7 Google Docs Tips & Tricks You Should Know
Remember the good ol' days of Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2003? Back then, the usual routine of handling word documents, PowerPoint presentations, and CSV reports was very inefficient and hard to track. Collaboration and real time document management was considered theoretically impossible and enterprises had to spend a lot of time, effort, and man hours in creating and managing office documents.
Google Docs and Google Apps has completely changed all this. Businesses or enterprises these days are more dependant on cloud office suites for managing document or spreadsheets, largely because of two reasons:
- A cloud based office suite is completely flexible in terms of sharing and management. You don’t have to worry about storage and neither you have to worry about loss of data. All the documents are stored in your Google Docs account and can be accessed from any computer or mobile device, as long as it is connected to the Internet.
- The communication barrier is largely reduced, thanks to the built in sharing and collaborative features. No back and forth emailing, no attachment handling, just a few clicks and your document can be shared with a group of people or collaborators.
The best thing regrading Google Docs is its openness towards a wide variety of third party apps (such as our Mavenlink and Google Docs integration) which bring unique functionality to the system. Depending on your needs, you can customize Google Docs to work the way you really want, given below is a list of services which can be used to leverage the true potential of Google Docs:
1. Google Cloud Connect - Integrate Google Docs In Microsoft Office
Compared to a cloud office application, many people have an inclination towards desktop office suites e.g Microsoft Office, Open Office etc. If you’re the type of person who prefers Microsoft Office and needs a simple way to “store” or “backup” the current document in Google Docs, try the Google cloud connect plugin. This is a brilliant utility which can upload and sync a document to your Google Docs account from the very familiar MS-Office UI. No manual uploads required.
Additionally, this office plugin provides collaborative editing of Google Docs documents,right from the Microsoft Office interface.You can share, backup, and simultaneously edit Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents with coworkers.
2. Download All Your Google Docs Documents in One Click
Do you have a whole bunch of documents stored in your Google Docs account and you want an easy way to download all of them in one shot? It is a good idea to keep an offline copy of your entire Google Docs archive, this will be handy when you have no Internet connectivity e.g travelling, vacations etc.
In order to back up your Google Docs collections, go to docs.google.com, sign in to your Google account, and choose the items you want to backup. To back up all the documents, choose “All Items” in the left sidebar, select the tiny little check box next to “Title”, pull down the “more” drop down menu and choose “Download”.
Google Docs is probably the only online office program which lets you choose the output format of your documents. For example, you can convert all word documents to PDF or HTML and download the converted version, without any added effort whatsoever.
There is another simple alternative. Go to the Google Takeout page, sign in with your Google account, create a ZIP archive of your Google Docs documents and you are done.
Google Takeout will email you the download link, once your entire Google Docs archive is ready. The only catch is that unlike the regular Google Docs website, Google Takeout won’t provide any option to convert the documents to another format.
3. Use Google Docs To Create Simple Forms, Surveys Or Polls
Apart from being an online office suite for enterprises, Google Docs can be used as an excellent polling or questionnaire software. You can use Google Docs to create simple web based forms, surveys, polls and embed these forms on your website.
While there are a slew of web based polling programs available, I always prefer Google Docs for the following reasons:
Google Docs collects and stores all the form responses in an Excel spreadsheet, which makes it super easy to analyze the data. With Google Docs, you can create unlimited number of forms and store unlimited number of responses for every form, all for free.
Google Docs forms supports logic branching, so you can design IF ELSE questions depending on the response of the user. Further, you can analyze large sets of data and generate pie charts, bar graphs, and Venn diagrams from the user responses.
When users enter a response in any of your forms, Google Docs will notify you through an email message. You can hack your Google Docs form and get form data in the email message itself, so this makes sure that you won’t have to open that response sheet over and over again.
Here are a couple of tutorials which will help you get started with forms in Google Docs:
- Create survey and feedback forms using Google Docs
- Saving Form Data to Google Spreadsheets with PHP and Google Docs API
- Create a simple contact form using Google Docs
4. Save Web pages Directly into Your Google Docs Account
The send to Google Docs extension for Chrome is a great utility for the Chrome browser which allows you to save a PDF version of any web page in your Google Docs account. When you’re reading a webpage and want to archive it into a PDF ebook, just hit the extension button once. The extension will copy the current web page into your Google Docs account and will save it in PDF format, retaining all the images, Hyperlinks and other web elements.
5. Know When Changes Are Made To Your Google Docs Forms Or Spreadsheets
Spreadsheets in Google Docs are a great way to collect and store large sets of data. If you are a regular web worker and want an easy to use tool which can store contact details of customers, email addresses of leads, I would suggest using Google Docs for two reasons.
First, Google Docs lets you store unlimited amount of data without any limitations whatsoever. Second, since Google Docs comes with collaborative features, you can allow other users to fill data into your Google Docs forms. This can range from a simple contact form to a survey poll, depending upon your requirements.
But how do you know when other shared users enter data in your Google Docs forms or spreadsheets? Pretty easy, just pull down the “Tools” menu, choose “Notification rules” and set up your desired notification settings.
You can choose to get Email notification, when any of the following actions happen:
- When changes are made to your Google Docs forms. This includes addition of new data or a new update of an old data set.
- When changes are made to a particular sheet of an Excel spreadsheet.
- When a particular cell range is updated or values are changed.
- When a user submits a form
- When new collaborators are added or removed.
6. Use Google Docs To Translate Office Documents To Another Language
If you have clients whose native language is not the same as yours, you can use Google Docs to translate documents and create a translated copy of a document on your own Google Docs account. When your foreign counterpart shares a document written in classical Chinese, simply pull down the “Tools” menu and click on “Translate document”. Next, choose a target language and you’re done.
Google Docs will translate the entire document to your target language using the excellent Google Translate API. Both the copies of the document (original as well as translated) will be saved in your Google Docs account.
7. Revision History
This one is a real lifesaver for anyone who has to frequently edit his documents and needs a simple way to revert the document to an older version. Google Docs automatically creates a log of all the document revisions (regardless of how many users are collaborating on any given document). The owner of the document can quickly see an earlier copy from File > See revision history. Following is an example screenshot of the revision history of this article, written entirely in Google Docs:
To restore the document to an earlier version, hover the mouse cursor over a desired revision log and hit “Restore”. Google Docs automatically highlights the changes of an earlier revision so you will have no problems in comparing the changes.
What Google Docs tips or tricks do you take advantage of? Help us build on our list.