Using Google Docs 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 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 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?

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

Similar to Microsoft Office, Google Docs is a suite of office tools. The biggest difference is that it is all absolutely free.


If you work with Word, you will have no problem at all changing over to Docs.

For a content writer, author or blogger, it 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 goal.

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 is one small drawback. If you are out of wi-fi range or can’t get connected to the Internet, you can’t access or edit your documents and files.

But this has all changed. It is easy now to make any file available offline.

You can now use Google Documents and open and edit your files anytime, without an Internet connection. All you need to do is set up offline sync Google Docs access.


How to set up Google Docs to be available 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 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 everything 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 mark the box, or slide, labelled, Offline.


You also have the option to check the box for recent templates to show on your home screen.


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 Up

That’s it! All done. Finished. Easy!

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 Google Docs any time you like, online or offline in your Chrome browser.


Related reading: Best Google Extensions For Chrome For Writers And Bloggers


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 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 Google word processor offline. You can use the Google Docs app as well as 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, and then I can see, 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 Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and all your other files to your local hard drive.

By default, it saves all new Google word processing 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



Docs is free and has everything a writer could possibly 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 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 files, but this is easy. You can import and export all the popular file types.

File Types

Yes, for authors, even 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 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.


Related reading: Is Apple Pages A Good Replacement For Microsoft Word For Mac?


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Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

5 thoughts on “Using Google Docs Offline As A Microsoft Word Alternative

  • August 31, 2019 at 6:10 pm

    Yes but you still have yp ho online first to work offline in Drive. Od there s way yo open do s without being online first? Help…

    • August 31, 2019 at 6:44 pm

      Your work is saved in your Chrome browser. When you go back online, all your work is then saved to Google Drive.

  • October 23, 2018 at 6:20 am

    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

  • September 17, 2018 at 10:28 am

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

  • July 24, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    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?


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