Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Work Offline, Even When Not Connected To The Net With Google Docs Offline New Feature - Video Intro

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Edit your existing online documents anywhere, even without an Internet connection. Google Docs now allows you to view and edit your documents offline, without an internet connection. "You no longer have to fret if you're working on a document and suddenly the Internet cuts out. You simply start working in offline mode." (Source: Google)


No, it isn't another of those tech April's Fool Day jokes. If you have not been hearing about it yet, it is at least a couple of years, that online companies large and small have been attempting to find ways through which you can continue working on your web-based apps and files even when you are not connected up. Impossible? Look at this short video clip from Google:

Working while disconnected from the Internet while using a web-based application is a concept first pioneered by SocialText, over two years ago, and then followed by a few others, including Zoho, a direct competitor to Google's own suite of Office applications.

But now it is Google itself to bring this powerful new feature to all Internet users as it starts rolling out, its own offline work feature fully integrated inside Google Docs.

"When you aren't connected to the Internet, Google Docs uses information stored on your computer's hard drive rather than relying on information sent across the network. When you're offline, your edits are stored on your own computer until you re-connect, at which point your changes are synced with Google Docs' servers and made available to collaborators."

(Source: Google Docs Help Center)

To do this, Google Docs leverages Google Gears, an open-source browser extension that adds offline work capability directly to your browser.

Google is already rolling out the new offline working capabilities inside Google Docs and you should see them show up inside Google Docs in the coming days.

Google Docs Intro Video

Work with Google Docs even when there is no Internet connection

How To Activate and Access Google Docs Offline Feature

  1. Click the Offline link in the upper-right corner of your Docs list.
  2. Click the Get Google Gears now button as soon as you see a dialogue box show up.
  3. Allow as a trusted site.
  4. Check the box next to "I'Il trust this site, Allow it to use Google Gears". Then, click Allow.
  5. To access Google Docs offline, just open a browser and enter the address or simply click the Google Docs desktop shortcut.

Google Docs Offline Installation Steps

  1. Sign in to an account with administrative rights.
  2. Download Google Gears from the Gears homepage.
  3. Open the downloaded file.
  4. Restart your browser. Gears won't be usable until your browser has been restarted.

N.B.: You must have an open Internet connection to install Google Gears.

How Do You Tell When You Are Working Offline?

In your Google Docs list, you'll see a status indicator in the upper right corner. When working offline, this indicator will turn gray. When you're online, you'll see a green checkmark inside a dot to the right of your user name.

Inside Google docs, you will also see a message in yellow at the top of your word processing docs indicating that you're working offline.

Google Docs Offline Issues

  • While you're offline, you can't create new documents. This limitation will certainly change in the future, but for now it is there and you should plan ahead for it.
  • If the offline indicator turns red, and the arrow inside is replaced by an exclamation point, this means that offline editing isn't working. In this case, to be safe, discontinue editing and copy your changes to a text file. Don't close your browser or the window in which your document is open. Instead, wait until you're back online to make sure your changes are saved.
  • It can be risky to utilize the Google Docs Offline feature in public Internet access locations where you rent a computer on a time basis. Google Docs Offline is best not used when working on a public or shared computer.
  • To sync up your edits made offline, make sure you always go back online using the same computer and same browser. Just like when you're working online, your changes will automatically be saved while working offline. However, in order for these changes to be saved to the server, you'll need to log on to Google Docs with an internet connection from the same browser and same computer you used offline. Your changes will automatically be saved to the server when a network connection is detected by Google Docs.
  • Errors while offline: If you do experience errors while working offline, to ensure you don't lose work, always save your work to a text file.
  • Don't panic if you don't see an Offline link in your Google Docs account. It's coming. Google is releasing this Offline work ability feature on a rolling basis and therefore you will be able to see this feature active inside your Google Docs very soon.
  • Offline viewing and editing is available for Google Docs only for now. For spreadsheets and presentations, offline viewing will be coming soon.

System Requirements

To use Google Gears, you'll need one of the following:

  • Microsoft Windows XP or Vista with Firefox 1.5+ or Internet Explorer 6+
  • Apple Mac OS X (10.2+) with Firefox 1.5+
  • Linux with Firefox 1.5+

Firefox 3.0+ beta is not yet supported.

Google Docs Offline Help and Information

Google Docs Offline Help


Suggestions, Feedback
Suggest new features or provide direct feedback to Google on Docs.

Community Help
Find answers, ask questions, and share your expertise with others in the Google Docs Help Group.

Learn about Google Docs
Google Docs Tour

Offline Future
The engineer who brought offline to fruition has posted an interesting post on the future of offline work and on the emerging idea of carrying the cloud with you. Check it out.

Readers' Comments    
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posted by Robin Good on Wednesday, April 2 2008, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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