We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
2,862 Tutorials

Work offline on Google Docs

How to edit documents without a net connection

The advantages keeping documents online are obvious. No longer are your documents or presentations locked in the belly of one machine, but instead liberated to freely roam wherever internet connections abound. But if should find yourself somewhere where Wi-Fi isn’t available, such as on a train, plane, or a deserted log cabin, then the weaknesses become immediately apparent.

Google offers the facility to view your documents offline via the Google Docs app in the Chrome App store (easily found by launching Chrome and clicking on the Web Store icon) but this is restricted to your more recent creations and doesn't allow editing.

A more traditional way around this problem is to download the files you wish to work on and then open them in an office suite such as Microsoft Office or the free LibreOffice (www.libreoffice.org). Google Docs supports an excellent range of formats in its download section, most of which LibreOffice handles very well.

If you’re working on an iPad then emailing the documents to the device and then opening them with Pages is probably the best, if not most elegant, solution. Android tablet owners can use similar methods with apps like QuickOffice Pro or Kingsoft Office to take their work on the road. It’s certainly not ideal and hopefully Google will address the issue soon.

1. To find the Google Docs app, launch the Chrome browser (you can download it from chrome.google.com). You’ll see an icon called Chrome Web Store (click on Apps at the bottom if you can't see it). Click on it then search for Google Docs.

Google Web Store

2. To set up offline viewing click on the settings icon on the right of the Google Docs home screen (the gear icon) then select ‘Set up Docs offline’. Click the ‘Allow offline docs’ button and your latest documents will be stored locally.

Set up offline docs

3. If you want to edit or continue to work on your documents then you’ll need to download them to your hard drive. From the file menu select ‘Download as’, and choose whichever format best suits your Office Suite.

Download files from Google Docs

4. For tablet users one solution is sending your documents via email. Go to the file menu then select ‘Email as Attachment’. Just remember to open them on your tablet before you leave a Wi-Fi area to ensure you have them stored locally.

Email files from Google Docs

IDG UK Sites

Best camera phone of 2015: iPhone 6 Plus vs LG G4 vs Galaxy S6 vs One M9 vs Nexus 6

IDG UK Sites

In defence of BlackBerrys

IDG UK Sites

Why we should reserve judgement on Apple ditching Helvetica in OS X/iOS for the Apple Watch's San...

IDG UK Sites

Retina 3.3GHz iMac 27in preview: Apple cuts £400 of price of Retina iMac with new model