Some Of These Are Shockingly Good!
The Google Docs suite is a surprisingly decent alternative to Microsoft Office and best of all, the software package is available free of charge, you only need to have a Google Account!
I’ve been a huge fan of Google Docs for a while, mainly because I like the interface but also due to the built-in collaboration tools as well as other features, some of which I will mention in this article.
The other day I found myself collaborating on a project using Google Docs and when I pointed out some of these features to the people I was working with, they were shocked that they didn’t know these before.
That’s why, I decided to share some of my favourite tips that have honestly made me more productive, so without any further ado…
1. Create New Documents Quickly Using The Address Bar
If you need to create a new document, there are two known ways of creating it. You can go into your Google Drive and browse to the folder you want to make the document in and press the “New” button or you can go to the docs.google.com website and create a new document from there.
But what if I told you that there is a better and much faster way of doing it using your address bar?
Depending on whether you need to create a presentation, spreadsheet or document, simply type the name of the app and put “.new” at the end of it. For example, if I want to create a presentation I simply type “slides.new” and press enter. This will take me straight to a blank presentation. The same will work for Sheets and Docs.
And best of all you can do the same trick with other apps within the platform, here are the other ways you can use this epic trick in:
- Create a new document: docs.new
- Create a new presentation: slides.new
- Create a new spreadsheet: sheets.new
- Create a new Keep note: keep.new
- Create a new form: forms.new
- Create a new website: sites.new
I know it’s a small thing, but this has honestly improved the way I work and create documents. If you prefer using Microsoft’s apps, you can actually do the same thing, just change the name of the applications. For example, word.new, powerpoint.new and excel.new.
2. Display Word Count While Typing
If you are writing a document with a strict word limit or you just want to know how many words your document has and find yourself constantly checking by going to the “Tools” dropdown menu, you can simply hit the “Control+Shift+C” buttons if you are a Windows user or “Command+Shift+C” if you’re a Mac user.
Once you’re in the word count menu, tick the “Display word count while typing” checkmark and hit “OK”. This will display a permanent word count.
I found this feature particularly useful for coursework back in my student days. Today, I use the feature to ensure that my documents aren’t too long, especially when using Google Docs for YouTube scripts or draft blog posts that I don’t write in Ulysses.
3. Use The “@” Symbol – It Can Do Some Really Cool Things!
Google Docs has some very useful features that are available with a click of a button! For example, if you want to write a draft email you can type “@Email Draft” and press enter, a purpose-built table will appear for you to write the email and when you’re ready to send that email you press the “Gmail” button and it will convert it into an email.
You can also use other building blocks such as meeting notes, product roadmap and more. There may be times when you need to attach a document to another document, maybe you are creating documentation for a project and you need to refer to an older document that is already in existence. You can simply tap the “@” symbol and type the name of the document and press enter. It will link the document to the one you are working on.
If you are using Google Sheets you can create some pretty awesome project trackers using the dropdown feature under the “@” menu too. I use it to manage projects that I’m working on and my reading list.
Another feature I find useful is the ability to tag a location which also previews a map, so if your document includes locations where people may need a map to get to, it will preview a map when selected and you are able to set directions from within the app.
You can also mention people that have access to the document, add dates where if you click them, you can schedule a meeting and well the list goes on!
4. Use Dictation!
There may be a time when you prefer to dictate rather than type notes out yourself, maybe you are presenting in a meeting and you want to note down everything you’ve said. The dictate feature has your back. Simply tap the “Control+Shift+S” if you are using Windows and “Command+Shift+S” if you are using a Mac.
For a bonus tip, make sure that you have given the website permission to use your microphone otherwise it won’t work!
You can even use punctuation! by simply saying things like “Period, Comma, Exclamation Mark, New Line, New Paragraph”. It gets even better as you can also use voice commands such as “Select Paragraph, italics, bold”. But one thing to bear in mind is that it’s not available in all languages.
5. Enable Offline Mode
There may be times when you don’t have signal or internet access, you may be on a plane or travelling in the countryside. If that is the case then you can still work on your document offline, which I find quite astonishing with the Google Docs suite technically being a web app.
To enable it, you do need to download the Docs Offline Chrome extension before you go on the journey. You also need to make sure that offline mode is enabled by going to the Google Docs website, taping the hamburger menu on the top right, tapping “settings” and making sure the Offline slider is selected as on. You then go to the document you are working on, select “File”, and “Make Available Offline”.
This is a feature I find extremely useful when I am commuting by train through the countryside.
6. Convert Your Google Docs File To A Different File Type
There may be a time when you are working in Google Docs but need to upload a file in Word format or download a presentation in Powerpoint format. Google Docs has you covered pretty well as it provides you options to download the file in multiple formats.
Simply go to “File” and select “Download”, you will then be presented with a series of formats. Based on my own experience, this usually always does the job really well and if something is slightly different, you can always edit the file to make it look good again in Microsoft’s office suite.
It works the other way around too, for example, if you Have a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet but prefer to use Google Sheets, you can simply upload your spreadsheet to your Google Drive and open it in Google Sheets.
To summarise this article, those were 6 Google Docs productivity tips that not only I use to be more productive but to create generally better documents. The Google Docs suite is packed full of features that have the ability to improve the way you work. I mean I’m still discovering them myself!
If you have any productivity tips for Google Docs or even Microsoft Office, feel free to share them in the comments!