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Google Docs tips and tricks

Google Docs tips
November 9, 2020
Author: Hamster, www.hostens.com

Google Docs is a free online documentation service that allows users to write, edit, and share their content as text documents, sheets, slides, or application forms with ease.

If you’ve ever used Microsoft Office products before, you’ve experienced at least some hassle creating documents, saving them, and storing them in some kind of device for later usage. Well, with Google Docs, this whole process is much easier, since you can do everything online.

All you need to do is create a Google account, go to Google Drive (Google’s cloud platform), and you should be ready to go on with creating neat documents which will be hosted right there on the cloud.

It’s fair to say that many people have indeed moved to online documentation in recent years as it saves time and is much more convenient, thus changing the traditional habits of taking care of documents offline.

However, even if you use Google Docs regularly, have you ever thought about taking full advantage of what the platform has to offer? For example, you can upload Microsoft Office documents and take care of them right then and there. And this is just one neat feature.

In this article, we dive deep into little-known but very valuable features of Google Docs, which may prove useful to many.

However, before you proceed, make sure that you’re using Google Chrome, as these tricks only work with this browser.

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Google Drive – understanding its tool basics

As already mentioned, – Google Drive is Google’s own cloud platform, which allows you to store files and documents for free online.

Its main menu allows all Google account holders access to the Docs, Slides, and Sheets section to compose documents of these formats. You can also create separate folders to store the work you’ve done within them.

It would be fair to say that Drive is one of the best cloud platforms out there since you also get 15GB of free space to store your files online.

Working offline

One great thing about Google Drive tools is the ability it gives for the user to work offline. Is the Internet connection down? No problem. With the „Offline Sync” option, you can use it in spaces even when there’s no internet connection.

As soon as you connect back to the net, your edited Google Docs document will update automatically by itself, with all the changes you’ve made.

Here’s how to use the „Offline Sync” option.

  1. From your Google Docs home screen, tap the three-lined icon, which is the menu button.

  2. Select settings

  3. Scroll down from the general settings section to the option – „Offline. ” Now you’re ready to work even if your net connection is gone.

Using neat fonts

A different font can be a way to separate your work from others and make it much more interesting, especially if you’re working on a Slide project. Here’s how you can utilize the fonts in your documents.

  1. Click on any documents, be it a slide project, a sheet, or a .docx file. Click on the menu bar and select the „More Fonts” option
  2. Now you should see all the available fonts on the next screen. From here, select the ones you’d like to use.

  3. Confirm them, and you’ll see them in the Font box the next time you want to spice things up and use something different.

Using various shortcuts on your keyboard

For example, some people, like marketers, tend to use the © or ™ and other symbols quite often. Remembering all the combinations manually can be quite troublesome, so Drive offers you a solution.

To use those shortcuts, you need to go to the „Tools” section and select „Options. ” Here, you can choose and manage shortcuts that will make generating unique content much easier.

Having your own dictionary

Ever felt annoyed that Google Docs underlines it in red whenever you type a sentence, even though you’ve spelled everything correctly. Well, worry about that no more. You can overcome this problem by adding words to your personal dictionary.

Here’s how you do it:

1.Whenever Google underlines your text, just right-click on it and select „Add to dictionary. “Select every word you’d like to include in your dictionary.

2 Next, go to „Tools, “select „Spelling and Grammar, ” and then „Personal dictionary. ” Here, you’ll see all the words in your dictionary, and you can add or manage them accordingly.

Manage your document notifications

Are you working with your colleagues on a single document? Then you’ll probably know the feeling of receiving tons of notifications for every change your colleagues make to the documents.

You can take care of this by editing your personal preferences.

  1. Click on the comment symbol on the right of the document, right next to the „Share” button.

  2. In the next menu that pops up, select „Notifications. “

  3. Here you manage all the notifications you want to receive. Clean up your mailbox right then and there.

Document security

Are you working with sensitive data in your online document? Google can help you secure it from spying eyes by allowing you to change your document’s sharing and privacy settings.

From any of your documents, click on the „Share” button. Here you’ll see the „Share with others” settings. From here, you can select which users can have access to the document and what type of access they have, including viewing, editing, etc.


Want to make document creation much easier? You can do that by bookmarking the URLs for Docs, Sheets, and Slide websites.

To do that, just open each of them separately and click on the „Star” icon in your Chrome browser for each of them.

Whenever you need to make a document, just click on the bookmark, and you’re good to go.

