OffiSync Brings Google Docs Goodies to MS Office


logoWouldn’t it be great if Microsoft Office (s msft) had the collaborative and cloud storage functionality of Google Docs (s goog)? Well, now it does, using a free add-in called OffiSync that launched into public beta today. Offisync adds a toolbar to Office that allows you to use Google Docs for file storage and collaboration.

Once installed, Offisync adds a new toolbar to your Office apps. (Offisync works with Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and Powerpoint presentations.)


The Offisync toolbar

First, you need to configure Offisync with your Google account details using the “Accounts” button. Offisync supports multiple accounts, so if you use both Google Docs and Google Apps, you can easily switch between them.

You can then use Google Docs as an online repository for your Office documents. Click on “Save As” in the Offisync toolbar and you get access to a file menu showing your Google Docs account. As well as being able to save files, you can add, rename and delete folders.

Once your document is saved, you can access it from any browser through Google Docs, or open it up again in Office. You can also use Offisync to edit your existing Google Docs files in Office.

One of  the best things about Google Docs is how easy it makes sharing your documents with others and collaborating on them. Offisync brings that power right inside Office. Click on “Collaborate” and you can choose to share your document with anyone else through Google Docs. If they also have Offisync isntalled, they’ll be able to work on the document in Office, too.

Offisync: A document in Office and Google Docs

Offisync: A document in Office and Google Docs

Offisync’s not perfect, because Google Docs doesn’t have quite the same functionality as Office — it doesn’t support tracked changes and turns some objects into images, for example — but for most documents it works very well. The next version of Office will hopefully have cloud storage and collaboration functionality included, but until it’s released, Offisync is a great interim measure.

The Offisync beta is free to download and use, and works with Office 2003 and Office 2007 on XP, Vista and Windows 7. It also requires .NET Framework 3.5, so if you don’t have that already, it will be downloaded as part of the install. There’s a demo video available if you’d like to see it in action before trying it out.

Have you tried Offisync? What did you think?


Saqib Ali

@Simon – Ref: SMTP – Do you have outlook configured on your PC?

@Joe – No Office Live Workspace is something different.

Both Google Apps and Office Live Workspace provide a very capable collaboration platform. Sometimes I find myself struggling to decide to which platform to use for my classwork.

Office Live Workspace, as expected, provides seamless integration with Microsoft Office, which is critical if you are working with lots of documents and spreadsheets. But with release of Offisync, a 3rd party plugin for MS Office, the same level of seamless integration with MS Office is now available for Google Docs users.

MS needs to learn about collaborative editing from Google, and Google needs to learn about building user-friendly interfaces and seamless integration with desktop apps from Microsoft.

Simon Mackie

@Manh Tung NGUYEN Yes, the problem with Offisync is that any limits imposed by Google Docs will apply. I didn’t run into that problem but haven’t tried a large doc yet.

Manh Tung NGUYEN

Google Docs not allow users to upload large documents to its server, and i’ve just tried via Offisync and i’m not successful. Without above problem, i think Offisync’s so cool and actually useful. Like Simon Mackie, i’m in luck because i don’t get any error.

Simon Mackie

@Saqib – I agree it is very cool. My install seems to have gone better than yours, though. My “Recent Documents” list is fine and also. I don’t get the SMTP error. Maybe try try reinstalling?

Saqib Ali

I successfully installed Offisync couple of days ago after few attempts. The problem was with downloads on amazon, and not related to Offisync.

After the install, the Offisync Ribbon appeared on my Office 2007. Upon entering my Google credentials, I was able to access all the docs and spreadsheets stored in Google Docs. Very very cool.

Few of minor things I noticed:
1) You can’t add “everyone” as collaborator from within Offisync. You have to enter email addresses of each collaborator, one-by-one, which could be painstakingly slow. But seems like this is limitation is due to Google API. See:

2) After the install my “Recent Documents” list from Word and Excel was MIA. This could be a one off thingy. Did anyone else experience this?

3) I get a “Error occured during save operation: The SMTP host was not found.”, while notifying the collaborators. Not sure where to specify the SMTP server. Has anyone figured this out?

Note: I love MS Office Live [1] because of its seamless integration with Office 2007 Suite. Now Offisync provides same integration with Google Docs. A dream come true.


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