Thanks to Google Docs, the days of paying through the nose for Microsoft Office are gone. Google’s version offers capabilities that make writing, editing, and sharing content infinitely easier. Best of all, it’s free.
There is some confusion between Google Docs vs. Google Drive. Google Docs is a bunch of apps (similar to Microsoft Office) that interact with the online storage system, Google Drive. Google launched Drive back in 2012 to offer an alternative to other shared document systems such as Microsoft 365. Signing up to a free Google account is all you need to do to use Google Drive storage and a robust suite of office-based apps. It’s that easy. So, unless you've got a valid reason to line Bill Gates pockets, use Google Docs.
Wait. Are you one of the many people who still hasn’t made the full-time switch from Microsoft Office to Google Docs? Are you are too comfortable with the Microsoft Office safety blanket. Perhaps you are put off by a few unfamiliar features you haven’t quite figured out yet. Or maybe it’s simply because old habits die hard. Don’t be that person. Google Docs is free and anyone can learn to use all the time-saving features it has to offer.
Unless you are a spritely millennial versed in nothing but the Google, chances are you might not be using Google Docs to its full potential. There are are a lot of tricks that even power users might not be aware of it. Did you know that you can upload Microsoft documents and work on them in Google's software?
We’ve set out to demystify the most popular and little-known Google apps features. With these tricks at your disposal, you no longer have to wonder if “there must be an easier way to do this.”
Before we get started, make sure you’re using the Google Chrome browser, if not download it here. To get the most out of Google Docs, use the Google Chrome browser. Many of the following features require it.
Google Drive is a cloud storage system. In a nutshell, this means instead of storing your work on to your computer, free up your hard drive by storing files online.
On first glance, it might seem a little different from other software. The central Drive binds all the apps available to Google account holders (including Docs, Sheets, and Slides) together and gives you a common area for your files. You can even create folders just like you would on your home computer. All things considered, Drive is one of the most powerful, user-friendly and versatile cloud storage systems available.
Unless stated, the following time-saving tricks will work the same whether you’re working in Google Docs, Slides or Sheets. We’ll cover tips specific to each tool as we get to them.
Let’s start as we mean to go on. The following tips are things you can do before you start creating content in Google Apps. Setting up Offline editing and adding Customized shortcuts mean less friction when you’re focused on your work.
What happens when your WIFI at home is playing up when you board a plane or travel to an area with limited access? Thanks to Google Docs Offline, your work doesn’t have to suffer when you lose internet access. With ‘Offline Sync’ you can keep working uninterrupted. Your updated document is automatically uploaded to your Google Drive account once you get a connection.
Note: Prepare the mentioned steps in advance as you can’t decide when you are offline that you want to use this feature.
Sick of the same tried and tested fonts? Use this tip to add more fonts in Google Docs and Slides.
Once added, the fonts will be available in any Google doc you create.
Note: that you’ll need to add each font to the application that you want to use it in. To add new fonts to Google Slides, add a Text Box, and follow the same instructions.
Taking a moment to set this up will pay off - especially if you’re someone using special characters like the ™ or © symbol often. To set up customized shortcuts that fit your content.
Click on Tools and head to Preferences. From here you can manage your style shortcuts. You’ll also find options to disable automatic word capitalization - a must for content publisher describing companies, products, and services with quirky spelling.
There’s a lot of slang and technical jargon that hasn’t made it to the Google Docs dictionary. You may even encounter a red line under the text every time you type your name or your business’s name. If you’re tired of hitting ‘ignore’ during spell check, you can quickly add your words to the dictionary.
There are two ways to go about this.
Do you work with multiple people on the same document? If you’ve got a bunch of editors, bloggers and clients all chiming in, this tip is for you. Instead of having a crowded email inbox of Google Doc notifications, update your preferences. To experience a clutter-free mailbox, follow these steps;
Working on sensitive material such as invoices, and confidential customer data meant for your eyes only? Google’s got your back with its adjustable privacy and sharing settings.
To adjust privacy and sharing parameters, click ‘Share’ from the top right-hand corner in any Google Drive app. Select ‘Share with others’ and then select ‘Advanced.' From here you can toggle who can copy edit, share, download, print or change access to the file you’re working on.
