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When you’re facing flaky coffee shop connectivity or a flight without Wi-Fi, Google Drive’s offline mode is a great browser-based solution — it lets you edit any spreadsheet, word doc, or slideshow you’ve previously marked for access irrespective of your connection’s stability. However, until recently, offline editing in Drive required installing a cumbersome Chrome extension. That’s still the case for G Suite users, but now you can use the Drive web UI to enable offline mode instead of having to go to the home screen.
In a note today on the G Suite blog, Google announced that Docs, Sheets, and Slides files can now be edited, created, and commented on offline from within the Google Drive browser interface and previewed with a new offline preview mode. The one drawback? It’s still a Chrome-only affair; you’ll get a prompt to switch to Chrome if you attempt to enable offline access in a third-party browser like Microsoft Edge.
As before, right-clicking on documents from within Drive brings up a context menu with an option to make the files available offline. Any changes made to files while offline automatically sync in Drive once you reconnect to the internet. (Google says Drive also “intelligently” makes a number of files available offline based on how recently they were accessed.)
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To try it for yourself, click on Settings > General and select “Sync Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drawings files to this computer so that you can edit offline.” Once offline access is enabled, you’ll see a checkmark icon in the top right next to the Settings and Support shortcuts that reveals the offline preview toggle when clicked. In G Suite, admins can let all users enable offline access by heading to Apps > G Suite > Drive and Docs.
Google says that Drive’s new and improved offline mode will roll out within 15 days on rapid-release G Suite domains starting today, and a bit less swiftly (potentially longer than 15 days) on scheduled-release domains starting May 21.
Update at 2:15 p.m. Pacific: An earlier version of this article suggested that Drive’s offline mode no longer required a Chrome extension. That’s untrue, and we regret the error.
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