For frequent Google Docs users, you may notice that there is a new “Offline” option that appears on the top of the main page. In case you are wondering, yes, this is the new feature launched by Google in end March 2008. You can now access and edit your Google documents offline.
The Google Docs Offline function is powered by Google Gears, which is a browser extension that allows developers to store application data offline and sync it back up again later when users are reconnected.
To use the offline mode, click on the “Offline” link on the top right corner of the Google Docs main page. A pop up window will appear and prompt you to install Google Gears.
After the installation of Google Gears, the pop up window will refresh and you can click on the button to enable offline access mode.
Google Docs will then prompt you if you want to create a shortcut on your desktop. This is really optional. You can still work offline even without the desktop shortcut.
Once you have done configuring it, Google Docs will download a copy of your online documents to your computer. If you have allowed the desktop shortcut, you should be able to see the Google Docs icon on your desktop.
Now, whenever you edit your document offline, you will see the offline message appear on the top of your document.
To synchronize your offline document with the online edition, simply log on to your Google Docs when you have access to Internet connection. It will automatically sync by itself.
Features lacking in the offline mode
This is a great improvement for Google Docs, but there are still some restrictions. You can’t create new document while offline. The only currently available actions are: edit, move, hide, delete, rename and preview. In addition, the offline mode is only available for word document. You still can’t access your spreadsheet or presentation.
Overall, the offline mode has been a pleasant and useful addition to Google Docs, though it has caused its users to wait for a bit too long. Hopefully, in the near future, we can see more improvements in the area that it is lacking.