How To Work On Google Docs Offline Using Mac

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Google’s G Suite has become an incredibly popular collection of productivity apps, similar to Microsoft Office. For a free text processor, it’s hard to beat Google Docs for Mac and other G Suite products. You can use even use Google Drive offline to store documents, change numbers with Google Sheets offline, or add an image to your presentation with Google Slides offline. When you make edits without internet connectivity, the changes you made will automatically update the next time your device is able to sync with the web.

You should always sign into your Google Docs when you don’t have a stable internet connection if you need to make any changes to your files, but how do you do this? If you’re wondering how to edit Google Docs offline, there is indeed a way to launch your files without any WiFi.

Learn To Offline Sync Google Docs, Sheets, And Slides

As Safari is the default browser on Macs, before you can use Google Docs offline, you need to make Google Chrome the default one instead. Without making this change, an offline attempt to open a document, edit Google Sheets offline, or a Google Slides offline file will lead to an error page. Changing your default browser is easy (make sure you have Google Chrome installed first):

  1. In the Apple Menu, choose System Preferences

  2. Select the General icon

  3. In the “Default web browser” section, select Google Chrome 

change browser chrome google on mac

By switching your default browser, Chrome will launch each time you open a URL on your Mac. More importantly, once you’ve made Chrome the default browser, you can set up your Google Drive to offline sync Google Docs and enable offline editing of Google Docs too.

Manage Google Docs Offline extension

Once Google Chrome is your default, you’ll be able to sync your Google Drive files to your Mac using Google Docs Offline extension. You can then use Google Docs without internet and access your most relevant documents for offline viewing and editing. If you’ve been asking yourself how to enable offline editing of Google Docs, installing the Chrome extension is the right first step:

  1. In Chrome, download and install the Google Docs Offline extension

  2. Follow the directions and sign into your Google account 

  3. In your My Drive page, select the gear icon in the upper-right corner 

  4. Choose Settings

  5. Select General from the list

  6. Check the box beside Sync Google Docs, Sheets, Slides & Drawings 

  7. Click Done

google docs offline chrome

How to turn on offline sync on Google Docs 

Now all the files within Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides should be available within your Chrome browser without the need for a WiFi connection. But you also need them on your Mac. To access G Suite files from your computer, download the personal version of Backup and Sync for Google Drive.

  1. Open Backup and Sync in the Applications folder

  2. Sign into your Google account

  3. Select the option to save files directly to Google Drive

  4. Check the box beside Sync My Drive to this computer and click Start

google backup sync mac

Your online files will be downloaded to a Google Drive folder on your Mac. Even better, any future files you add to your Google Drive will automatically download to your computer as well. But before you complete a Google Docs offline sync, don’t forget to make sure you have enough available space on your hard drive (or other device) to save your files!

How to work on Google Docs offline from your Finder 

To easily access your Google Docs offline, you can launch files directly from your Mac’s Finder. But first download Google Drive for Mac onto your machine. Once done:

  1. Launch Google Drive from Applications 

  2. Sign in with your Google account information. By default, Google Drive will add its folder under your home directory.

  3. Select which folders within Google Drive will sync automatically

  4. Choose whether to have Google Drive launch every time your Mac starts up

Now, a Google Drive folder will be available in your Finder sidebar, so you can effortlessly share documents and files between your Mac and your cloud-enabled Google Drive. When you download Google Drive for Mac, anything you add into your Google Drive folder will be available online as well.

How to make a Google Doc available offline 

Once you’ve completed Google Docs offline sync and your Google Drive files are available on your Mac, you can access them directly through Finder. For some users, it may still be easier to access files from drive.google.com though. No problem. With a new Google feature, you can see which of your files are available in Google Drive offline mode. To turn this on, enable a setting that shows file’s offline capability:

  1. Access your Google Drive via drive.google.com

  2. Select Settings and click General 

  3. Select Sync Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drawing files

Once the setting is enabled, you’ll see an offline icon that tells you which files have been saved on your local drive. You can also switch the toggle to “Offline preview” to display the documents that are available for viewing and editing without the internet connection. Documents and files not accessible offline will turn gray. 

To help you, Google Drive makes all the files you’ve recently accessed automatically available offline. In addition, you’re also able to right-click and change the toggle on the “Available offline” setting for each file.

Replace Google Docs with Collabio to co-edit documents offline

Enabling offline access to Google Docs requires a lot of effort — you should go the extra mile to install the extension, and tweak settings. Also, while offline access allows you to work on your text, it doesn’t allow you to collaborate with other people offline. For that, you need Collabio. 

Collabio Spaces is a great alternative to Google Docs which you can try for free with Setapp. Not only does it have all the basic text editing features, it also uses a unique ad-hoc collaboration technology that enables real-time co-editing. 

Collabio co-edit documents offline

Here are the key perks of using Collabio for offline editing:  

  • All the docs are securely stored on your device. That’s right, you don’t have to upload your docs to the cloud where they could be compromised. To start collaborating, you just need to share a unique code with your co-editor — your device will act as a server transmitting the document to the other person. 

  • Easily switch between files and projects. Collabio supports text documents and spreadsheets so you can keep all your work in here. It’s easy to switch between projects using the sidebar navigation. 

OCR scanner, audio comments, and more. If you use Collabio Spaces via Setapp, you get both a Mac and iOS app. This way, you can easily work anywhere and enjoy some extra features on mobile, such as audio comments, PDF annotation, and document scanner.

Faster backup and sync for all your files on Mac 

Now that you know how to use Google Docs offline on your Mac, you need to make sure you have a safe backup of all the files on your computer. The easy way to do this is with ChronoSync Express.

ChronoSync Express gives you peace of mind with regards to keeping files and personal data safe no matter where you are. If you need to remotely synchronize data from your iPhone or iPad, you can schedule backup and synchronization tasks to run during a specific timeframe with no fuss.

chronosync express mac sync folders

More (and better) cloud storage software alternatives

If Google Drive isn’t enough and you need additional cloud storage for your documents, photos, or files, there are lots of alternatives, starting with iCloud and Dropbox. Even when your Mac’s hard drive is packed, you can use increase cloud space to boost your storage capacity.

CloudMounter is a genius app that lets you turn additional space on Google Drive and other cloud storage solutions like Amazon S3 and even OneDrive into a usable place for all your tasks on Mac. It’s as simple as accessing your cloud files with drag and drop.

cloudmounter mac drive disk

Collabio Spaces, ChronoSync Express, and CloudMounter are all available on Setapp, a collection of more than 200 apps and utilities you can use daily to make your life easier and more productive. Sign up for a free 7-day trial of Setapp to try these apps and many more.

Now that you know how to use Google Docs offline, you can update your resume, write articles, or work on that paper right from your web browser or Mac. Make as many edits on the fly without the need for any internet at all!

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