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Google Workspace now opens Microsoft Office files directly into edit mode


Google has announced changes to the way it deals with Microsoft Office-formatted documents within the newly-rebranded Google Workspace. Until now, opening a .docx, .xlsx, or .pptx file would have brought up a preview of the contents within Chrome, with a dropdown to select what web app you want to open it with. That’s all changed, as Google announced yesterday that from now on, the behavior will be to open the relevant Google Workplace app (Docs, for example) immediately, doing away with the decision tree altogether.

Users will be able to manually override this behavior by pressing the ‘P’ button as they click on the file, or selecting ‘Preview’ from the right-click context menu. Whilst that’s an extra keystroke when you need to use something like DocuSign, it’s a keystroke removed for the 85% of the time you just want to get on with editing — so overall, you should have a reduced aggregate click-rate.

If users have the “Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides” extension (erstwhile, Quickoffice), then that will be the default app. Otherwise, either Docs, Sheets, or Presentations will open. Password-protected files will still open in Preview. The release blog post notes that there is no option for sysadmins to disable this behavior and that end-users should be taught the alternatives. The change doesn’t just affect managed domains, however — free/Gmail users will also see the new flow. It continues: “This change makes it quicker to open and start editing documents. Users can directly edit, comment, and collaborate on Office files using the familiar interface of Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, with changes automatically saved to the file in its existing Office format.”

Rapid Release Domains may already have seen the change, which began rolling out yesterday. For the rest of us, roll out begins on November 30th, with all users receiving it within 15 days.

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