In order to access your Google Drive when you're not online, you'll first need to download, install the Google Drive for Desktop app. Here's a separate tutorial for how to do this: How to Start Using Google Drive for Desktop.
Assuming you already have the Drive for Desktop app installed, now you can get get started syncing files and folders for use offline.
The Drive for Desktop app does offer an option called "Mirror Files", where it will just make all your files and folders available for offline use, all the time. I don't recommend this option, however, unless either your Drive is very small, or your laptop hard drive is massive.
Instead, let's walk through how you can choose to sync a folder for offline use, so that there's both a copy of the folder on your computer, and also stored in the cloud on Google Drive.
1. Open the Windows Explorer app by clicking on the folder icon in the taskbar, or by using the keyboard shortcut Win + E.
2. Navigate to your Google Drive. It may appear in your Quick Access menu, as shown above, or it will appear under "This PC":
3. Navigate to the folder you'd like to sync, then right-click on it. If you're a Windows 11 user, you'll
4. In the list of 'more options', look for a Google Drive icon with the option for Offline Access. Hover over it, then select 'Available offline'.
5. Depending on the contents of the folder, the sync process may take a little while. When it's done, however, you'll see the folder's icon change subtly. Where before you saw a blue cloud icon, now you'll see a green checkmark, indicating that the folder is available offline:
- Your laptop's hard drive has limited space, so be selective about which folders you choose to sync. A good tactic is to keep an updated folder of "Current Projects" or "Active Projects" that you keep synced. As you move project files in and out of this folder, they'll automatically be synched or removed from your computer.
- This trick will work well with PDFs, Word documents, or other non-Google formatted documents. If you're trying to edit Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides, however, you'll also need to turn on Offline Access for those apps (Using Google Docs/Sheets/Slides When You're Offline).