Earlier this year I wrote how I really like Microsoft Word (or any word processing app on my computer) over Google Drive (previously known as GoogleDocs). I argued that while GoogleDrive offered offline editing, you couldn’t create documents while you were offline and for me this was a deal breaker. While I am still a fan of standalone word processing apps like Word and LibreOffice, I am slowly changing my tune. This summer Google unveiled a feature that will let you create word processing documents (only word processing documents mind you) offline. While I wish there were more features with Google Drive and it looked a little nicer this is a big step in the right direction. Read on past the break to see how you can tap into this feature yourself.
Google Account & Chrome
First things first, no matter what computer or operating system you’re sporting you need to have two things before you can take advantage of these features. The first is a Google account. You need a Google account in order to access, create and share documents through Google’s services. To get a Google account follow this link: http://goo.gl/TUHl5 Just follow their steps, it is pretty easy.
The next thing you need is Google’s own web browser called Chrome. Chrome is nice because you can link your Google Account right to it and that way you will have easy access to all your Google data including your documents. Also it is free and is growing in popularity.
The first time you open up Chrome it will ask you to sign in using your fancy new Google account, so let’s go ahead and do that.
Chrome Web Store the Google Drive
Once you’re signed in, now we can start downloading extensions and programs to make our Chrome experience even better, so let’s head over to the Chrome Web Store, or if you see the Chrome Web Store icon go ahead and click that. They both take you to the same place. The icon looks like this.
The Chrome Web Store has literally hundreds of apps that can do everything from give you access to your files and documents, to your gmail, to taking screen shots, download games and much much more. Don’t worry you will have hours to view, download and try out lots of apps and extensions, but for now let’s get our Google Drive up and running. In the search at the top left type in Google Drive.
It will return a lot of choices for you. The first one should be what we’re looking for. Go ahead and click Add to Chrome. It will ask you if you’re sure and what it can do. Go ahead and click Add. This will install it (for free mind you) in your Chrome browser.
Now that the app is installed in Chrome here is how we get to the icon. When you open Chrome up (and you’ve signed in) it will probably take you to a list of your favorite websites. Simply move your mouse to the right hand of the screen and a little arrow will appear. Click that and those websites will slide over and reveal your apps.
Here is the website view:
Here is the app view:
And there is the Google Drive app we downloaded! YES!
I’m it’s been a long road but we’re almost there so stick with me. Go ahead and click on the Google Drive app and let’s explore.
When you click the icon the first time, it will take you to this page where you can learn more about Google Drive. You can read all you like, watch the video but when you’re ready go ahead and click Get started with 5GB free.
It will ask if you want to download and install Google Drive on your computer. I will explain more of what that does in my next post. For now, let’s focus on creating and managing our documents.
On the right hand side you will see a button that says Create. Click that and pick what type of file you would like to create. For this example I’ll make a Document.
When you’re working with your document it is all pretty straight forward. If you want to get back to your Google Drive then click on the the little arrow in the top left hand corner of your screen by the document name. It can be a little hard to find at first.
Holy cow we’ve covered a lot, but we are almost done (for real this time). Before you can work with your documents offline you need to enable this feature. Why this feature is not already enabled is beyond me but I am sure there is a rational reason for it. Anyway, here is how you and the rest of the normal world can work offline when you’re camping in the middle of Yosemite.
On your Google Drive main screen on the left hand side you will see a choice called More go ahead and give that a little click. You will see that there is an option called Offline Docs. Go ahead and click that bad boy. You will go to a new window where it will ask you to verify that you want to do this and to Install the Google Drive Chrome web app (which we already did).
It will sync with your app and when you go back to that document look closely. You will see a little Offline next to your document title. Isn’t that cool? Well maybe not super cool come on, that’s pretty neat!
Now when you are offline, just open up Chrome and go to your apps. As you can see all of them are greyed out because there is no Internet connection, but the Google Drive app is ready to rock and roll. Go ahead and click it and your Google Drive list of documents will open up. You can edit any of your (word processing) documents and when you go back online again it will sync it with Google and save a copy online as well as your computer. Pretty snazzy huh?
You may also notice that you can still select Create, but alas as I mentioned before, all you can create is a Document but I feel that as Google Drive matures that you’ll be able to select any of their options. However, if you have a previously made spreadsheet, presentation or whatever you will be able to open up it but only view it.
So if you buy a new computer and need to create some documents pretty quickly I suggest taking a good hard look at Google Drive. It’s free works offline and scarcely (I stress that word heavily) corrupts or is lost. It’s a solid platform even though it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that Word or LibreOffice have.
Well, we’ve covered a lot and if you’re pretty new to all of this give yourself a pat on the back. It’s no easy task jumping into new technologies and this is no exception. If you still have some questions you can email me and if I don’t have an answer I’ll try to find one and get back to you ASAP. In the mean time go explore the other apps that Google has for you.
Your friendly tech guy,