What Does Make Available Offline Mean in Google Drive

What Does Make Available Offline Mean in Google Drive

The problem with any cloud service is that most of them require an Internet connection. In my home state of Kashmir, we frequently have Internet suspensions. So using such a service does more harm than good. Fortunately, some cloud services such as Google Drive make your files available offline with the Make Available Offline feature. Of course, the offline functionality currently only works with Google Chrome. Let’s talk about the Make Available Offline feature in Google Drive and its use on Android, iOS and PC.

Before moving to Make available offline, you should understand how offline use of files in Google Drive works. We covered offline files, how they work, how to make files offline on mobile and desktop, and the difference between offline and downloaded in Drive in this post.

Let’s jump right away.

What offline files mean in Google Drive

Normally, Google Drive and its components such as Google Docs, Sheets and Slides need internet connectivity to open and perform actions such as editing, saving, etc. To make it easier for users to work with these files at any time, they are accessible. offline – without Wi-Fi or mobile data.

Note: Offline files only work on the Google Chrome browser (computer) and the Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides mobile apps (Android and iOS).

Once a file is available for offline use, you can open and edit it without an Internet connection. That said, any changes to the file will be saved locally. Later, when you have access to the Internet, Google will check for changes to the file and update its online version accordingly. The new version will then be synchronized with your device and will also be available offline.

Note: Google files such as Docs, Slides, and Sheets don’t count in Google storage, but if you make them available offline, they will take up storage on your device (mobile or PC).

Regarding shared files, collaborators will not see any changes immediately. It is only when you connect your device to the Internet that your offline changes will be synchronized. In most cases, changes made online by other collaborators will replace or succeed your changes offline, if applicable.

How offline files work in Google Drive

There are two ways to make your Google documents, spreadsheets, or slides available offline. First, you can turn on offline availability for most recently edited files in Drive. Thus, any recently modified file on this device will automatically appear offline.

In the second method, if you do not want to make all of the files available offline, you can manually select the files that should work offline using the Make Available Offline feature. This method also works if you want to make an old file usable offline or if you want to be sure that a file is available offline. Files created offline using this method will display an offline symbol.

Note: Offline file availability must be enabled separately on each device.

For both methods, you must first be connected to the Internet. This means that if you are offline and you activate the Offline function, it will not work. The offline availability feature must therefore be activated before disconnecting.

How to activate and use files offline in Google Drive on mobile and web

The steps are different for mobile applications (Android and iOS) and the desktop version. So let’s check it out separately.

Enable offline viewing of Google Drive files on the web

To view offline Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides files from your computer (Windows or macOS), follow these steps:

Note: You must be connected to the Internet to activate the offline mode.

Step 1: Offline Drive files necessarily require the Google Chrome browser to function. Download the Chrome browser to your computer.

2nd step: Next, you need to install the Google Docs extension offline.

In most cases, it will already be installed and activated for Chrome. You can check under chrome: // extensions /. If it is disabled, activate the extension using the toggle.

Step 3: Once the extension is activated, open drive.google.com. Click the settings icon at the top and choose Settings from the menu.

Check the Offline box or the option that says “Create, open and edit your recent Google Docs, Sheets and Slides files on this offline device”.

Note: If the Google Docs offline extension is disabled or not installed, you will be prompted to enable it.

You can also visit docs.google.com and click the three bar icon at the top. Choose Settings.

Activate the toggle for the offline function.

Note: You can activate this feature in Drive or in Docs. It will reflect on all supported files, such as sheets and slides.

After turning on offline mode, Google will sync all of your Google documents, slides, and sheets to the computer. Make sure you have enough storage space on your computer.

To view files available offline, open the Google Drive website and click the offline preview icon at the top. Activate the toggle for offline preview.

When offline preview is enabled, files that you cannot access offline are grayed out. So you can easily find the files that can be used offline without the Internet.

Activate offline mode for selected files only

If you do not want to synchronize all the files for offline needs, you can manually select the files to be made offline. First, turn off the toggle next to Offline from the Google Drive website or Google Docs.

Then open the Drive or Docs website. In the case of Drive, open the required document. Click File at the top and tap Make available offline. You will be asked to enable offline access. Go to Drive settings and activate Offline. If already activated, the other files will also be synchronized for offline use.

While on the Docs, Sheets, or Slides website, click the three-dot icon on the file and activate the toggle for Available offline. Repeat this for all the documents you want to view and edit offline.

Pro tip: Otherwise, open the file and click on the File option and choose Make available offline.

When using this method, a new icon will appear next to the offline files represented by a circular icon with a check mark inside.

How to view and access Google Drive offline files on the web

You must be wondering, now that you have prepared the files for offline use, how can you access them when you are offline? To do this, open the Drive, Docs, Sheets, or Slides website in the Chrome browser. These websites will open to display the usual files and will display the unavailable files in gray.

Open any file to modify it. You will see a new icon next to the modified offline files indicating that changes have been made to the file which have yet to be synchronized with the online version.

Also on Guiding Tech

Few things to take care of when using the offline feature of Google Drive

Enable offline viewing of Google Drive files on mobile

On iOS, you can view and edit only offline Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides files. But on Android, in addition to Docs, Sheets, and Slides, you can also activate offline mode for videos, images, and PDFs.

As on the web, you can either enable offline access for all recent files, or choose manually. In the first case, open the Google Docs, Sheets or Slides app. Tap the three-bar icon at the top and choose Settings.

Activate Make recent files available offline.

If you don’t trust Google, you can force availability offline. To do this, open the application containing your file, such as Drive, Docs, Sheets or Slides. Tap the three-dot icon next to the file name and choose Make available offline.

When you create an offline file using the above method, the offline icon appears with the file name.

To view all offline files, tap the three-bar icon from one of the three Google apps (Docs, Slides, Sheets) and select Offline. Open the file to edit it.

Difference Between Offline and Download

Many of you are wondering what the difference is between offline and downloading to Drive. Well, uploading a file creates a separate copy of the file regardless of the original file in Google Drive. You can change its location on your device, modify or delete it. None of this will be reflected in the online file. Downloaded files are usually available in the Downloads folder on your device.

On the contrary, when you make a file available for offline use, it is simply an offline version of your actual file. You can’t access it through your device’s file manager, as it’s only accessible through apps or the Google Drive website. Any changes you make to the offline file will be synchronized with the main file whenever data connectivity is available on the device. Both types of files will take up storage space on your device.

What do you think of the offline functionality of Google Drive? Let us know in the comments below.


Can’t use Google Drive files, especially offline documents? Learn more about how to fix Google Docs offline from the following link.

Last updated Jul 13, 2020

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