How to make work easier with various Google Apps

In this section, we will dive deeper into each of these Google Apps. Features like templates, voice typing, and the help section can make document creating and managing for you is much easier. This section will be the largest, so prepare yourself.

Help section

If you’re lost and forgot how to find a feature to use in your document, the „Help” section might come in handy for you. Select it from the toolbar and start typing the function that you want to find.

Templates and how they can help you save valuable time

At a creative block? You might not know, but Google can help you overcome it with its templates. Whether you’re making a business presentation or an annual sales review, the great-looking presentation templates can help you get creative in unexpected ways.

Here’s how to activate them:

  1. Go to the homepage of your Google Drive and click on the button „New. ” You should see options for Google Docs, Google Slides, and Google Sheets and other products.

  2. Next to your selected product, you’ll see an arrow. Click on it and choose „From template. “

  3. In a separate tab, you’ll be taken to the „Template Gallery. “

  4. Click on a template you like, and you’ll be ready to work.

For those working with Microsoft Office files

Feel like you can’t get rid of Microsoft Office? Well, Google has a solution for you. Chrome offers a simple extension that will allow you to compose and edit and share files in Microsoft Office formats right there from the Docs, Sheets, and Slides section without the need to have Office installed on your computer.

To do all of this, you will first need the extension itself. The extension will allow you to open the document, edit it, and save it. As you do that, Google will automatically create a copy of the file on Google Drive.

However, it should be noted that the extension only allows you somewhat limited editing options. To edit the files you want to edit using the full capabilities of Google Docs, you’re better off just converting the files to a format that you can then upload and edit later on.

To create this Google-friendly document, you will need to do the following:

  • Open your .ppt,.xls, or .doc document with your Google extension.

  • Select „Save for Google Docs” from the top menu

  • That’s it, you made a copy of your file in a Google format.

After you’ve done the editing, you can then download the document as an Office format if that’s what you need.

“Explore” section

This section might not be used often by many, but there are certain situations where we find ourselves in need of some additional information about a specific term. That’s where the „Explore” section comes into play.

After selecting a term or phrase in question, click the „Tools” button from the top menu and select „Explore. ” Google will pull up a sidebar with results from its search engine about your selected word.

Voice-typing – a feature that will soon change the way we compose documents

Google has launched voice-typing for Docs quite a while ago, and it’s a neat feature that allows saving time while composing documents.

To use voice-typing, click the „Tools” section from the top menu, and you should see voice-typing from the drop-down list. The system can also understand commands like „new paragraph” or „comma, ” so utilize them well.

Working with images and photos in Google Docs

Various images within a text help to illustrate it and make an additional point that you want. Here’s how to use them properly in Google Docs.

First, click on the „Insert” button from the top menu and do the following:

You will then see an image in your text.

How to use image insertion properly:

  1. The first thing you need to do is click on the part of the text document that you want to insert an image in.

  2. Then, click on the „Insert” tab at the top at describe earlier, and you should see an option for images.

  3. Next, you’ll be prompted with the following options.

  • Upload an image directly from your PC

  • Search the internet for an image. If you select this, a sidebar should pop up where you can search for illustrations you like without leaving your document file. Most of the results here contain images that allow “modified use,” which means you are free to use them if you edit them first. Be sure to double-check the commercial licenses of each image just to be sure.

  • Image from Google Drive. You can also use pictures you already have uploaded on your drive.

  • From URL. Here you can use an image from the internet by pasting its address.

  • Take a snapshot with your computer camera.

Select the option that best fits your needs. You should be able to see your uploaded image in your document.

How to edit your images

You don’t need to fire up any additional programs to do basic editing and cropping of your image. Just right-click on it, and you should be able to see plenty of options from the list.

Resizing your images

Resizing images is one of the easiest things you can do with an image. To do that, all you need is to select the image and drag one of the blue squares either out or in. If you do that while holding down the SHIFT key, it will resize the image proportionally.

When resizing an image – select an image, click, and drag the blue boxes until you reach the size you want. If you want the size to be evenly proportioned, hold down SHIFT, and drag to the side.

Cropping your images

To crop an image, select it and then right-click on it. You should see the „Crop image” option from the available selections.

Click on it.

Now you can select the way you want to crop your image. After you’re satisfied with the results, press ENTER, and that’s it.

Applying borders to an image

To emphasize an image with a border first, you need to select it. A menu with a pencil icon will pop up. Here you can choose the color, size, and ornament of the border. Simply apply color with the pencil tool, and you’ll get a basic border on your image right away.