Place bookmarks for the apps you use regularly and add them to your bookmarks bar for quick access. Use the following URLs to create bookmarks for Docs, Sheets, and Slides.
This way, in one click, you can open documents, Slides, and Sheets without launching Google Drive.
Make your life easier while working in Google apps. Things like using templates, how to ask Google for help, you can even learn how to dictate text with your voice if you feel like it. This is the most extensive section, as it should be.
Forgot the name of a feature? Tired of scrolling through menus and settings to find what you need? It sounds like you need some Help. Google help offers the most thorough advice you could ask for, and it’s easy to navigate - It's almost like they're an actual search engine! To find what you are looking for, browse Google extensive Help feature, or use the handy, search function.
To begin quizzing Google Help, select Help from the toolbar at the top of your page.
In the drop-down box, type in the name of the feature you want. For example, type in ‘Spellcheck’ to find a link to use the Spell Check tool.
Pre-made templates are available for all Google apps. These are great if you’re suffering from writer's block. Find ready-made versions of everything from resumes to budgets and invoices. There are even pre-made Slides to help deliver a flashy presentation.
They might sound fiddly, but they become second nature and are a huge time saver. Plus, Google has plenty of them to make using the software even better. You can find all of the Keyboard Shortcuts from the Help menu dropdown. Here’s a cheat sheet of our favorites. Windows/ Chrome OS Mac shortcuts Basic commands Cut Ctrl + X Command + X Copy Ctrl + C Command + C Paste Ctrl + V Command + V Paste Without Formatting Ctrl + Shift + V Command + Shift + V Undo Ctrl + Z Command + V Redo Ctrl + Shift + Z Command + Shift + Z Insert or edit link Ctrl + K Command + K Print Ctrl + P Command + P Find Ctrl + F Command + F Text formatting Bold Ctrl + B Command + B Italicize Ctrl + I Command + I Underline Ctrl + U Command + U Strikethrough Alt + Shift + 5 Option + Shift + 5 Copy text formatting Ctrl + Alt + C Command + Option + C Paste text formatting Ctrl + Alt + V Command + Option + V Clear text formatting Ctrl + \ Command + \ Increase font size Ctrl + Shift + > Command + Shift + > Decrease font size Ctrl + Shift + < Command + Shift + < Tools Open research tool Ctrl + Alt + Shift +I Command + Option + Shift + I Define selected word in research tool Ctrl + Shift + Y Command + Shift + Y Word count Ctrl + Shift + C Command + Shift + C Start voice typing (Chrome browsers only) Ctrl + Shift + S Command + Shift + S Move to next misspelling Ctrl + ' Command + ' [apostrophe] Move to previous misspelling Ctrl + ; Command + ;
If you’re just more comfortable with working Microsoft Office, install the Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides extension. With this add-on, you can preview, edit and share documents you create with Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel without needing Office installed on your computer. You can leave the files in MS Office format and then do light editing with a helpful extension. This practice can be useful for people who do not own MS Office or cannot run MS Office (like on a Chromebook).
After installing the extension, you can open any Microsoft Office file in the Google app. When you double-click on a file to open it, you will no longer get a preview, but instead, it will open in a light web-based version of your Office doc. When you save the file, it will simply save and update the Office file in your Drive.
While this extension to be a handy tool for minor edits, it is not a full-featured Microsoft Word editor (and the same goes for Excel and PowerPoint). You can make minor formatting changes to the text and edit the content, that’s about it. For anything else, you’re best off converting your Office file to a Google Doc. This way, you have full editing capabilities, and, save on storage.
The main advantage of converting to a Google file is that they take up no storage on your hard drive. Google Docs, Sheets and Slides are stored as a web page using in the cloud -unless you choose to download them as another file type. Google grants us all unlimited storage of Google Docs on Google Drive, but only a limited amount of space for other file formats. Because of this, it makes sense to convert other formats to Google Docs if possible. You can import and export all types of files to Google Drive including .csv, HTML and .PDF to name a few.
To convert an Office file to a Google version, do the following:
When you’re finished editing online, you can download your Google doc as an Office document so that it has a standard Microsoft Office extension. However, you need to export your Google Docs files to Microsoft Office. Bear in mind that these documents take up more room on your Google Drive.
even Locate the Office file in your Google Drive.
