Google Docs Now Works Offline, After Years of Waiting

It's just the document editor and only in Chrome, but it's still a major step

By on June 29th, 2012 08:35 GMT

Probably the single most requested feature for Google Docs, for some two years now, has finally landed, full, uncompromised offline support.

It took a lot longer than Google anticipated and people are sick of delays, but it's here, the Google Docs documents editor works offline just like it does with an internet connection.

"No internet connection? No big deal. With offline editing, you can create and edit Google documents and leave comments. Any changes you make will be automatically synced when you get back online," Google wrote.

"You can enable offline editing from the gear icon in Google Drive and find more detailed instructions for getting set up in the Help Center. Note that you’ll need the latest versions of Chrome or Chrome OS to edit offline. We’re also working hard to make offline editing for spreadsheets and presentations available in the future," it said.

The essential feature, being able to continue to edit a document even if you're not connected to the internet, is available and works as advertised. There are some limitations though, some more serious than others and some affecting certain users more than others.

For one, as you may have noticed, this only works for documents. Google says spreadsheets are coming, so this isn't that big of a deal. But even in the document editor, some things won't work.

Luckily, the things that don't work are the things that can't work without an internet connection, things like sharing, downloading or adding images (the feature relies on Google+ photos and image search). The newly introduced Research feature and the translation tools won't work as well.

Yet, the core editing features, anything having to do with formatting, tables and so on, work. Hopping on a flight, spotty network coverage, outages, going through a tunnel, these things won't be a problem anymore.

The biggest limitation though is that offline mode only works in Google Chrome or Chrome OS. What's more, support for Firefox or IE won't be coming for a while now as Google pulled every string it had just to get it working in Chrome.

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