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How to save a Google Docs file

Google Docs is a web app. The files that you create in Google Docs are all online. They take up space in your Google Drive and you can access them anywhere. You can use Google Docs offline if you need to but the file that you’re working on will remain in your browser and it will sync to your Google Drive when you next go online.

Save a Google Docs file

A Google Docs file technically lives online. As such, it has not format of its own. If you were to save the file in your browser with the Ctrl+S keyboard shortcut, you’d end up saving an HTML document. The file automatically saves everything but, if you want to save a Google Docs file like you do a Microsoft Word file, you’re going to have to export or download it.

Save a Google Docs file – Download

As mentioned, a Google Docs file has not file extension of its own and it’s essentially an HTML file. To save it i.e., to download it, you must pick a file format to save it in.

Google Docs supports saving a file in DOCX, ODT, RTF, PDF, TXT, HTML, ZIP, and EPUB formats. Make sure you know what a format is before you download a file in it. 

To download the file, 

  1. Open the Google Docs file that you want to save.
  2. Go to File>Download.
  3. Select the format you want to save the file in.
  4. The file will be downloaded.

Editing a saved Google Docs file

A Google Docs file can be edited after you’ve downloaded it. You must have an app that can open and edit the file. For example, if you save a file as a TXT file, you can open and edit it in any text editor e.g. in Notepad. 

When you download a file, the format that you download it in will impact the way the file looks. If you download the files as a PDF, you will get an exact replica of the document that you created. If you instead save the file in TXT format, all text styling will be gone because a text file does not support it.


Web apps like Google Docs may seem confusing at first because users have always had to save files. These files have lived on our hard drives (or SSDs) whereas, with Google Docs, everything is online. You may feel the need to still download the file ‘just in case’. It isn’t necessary but if it puts you at ease, you can do it easily enough. 

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