For several people, Google’s online office suite and storage facility has become the tool of choice. Find out why this is.
If you recall Writely, raise your hand. In Aug,2005, Upstartle a startup released a word processor which used AJAX. It allowed users to save and retrieve content that was created in the browser but saved on the server in real-time. Google acquired Upstartle less than a year later because it performed so well. Writely was considered a risk at the time because it was a one-of-a-kind product (the program didn’t come on a CD).
Now fast forward to the present day. Google’s online office suite has only continued to expand and boost. You’ll also find a file management and storage facility, as well as numerous web-based and smartphone applications, under the Google Drive umbrella. A word processor (Docs, or the grown-up Writely), a spreadsheet (Sheets), presentations (Slides), drawing, and forms are among them.
It’s a complete suite of tools that now competes with Microsoft’s much more mature Office.
Businesses can use G Suite, a branded version of Google Drive that includes all of the storage and resources as well as integration with Gmail, Calendar, Sites, and more. Pricing for 30GB of online storage per user starts at $6 per month per user; nonprofits and schools can get it for free.
Our Editors’ Choice for office efficiency, Drive, is a serious collection of tools for serious (or fun) work, all of which are completely free. Customers only pay for additional storage space. However, knowing more than the fundamentals is beneficial. Here’s how to make Google Drive work for you.
File storage is free in a way
Any personal Google Drive account comes with 15 gigabytes of free storage, which you get if you have any Google service, such as Gmail or Google Photos. You can always upgrade through Google One, but keep in mind that non-native files, such as Microsoft documents, PDFs, and photos, will eat up the 15GB limit. Your Google Docs/Sheets/Slides files do not use up any of your Google Drive storage space.
Sync All of Your Documents
Google Drive is cross-platform, so you can start a project on your computer and finish it on your phone, tablet, or home desktop. It also deals with documents other than native Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Install Google’s Backup and Sync software on your desktop to quickly back up and sync your files.
Install Google’s Backup and Sync software on your computer’s desktop to back up files from your computer, camera, or SD cards to Google Drive automatically.
However, since it caters to other types of files, this feature of Google Drive is likely to use up your 15GB of free storage. If you run out of space, you can have to pay for more through Google One. However, 100GB starts at $1.99 per month (or $19.99 per year). Also 2TB costs $10 a month or $99.99 annually.
Work Well With Others
“Collaboration” is the name of the game for Google Docs. It doesn’t matter if you’re all using computers, tablets, or smartphones; you can work on a document for up to 50 people at once.
Display a revision history via File > Version History > See Version History to keep track of what your friends, family, and/or colleagues have done. (Or, if it’s visible, press All Changes Saved in Drive at the top.) A list on the right shows who and when the document was updated; click a name to see what they did. To make it easier to monitor different versions, give them different names—click the button in the upper right to see only the named versions.
Like in Microsoft Word, revise
What if you want the revisions to look as they do in a Microsoft Word document when you log changes? Suggest Edits is a tool available in Docs. Up by the Comments and Share buttons, click the Editing button (with the pencil icon). You’ll see a menu of options to edit, propose changes (which you or others will support later), or display the final document.
Locate a Collaborator
If you don’t know the name of the document you want but remember who shared it with you, go to Google Drive’s left menu and select Shared with Me. You will be sent a list of all the documents that have been exchanged with you. If the list is too long to parse, use the search field at the top to find the collaborator’s name.
Publicize a Document
The paper must be exchanged in order to participate in the collaboration. The maximum number of collaborators is 200, but if more than 50 want to edit a paper, latecomers can only access the changes.
The document’s owner(s) will decide who has edit rights. However, if you want to save time, make a document public. Go to Advanced, then press “Change” under “Who has access” under the “Share” button on the top right. Choose everyone with the connection or public on the web; some G Suite customers may only be able to make their documents accessible to those in their organisation.
Public records are made available to search engines, one of which is owned by Google.
Set a Permission Level
When you share so many documents, it’s easy to believe that everyone is on the same level. That is not the case. Document access is divided into four tiers. Owners have complete control over the file, including the ability to remove it and invite additional collaborators. Editors are free to make changes, but they can only invite more partners if the Owner permits it. The viewers will see what’s going on. It is visible to commenters, who can also leave feedback on it. Documents can be copied by viewers and commenters, so don’t think of them as “stable.”
When you’re working together, it’s important to communicate.
In the upper-right corner of Google Drive, you will see who else is working on the same paper as you. As you work, you can leave in-line comments or questions for specific people, or give them an instant message. Type your message in the chat bubble next to the collaborator chatheads. This is not, however, a private message. Everyone else in the doc will see what you’re talking about.
Add-Ons Should Be Accepted
There are a slew of add-ons that will help you get more out of the features that come standard with Docs and Sheets. When editing a text, go to Add-ons > Get add-ons to find or unlock them.
