Happy birthday, Google Docs! The app’s 15 best features

As Google Docs formally turns 15 years outdated, we have a look at a number of the app’s most fascinating options.

Screenshot of Google Doc with a large

Google Docs turns 15 years outdated this month, because the app formally launched in October 2006, constructed on ideas initially carried out by the crew behind Writely, which Google acquired. On the time, the actual innovation of the app was multi-person doc enhancing in a browser that labored. Years later, collaboration stays a core energy of Google Docs.

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Over time, the branding round Google Docs has modified. It has been a part of Google Apps in your Area, Google Apps for Work and later, Google Apps (minus the modifiers). For some time it was a part of G Suite. As of late 2021, Google Docs serves alongside different collaborative editors, reminiscent of Google Sheets and Google Slides, as a core element of Google Workspace.

To acknowledge the 15-year longevity of Google Docs, I am highlighting 15 key facets of the app. Many of those chances are you’ll know, however I hope you discover a couple of new-to-you options, as effectively.

SEE: How you can grow to be a Google Docs energy person (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

1. Create a brand new Doc rapidly 

In your browser, kind doc.new then press Enter to create a brand new Google Doc. That eight-key sequence strikes you from searching to enhancing quickly.

2. Speak to kind

Choose Instruments | Voice Typing to activate speech detection (Determine A) that turns phrases you converse into textual content typed in your Doc while you use the Chrome browser. Pronounce punctuation (e.g., say “comma” so as to add the , image or “query mark” so as to add a ?), add paragraphs (e.g., say “new paragraph”), choose textual content (e.g., “choose paragraph”) and add formatting (e.g., say “daring”).

Determine A

Screenshot of Google Docs in Chrome, with Voice Typing active: A red microphone icon to the left of the Google Doc, with

Choose Instruments | Voice Typing to entry options that convert your speech to textual content.

3. Focus on and edit

Choose some textual content, select Insert | Remark, then add your enter. The remark system supplies a solution to focus on doc textual content with out adjustments. Alternatively, if in case you have acceptable permission, swap to Suggesting mode to enter proposed adjustments, or use Enhancing mode to make updates. 

4. Entry doc historical past

View adjustments to your Google Doc over time. Use File | Model Historical past | Title Present Model to protect a named model of your doc on the present second in time. Or entry each named and mechanically saved variations of your doc (as proven in Determine B) with File | Model Historical past | See Model Historical past.

Determine B

Screenshot of my article, showing my initial list of 15 features, with edits made to items 3 (Comments modified to Comments and Suggestions) and 4 (Suggestions deleted and replaced by Microsoft Word file format editing).

Evaluation edits to your Google Doc with model historical past.

5. Edit Microsoft Phrase recordsdata

Early editions of Google Docs transformed recordsdata from Microsoft Phrase into the Google Docs editor, which additionally enabled collaborative enhancing. Now, you may open a Microsoft Phrase file (e.g., .docx) in Google Docs and edit it straight, with no conversion wanted. All the collaborative options of Docs stay accessible while you edit a .docx file in its native format.

SEE: How you can add citations in a Google Doc (TechRepublic)

6. Choose extremely legible fonts 

Since Google Docs lets you choose from a protracted checklist of fonts, chances are you’ll select choices aside from the default measurement 11 Arial font. For legibility and readability, I encourage you to think about both Atkinson Hyperlegible or one of many a number of supported Lexend fonts. These fonts search to make textual content extra legible and readable for everybody.

7. Kind @ so as to add sensible chips

Kind the @ key in a Google Doc to convey up a dynamic checklist of individuals, locations, recordsdata, dates or teams. Choose any of the objects exhibited to create what Google calls a sensible chip. Every sensible chip injects a little bit of web-connected magic into your Doc: Extra details about an individual, or a stay hyperlink to a Drive file or Calendar occasion. Extra apparently, a brand new @Assembly notes template (Determine C) provides formatting to your doc and inserts sensible chips for every Google Calendar invitee together with a sensible chip linked to the Calendar occasion.

