To get the most out of your Chromebook you’ll want to be connected to the Internet, but if you don’t have a Wifi signal there’s still a way to access your documents using Google Drive offline syncing. Many are surprised to learn that you can access most of your work and even edit documents without a network connection. And with the latest version of Google Drive it’s really simple to set up.
Get the latest version of Google Drive
In order to use offline files it’s best to have the latest version of Google Drive. To do this open Drive, click the settings cog, and select Experience the new Drive. If you have the most recent version your Google Drive should look something like this:
Enable offline syncing in Google Drive
Setting up Google Drive to sync files offline on your Chromebook is really simple and it works on any desktop or laptop that runs the Chrome browser as well as on Chromebooks. To enable offline syncing:
- Click the settings cog at the top right of the screen.
- Click Settings.
- A Settings window will appear with several options. Check the box next to Offline.
Once you’ve done this all of your Google documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and drawings will be available even when you don’t have a network connection. This only includes files created in Google Docs — so if you’ve uploaded video file or lots of photos these won’t be available.
Google Drive offline file limitations
As you might expect there are some limitations when using Google Drive offline:
- Google Drive offline sync is limited to the most recent 4000 items or 5GB of offline data. So, if you’ve a lot of files you might find this an issue.
- Offline access will only work in the Chrome browser — it is not available in other browsers.
- If you want to enable offline access on both your Chromebook and desktop computer, you’ll need to set it up twice — once on each computer.
You also can’t change the Google Drive file structure while offline, or edit Google Forms, but most editing features are available in the other core Google office apps. Once you’ve enabled Offline Syncing you can browse your documents in Google Drive and even open them for editing in Google Documents, Sheets, Slides, and Drawing. Some of the more advanced features like spell checking, add-ons, sharing files, adding images, and downloading files are disabled, but the majority of the web apps work the same as if you were online. Once your Chromebook connects to the Internet again everything is synchronised back to the live documents.
When you absolutely must have an offline document
Sometimes there are situations when you have to guarantee that you’ll have access to a file offline. For this you can use Google Doc’s Download as feature.
To download a file from Google Drive, Click File > Download As and then select the format you’d like to download the file in. All of the most common office file formats are available — Microsoft Word, OpenDocument, PDF, Rich Text, Plain Text, and HTML.
Avoid working on shared documents offline
Google Docs is great for collaborating with colleagues, but if you’re working offline on a shared document and someone changes the live version your may run into problems. We recommend not working on shared documents that are regularly updated to prevent synchronisation problems when your Internet connection is restored.
If you have to work offline on a shared document you can use the revision history feature to catch any unwanted changes. Access revision history by clicking File > Revision History.
Happy offline syncing!