14 Google Docs tips everyone should know
1. Google Docs tips: Speech type a document
Google has rolled out speech typing for Google Docs enabling users to write and edit text with simple voice commands. For example, users can say ‘highlight [word]’ and then express ‘delete’ to remove said word.
To use this feature, go to ‘tools’ then ‘voice typing’.
2. Google Docs tips: Use Search (it is Google after all)
It is so easy to create, receive and share a document that I lose track. But this Google and you don’t need file and folder discipline to keep a tidy house. Head to Docs, sign in and search for what you are looking for. Google Docs will find it, whether the search term is in the document or the file itself, regardless of what type of Google Doc you are looking for.
3. Google Docs tips: Search for additional menu options
In Google Docs there are more contextual menu options than meets the eye. When in a document, hold down Alt and hit the / key, and you will see a ‘Search the menus’ option. Look for pretty much any feature you have used in another word-processing app, and you will likely find it here.
4. Google Docs tips: Manage repeated text
Let’s say you’re a teacher who constantly writes “needs more explanation” in your students’ books. To save time, go to Tools, Preferences from inside a text document in Google Docs. In the pop-up window that appears, under ‘automatic substitution’, type nme below the ‘replace’ heading and needs more explanation below the ‘with’ heading. Next, click OK.
Back in your document, type nme and press the spacebar: You should see “needs more explanation” appear automatically.
If it doesn’t work, go back to Tools, Preferences to make sure that ‘Automatic substitution’ is checked. Try to choose substitutions that are short and use unique letter combinations, so that Google Docs won’t mistakenly overwrite a desired word with a substitution.
5. Google Docs tips: View plain text files
If you prefer to use plain desktop text editors such as Emacs, Gedit, Notepad, or Vim, you may find that files created in those apps won’t display in Google Docs. Before you upload a plain text file to Google Docs, right-click the file and select rename, and then add the .txt filename extension to the end. Now you’ll have no problem reading your document in Google Docs.
6. Google Docs tips: Simulate a guided spelling checker
Unlike most other text editors, Google Docs has no formal spelling check process and instead checks your spelling on the fly, as many webmail programs do. If you see a word with a red underline beneath it, you can right-click it to view spelling alternatives. That technique works, but it isn’t as good as a guided program that flags all of your potential spelling mistakes one by one.
To make Google Docs guide you through all of your typos and errors, go to tools then spelling.
7. Google Docs tips: Claim more real estate
To improve this layout disaster, go to View, Compact Controls or press Ctrl-Shift-F from inside a document. This feature reduces the menu-bar size for text documents, drawings, spreadsheets, and presentations.
Keep in mind that you must set this preference for every separate document type. So if you set compact controls in text documents, for instance, your spreadsheets will not use this layout until you also set it in the spreadsheet editor.
If you want even more space, try viewing your documents in full screen. This setting does not expand into your full display size, but it does take over your entire browser tab and hide all of your Google Docs menus and toolbars.
8. Google Docs tips: Turn off notifications
To stop email notifications, open the offending document, click the comments drop-down menu at the upper right of the screen, and select notification settings.
In the pop-up window, select don’t send me any email notifications for this doc (not recommended). If a global opt-out is too extreme for you, several filters are available. You could, for example, choose to be notified only when you are mentioned in a comment, or when someone replies to something you commented on. Once you have the settings you want, click OK.
9. Google Docs tips: Open Google Docs in the same window
By default, Google Docs opens each of your documents in a new tab, but you can change its behavior so that it takes up only one tab at a time (for the most part).
Click the three dots on the right of the doccument, this will open a drop down menu. Click ‘open in new tab’.
10. Google Docs tips: Find out who changed an item
Google Docs allows you to see who made which changes on any collaborative document, with as much or as little detail as you need.
To get started, click file, see revision history. A sidebar will open on the right side, detailing all of the recent document changes. Every person who edited the document appears in the sidebar, with a corresponding color.
Changes from different editors are highlighted in their assigned color. If you want to see additional detail, such as cell-by-cell revisions in a spreadsheet, click the Show more detailed revisions button at the bottom of the sidebar. To restore your document to a previous version, find the version you want in the history and then click Restore this revision under the editor’s name. If you want to see document revisions without the color highlighting, uncheck the Show changes box at the bottom of the sidebar. To exit revision history without making any changes, click the X at the top of the sidebar.
11. Google Docs tips: Sidestep problems with big images
In Google Docs you can insert almost any image into a new text document just by dragging and dropping the file from your desktop into your document (as long as you are using a recent version of a major browser such as Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari). But Google Docs can’t deal with any image that is bigger than 2000 pixels wide or 2000 pixels tall.
Google says that this is a known issue, and that it is working to address the problem. In the meantime, use a desktop photo editor to change the size of your photo to less than 2000 pixels. Just make sure to save the resized photo as a new image; otherwise, you’ll shrink the original.
12. Google Docs tips: Share files among the clouds
Sharing files between Google Docs and Box, Dropbox, or SkyDrive is simply a pain. The standard method to share between them is to download the file to your desktop and then upload it to the other service. A better alternative is to use the online service Otixo, which lets you manage multiple cloud file services in one central location and transfer files among them without downloading anything to your PC.
Once you’re signed up for Otixo, get started by clicking My Cloud Services and selecting the accounts you want to add. After you’ve authorised each service, you can simply drag and drop files between, say, Google Docs and Dropbox.
Otixo is free for up to 250MB of bandwidth usage each month, and costs $10 for unlimited access to transfer and manage your online files. It will convert documents saved in the native Google Docs format into .doc files when you move them from Google Docs to Dropbox or another service.
13. Google Docs tips: Avoid the Internet
Google Docs does now offer offline creation and editing for all users. There is a setting for ‘enable offline syncing’ where users can download files onto their devices and edit them offline. When an internet connection is re-established, Docs will automatically sync and update these files.
14. Google Docs tips: Research!
Within Google Docs, users can use a research tool that brings up a sidebar of information. Handy right? To access this you can use the shortcut ‘Control – Alt – Shift – I’ or go to ‘tools’ and then ‘research’. Simple.
This sidebar enables users to search for web results, images and quotations that can be inserted into a document.