at the bottom to save settings. But wait, you are not done yet.


You don’t need to enable these settings separately for Slides, Sheets, or other Google applications. Doing it in one application will allow it anywhere.

What happens here is that only newly created or edited files will be available for offline editing. Why? Because Google wants to save space locally, i.e. on your HDD / SSD. If there is an important document that you want to access offline at any time, you must activate it manually for that specific document.

Find a document or search for it in the list and click the three-point menu icon next to it to switch to the offline options available.


There is no way to do this for all or bulk documents. You must do this individually for each and every Google Docs file that you want available offline.

Use Google Docs Offline on a Smartphone

Most extensions don’t work on Android and iOS smartphones, so how do you use Docs or other Google applications offline? Mobile internet works well in cities but they often disappoint you when you need it most when traveling and traveling. Fortunately, the same method above also works on smartphones.


Select the document you want to work offline and select Make available offline in the pop-up menu that opens from the bottom of the screen. Files you choose to go offline will have gray markings on them.

Do you want to automate the process? Open Settings in the Google Docs mobile app and enable the Make latest files available offline option.


What this setting will do is tell the Docs application to activate the offline button for any and all files that you have just opened and edited. You don’t have to do it manually unless it’s not been accessed by you recently.

What Happens When You Bring a Document Offline

When you open a file on your smartphone or desktop, you will see a bolt mark in the upper right corner. That means you have opened the offline version of the document and not the online version. It is useful to know because if you are working on a document together, it is possible that someone else has updated the document and you are not aware of that fact. The document will be updated the next time you are online.

Offline Google Docs extension only works on one Google account. If you have multiple accounts and switch to another, you will not be able to create or edit documents offline. Following the steps above will not work because you will be notified that everything is finished.

You cannot upload images because that will require an active internet connection. Google Docs is equipped with a spell checker to help you write faster and better but it won’t work well in offline mode. Everything else will work fine.

Wrapping Up: Google Docs Offline

I hope Google can bake and enable offline features by default in Google Docs instead of having to install extensions. The process is easy to follow but the user doesn’t have to do it. Apart from that, it functions like a charm and is easy to apply once you know it exists. It is sad that Firefox and Safari users have been abandoned.

If you have doubts or suggestions, let us know in the comments section below and we will do our best to help you.

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