One of the big perks of using Google’s suite is that you can perform Google searches without leaving the file you’re working on. If you need more information on any term, topic or idea, highlight the text and click Explore from Tools in the menu bar. A sidebar will launch with Google results for your query. This action also works on links. If you want to link to Namecheap, you can just select, type "create link" and type "Namecheap" and the search will auto-populate! It is the same convenience technology that Google uses when it predicts what you might be looking for when you start typing a search query.
The best Google apps tips are the ones that save you serious time. That's why the Format Painter is one to remember. Take words or cells that are already formatted and paint those same styles into other words or cells. The trick lies within that paint roller icon in the upper-left corner of the Docs toolbar (directly to the right of the print icon).
If you want to apply the formatting to more than one area of text, double-click the paint roller at the start of the process. That’ll force it to remain active through numerous applications.
Broken your wrist snowboarding? Struggle with touch typing? If you‘re not in a position to type or simply prefer to dictate your draft, try voice typing. To activate, select Voice Typing from the Tools bar or use the shortcut ⌘+Shift+S. Don’t forget to give commands for punctuations such as “comma”, “period,” “new line,” and “new paragraph."
No matter how compelling your written content, pictures can make the difference between a good and a great page. If you want to add images to your Google Docs document, there are several ways to do that:
Editing image offers the ability to add a professional touch to your content and presentations. There’s no need for any Photoshop wizardry or advanced skills. Do simple cropping, add a border or even mask an image into shape all without leaving the app.
To resize images, select the image and click and drag the blue squares until you have the desired size. To keep the image in the same proportion ratio, hold the SHIFT key while you click and drag.
Double-click the image you wish to crop or select the ‘Crop’ button from your toolbar. Notice the black cropping bars? Click and drag the sides and corners using the bars to crop your image. When you’re happy with the look, press Enter on your keyboard or click the crop button in the toolbar once more.
Borders give a more professional look and are light work with Google Docs. First, select an image, next choose a color from the drop-down tool next to the pencil tool. Then, choose the size of the line. The next tool along lets you change the border to dashes or dots.
Right click on an image in Google Docs and Google Slides. Notice “image options”? Select that to open a sidebar menu where you can add color filters to your image. For finer control over your image, you can also toggle the brightness, contrast, and transparency, right inside Google Docs. Play around with this tool to transform your images, like the one below using filter ‘light 3’.
If you work with multiple people, in the same file, you need to get your head around collaboration tools. Similarly, If you wish to share your progress with others, such as clients -there are many ways to do that. The following pointers are essential for efficient project management and setting a tone for professional communication.
Want to share your work with others? Easy. To get started, hit the bright blue SHARE button in the top right-hand corner or your Doc, Slide or Sheet. From here you can control who accesses your work. Invite anyone with a Google account to collaborate. Use the share feature to control whether each user can edit, comment on, or simply view your work.
With Google Docs, you can tag other users to get their attention while collaborating. This way, your comments won’t go missing.
To add a comment click the Insert tab, then Add Comments. In the comment bubble, add “+” followed by their email address to tag the user. They will receive an email notifying them that a comment needs their attention.
It’s now possible to retrieve content from an older version of your Doc, Sheet or File using the Version History tool. To discover your version history, open a doc, sheet, or Slide, select ‘File,' ‘Version History,' then select ‘See Version History.' The panel on the right displays earlier versions. Click the timestamp of an earlier version, then ‘Restore this version.’
Want to give kudos for a specific edit, need to critique a section, or add notes and feedback? First, you need to figure out who made the edits. To find out, click Version History. Now, you’ll see a page splashed with color. Each editor is assigned a highlight color for their changes. Similarly, if you want to track what everyone is up to, select an editors name to see their edits throughout the doc.
It’s possible to send the document that you are working on as an e-mail attachment to one of the collaborators. From the File menu, look for Email collaborators. Note: all emails sent within Google apps come from the email address associated with your Google account.
There are times when you need to share your work with someone that’s not a collaborator. Sending a proposal for a client to review for example. To do so, follow these steps.
