Image: Jack Wallen

If you’re a Google Drive fan, you will be interested to know that you don’t have to be online to work with the cloud-based tool. Since this trips up some users, I will explain how to work offline with Google Drive files.

The platform you use will dictate the steps to take for working offline. To keep things simple, I show how to work offline in Google Chrome (which works the same way on Linux, Windows, Mac, and Chrome OS) and on the Android platform.

Working offline via Chrome

I assume you are using Chrome on a desktop or a laptop. Although a desktop would rarely go offline, there are occasions that it could, and you certainly don’t want to lose work or lose the ability to work.

In order to work offline with Google Drive files via Chrome, you must set up Google Drive to sync. Unlike on the mobile platform, you must turn on offline access to the entire drive and not just specific files. (You need to be connected to the internet in order to set this up.)

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To enable offline access to Google Drive, follow these steps.

  1. Open Chrome.
  2. Make sure you are signed into your Google account.
  3. Go to Google Drive Settings.
  4. From the popup, check the box for Offline.

You should receive a warning that Google is syncing your work to the computer — allow this to happen. Once the offline sync has finished, you can edit Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings files.

Working offline via Android

The mobile version of the Google Drive app works quite differently. If you open Google Drive on your mobile device and swipe right (from the left edge of the screen), you will see the Google Drive sidebar. From within the Google Drive sidebar (Figure A), tap Offline.

Figure A

Figure A

Figure A

Image: Jack Wallen

A Verizon-branded Nexus 6 showing the Google Drive sidebar.

Within the Offline section of Google Drive, tap the + button and select the type of file you want to create (the options are folders, scans, Docs, Sheets, or Slides) and do your work. Once your device returns to online status, that file will sync with your account and appear in the root of your Google Drive account.

If you need to enable a specific file (i.e., a file that is already within your Google Drive account) to be available offline, follow these steps.

  1. Open Google Drive on your mobile device.
  2. Navigate to the folder that contains that file.
  3. Tap the info button associated with the file (a small “i” in the bottom left corner of the file icon).
  4. Tap the Available Offline switch to enable (Figure B).
  5. Allow the file to download.

The file should appear in the Google Drive Offline folder on your mobile device.

Figure B

Figure B

Figure B

Image: Jack Wallen

Enabling offline access to a file from within Google Drive.

Now you get it

You see how easy it is to use Google Drive files while working offline on your desktop/laptop or your mobile device. Now…get back to work!

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How to work offline with Google Drive files