One of the often-cited drawbacks to storing and sharing documents in Google Drive is having to convert the documents you’ve uploaded to the service to the Google Docs (or Sheets, or Slides) format if you wanted to edit the documents in the cloud. With Google’s integration of the Quickoffice technology they acquired last year, Google has introduced the ability to edit Microsoft Office documents in their native format – without having to convert them. However, there are still some problems that we will discuss later in this article.
On mobile devices, look for this new native editing capability built right into the updated Android apps (Docs, Sheets, and Slides). Updated apps for iOS were not yet available as of this writing. On a laptop or desktop computer, the Office Editing for Docs, Slides, and Sheets Chrome browser extension (free download) is designed to allow you to edit the Office documents you store in your Google Drive and attachments you receive in GMail without converting them to Google formats first.
The following formats are supported:
- .doc, .docx
- .xls, .xlsx
- .ppt, .pptx
The native editing capability works best on Android apps – but it has its issues.
This is a sample Word (docx) file, stored in Google Drive, being edited with the newly updated Google Docs app for Android devices.
However, documents successfully edited on an Android tablet might not display the edits at first when viewed in a Web browser on a laptop, desktop, or other device.
When we checked the document in Google Drive, on the laptop, the edits (including all of the formatted text) appeared in the Google Docs Viewer BUT DID NOT immediately appear when we opened the document in the browser. The edits DID immediately appear in the document when we downloaded it to the laptop’s hard drive. The edits did eventually appear in the browser when we opened the document later.
The Chrome browser extension, however, comes with a number of HUGE caveats.
As of this writing, the Chrome browser extension allows editing only of Office files dragged into the browser and IS NOT allowing editing for Office files stored in Google Drive. Google has been advised of this issue in numerous one-star reviews in the Chrome Webstore and should be working on a fix.
Even with the Office Editing for Docs, Slides, and Sheets Chrome browser extension installed, the above Word (docx) file, stored in Google Drive and opened in the Chrome Web browser, was not editable in the Chrome browser.
This Word (docx) file (displayed above,) which we dragged into the Chrome browser from a folder on the laptop, was editable with the Office Editing for Docs, Slides, and Sheets Chrome browser extension installed.
Simultaneous editing by multiple collaborators of Office formatted documents stored in Google Drive does not appear to be supported when editing Microsoft Office documents in their native format (this feature does work with converted documents).
Like many of the products Google releases to the public, these apps with native editing capabilities for Microsoft Office files appear to be in beta. It would just be nice if they labeled them that way.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Carole Levitt, Esq. President and founder of Internet for Lawyers (a CLE seminar company), has over thirty years of combined experience in the legal field as a California attorney, Internet trainer, Law Librarian and Legal Research and Writing Professor. Ms. Levitt has served on the ABA’s Law Practice Management Section’s Publishing Board since 2004 and served on the Section’s Executive Council from 2007—2011.
Mark Rosch Vice-President, Internet for Lawyers, is the developer and manager of Internet for Lawyers’ (IFL) website, Facebook Company page, and online education services. He also is the editor of IFL’s newsletter, The Internet Legal Research Update. Mr. Rosch serves on the ABA’s Law Practice Management Section’s TECHSHOW Planning Board.
Together, these internationally recognized authors and Continuing Legal Education speakers have given hundreds of CLE seminars and have written six books published by The American Bar Association, including “Google Gmail and Calendar in One Hour for Lawyers” (2013).