With this simple trick, you can turn your work into a template for someone else to use. Each user receives a version of their own to work on. To create a template, open the relevant document and follow these instructions.
This feature is pretty neat. With a click of the mouse, you can publish text content, spreadsheets, and slides to the internet. You don’t need a website or a CMS to feature your articles on the web. With this function, Google Docs becomes a WYSIWYG editor instantly. Use it to bring a well-formatted resume online. Fancy impressing your colleagues? Use your spreadsheet or table as a live dashboard immediately without any web development or coding skills.
If you want to see what you work looks like as a functioning web page that you can share or embed as you wish, simply click “Publish on the web” from the File menu. For professional looking results, check out this free tool ‘Gdoc.'
What if you want to share your Sheet with anyone that you give the URL to? You can easily do that in Google Sheets. Jump back to the same Share window, from here click the Get Shareable Link in the upper right corner. That's it! Anyone with the link can work in your document.
Discover the Google Docs features that make writing, editing and sharing easier. Let’s dive into the Google hacks that will save time and create efficiencies all around.
We’ve all been there. You’re taken the time to draft an impressive blog, white paper, or whatever else you’ve poured your heart in to. Now you’re at the finish line, and it’s time to tidy thing up--but you’re running out of steam. The following tips call on Google to step in and lend you a hand.
As you write your material, create sections using the Style drop-down as you go. Once complete, go to Tool and select “Document Outline." Google will automatically generate a table of content. Look to the left of your doc. You’ve not got an outline based on the headers you’ve applied. This is essential when you are working through a large document. Now you can click through sections with ease.
Dictation can mean some real swift editing. Lucky for us, Google’s voice command system supports a huge range of functions. Ask for specific phrases, words, paragraphs. You name it.
With your voice alone, you can apply different formatting types to the text, cut, copy, past, and even scroll through the documents or jump to parts of a page, all without lifting a finger. To become a pro at editing the lazy way, check out Google’s guide to all possible voice commands.
If you’re struggling for inspiration, and your work is feeling a bit flat, listen up. These tips are designed to enrich your creations in Docs. Take inspiration from Google or your own notes.
For any content publishers reading, it’s worth hammering home again how convenient the explore feature is. All you have to do is highlight the text you’re pondering over, right click for more options and hit explore to rack Google’s brain (Google search). You’ll soon get to the bottom of anything and everything within Goggles extensive grasp. The Explore button can also be found on the bottom right-hand corner of your doc. It’s the icon of a star inside a small speech bubble.
This feature provides instant suggestions based on the content in your document, including related topics to learn about, images to insert, or more content to check out in Docs. You can also find a related document from Drive or search Google right within Explore.
To access your Keep notes, head to the Google Doc Tools menu. You should see an entry for Keep Notepad. The first time you open this, you will be prompted to enable the feature. Click on “TRY IT” to log in, and the Keep notepad will open as a sidebar in your document. If you’re already using keep, you’ll notice all of your notes arranged in a linear fashion. Scroll through the notes to find what you need. Note that the addition of Google Keep only works in Docs, it won’t cross over to Sheets.
For a project that involves more than one pair of eyes, you need to learn to collaborate. With the following. Did you know that you can add up to fifty users per collaboration, and everyone can view and edit at the same time? While this might sound overwhelming, there’s a trick or two to organize people suggestions.
In Suggestions mode, anyone with permission to edit a document can suggest edits to the document owner (instead of simply making changes). The document owner has a chance to review the suggestions and accept or reject each edit, and keep track of who changed what. As you make changes to a document in Suggestions mode, everything you type becomes bracketed, and anything you delete gets a strike-through.
Suggestions mode is only available for Google Docs. To turn it on follow these instructions.
First you need to enable tracked edits. To do this, click the pencil icon on the right hand side of the toolbar and select ‘Suggestions’. Now, when you type, or make changes, they appear with colour coded highlighting visible to anyone viewing the document. what you’ve added are visible in the document.
Click Tools, then Review Suggested Edits. A ‘Suggesting’ box will appear in the top right-hand corner of your document. Now, when you add any new text or delete any existing text.
