How to Access Your Google Docs Offline

Last Updated Apr 28, 2008 11:15 AM EDT

google-docs-good-logo.jpgI know not many of you are Google Docs users (according to our recent poll, anyway), but maybe more of you will take advantage of the Web-based office suite when you learn that it's now possible to access your documents even when you're not connected to the Internet (like on trains and airplanes, for instance). That's thanks to Google Gears, a browser extension that enables Web apps to run offline.

Actually, for the moment, you're limited to viewing and editing word-processing documents and just viewing spreadsheets and presentations. But that will no doubt change as Google continues to develop Gears. In the meantime, if you want to take "offline Google Docs" for a spin, here's how:

  1. Head to and install Google Gears (it's Windows-only for now).
  2. After restarting your browser, head to Google Docs and click the Offline link in the top-right corner.
  3. Follow the instructions to complete the setup, which will also download all your documents to your PC (which may take a bit of time depending on how many you have).
  4. Click the new Google Docs icon on your desktop. You'll now be able to access your documents whether you're online or off. If you make any changes, Google Gears will sync 'em up the next time you connect.
This is a pretty big deal, folks. Google is quickly bridging the gap between Web and desktop apps. Give it a try and let us know what you think! [via Webware]

Update: Forgot to mention a bunch of other Google Docs updates; read all about them at the Google Operating System blog.

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.