Determine C

Screenshot of an @Meeting notes document, with a date chip (Oct 15, 2021), event title chip (Example event), and Attendee list (three of the author's accounts, in this example case).

Kind the @ key to show a dynamic checklist of sensible chips. The @Assembly Notice possibility attracts from Google Calendar so as to add sensible chips that hyperlink to your occasion, date and attendees in a template.

8. Examine spelling and grammar

If you have not already, choose Instruments | Spelling And Grammar, then ensure there are checks subsequent to each Present Spelling Recommendations and Present Grammar Recommendations. These two options spotlight each comparatively easy errors and tougher to detect issues.

9. Evaluate two paperwork

Google Docs can rapidly spotlight variations between two Google Docs. To check your present Doc to a different one, select Instruments | Evaluate Paperwork, choose one other Google Doc, regulate the title of the particular person to attribute variations to (if wanted), then Evaluate. A immediate to open a 3rd, newly created Doc with the variations highlighted will show.

10. Develop performance with add-ons

There is a thriving third-party ecosystem (Determine D) tucked behind the Add-ons | Get Add-ons menu possibility. Insert math equations, all types of charts and even music notation right into a Google Doc. Different add-ons provide help to streamline signing, set up citations, handle merges and print envelopes and labels.

Determine D

Screenshot of the Google Workspace Marketplace: Works with Docs that displays after you select Get add-ons. Items listed include: MathType, Lucidchart Diagrams, Doc To Form, Easy Bib, Turnitin Draft Coach, Hypatia Create, Easy Accents - Docs, and Kaizena.

Discover Add-ons | Get Add-ons to seek out third-party apps that add options to Google Docs.

11. Convert your Doc to completely different codecs

Go to File | Obtain As… after which select a file format during which to export your Google Doc. As of October 2021, your Doc will be downloaded as .docx, .odt, .rtf, .pdf, .txt, .epub or a compressed .html file.

12. Publish to the online

You can also flip a Google Doc into a broadcast internet doc, accessible to anybody with web entry: File | Publish To The Net. That is completely different from while you use the Share button to create a hyperlink, even for those who regulate the permissions on that hyperlink to make sure your Doc is accessible to everybody on the internet. The Publish possibility places your Doc on-line with none of the Google Docs enhancing interface, though a “Revealed utilizing Google Docs” discover does show on the prime of the web page.

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13. Translate to a different language

Want your textual content in one other language? Strive Instruments | Translate Doc, then choose a language from the checklist. You may get one other Doc together with your textual content within the chosen language. For traditional, noncritical enterprise communication, the outcomes will probably work effectively with out further evaluation. When coping with authorized paperwork, literary or poetic language or delicate topics, I like to recommend you’re employed with a human translator to evaluation outcomes.

14. Show doc exercise

In a corporation, the Exercise dashboard helps you be taught if (and when) your colleagues have accessed a Doc (Determine E). That data might affect the content material you cowl while you meet—or immediate you to postpone assembly till individuals have had time to entry it.

Determine E

Screenshot of Activity dashboard for a sample document, which shows that three of four people have accessed the Google Doc (on Oct 5, Aug 20, and Aug 6), with one person  indicated as not ever having viewed it.

In a corporation, test the Exercise dashboard to be taught if (and when) colleagues have accessed your Google Doc.

15. Edit anyplace

Lastly, whereas Google Docs delivers probably the most full-featured expertise in a desktop-class browser (i.e., Chrome), the cell apps for Android and iOS (and iPadOS) make it doable to view, edit and collaborate on Docs from telephones and tablets, too. And, whether or not you’re employed in a browser or cell gadget, for those who occur to go offline, adjustments you make can sync the following time you connect with the web.

What 15 facets of Google Docs do you worth?

Are there key options of Google Docs you utilize that I’ve missed? What 15 options would you select to focus on? Let me know your ideas, both within the feedback under or on Twitter (@awolber).

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