When it is time to review the document, click on a suggested edit to activate it’s bubble in the right column. To accept an edit, click the checkmark to accept, to reject a suggestion, click the ‘X’. If you’re unsure about a suggestion, it’s possible to leave a comment for the editor. Just reply within the edit bubble.
When there are many suggestions on a document, it can be difficult to follow the flow of the text. To preview what your text will look like with or without suggested edits, click ‘Viewing’ mode.
Who doesn’t want to save time in the working day? Dismiss these productivity boosts tips at your peril.
Yes, we covered the benefits of using templates earlier. How about templates specific for Google Docs. These are handy for recurring projects such as customer invoices and meeting proposals to save you starting from scratch each time. Find templates for everything from project proposals, onboarding notes, job-offer letters you can modify to your needs. More templates for things like statements of work and sales of work are available as add-ons.
Does making conference calls from within a doc, adding an e-signature to a contract, or sending a fax without a fax machine sound good to you? Of course, it does. For more of these exciting add-ons, check out the best productivity boosting Google Docs apps.
Shave precious time off editing by using shorts for Google Sheets. Refer to Google’s guide to shortcuts to navigate, format and use formulas in PC, Mac, and Chrome OS spreadSheets.
The Importrange functions let you pull data from one spreadsheet to another. This function is one of the easiest in Sheets and can be extremely useful. To learn how to use Importrange in Google SpreadSheets, follow this guide.
Some shy away from one of the best Sheets features - Formulas. Gone are the days of boldly trying out a formula, only to be greeted with a # ERROR! message. Now, you just start typing a function and Sheets will display the ‘syntax’ usage, as well as tips on how to use it. With this handy feature, you can tackle the learning curve with ease.
If you’ve ever wondered why you can’t have the tools that make up your digital life, all playing nicely together. Well, you can. Now, your Trello cards, or Dropbox files, all kinds of apps can connect to a spreadsheet to analyze and review. If you’re looking to centralize your apps and log everything in a spreadsheet, follow this tutorial to learn just how to do that using IFTTT (If This Then That) technology.
There are times a spreadsheet is available to multiple people, such as a weekly shift rota - When you don’t want them to be able to modify it, you might want to consider protecting specific cells or entire tabs. This way, you can control who makes changes to your Sheets worksheet.
When your Spreadsheets are looking a bit messy, the last thing you want to do is retype each cell individually.
If your text needs a cleanup, use the add-on tool, Change Case. Highlight the text you want to format, select Change Case from the Add-ons menu, and choose from Uppercase, Lowercase, First letter capitals and so on.
Filtering is a real lifesaver when you're an enormous spreadsheet with reams of datasets to sift through to find what you’re looking for. To start filtering data in a table, hit the filter button to add filters to your table like the example below.
Select the button on the column you want to apply it to, and refine what’s shown by selecting the values you want to display.
Google Explore is a fantastic way to decipher data, this time using words, not formulas to get an answer. You can get answers to questions like, "How many units did I sell on Black Friday?" or "Where do I sell the most products?"
Google is flexing their muscles with this feature. Instead of creating reports and charts from scratch, simply type the instructions in plain English, and let Google do the heavy lifting. To use AI to generate charts and reports in your own Spreadsheets, click Explore (located in the lower right corner of the sheet. Browse the suggested data points including pivot tables, bar charts and graphs.
Alternatively, type out the chart you have in ‘Ask a question about your data’ box. Watch in awe as an answer is generated for you - based on the information in your Google Sheet.
If you’re wondering how to convert your files from Microsoft Excel into a Sheets friendly format, this tip is for you. You can even convert .XLSX files to Sheets and start working on them right away. Messing with file formats might sound daunting - it’s not. The process is beginner-level and only requires some dragging and dropping. To get started, follow the instructions >here.
We’ve all been there, staring at a huge data set and struggling to pull together a report. This is a tip for the power user of Microsoft Excel. If pivots won’t convince you to make the switch to Sheets, nothing else will. Pivot tables take huge tables of data and help you find meaning in them.
Pivots are a drag and drop tool to build reports with finesse. To get started with pivots, take some time to this guide. Walk through the steps and you’ll find meaning in even the largest datasets.
