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When using Google Drive via a web browser, if you wanted to edit any document not native to Google (e.g. Microsoft Word/Excel/PowerPoint, images, PDFs, etc.) you would need to download the file, make your changes, and then re-upload the new file.  This is cumbersome, but there is a better way to edit these files now.

AODocs Universal File Opener

The AODocs Universal File Opener (UFO) allows you to open any non-Google document from Google Drive, edit the document, and re-save it directly to Google Drive. You can install the UFO extension for the Chrome browser here. You would choose "+ Add to Chrome" and then click "Add Extension" in the popup that appears. Once completed you will then go to your Google Drive on your Chrome browser. If it was already open, you may need to refresh the page. You should see a popup noting that you do now have the sync client installed. If you do not see this message, you can simply click on the UFO icon () and it will provide the link to download the proper version of the sync client in the dropdown window. Download and install the sync client and then return to your Google Drive in Chrome. You may have to refresh again, but once done you will see a new icon next to all of your non-Google file types (). 

Click on your new editing icon and the file will launch directly from Google Drive into whatever program your computer has set as the default for that file type. You will see popups from UFO letting you know that the file is opening and syncing. You can then make any edits you need to. Once complete you should save your edits within the program. You will see another popup letting you know your savings are being synced back to the Drive. You can now close the file/program and you are all set!

You can also follow along with the Official AODocs UFO install instructions.

File Management with Universal File Opener

The Universal File Opener (UFO) allows you to launch and edit non-Google files directly from Drive. Most, if not all, of the programs that will edit these files do not allow the same kind of cooperative editing that the Google apps do. Only one editor is able to edit a non-Google file at a time. This is easy if you are the only contributor of a file, but what if it is a shared file?

Files Locked for Editing

When you use the AODocs UFO extension to launch a shared file it will lock that file for 1 hour. That means that only you will be able to save edits made to the file back to the Drive. Once you save, that time will actually refresh and extend for 1 hour after you hit save. Anyone else attempting to editing that file before the 1 hour lock expires will be given a message letting them know that the file is locked for editing by another user.

How do I unlock files?

If you have recently edited a shared file, but another contributor needs to add changes of their own, there are a couple options.

When the other contributor opens the file, they will get a message noting that it is locked by another user, but not who that user is. They will get an option to have UFO let them know when the file is unlocked and available to edit. This may be fine if there is no rush or need to make timely edits to a file, but if edits need to be made quickly there is another option.

If you have just made edits to a file that you know you are finished with, you can also unlock the file manually in case others need to make edits. Once you save and close the file, go back to your Drive and click on the UFO icon at the top-right of your Chrome browser (UFOIcon_working.png). This will open up a pop-up window with a list of files that you have opened using the UFO extension. Find the file you were working on in the list. At this point it will have a red padlock icon on it.


Once you click that icon you will get a warning that you are opening up the file for others to edit. Simply choose “Yes” and it will unlock the file for others.


If you see any files with gray padlock icons in your list, that means these files are currently locked for editing by other users, and you cannot unlock them. The user that last locked the file needs to be the one to manually unlock it.