I recently started working entirely in the cloud. My work files live in Google Drive, and I use Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for the majority of my business work.
One problem, which I mentioned when describing my transition to working entirely in the cloud in last week's column, is that working offline is possible but that requires setting it up ahead of time.
Get OrganizedSure, that sounds reasonable. Before you work offline, of course you need to set up a few things in advance! The problem happens when you don't realize you won't have Internet access. You know what they say about assumptions...
Maybe you board an airplane thinking there will be Wi-Fi, and there isn't. Or you arrive at a hotel where you expected Wi-Fi, but the ISP is down. What if a storm knocks out your Internet access at your home? Or maybe you were so excited about a trip to Tahiti that you plum forgot to set up offline access. It happens.
If you don't want this to happen to you, you need to set up Google Drive offline access now. Here's how.

How to Set Up Google Drive Offline

1. Install Chrome. On laptops and desktop computers, you need the Chrome browser for offline access.
2. Sign into Chrome. On your laptop or desktop computer, you'll need more than just the Chrome browser. You'll also need a Chrome account. Get one, and sign in.
3. Download all the apps to your mobile devices. To be able to edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations offline on mobile devices, you need the Google Drive app, as well as the apps for Docs, Sheets, and Slides (or whichever of those services you use).
4. Sign into Google. Sign into your Google account. If you have a personal account, offline access will automatically be enabled for Docs, Sheets, and Slides, so you're done.
If you use Google Apps for Work or Google Apps for Education, you must enable offline access: 
  • Go to docs.google.com (or sheets.google.com or slides.google.com).
  • Click on the menu icon at left.
  • Select Settings.
  • Look for "Offline Sync" and click "Turn on."

Before You Arrive in No Man's Land...

The real trick to working offline in Google Drive is making sure you do a few basic things before you leave an Internet-enabled area. Namely, you must make sure you're signed into Google.
If you're a security-minded person who signs out of Google when you're done using it and perhaps erases your Web browsing history regularly and automatically, you'll need to re-authenticate before you go to No Man's Land (i.e., an Internet-free zone).
If you arrive in No Man's Land not signed into Google, you're going to be out of luck.
Here's what I do. Let's say I'm getting on a flight, and I'm not sure there will be Internet. Before I even leave my house for the airport, I'll make sure my laptop is charged and I'll fire up Chrome and sign into Google. I'll also open the documents I want to edit during the flight. I'll leave those windows open so that when I open my laptop again next, the documents I need are pre-loaded.

A Few More Tips

When you're working on Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides offline, Google gives you one clear indicator: a circle icon with lightning bolt at the top of the page. It's next to the star and folder icons, and it looks like this:
The moment Google recognizes an Internet connection, it will sync your changes to the cloud, and the icon will disappear.
Finally, while you can edit Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides offline, you can't actually change any of the folder names or other details of your Google Drive account while you're disconnected from the Internet. And if the Google Drive page isn't already loaded in Chrome, you won't even be able to open it&emdash;so just start from docs.google.com or another app-specific page first. You will be able to see your Google Drive files on a mobile device, however.