Using Google Documents Offline As A Microsoft Word Alternative

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Word to Google Docs

Learn how you can easily migrate from Microsoft Word to Google Docs Offline

Microsoft Office is awfully expensive for writers who only use Word most of the time.

Now that Microsoft is moving away from standalone software to a subscription-based service, it is a monthly charge that you could really do without paying.

Why pay for all the programs that you will never use, just to be able to do word processing?

There are many word processor alternatives to Word, but Google is proving to be the most popular choice.

Whether you are a content writer, author or blogger, it has all the writing tools and functions you could ever need in a word processor including collaboration tools for text documents.

You can do editing and share your files in real time, with revision history similar to Track Changes.

Better still, everything is absolutely free, including 15 GB of storage space on Google Drive.

However, there was one drawback. If you were out of wi-fi range or couldn’t get connected to the Internet, you couldn’t access or edit your documents.

But this has all changed.

You can now use Google Docs anytime without an Internet connection. All you need to do is set up offline access.


How to set up Docs to be available offline

For many people, 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 have in place.

1. You will need a Google account. If you have one, sign into your Google account.

2. You need to have the Chrome browser installed on your computer, and be signed into Chrome.

3. You need to use Google Drive, so installing the Google Drive app on your computer is advisable.

Now you are ready to set up to be available offline. It only takes four quick and easy steps.

1. Open Google Docs and click settings on the left menu.

Menu Settings

2. In the settings box, check the box, or slide, labelled, Offline.


3. You will see this pop-up box. Click Add extension.

Add offline

4. Don’t close this screen. Wait for Google to finish setting up your offline access.

Setting UpThat’s it! All done. Finished. Easy!

You have finished the setup and you can now use Google Docs any time you like, online or offline in your Chrome browser.


Using Google Documents offline

To open when you are offline, open a new tab or window in Chrome, and click the apps tab in the far left corner of your bookmarks bar.

Alternatively, you can type into your browser address bar.

Apps Button

Then you will see this screen.


Click on the Docs icon, and you will be ready to start writing using the word processor offline. You can use Docs, Sheets and Slides offline.

Your edits and saves will be saved locally in Chrome and synced to Google Drive the next time to are online.

However, I prefer to use the Google Drive app, and then I can see, copy, move or delete my files on my local drive.

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 Docs saves all 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 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.

New Doc

Now click Google Docs to create your new document, and it will be saved automatically into your new folder.

Select New Doc


Google Docs has everything a writer could need in a word processor because you can easily work with Microsoft Word files.

It is easy to use, and there is no learning curve at all when moving from Word. The menus are similar and intuitive. If you want more, there are hundreds of add-ons available.

But the biggest and best feature 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 files, but this is easy. You can import and export all the popular file types.

File Types

Yes authors, even .epub!

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 Google’s word processor and spreadsheet can be a (free) lifesaver.

But if you are considering 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 you just need a word processor and only occasionally use a spreadsheet.


Further reading: Choose Your Free Book Writing Software To Write Your New Book


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Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

3 thoughts on “Using Google Documents Offline As A Microsoft Word Alternative

  • I’ve been using google doc for a couple of years. No complaints here. I am a huge google fan so it was easy for me to give it a try. Doc has everything I need. One of the things I like is how it automatically organizes documents.

    You asked a good question. Why pay if you don’t have to?

  • How to open and edit Microsoft documents to Google documents offline?

  • Dear Sir,

    I very much liked your step by step on how to use Google Docs.

    I have been trying very hard to find an app that works without much effort. Hope Google doc will be the app.

    Vinod Dave


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