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For many years, the only option was Microsoft Office if you wanted to work on documents without an internet connection. It was a firm favorite until Microsoft changed its model to a monthly subscription for Office 365. Google noticed a gap in the market and made some changes to take advantage. Here’s what you need to know about accessing and editing Google Docs when offline.
Microsoft Office and Google Docs
Google Workspace is similar to Microsoft’s Office 365 in that it serves as one destination to create and edit word documents, presentations and spreadsheets. It’s free for all Google users, but until 2019, you could only access your files online.
That changed when the search giant rolled out Google Docs Offline. The small browser extension lets you edit, create, and view your documents while offline. But the extension was only meant to work with Google Workspace.
Starting this week, Google is implementing a big move that takes aim at Microsoft Office. Starting a few years ago, you could import and edit Word documents in Google Docs. Now you can work offline with Microsoft Office files on your desktop.
In a blog post, Google explains that the feature brings the collaboration benefits of Google Workspace to Microsoft Office files. You don’t need to be online to edit, comment, and collaborate on Office files using Docs, Sheets, and Slides.
Any changes made to files while offline will sync to Google Drive once you are connected. But there is a caveat: You can only edit offline documents if you’ve previously opened them online and in Office Edit Mode. That’s because the file must be cached first so that you can make changes to a copy.
When you go online again, the changes to both documents sync automatically. But remember that you can only use the new function if you install the Google Docs Offline browser extension.