Are you considering Google Docs vs. Word?
Microsoft is moving away from standalone software to a subscription and web-based service.
It is a monthly charge that you could really do without paying for basic online word processing.
Why pay for all the programs that you will never use by installing Office, just to be able to do basic word processing?
Free word processors
There are many free word processor alternatives to Word.
But Google word processing is proving to be one of the most popular choices.
Similar to Microsoft Office, it is a suite of office tools.
The biggest difference is that it is absolutely free.
Changing from Microsoft Word to Google Docs
For a content writer, author, or blogger, Docs includes all the writing tools and functions you could ever need in a word processor.
It has all the collaboration tools you need for text documents.
Unlike some free word processors, Docs has a word count so you can keep track of your word count goals.
You can do editing and share your files in real-time, with revision history similar to Word Track Changes.
Better still, everything is free, including 15 GB of storage space on Google Drive.
However, there is one small drawback. If you are out of wi-fi range or can’t get connected to the Internet, you can’t access files or edit your documents.
But this has all changed. It is easy now to make any file available when using the Google word processor offline.
You can now use Google Documents and open and edit your files anytime, without an Internet connection.
This makes it one of the best offline alternatives to Microsoft Word.
All you need to do is set up offline sync access to use the Google Docs standalone features.
How to set up Google Docs offline
Here is how you can easily change from Microsoft Word to Google Docs and still be able to work offline.
You will probably have most of the necessary setup steps already done.
But I’ll take it step by step, and you can skip the ones you already have in place.
1. You need to have a Google account. If you don’t have one, you will need to sign up for a Google account.
2. You need to have the Google Chrome browser installed on your computer, and be signed into Chrome.
3. You need to use Google Drive and install the Google Drive app on your computer.
Now you are ready to set up everything for offline sync Google Docs. It only takes four quick and easy steps.
1. Open Google Docs and click Settings
2. In the settings box, check mark the box, or slide, labeled, Offline.
You also have the option to check the box for recent templates to show on your home screen.
3. In the pop-up box — Click Add extension.
4. Don’t close this screen. Wait for Google to finish setting up your offline access.
In the bottom left corner, you can check the setup progress.
You have finished the setup of the Sync Offline Chrome Extension, and you can now use your free offline word processor any time you like.
You can use the online version or use your offline files in your Chrome browser.
Note: There are many other Chrome extensions for bloggers and writers.
Using Google Documents offline
To open your application when you are offline, open a new tab or window in Chrome. Now click the apps tab in the far left corner of your bookmarks bar.
Alternatively, you can type docs.google.com into your browser address bar.
Then you will see this screen.
Click on the Docs icon, and you will be ready to start writing using the Google word processor offline. You can use Google office offline to access your Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides offline.
When you edit offline, your edits and saves will be saved locally in Chrome and then synced to Google Drive the next time to are online.
However, I prefer to use the Google Drive app.
I can find, copy, move, or delete my files on my local drive. Again, any changes you make will be synced the next time you connect to the Internet.
You can also use Docs in offline mode on your mobile devices.
Refer to Google Help for instructions for installing and setting up on your particular devices.
Google Drive and file saving tips
Google saves all your word processing files to Google Drive.
To access your Google Drive files offline, click on the Google Drive icon, as shown in the image above in Chrome.
If you have already installed the app, you can open the Google Drive app from your local applications folder.
It will then sync Docs, Sheets, Slides, and all your other files to your local hard drive.
By default, it saves all new documents to the root of your Google Drive. There is no setting to change the default location of new files.
However, there are easy ways to overcome this minor issue.
First, create a new folder in Google Drive. Perhaps be imaginative and name it My Docs.
Then when you start work on a new file, use the Docs File menu, and select Move To. You can then save your new file in your new folder.
Alternatively, you can open a new document from your Google Drive. Navigate to your new folder before you select New.
Now click Google Docs to create your new document, and it will be saved automatically into your new folder.
Google word processing with Docs is free and has everything a writer could possibly need in a word processor.
You can also easily work with Microsoft Word files.
It is simple to use, and there is no learning curve at all when moving from Word. The menus are similar and intuitive.
If you want to do more, there are hundreds of add-ons available.
But the biggest and best feature, like most Google products, is that everything you need to write, create and edit, save, and share files is free.
Of course, you will need to work or collaborate with people using Word documents, but this is easy.
You can import and export all the popular file types.
Yes, for authors, you can even export to epub files.
If you are using an installed software version of Word and you are happy, there is no urgent need to change.
But if you have a very old version, and you are thinking about buying a new laptop, older versions of Word may not work anymore.
For example, for Mac users, older versions of Word will not work on High Sierra or later operating systems.
This is when the Google word processor and spreadsheet can be a (free) lifesaver.
But if you are considering the cloud-based Office 365 and paying $99.00 per year (United States price. Possibly more in some countries), then free might very well tempt you.
Especially if all you need is a word processor, and you only occasionally use a spreadsheet.
Note. For Mac users, you always have the alternative to use Apple Pages instead of Word.