Is there a stable way of accessing Google Docs (application) from my desktop without having to use a browser on Windows?

On my accepted answer...

While I did stipulate that I wanted to not use my browser, I didn't really mean I wanted to avoid browser technology. I meant I didn't want to open my browser, type in the web address for google docs, etc. TheTXI's answer required me to download/install nothing more than what I already had (Chrome) to acheive this. It created a desktop icon (similar to an application) that launches me right into my docs (similar to an application), without extra browser-items on the screen. This was an excellent suggestion, and won by virtue of parsimony.

  • Is the main concern a browser or an internet connection ? – Bruce McLeod Jul 30 '09 at 11:32
  • Do you mean being able to view and edit the documents when you are offline, or something else? – alok Jul 30 '09 at 11:52
  • Do you mean the documents or the application? I think this question could do with some fleshing out as this is a bit of an unusual request and more detail would lead to better answers. – Jeremy French Jul 30 '09 at 12:35

10 Answers 10


I know you said you didn't want to use a browswer, but if you use Chrome, it should be possible to save a site (like GMail for example) as an application on your desktop, which will then allow you to run that application without all the fuss of a browser.

  1. Click the Tools icon (or Page Menu)
  2. Select "Create Application Shortcut"
  3. Profit!
  • Elegant. Care to update your answer with a step-wise example of how to do it for others? – Sampson Jul 30 '09 at 12:10
  • 1
    That's just like Prism in Firefox ;-) – Ivo Flipse Jul 30 '09 at 12:21
  • Close. Prism is an addon. This is native to Chrome. – Sampson Jul 30 '09 at 12:34
  • @Jonathan, click the tools icon then create an application shortcut (or something like that) – hasen Jul 30 '09 at 12:43
  • Click the "page" menu, the first menu item should be "create application shortcut..." – jamuraa Jul 30 '09 at 12:57

Enter GMDesk.

GMDesk is an Adobe Air application that lets you run Google without troubling your browser. This comes in handy because it lets me close my browser without losing contact with Google Mail or Calendar or Docs. Even better, it lets me keep my Gmail or Google Reader account front-and-center no matter what I’m currently browsing.

If you don’t know what Adobe Air is, it’s like Java inasmuch as it’s an application that lets you run other programs regardless of your operating system. So this works for Mac as well as for Windows.

GMDesk is free, as is Adobe Air.

Download Adobe Air here.

Download GMDesk here.

  • 1
    +1 Great solution to anybody who doesn't have Chrome already installed. – Sampson Jul 30 '09 at 12:35
  • 1
    Seriously, the Prism for Firefox is probably way better :P – Ivo Flipse Jul 30 '09 at 13:15

If you are using Google Chrome you can use an extension like Google Docs Viewer to manage your google docs.


I expect that this will be feature of Google Chrome OS.

On a Mac you can use Fluid to create a standalone application that does not require the browser.

  • While true, that doesn't help me accomplish it right now. :) – Sampson Jul 30 '09 at 12:14
  • Removed my -1, thank you for the "Fluid" mention. – Sampson Jul 30 '09 at 13:07
  • @Jonathan I was wondering why my rep went up by 2 – Bruce McLeod Jul 30 '09 at 13:17

Using google-docslist-gadget

Find, open, and upload Google Docs documents.

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Not exactly what your asking for, but it should do the trick.

Note: this will require Google Gears! Else you probably won't have offline functionality...

Prism Firefox Add-on

Prism is a simple XULRunner based browser that hosts web applications without the normal web browser user interface. Prism is based on a concept called Site Specific Browsers (SSB). An SSB is an application with an embedded browser designed to work exclusively with a single web application. It doesn’t have the menus, toolbars and accoutrements of a normal web browser. Some people have called it a "distraction free browser" because none of the typical browser chrome is used. An SSB also has a tighter integration with the OS and desktop than a typical web application running through a web browse

alt text


  • Separate process: When the webapp goes down or locks up, I don’t want anything else affected. Thankfully, Firefox does have session restore, but that is beside the point. When I open many tabs and have several webapps running in a browser, things get slow and unstable after a day or two.
  • Minimal UI: A generic browser UI is not needed for webapps. If any UI is present, make it specific to the webapp I am using.
  • Basic desktop integration: Create shortcuts to start the webapp, add ability to show specialized icons in the tray or dock and ability to display notifications.
  • Platform with extensions: I don’t want to download a full browser runtime for each webapp. I do want to be able to add some custom code/features that are not directly supported in the webapp. I should be able to install one runtime and then get packages or extensions for each webapp. Think Firefox extensions or Greasemonkey scripts. These extensions should be able to tweak the SSB UI as well.
  • Open external links in real browser: If I click a link in the webapp that opens a new site, don't change my webapp browser window. Open all external links in my default/real browser.

I'm actually working on a shell extension in my spare time that will make Google Docs appear like a hard drive. Of course you'd still only be able to save document types supported by Google Docs. I'm still working out some of the details (caching, synchronizing changes, etc). It won't actually use the Google Docs word processor, spreadsheet or presentation programs. You'll need a desktop office suite for that but you'll be able to save files directly to Google Docs from any program that can write a supported file format.


I wrote a little C#/Winforms application called 'Nocs' that lets you edit your actual Google Docs document contents from a Windows Notepad type clone. It also synchronizes them so you can do collaboration too.

It's a work in progress - check it out.


Check out https://www.insynchq.com

it's fantastic and will do exactly what you need to, access your google docs from your desktop/non browser.


Simple: access your Google Drive files through WebDAV using the built-in WebDAV capabilities. Use an online service (e.g. http://synqya.appspot.com) for WebDAV access then map your Google Drive like a network drive and use it on your desktop. You neither have to install anything, nor have to use a browser or add-on.

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