Using image options

„Image options” is a neat feature that allows further editing to your illustration. To use it, select and right-click on your image, and you should see the „Image options” function. From here, you can change your image’s color, increase its contrast and transparency without the need for any additional apps.

Here’s an example of a recolored image below using the filter „Light 2″.

Collaboration and Document sharing

In this section, we will talk about collaboration on Google Docs. Quite often, you have multiple people working on a report or a slide presentation. With Docs, it’s very easy to share documents and allow multiple people to work on them simultaneously.

Sharing a document

To share a document, simply click the blue „Share” button on the right-hand side. You can then send the link to your document to any people you want to share it with. As many would agree, collaboration allows much faster and efficient results.

Tagging users

Want to leave a message for a specific colleague that’s editing the document, you can use the tag function to do that. To make a specific comment, click „Insert” and the „Comment” from the drop-down list.

In the pop-up window, leave your comment, followed by a user’s email address. This will surely get their attention.

Observe versions of the document

The function „See Version History” is a beautiful way of seeing the previous versions of your Docs, Sheets, or Slides document. You can either observe what changes were made from the menu or click „Restore this version” if a mistake was made when composing the document.

To use this, click „File” from the top menu, „Version History, ” and then select „See Version History. “

Emailing an editor

Want to inform your friend or coworker about document changes or send it to them for edit? You can do that by clicking „Email collaborators. ” This will send an email from the address of your Google Account to others.

The „Email collaborators” function can be accessed from „File” then „Email” and „Email Collaborators. “

Emailing a document without collaboration

Sometimes you may want to simply share a document with another person and nothing else.

This is how you do it Google Docs.

  • Select „File” from the top menu, then „Email” and „Email as an attachment. “

  • From the pop-up window, you will need to select the format you want to attach your file. You can do that in .html, .PDF, or Microsoft Word documents.

  • Lastly, enter the person’s email and click „Send. “

Additional Google Docs tips

This section will give you even more, Google Docs hacks for easier composing of documents and saving your valuable time and making the process more efficient.

Let’s continue.

Outlining a document

To create a table for your Google Docs document, you don’t need to do much as Google will generate one for you from your Headings and Subheadings.

You just need to enable its view. To do that, go to „View” from the top menu and select „Show Document Outline. ” This will make document observation much easier.

Getting explanations and definitions

We’ve already talked about the „Explore” function in the previous section but haven’t touched much on its suggestion capabilities. To get more information on the word in question, simply highlight it and click „Explore. ” Google will then take you to the search results with more info on your query.

The same thing goes with the „Definition” function right below it. Simply highlight a word, and Google will prompt you with a dictionary window that defines the term.

Note keeping

Making a note either for yourself or others is another excellent feature of Google Docs, which may allow you to set a few reminders concerning the document.

To use it, you should see a yellow logo with a lightbulb on the right of the document. A prompt will pop up with a note ready to be taken. You can pin your messages as well.

Edit suggestions

To make work on a document that much easier, you or your colleague may first make suggested edits instead of directly altering a document.

This ensures that changes can be easily reversed for specific parts of the document if there is disagreement.

To enable this, you need to change your „Editing” mode to „Suggesting” by tapping the pencil icon on the document’s right top side. These edits apply to both deleting and altering the text.

If a user deletes something, the part of the text will be crossed out, whereas if he adds additional text, the added part will be highlighted in green.

Google Sheets tips for working sheet documents

This section will solely focus on working with Google Sheets – a platform that’s perfect for managing complex sheet documentation.

Useful shortcuts

Shortcuts on Google Sheets allow you to save valuable time while working on your sheet documents. You refer to them from the main menu that’s at the top of the document.

Importing data from other sheets

One thing that’s very useful about Google Sheets is its ability to import data from other sheet documents. This certainly boosts efficiency and saves valuable time when creating the document you like to see.

The formulae are elementary

Some may argue that the formulae available at Google Sheets are its best and most convenient feature, and we wouldn’t blame them for thinking so. No longer do you have to enter complex symbols yourself only to be welcomed with an error message.

Below, we will talk about the basics of using formulae in Google Sheets documents.

  • First, click on the cell you want to use a formula onto.

  • Start by typing the „=” sign in that selected cell and the name of the formula that you wish to use.

  • From the suggestions prompt right below, you will be given a parenthesis selection that you may want to use.

  • Type it in, as well as other data cells that you want to use, and that’s it; you’ve successfully included a formula into your Sheets document.

