Edit Office files in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides

If you want to work with a Microsoft® Office file, you can open and edit Office files on the web using the Chrome browser, from a Chromebook, or from the Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps. The ability to edit Office files is called Office Compatibility Mode (OCM).

How to enable editing of Office files

There are a few ways for you to begin editing Office files in a Chrome browser, on a Chromebook, and in the Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps.

With Chromebooks and the mobile apps, the ability to edit Office files comes automatically with the most recent updates, and requires only a few quicks steps in a Chrome browser.

In a Chrome browser

To be able to edit Office files from a Chrome browser, first download the Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides Chrome extension.

This extension allows you to edit Office files in Office Compatibility Mode (OCM) from a number of different place:

  • From Drive (new version only): Simply double-click on any Office file and begin editing in OCM.
  • From Gmail: When viewing a preview of an Office attachment, click Open in Docs (or Sheets/Slides) to start editing in OCM.
  • From your local storage: Open any locally stored Office files and begin editing right in OCM.
    • On a Mac or PC, open the file by clicking File > Open file in the menu of your Chrome browser, simply drag and drop a file from your desktop into a Chrome browser window, or use Ctrl + O (Cmd + O on a Mac) on your keyboard.
    • On a Chromebook, open Files.app and double-click the file you’d like to edit.
  • From a Docs, Sheets & Slides home screen: Simply click on any Office file to begin editing in OCM.
  • From third-party websites: With the Chrome extension installed, clicking to open a Office file on any webpage will open the file in a new tab for editing.

How to know you’re in Office Compatibility Mode (OCM)

Office files can't be edited in the classic version of Google Drive. Learn more about getting the new Google Drive.
  • Open the Word, Excel®, or PowerPoint® file you want to edit.
  • Click the File menu.
  • If you see “Office Compatibility Mode” in the menu, you can edit the file or save it to Google Docs for the ability to work with others.

Don’t see “Office Compatibility Mode” in the menu? Make sure that you have downloaded the Chrome extension.

On a Chromebook
  1. Your Chromebook will automatically update to allow you to edit Office files in the new version of Google Drive.
  2. Open Drive by clicking the Drive icon on your desktop or by going to drive.google.com in your browser.
  3. Open any Office file to begin editing it in Office Compatibility Mode (OCM).

How to know you’re in Office Compatibility Mode (OCM)

  1. Click the Drive icon on your desktop or go to Drive at drive.google.com. You can also find your files by opening Files.app.
  2. Open the Word, Excel®, or PowerPoint® file you want to edit.
  3. Click the File menu.
  4. If you see “Office Compatibility Mode” in the menu, you can edit the file or save it to Google Docs for the ability to work with others.

Don’t see “Office Compatibility Mode” in the menu? Check for the most recent updates on your device. Note that Office files can only be edited in the new version of Google Drive.

In the Docs, Sheets, or Slides Android app
  1. The Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps on your mobile device need to be updated to the most recent versions. If apps don’t automatically update on your phone or tablet, go to the Docs, Sheets, and Slides Google Play pages to install the updates.
  2. Open the Docs app to view your Word files, the Sheets app to view your Excel® files, or the Slides app to view your PowerPoint® files.
  3. Open any Office file to begin editing it.

How to know you’re in Office Compatibility Mode (OCM)

  1. Open the Docs, Sheets, or Slides app to open a Word, Excel®, or PowerPoint® file.
  2. Open the file you want to edit.
  3. Touch the Menu icon .
  4. If you see “Office Compatibility Mode” in the menu, you can edit the file or save it to Google Docs for the ability to work with others.

Don’t see “Office Compatibility Mode” in the menu? Make sure that you have installed the most recent update in Google Play for the Docs, Sheets, or Slides app.

Please note that when you're editing your files in Office Compatibility Mode, your changes are saved automatically. Also, you'll see some small differences in the toolbar depending on if you're editing Office files or Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. 

Edit an Office file with other people

If you want to easily share an Office file with others and work together to edit the file in real-time, simply save the file to Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides. Learn more about converting a file to Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

Troubleshoot issues when editing Office files

If you run into issues, keep the following troubleshooting tips in mind:

  • Ensure your file is supported. Check that you’re working with a compatible file type. Note that Chrome and Chromebooks can only open .doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx, .ppt, and .pptx files.
  • Save Office files to the 2007 version of Office or later. When trying to edit files created with Office 2003 (or older), you’ll be prompted to upgrade these documents to a more recent version of Office before editing or saving further changes.
  • Avoid corrupted or password-protected files. These will not open in OCM.
  • Ensure your files do not exceed size limits. Some files, especially large spreadsheets, may be too large to open.
  • Make sure the Native Client plug-in is enabled. Chromebooks use this plug-in to open Office documents. To check the status of this plug-in, type about:plugins and make sure “Native Client” is marked as enabled.
  • Reload the tab. When experiencing difficulty, try reloading the tab that contains your file.

Related topics

Matt is a Docs & Drive expert and author of this help page. Leave him feedback below about the page.

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