Toolbar not showing in Google Docs? Here is how to get it back

Vlad Turiceanu
by Vlad Turiceanu
Editor-in-Chief
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  • Google Docs is a great free alternative for anyone that can't afford an MS Word subscription.
  • The article below will show you what to do when your Google Docs toolbar disappears.
  • To read more about this amazing free service, check out our dedicated Google Docs page.
  • If you need more Guides and tutorials, we also have a How-To page.
toolbar not showing in google docs
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When creating or editing Google documents online, you may notice the toolbar not showing in Google Docs when you attempt to access a tool.

Luckily, the missing Google Docs toolbar is most likely a settings issue, and so resolving this issue should be straightforward. Here, we will explore some solutions that you can apply to bring back your missing toolbar in no time.


How do I get back the missing Google Docs toolbar?

1. Unhide the toolbar

Google Docs lets you hide the toolbar for a less crowded working area. Sometimes, you do not see the toolbar because you hid it on accident.

To restore the toolbar, open a Google Docs file and press CTRL + SHIFT + F. This shortcut also hides the Google Docs toolbar that you use when you wish to unhide the toolbar.

Alternatively, you can also unhide the toolbar using the arrow on the top right-hand corner of the screen.

When the toolbar is hidden, the arrow faces downward, and when shown, the arrow points upward. Therefore, if the arrow is facing down, click on it to reveal the hidden toolbar. Another technique for unhiding the toolbar is to press the Fn + ESC key combination.

Some times, the toolbar is not missing but greyed out and disabled, it means that the owner of the Google Docs file has not granted you edit permissions.

The next solution shows you how to request and grant users permission to edit the Google Docs file.


Avoid Google Docs issues. This post shows you the 3 best browsers to use for Google Docs.


2. Get edit permissions

2.1 How to request for permission to edit a Google Docs file.

  1. Open the Google Docs file.
  2. If you have only permissions to view the file, you will see a button labeled View only on the greyed-out toolbar.
    • Click on it.
  3. From the dropdown, request edit access from the owner.

2.2. How to grant a user edit permissions to a Google Doc.

  1. Open a Google Docs file.
  2. Next, navigate to the Data tab by clicking on it at top of the screen.
  3. From the resulting dropdown, click on Protected sheets and ranges.
  4. Choose a Google sheet from the right-hand column and hit the Change permissions button.
  5. From here, to allow a user be able to use the toolbar, mark the checkbox next to their name.
  6. Hit Done after granting permission to the relevant users.

Two reasons for the toolbar not to be showing in Google Docs are that you either hide it or do not have permission to edit the document.

To resolve this, we have shown you ways to unhide the missing Google Docs toolbar, as well as how to get permission to edit it.


FAQ: Learn more about Google Docs

  • What is Google Docs?

Google Docs is a free web-based service that acts as Google equivalent of a free Word client.

  • Are there any alternatives to Google Docs?

Yes, there are, one good example is the word editor from LibreOffice.

  • How do I run Google docs efficiently?

All you need to use Google Docs is a browser and an Internet connection. However, some browsers are more suited for Google Docs than others.


Editor's Note: This article was originally published in February 2020 and was revamped and updated in July 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
  • Thanks for this helpful article! My problem is slightly different. The formatting bar is still there but parts of it have kind of disappeared. If I scroll over them, the name pops out and is visible in a black box, but otherwise I can’t tell what’s what. What happened? I’d appreciate any advice. Thank you!

    • Same has happened to me. I can see the name of the font I’m in and the font size, but all of the other tools icons aren’t there. I can get the function when I hover over the space, but it’s much more tedious than seeing the picture icon. Have you had any luck finding how to restore that?