Google Drive’s most annoying problem has finally been fixed

Google Workspace
(Image credit: Google)
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Google has unveiled a small but important tweak to the way users of its cloud storage (opens in new tab) service Drive (opens in new tab) edit Microsoft Office (opens in new tab) documents via the web.

While Google Drive has long offered support for Word (opens in new tab), PowerPoint (opens in new tab) and Excel (opens in new tab) documents, these file-types have always been launched automatically in a preview mode that does not allow the user to make changes.

Now, double-clicking on an Office document (.docx, .doc, .ppt, .pptx, .xls, .xlsx and .xlsm files) stored in Drive will open it in editing mode by default. And to open a file in preview mode, users will have to select the option via the right-click dropdown menu or hold the “P” key while double clicking the file.

According to a Google blog post (opens in new tab), the only exception to this new rule relates to Office files that are password protected, which will continue to open in preview.

Google Drive upgrade

While the change might appear insignificant, it forms part of a wider streamlining of Google’s productivity offering, which was recently rebranded as Google Workspace (opens in new tab).

The move to improve interoperability between Workspace and Microsoft Office is also further evidence that Google does look upon the two suites as an either-or proposition.

“This change makes it quicker to open and start editing documents,” explained the firm. “Users can directly edit, comment and collaborate on Office files using the familiar interface of Google Docs (opens in new tab), Sheets (opens in new tab) and Slides (opens in new tab), with changes automatically saved to the file in its existing Office format.”

Unlike some new Google Workspace facilities, which are reserved for paying customers only, this latest improvement will be available to both business and personal users.

The new feature is already rolling out to anyone that falls under the Rapid Release track (Workspace customers that have opted to receive new features as soon as possible) and will begin to take effect for all other users starting November 30.

Joel Khalili
News and Features Editor

Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.