If you’ve used computers for work at all, a tool that you’ve probably been quite familiar with is Microsoft Office. Office has all of the things you need to get your work day done from a word process (Microsoft Word) to a spreadsheet tool (Microsoft Excel) and even a presentation tool (Microsoft PowerPoint). Well perhaps not too surprisingly, Google offers a competing product for both office and home consumers and in some ways it’s even better!
Google docs is best used in Chrome, but is also available in other web browsers. You see the key differentiator for Google docs is that it is available online instead of only on a desktop. What this means at a really high level is that changes are saved in real time – no more worrying about losing all of your data if your computer crashes! In addition, the ability to collaborate with others – as discussed in more detail below – within Google docs cannot be discounted. For those new to Google docs, here are some tips for customizing Google docs to give you access to all of the best features.
Speech Recognition with the Power of Google
If you’ve ever used an Android phone or happen to have a Google Home situated beside your bedside, you probably know that speech recognition has come a long way in recent years. Well, have you considered using it for your documents? Google docs offers “Voice typing” directly from the Tools menu. Simply click on Tools and then select Voice Typing to launch the microphone. Alternatively, you can press and hold the Ctrl + Shift + S keys on your keyboard.
Now, at first glance this might seem like nothing more than a gimmick but as someone who’s used Google docs and Microsoft Word can attest to it really isn’t. While my keyboarding skills are up there with the best, I’m still able to speak significantly faster than I type. That being said, speed isn’t the only benefit to using a dictation tool like this. In reality, speaking is more visceral and emotional than typing is. It uses different parts of the brain and really gets those creative juices flowing.
Share and Collaborate With the World
A huge benefit to Google docs is the ability it provides to “Share” docs with pretty much anyone. All you need to do to enable this is click the Share button at the top right of your document. Input the email of the person you want to collaborate with and they will get access to your document also.
Using the same document for collaboration is extremely useful from the point of view of saving time. Each person is able to comment with their changes highlighted in different colors in real time. With changes being instantly save, Google docs also provides the ability to go back in time and restore previous versions so that you never have to worry about losing previous versions. This “revision history” feature is extremely useful in understanding what changes were made to a document and by who.
With Google docs you can take the changes to a different level. Commenting for example is something that many other word processers offer. However, Google docs offers an option to change this so that changes are made as suggestions. This lets the owner of the document review and accept the changes before they get published. In addition it’s possible to tag specific people by typing “@” in front of their name within the comment. This will assign the specific suggestion or comment to them so that they know they are responsible for resolving it.
Make Your Text Shine with Images
One of the best features of Google docs is how easy it is to add images to text. Anyone that creates or edits information for the web knows that a picture (or pictures) are critical in sharing information with audiences. However, finding the right image often breaks you away from the creative flow as you need to:
- change programs and do a search for the right image,
- save and download it to your computer,
- reopen your word processor and find the file you’d just downloaded,
- click and save it into your document (potentially resizing it).
With Google docs it’s so much easier. While you’re in the body of your document, simply click on Insert and then Image. You are presented with options to upload an image from different sources or to search for one. Click search and then simply type whatever you’re looking for in the search bar. When you’ve found the image that matches your requirements just drag and drop it into the right place within your document. If it’s too large, click it and resize by dragging one of the corners to make it fit. It really is that easy!
Bonus Tip – Expanding Google Docs Your Way
One added benefit to Google docs that cannot be overlooked is that it lets you plug in additional add-ons to further extend the functionality of the product. For example students might want a way to add citations to their text. Simply click on the Add-ons option and then Get Add-ons. If you search for citations in the search bar, you’ll find many different add-ons available that provide this functionality. The ability to personalize Google docs through the use of add-ons cannot be overstated. It gives you significantly more power and capability than you can possibly imagine.
There are plenty of other reasons to love Google docs, but these should definitely you’re your appetite and in fact Google docs is fast supplanting other word processors as their go-to resource when it comes to text creation and management.
The basic capabilities by itself are sufficient to most, but when you dig into it, it offers additional features that might surprise you. While Google docs have the ability to take docs “offline”, its key features truly shine when you’re connected to the net. Having the same doc available across a variety of machines and devices simultaneously simply cannot be discounted. With new features and enhancements constantly being released, Google docs is not sitting on its laurels.