These 12 Things Make Google Docs Way More Useful

These 12 Things Make Google Docs Way More Useful

I was about to say Google Docs isn’t exactly the sexiest service offered by the company, then I realised that’s exactly what I said about Google Calendar. So instead, I’m going to try and convince you that with these tips and tricks, you can make Docs Google’s most sexy service.

From working offline to adding images, here are 10 things that might make your Google Docs experience a little better.

12 things you can do in Google Docs

1. Use the @ menu

You can use the @ menu to instantly unfurl helpful templates, files, people and more directly in your document. You’re actually immediately prompted with the command upon opening a new document.

Google Docs
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It’s as easy as it seems to use, simply type @ into your document and a drop-down menu will appear that actively updates with contact info, previously opened Docs/Sheets etc, calendar items, tasks, you name it (it also includes everything formatting options like headings, to a list of all available templates). This feature is part of Google Workspace’s next-generation collaboration experience called smart canvas.

2. Translate your text

Click Tools, Translate document. Then, enter a name for the translated document and select a language. Select Translate and a translated copy of your document will open in a new window and will also be saved in your Google Drive.

Alternatively, to turn on offline access, open any Google document, spreadsheet, or presentation. At the top, next to the file title, click See document statusTurn on > Turn on. Non-Google file types (like PDFs, images, and Microsoft Office files) can be made accessible at all times by marking them ‘available offline’ when using Google Drive on the web. With this feature you can access files even if you aren’t connected to the internet.

3. Use your voice

Have you ever run an experiment to see if you can speak faster than you can type? In Google Docs on the web, click Tools and Voice typing, then try dictating documents rather than tapping them out. The below wasn’t edited, it’s clear the feature nailed it (not surprising, considering the text-to-speech feature on the Google Pixel 7 Pro is something I use every time I do an interview (and it thoroughly impresses me).

Image: Gizmodo Australia

4. Use emoji reactions

Emoji reactions let users provide quick approval, reaction or praise directly in Docs. With your document open, select the text you want to react to, and similar to how you would leave a comment, select “Add emoji reaction”. It’s as straightforward as you’d imagine.

Google Docs
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5. Real-time word count

Google Docs on the web has the option to see your word count rise (and fall) in real-time, which might help you hit your deadlines faster. Pick Tools and Word count, then tick the box marked Display word count while typing (other stats can be shown too).

6. Let Smart Compose write for you

You can use Smart Compose in Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings to help suggest what to write. To enable it, head to Tools, Preferences, and toggle on before hitting OK. An example, is if you start writing, ‘Hello, how a’ the Google Docs Smart Compose tool will assume you want to write ‘Hello, how are you?’ and it will prefill the rest of your sentence. To select it, simply hit the Tab key on your keyboard. You can also use your keyboard’s arrow right key, or swipe with your finger if you’re using touchscreen/mobile device. If it’s wrong, just keep tying what you were going to.

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Did you know you can link between documents? When you hit Ctrl+K (or Cmd+K on a Mac), just paste in the file URL or search for it in the link box; you can replace “edit” with “preview” at the end of any Docs URL to link to a cleaner version of a document.

8. Add images

Google Docs is a word processor, but it’s also great at handling images. Here, you won’t need to worry about messing up the entire document because you moved an image by a pixel.

Image: Gizmodo Australia

You can drag and drop an image from a website, other file/doc or local storage. After adding the image, use the blue boxes on each edge to adjust its size. A menu will also help you adjust the image alignment so it is in-line, wrapped in text, or breaks the text completely. Click the menu button, and choose All image options to see all image editing options, including wrap style, margins and transparency. This feature is also now available across large-screen Android devices.

9. To summarise this list: get a summary

Need a top-level view of your project? Google Docs can automatically generate an outline for you. (Long-form writers love this feature.) And now, you can make your document even more accessible by adding a summary.

Click the Outline button, and click the Plus button next to the Summary section to add a summary.

10. New Docs shortcuts

Need to spin up a new document? Simply type or into your browser and like magic, you’ll have a brand new Doc. This isn’t specific to Google Docs, either, so you can set up a row of bookmarks with, and in them, and you’ve got a one-click way of opening up new documents, spreadsheets and presentations in your Google Drive. Think of all the seconds you’ll save by not using the menus each time.

11. Google Docs offline

My biggest grievance with Google Docs (and the argument I used to stay on Microsoft Word) was that I had to be connected to the internet. But, you can actually use Google Docs offline. Before you turn on offline access you must be connected to the internet and use Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge (not in private browsing mode, however). Install and turn on Google Docs Offline Chrome extension.

Open Google Drive, at the top right, click Settings > turn on Offline setting. If you are using Microsoft Edge, you will be redirected to the Chrome Web Store to download the Google Docs Offline extension. To work offline, simply open Google Docs and begin.

Google Docs
Image: Gizmodo Australia

12. Add image watermarks to Google Docs

Need to create some customised or branded content? Navigate to insert and click watermark to add an image watermark directly into your document. Perfect for party invitations or event flyers.

There you go, 12 things to make your Google Docs experience a little easier.

Image: Disney

This article has been updated since it was first published.

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