With Apps, You Can Hug It Out
There are a range of Google Drive apps—completely web-based applications that you can connect to your Google Drive—that is not to be confused with Add-ons. There’s some overlap with the add-ons, but the HelloFax software and add-on are possibly unnecessary. However, the Chrome Web Store apps make it simple to do any extra editing elsewhere.
Drag and Drop to upload
For creating new files, Google Drive has a large “New” button on the GUI. It’s also how you add a file or folder to your computer. Instead, drag files directly from Windows Explorer or the macOS Finder into Google Drive’s file list. You’ll see a cloud with an up arrow at the bottom of the browser screen, indicating that you can let go of the file you’re dragging to drop it into Drive.
Links for Quick Development
Add the following bookmarks to your browser’s bookmark bar if you want to quickly make a new document, spreadsheet, presentation, or drawing:
http://doc.new—a brand-new Google doc
http://sheets.new—a brand-new Google Sheets application
http://deck.new—a brand-new Google Slides application
Google’s latest site is at http://site.new.
http://new.form.new—new Google form
Launch Desktop Windows with Companion
The Drive Companion extension for Google Chrome fulfils a basic requirement: it converts your opened Google Drive docs, slides, and sheets into browser pop-up windows that have the appearance of a dedicated desktop application. Pop-ups on Windows also get a Google Drive icon in the Taskbar, so you can quickly return to it. The new window can be used to start a new document or to open an existing one.
Offline Access to Drive Files: Desktop
When your browser is linked to the internet, you can access files stored on Google Drive. Google Drive, on the other hand, supports offline connectivity for those moments when Wi-Fi isn’t accessible.
Go to Google Drive settings after installing the Google Docs Offline Chrome extension (this only works in Google’s browser). Choose “Create, open, and edit your recent Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides files on this computer while offline” from the drop-down menu.”This turns on the service, but you’ll have to choose which files you want to be available offline. Toggle “Available offline” to on by going to drive.google.com and right-clicking on the document(s) you want (press Shift/Ctrl or Command for multiple files).
Offline Access to Drive Files: Mobile
Set up a Google Drive file to be available offline ahead of time if you want to work with it on your smartphone but don’t have internet access. Toggle the switch next to “Available offline” in a Docs, Slides, or Sheets file by tapping the three-dot menu () in the upper right. Any improvements you’ve made will sync with Google Drive the next time you go online.
With Google Drive, you can save things for later.
Evernote is an online storage facility for all of your digital files. In a similar way, Google Drive can be used. Save to Google Drive, a Google Chrome update, makes it easy to save almost everything you see online to a Google Drive folder. However, there are a few caveats. You can’t even save all the good text bits of a page—you can only save a PNG image of it, the entire HTML source code, or a Google Doc version of it (which will throw the formatting off). You can save a picture by right-clicking it. Stick to Evernote, OneNote, or Pocket if you want to save a lot of information.
Gmail Docs Direct Share
You’re in luck if you use Gmail and Google Drive: you’ll never have to append a paper again. That means you can send up to 10 Gigabytes worth of files instead of the 25MB attachment cap.
Next, the files must be uploaded to Google Drive storage. With a click of the Google Drive icon () at the bottom of the compose email screen, you can add the files to a Gmail post. Drag and drop the files from your hard drive into the Upload tab.
Editing can be done with separate mobile apps.
For a long time, Google has had a Drive app for iOS and Android, but the file editing experience was inconsistent, so Google separated the feature into separate applications for Docs (iOS, Android), Sheets (iOS, Android), and Slides (iOS, Android) (iOS, Android). The Drive app will continue to provide access and browsing of stored files; if you need to edit anything, it will direct you to one of the other apps, assuming they’re installed.
Toggle between Google Docs and Microsoft Word
You can store almost any file on Google Drive, but how do you deal with them once they’ve been uploaded? It’s simple to convert a file to Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides format. Right-click and select “Open with”. A sub-menu of options will appear, with options to convert a Word document to a Google Doc, for example. It will make a copy of the original file thus keeping the original intact.
You can also edit any Office docs you drag into the browser with the Office Editing for Docs, Sheets, and Slides Chrome extension. You can then save them in their original format or save space by keeping them in Google Drive format.
Convert all images and PDFs to text
Go to Google Drive (not Docs) on the desktop, click the cog icon up top, and select Settings to have anything you upload on the desktop—even PDFs—convert to text you can edit as a Google Doc. Check the box next to Convert Uploads in the pop-up box. Uploading files can take a little longer, but it’s well worth the wait. You’ll end up with a Google Doc with the picture and editable text underneath it.
Using the Mobile App to Scan
The ability to upload a photo is a special feature of the Google Drive mobile app (not included in the separate Docs and Sheets apps). Why would you do anything like that? Google scans the words in the image and converts them into searchable text. It’s ideal for photographing a recipe, menu, or store hours—basically everything you’d like to remember but don’t want to retype. (However, the text in the iOS app isn’t editable with OCR; that feature is only available on the desktop or on Android.)
