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Chrome-based offline editing of specific Drive files comes to Google Apps clients

The Google Apps blog has news that administrators can now allow employees to work on individual Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides-based files offline. Once enabled, workers can activate offline editing within Google Drive, which then syncs a subset of their files to a desktop or laptop. Ultimately, these users can specify which file they want for offline editing rather than having to download everything all at once, filling up their local drive.

To enable offline access in Google Drive, users load up the service in Chrome and jump into the “Settings” section. There they can turn the feature on by checking the box in the “Offline” section, which could take a few minutes to actually activate. After that, in order to select a specific file to edit offline, users can now open the Chrome browser, head into the Docs, Sheets, or Slides home screen, and switch on the “Available offline” toggle in the file’s overflow menu.

Related: Google to app builders: Go open or go home

Additionally, for Android and iOS devices, users simply open up the Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides app, tap “More” on the selected file or folder, and check the “Available offline” setting.

This new feature for Chrome users should be highly useful when working on a laptop out in the field, or on a desktop when the network goes down. It will permit users to continue to edit a document when an Internet connection is not available, and the file will re-sync to Google Drive once the Web or network is back up and running. When the user is done editing the file, he/she merely needs to switch off the “Available offline” toggle.

The news arrives after Google introduced a new sync feature to Google Drive last week. Consumers can now choose what folders and subfolders can be synced to their computer or device. This feature should help those who store terabytes of data in the cloud but don’t have that kind of space on their local storage solution (whether hard drive, SSD, or other).

According to Google, users can now safely deselect a folder locally without having to worry about deleting those files in the cloud. Drive even shows how much space each folder and subfolder takes up locally, allowing users to better manage their device’s capacity. The service also warns users if they are deleting folders and files that are shared with other individuals.

Back in March, Google updated its collection of templates for Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides with new entries for the Web, Android, and iOS platforms. These include templates from “experts” such as Reading Rainbow, the Google Science Fair, Intuit (QuickBooks), GV, and Made to Stick authors Chip and Dan Heath. Google originally launched its cool collection of templates in September 2015.

Prior to that, Google introduced new voice commands for Google Docs: edit and format. Users can select “Voice typing” in the “Tools” menu found in the Chrome version of Docs to get started, and the service will allow users to not only type using their voice, but edit and format using commands like “highlight” and “insert table.”

That said, Google has been rather busy with its cloud storage and online document tools as of late. But as for when Google plans to enable select document editing offline for personal Google Drive accounts via Chrome, the company doesn’t say. However, given that Google Apps users have the ability now, this feature should roll out to consumers in the near future.

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