Connecting Google Sheets to outside services

Let’s say you want to attach your sheet document with Dropbox or Trello accounts. With Sheets, you are allowed to do that. Now others can review and edit the document if they are looking at your Trello card.

Sheets allow you to easily centralize multiple apps into one cohesive unit.

Adding protection to specific cells and the document itself

Let’s say you don’t want others to alter the formulae that you have on specific cells or even tabs of the document. With Sheets, you can do that, thus preventing others from changing sensitive data on the document.

Protecting cells

  • Select a specific cell or the range of cells that you want to protect

  • Then click on „Data” from the top menu and select „Protected sheets and ranges. “

  • A prompt on your document’s right will pop up with the option of adding a sheet or range that you want to protect. Click on it.

  • Now you can specify the cell or their range that you want to restrict. Click the box icon from the „Range” menu, select the cells, and press „Ok” and then „Set permission. “

  • In the next prompt, you will be able to set the protection permissions. Either only you or a select number of emails will be able to edit your protected cell range.

  • Now click „Done. “

Protecting sheets

Like we said earlier, you can also protect the sheet itself from being edited by others. This is great if you’re working with a large number of people who may accidentally alter important parts of your sheet.

To do this, head back to the same „Data” menu up top and again select the „Protected sheets and ranges” option. However, instead of choosing something from the „Range” menu, click on „Sheet” and „Set permissions. “

The same prompt as before will pop up, which will allow you to specify which users have access to the document editing.

Warnings for cells

This option won’t restrict a person from editing a specific cell range; however, it will prompt a warning message if they decide to do it.

To enable warning messages, you need to do the same steps as before until you reach the permissions prompt. However, instead of restricting editing for individual users, you need to select the „Show a warning” option. Of course, after that, click „Done. “

Clearing texts

If you feel like your document could use a cleanup of the unwanted text, here’s what you need to do.

First, click on the „Add-ons” option from the menu on top. Here you’ll see all the available add-ons that you can install to Google Sheets for a more efficient workflow.

Type in „Change Case” and install the extension that shows up.

Afterward, highlight the text you want to alter and select the „Change Case” extension from the list of add-ons in the „Add-ons” menu at the top. Here you will be able to change the text with uppercase and lowercase letters and so on.

Filtering data

If you are working with multiple data sets regularly, then the filtering options will surely come in handy. To filter data within a table, click on the „Data” button from the top menu, and select „Create a filter. ” From here, you can specify what should be filtered out and left for display.

AI for reports

Report generating is quite a new feature in Google Sheets. Instead of creating everything yourself, you can employ Google’s AI to do the job. To use this, select the „Explore” button.

Google Slides hacks for more efficient presentations

In this last section, we will talk about Google Slides and how to create better presentations.

Editing that saves time

One neat function that not many people utilize is the „Edit Master” option in Google Slides. With it, you can alter your presentation template without having to select each slide on its own. This is perfect if you’re working on your slide set’s visual aspect like background changes and so on.

Using sound to take it to the next level

If you ever thought about doing something crazy like adding music to your presentation, you can do that with Google Slides. It allows you to add music from any popular streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music, which will then play in the background.

Implementing video footage

Another great thing for making your presentation more original is, of course, video.

Here’s how to add a video to your presentations:

  1. Click on the slide you want to add the video and select „Insert” from the menu up top and then „Video. ” A prompt called „Insert video” will then pop up.

  2. Here you’ll notice that there are 3 options – „Youtube Search, “by URL, and „Google Drive. ” You add videos from any of these sources. Obviously, the first one allows you to conduct a Youtube search for your video and then add it to your presentation. If you have a specific video in mind, you can paste its Youtube URL in the „By URL” option. Finally, there’s the „Google Drive” option that allows you to add your own videos from your drive.

  3. After you add the video to your slide. You will notice a tab on the right saying „Format options. ” Here, where you can edit the video the way you like. You can choose when to play the video or specify which specific part of the video to show. You can also rotate it, change its size, or even add a shadow for a dramatic effect.

  4. After you’re done, there’s no need for saving as all of your changes will be live immediately.

Sharing your slides

After you’ve done editing your presentation, you can then share it with others, using the „Share” button on the right. You can then send the URL via Email or directly also while setting the editing permissions if you want to.

All in all

In this article, we’ve given an in-depth look into Google Drive and its products. You don’t need much to become an absolute professional at using each of these tools; just a few simple tips might do the trick.

We hope you found this guide helpful, and good luck with your documents!


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