You’re just about done with your Spreadsheet, hit the Print button, and the printer chucks out a table printed over 3 sheets, or with the end cut off. We’ve all been there. Spreadsheets are notoriously hard to print; You’re asking to print limitless columns and rows on a page that’s limited in size. To make sure your spreadsheets print correctly, every time, follow this guide.
There are times when we need to update or modify something in all Slides. One function most people don’t notice is the “Edit Master” option. With the Master template editor, you can edit all the Slides in your deck, simultaneously, without visiting them individually. This feature is great for when you want to do things like changing the background or add branding to your Slides, and much more.
When you edit a master slide to change your slides corresponding layouts, the editing appears in slide master view. To learn how to customize your entire Slideshow in a few clicks, refer to this straightforward guide.
Picture this. You're presenting to an important client. They've shown interest in your product, but everything lies in your presentation to seal the deal. You've built the perfect Google Slides presentation that informs and convince them. Oh wait, you forgot your laptop. So, you’ve got no equipment to play the presentation though. Or have you?
With Google Slides, all you need is the Chromecast app and simple mobile device you can use your smartphone as a remote control. Now you can deliver your Google Slides presentation on a projector, a TV, or a monitor.
To use your phone as a backup plan. Install the Google Cast extension in Chrome. Then just connect to the same Wifi network as your Chromecast device, click the small drop-down arrow on the Present button in your presentation, and select your Chromecast device from the options. That’s it. Your presentation will now how on your Chromecast ready device.
Tired of being the only voice in the room? Add some snap, crackle, and pop to your presentation. Add music from any streaming device from Apple Music, Spotify, and more and it will automatically play the sound in the background. Learn how to do that in this video.
Using the explore feature in Slides makes light work of designing a presentation. As you create your Slides, Explore suggestions a range of designs based on the content of your Slides. If you like the look of a design and want to apply it, simply click on the suggestion. There’s no need to reformat any of your work. It couldn’t be more simple.
Thanks to the Video Options feature, there’s no need to leave your document to edit a video. You might want a video to start at a certain point for example, rather than playing in its entirety. Here’s how to go about that.
While this tool hasn’t got as many options as an independent video editing app, it’s certainly enough to save you time drafting an interactive presentation.
Question and answers sessions can be pretty mundane. With Slides Q&A, you can raise the bar. In slides, you can make an interactive session that's fun and time-saving. Participants can go to the URL of your presentation and add their questions, anonymously if they like. Simply share a link with your audience to automate the whole process.
Once they’ve had some time to add their questions, go to Presenter view to check out the questions. Your audience members can vote up or down questions as well. Learn how to implement an interactive presentation in this tutorial.
Again, we’ve mentioned how great templates are. If you’re interested in drafting a visually stunning presentation in less time, let’s take a look at your options with Google Slides. If you’re not impressed with the default templates, upload one. Sites like SketchBubble offer a variety of options for Google Slides templates to help you up your game.
Once you’ve added an image to your presentation, there’s a trick called masking to make it stand out. This feature can be used to put your image into the shape of your choice. Masking an image is simple. Select an image, click on the arrow icon as in the example below.
Browse a variety of Shapes, Arrows, Callouts, or Equation symbols. Select the design you would like to mask your image with. The example below is an oval shape.
If you are working on a large presentation, it can be helpful to link to Slides in the presentation. This way you can from one slide to another, easily. To add a link to your Slides follow these instructions.
To share a specific slide in a Google Presentation, open your presentation and go to the slide you want to share. Copy the URL from your browser's address bar. Each slide in a Slideshow has its own unique, permanent URL that loads when you change Slides. Share the link via IM, Email or however you like.
Add-ons are companion apps for G Suite that allow you to perform a variety of tasks. There are a lot of useful add-ons available for Google Docs, all accessible from the toolbar. Depending on your needs, you might find it worthwhile to browse through Google Docs add-ons library. When you use these hacks to extend your abilities, you can get more done in less time.
Though some of these short-cuts may seem like minor details, combined, they will make a major difference in productivity! Keep in mind, the more you use Google’s Apps—and encourage your staff, colleagues, and clients to do so, the more efficiencies you create that aren't possible with Microsoft Office.