Obtain information from others
Forms is a Google Drive app that doesn’t get a lot of coverage, but it’s really useful. Consider it your own private SurveyMonkey. Create a poll, survey, or whatever you want to call it, and post it. The information gathered is saved in a Sheets spreadsheet file. Forms need just as much collaboration as any other text to create. Progress bars (to show respondents how much longer they have to go to finish), photos, and YouTube videos are all supported on forms.
Docs, please draw in
Google Drive’s Drawings app isn’t really designed for photo editing. However, it can be used to create some graphics. You have it if you need some picture imagination in a text. To get a scaled-down version of the Drawing app that makes it easy to include your art, go to Insert > Drawing > +New in Docs, Sheets, or Slides. If you already have art stored in Drive, choose Drawing > From Drive from the Insert menu.
Full-Screen Mode (Twice)
Do you need some uninterrupted writing time? To get rid of the app menus and toolbars at the end, go to View > Full Screen (hit the Esc key to get them to return). In full-screen mode, press F11 to hide the browser menus as well, and then F11 to restore them.
More is discovered by the research pane.
When you’re working on a project and have limited screen space, the last thing you want to do is leave the page to conduct a quest. The study pane (available only in Docs) circumvents this. To get there, go to Tools > Explore (or Ctrl+Alt+Shift+I). It makes it simple to include a link to the results in a footnote citation in your paper. When your cursor is over a word and the pane displays the meaning, press Ctrl+Shift+Y. You can also insert photos found in the Explore window.
Add Links Using a Search
In a Google Doc, adding a connection is easy. Select the text, then press Ctrl-K or click the chain icon to bring up a menu where you can paste the URL. However, since Google search is integrated, if you don’t have a URL for the link, Google can find one for you. It’ll start by looking up the word you’ve highlighted. If that doesn’t work, try a different query; it won’t affect the document’s text. When you’ve found a connection you want, simply click it to insert it right away.
View Each and Every Shortcut
You’ll be a Google Drive god if you learn to use keyboard shortcuts. But what are they, and where do you look for them? Simply press Ctrl+/ and the shortcut menu will appear, revealing any keyboard option available, regardless of which Drive app you’re using or even the main Google Drive tab.
On the Spot Translation
Do you have a document that is written in a foreign language? Open it (as a Google Doc) in Google Drive, then press Tools > Translate Document. You’ll get a duplicate document in the language of your choice.
In Docs, type your voice.
You can find it in the Tools menu or by pressing Ctrl+Shift+S. It places a microphone icon next to the text, which you can press to talk into, and your words will appear in the document. When it hears you, the microphone icon turns red and gets a goal outline.
Over the past few years, Google has worked hard to perfect voice recognition and dictation, and this works pretty well. Not just for recording what you say (including simple punctuation—say “period” at the end of a sentence, for example), but also for making voice corrections and formatting adjustments, as well as navigating the document without using a cursor. The list of supported languages extends far beyond US English. Your swearing, on the other hand, would be censored with asterisks, and you’ll have to retype that nonsense later.
Make Your File Search Perfect
In Google Drive, are you looking for a particular file or document? Google has the search thing down pat, so it’s typically easy. If you need to perform an advanced search, use the down arrow in the search box to access the options. From there, you can look for files based on their form, owner, whether they’re starred or trashed, when they were last edited, who they’re shared with, and more.
Better still, when searching Drive, use Natural Language Processing. That means you can bypass the esoteric search operators and just type “find my sale” instead.
Get Your Folders More Colorful
It’s beneficial to keep folders organised, but sometimes you just want your eye drawn to the most frequently used folders by a colour option, for example. Google Drive has a plethora of options. To access the menu, right-click any folder and select Change Color.
Get a Fresh Perspective
You don’t have to use Microsoft OneDrive to navigate in-the-cloud files if you use Outlook.com or the Outlook app for iOS or Android. They’re also available from Dropbox, Box, Facebook, and, yes, Google Drive.
Specific Cells Must Be Safe
In Excel, you can set up security for an entire worksheet. Even if the sheet is shared, you can cover a whole worksheet in a Google Sheet by going to Tools > Protect Sheet. The ability to secure only parts of data, on the other hand, is much more granular and useful. You can set the number of cells that no one except you or a select few can touch under Data > Protect Sheets and Ranges.
If the font options in Google Drive documents are limiting your imagination, consider adding some more. More Fonts is the first choice in the Font menu (on the toolbar). The dialogue box that appears allows you to sort fonts by popularity, date added, or trending. You can also show fonts by style, such as handwriting, monospace, serif, or sans-serif. Look for a specific item.
Look up the name of a typeface. Then label any fonts you want quick access to from within the document. Fonts aren’t document-specific; if you choose one, it’ll appear in all of your Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Fonts.google.com lists all of Google’s fonts, but not all of them are available for use in Google Drive.
Organize Your Hard Drive
If you’re a regular Google Drive user, you’ve probably gotten to the point where your Drive’s contents are a jumbled mess. If that’s the case, take a look at 7 Easy Steps to Cleaning Up Your Google Drive.