Take Google Docs Offline to Access Your Files Anywhere

You don't have to be connected to the internet to edit that paper for school or work.

Zachary McAuliffe Staff writer
Zach began writing for CNET in November, 2021 after writing for a broadcast news station in his hometown, Cincinnati, for five years. You can usually find him reading and drinking coffee or watching a TV series with his wife and their dog.
Expertise Web hosting | Operating systems | Applications | Software Credentials
  • Apple software beta tester, "Helps make our computers and phones work!" - Zach's grandparents
Matt Elliott Senior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Expertise Laptops | Desktops | All-in-one PCs | Streaming devices | Streaming platforms
Zachary McAuliffe
Matt Elliott
3 min read
A smartphone showing the Google Docs logo with the Google logo behind the phone

You don't have to be tethered to Wi-Fi to access your Google Docs. 

Idrees Abbas via Getty Images

The cold of winter is mostly behind us, so we'll get more daylight, nice gentle breezes and plenty of walks with our friends soon. If you use Google Docs, you might think that being tethered to Wi-Fi means you can't enjoy the warm weather. However, you can access Google Docs offline, letting you move your desk to a park, coffee shop or anywhere else you might want to work.

CNET Tech Tips logo

However, some workplaces who give their employees Google accounts may have restricted this Google Docs feature. For everyone else, here's how to access Google Docs offline.

How to use Google Docs offline on desktop

You can make individual files or all your files available offline. Choosing individual files is helpful if you have a limited amount of storage on your computer, or you only need access to one or two files.

Here's how to access individual Google Docs offline on desktop.

1. Open Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge.

2. Go to Google.com and sign into your Google account.

3. Click the dot grid in the top right corner of Google and click Docs.

4. Under Recent documents, click the three stacked dots next to the file you want to make available offline.

5. Click Available offline.

If space is no issue, you can make all your files available offline with a few clicks. Here's how to access all your Google Docs offline on desktop.

1. Open Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge.

2. Go to Google.com and sign into your Google account.

3. Click the dot grid in the top right corner of Google and click Drive.

4. Click the gear icon in the top right corner.

5. Click Settings.

6. Click the box next to Create, open and edit your recent Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides…

To access your documents, you need to download the Chrome Docs Offline extension and go to docs.google.com. Your computer might load the Google Docs page slowly, but it will open. 

The Google Docs icon showing a file is available offline

You should see this icon next to files in Google Docs that are available offline.

Screenshot by Zach McAuliffe/CNET

Once it opens, files that are available offline will display a small icon next to them that looks like a checkmark inside a circle. If you hover over this icon it will say Available offline. When you click the offline document, you can start writing or editing. The document will automatically update the next time your computer connects to the internet. 

How to use Google Docs offline on mobile

You can also access Google Docs offline on your iPhone or Android device. Here's how to make these documents available offline on your mobile device.

1. Download the Google Docs app in either the Apple App Store or the Google Play store. 

2. Open the app.

3. Tap the three dots (...) next to the document you want to access offline.

4. Tap Make available offline.

Now you can access and edit your documents on your mobile device through the Google Docs app without Wi-Fi or your mobile data. Any documents you've changed will automatically update the next time your phone connects to Wi-Fi.

For more Google tips, check out how to clear out your Google Drive and Gmail, nine Google Drive features you may have missed and six Google features to be more efficient.

Watch this: Google Docs Getting Automated TL:DR Summaries