I am using Google Drive for syncing my files between my desktop and my mobile (Windows Phone 8.1, Lumia 1020). The trouble is that when I edit a file on the phone, my phone doesn't allow me to save the changes. I get a message saying something like "can't save because the file is set to read-only". Therefore, I can only view my sync'd files on the phone but can't edit them.

Is there a way round this?

PS: It seems that I won't have this problem if I used OneDrive. However, I am interested in knowing if I can use other cloud storage providers. One reason is that Google Drive gives 15GB for free compared to 5GB from OneDrive.


A file management app that supports Google Drive and can access the Documents folder is rare; generally third-party apps aren't allowed to access the Documents or Downloads directories, which are where Word (and other first-party Office apps) store their files. One such file is Pocket File Manager (also called PFM; I have no connection with this app other than having used it for years). I stress that it might work, but also might not. It supports many cloud providers, including Google Drive, and is also very unusual among third-party apps in that Microsoft allowed it to access the Documents directory. If you use PFM to access your Google Drive and open the file with it, there's a chance it will work. (It's also just a useful app to have.)

Unfortunately, you'll probably either need to continue re-sharing files back to Google Drive and dealing with the outdated duplicates, or get a new phone. It's a pity there's no proper successor to the 1020!

Some background on the problem you're having:

WP apps - including the MS Office apps - cannot read from or write into the storage of other apps (such as Google Drive). When you open a file from Google Drive, what is actually happening is that the OS is making a temporary copy of the file in a location that Word (or whatever; I'll use Word in these examples as it's used for most kinds of text file) can access, and then opening Word to that temp file. Word knows it can't save the file back where it came from, and the only places it can save to are things like your Documents folder... which Google Drive doesn't interact with (although I think OneDrive does, even on 8.1).

You might be able to get around this with an SD card; WP8.1 makes it easy for devs to add SD access to their apps, so Google Drive can probably access it and Office definitely can. However, if I recall correctly, the 1020 doesn't have an SD card slot (which is absurd, given the size files its camera creates, but c'est la vie). WP8.1 doesn't have "virtual SD cards" (where it's actually just a directory on the root storage) the way Android does, unfortunately, so without an SD card slot there's no location where third-party apps (like Google Drive) and first-party apps (like Word) can both access the same files.

  • Yes, this seems to be the best explanation for my problems, so I'll accept it as the answer. – user789 Apr 2 '17 at 16:13

First time when you open new file you will get notification that file is read only and you need to click on button to enable it. If you close that notification then you need to enable it setting in opened file.


Download it in a folder accessible with a file explorer on your phone, edit it on your phone and upload the edited version. What else?

  • I have tried various apps to download the documents from the cloud (for example the apps for Box.net, Yandex for their respective clouds, and also MetroDrive for Google docs) but none of these give me the option to store the document in a location of my choice. The document "just opens", but when I make any changes and try to save them, I get the error (stated in my original question). It seems like a Windows Phone issue, but I could be wrong. – user789 Sep 8 '16 at 15:43
  • Woopiti, a multi-cloud client, enables you to do such a thing AFAIK. – air-dex Sep 8 '16 at 16:52
  • Just tried Woopiti but it has the same problem (doesn't allow changes to be saved to downloaded files). – user789 Sep 8 '16 at 17:08
  • Nope. Have a tap & hold on the file and then select "Download". It should ask you where you want to store the file. At least it is what it does on my 1020. – air-dex Sep 8 '16 at 17:13
  • The issue still remains. Yes, tap & hold allows me to save at a different location, but the cloud provider then treats it as a different file when I upload the edited version back. There is no easy way of replacing the original file with the modified one. – user789 Sep 9 '16 at 10:57

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