How to Access Files on Your Phone Without Internet

Access your files on your mobile device, even without internet access

What to Know

  • Google Drive: Go to Settings and check Sync Google Docs, Sheets, Slides & Drawings files to this computer so that you can edit offline.
  • Dropbox: Navigate to the files you want to make available offline, select the ellipsis ( ... ), then select Make Available Offline.
  • OneDrive: Go to OneDrive's Settings and check Make all files available even when this PC isn't connected to the internet.

Online storage and syncing services like Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive allow you to access your files from any computer or mobile device. However, without offline access enabled, you will not be able to view or download any of those files without an internet connection.

Here's how to enable offline access where it's available.

Woman on phone
Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

Google Drive Offline Access

Google now automatically syncs Google Docs, making them available offline. You can also edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations offline in the respective Docs, Sheets, and Slides app. 

To enable offline access for these files in the Chrome browser, you will need to set up the Google Docs Offline Chrome extension.

  1. Open Google Drive and select the Settings icon, represented by a gear in the top-right corner.

  2. Select Settings.

  3. Select the checkbox next to Sync Google Docs, Sheets, Slides & Drawings files to this computer so that you can edit offline.

Provided you've downloaded and turned on the Google Docs Offline extension, you will now be able to access your Google Drive content offline.

How to Enable Offline Access for Specific Files

You'll have to select the files you want available, while you have internet access, and mark them for offline access.

  1. In Google Drive, select on a file you want available offline.

  2. In the context menu, select Available offline.

Dropbox Offline Access

To gain offline access to your Dropbox files, you have to specify which ones you want to be able to access without an internet connection. This is done through through the Dropbox app for iOS or Android.

  1. In the Dropbox app, locate the file(s) you would like to be available offline.

  2. Select the ellipsis ( ... ), then select Make Available Offline.

SugarSync and Box Offline Access

SugarSync and Box also require you to set up your files for offline access, but they allow you to sync entire folders for offline access rather than selecting files individually.

Here's how to set up offline access with SugarSync:

  1. From the SugarSync app on your iOS or Android device, select the computer you want to access and browse to the folder or file you'd like to access offline.

  2. Select the icon next to the folder or filename.

  3. Select Sync to Device and the file or folder will be synced to your device's local memory.

For Box, select a folder from the mobile app and make it a favorite. If you later add new files to the folder, you'll have to return while online to Update All if you would like offline access for the new files.

OneDrive Offline Access

Finally, Microsoft's OneDrive storage service has an offline access feature you can toggle on and off. Right-click on the cloud icon in the taskbar, go to Settings, and check the option Make all files available even when this PC isn't connected to the internet.

What Is Offline Access?

Offline access gives you access to files stored in the cloud even without an internet connection. It accomplishes this by downloading the files to your device's local hard drive. It's an important feature for anyone who needs to access important files and documents from anywhere. This comes in handy, for example, when there's no Wi-Fi available or your mobile data connection is spotty.

Cloud storage services such as Google Drive and Dropbox do not automatically store files for anytime access. Unless you set up offline access ahead of time, your files will inaccessible until you're online again.

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