Google Apps: Some Tips and Tricks

- September 25, 2012 3 MIN READ


One of the benefits of using Google Apps for business compared to traditional office products is that you don’t need to keep installing new version of the software to get new features — you just refresh your browser. Take for example Google Docs, which is constantly adding new features for all users.

Here are a few that you may have missed:

1. Google Drive

Google Docs is now built into Google Drive — a place where you can create, share, collaborate, and keep all your stuff. With Drive you can upload and access all of your files, including videos, photos, Google Docs, PDFs and beyond from anywhere — on the web, in your home, at the office, while running errands and from all of your devices. Access it in your web browser, install on your Mac or PC for desktop access, and download the Drive app to your Android or iOS phone and tablet for access on the go.

On top of the free 5GB of storage (with more available at a low cost), Drive also uses Google’s search features so you can quickly find what you are looking for. Google Drive search can even recognize text in scanned documents using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, so you could search for a word and find it in a scanned image of an old newspaper clipping (English only).

2. Edit Docs Offline

As connected as we often seem to be, there are still many times when getting online isn’t an option, like when you’re making your way to work on the subway, spending the weekend camping, or flying across the Atlantic ocean to meet with clients. That’s why Google allows viewing and editing of Google Docs offline. Without being connected to the Internet, you can create new documents, make edits to existing ones, and even view and leave comments.

To enable and access offline editing, you’ll need to use the latest versions of Chrome or ChromeOS. Then visitdrive.google.com and choose the “Set up Docs offline” option from the gear menu and complete the remaining steps. Once you’re up and running, you’ll see a list of recently edited and viewed documents and spreadsheets when you visit drive.google.com without a network connection. Then you’ll be able to click on and edit any of your existing documents or create new ones, and any changes you make will seamlessly sync when you re-connect.

3. Research Pane

The research pane is a feature that brings the web’s wealth of information to you as you’re writing documents. The research pane taps into Google Search directly from Google documents, so whether you want to add a cool destination to your itinerary for an upcoming trip to India or you’re looking for the perfect presidential quote for a political science paper, you don’t even have to open a new tab. Right from the pane, you can search web text, images, quotes, or even Google Scholar. And if you find something you like, you can add it by clicking the insert button or, for images, by dragging them directly into your document. If appropriate we’ll automatically add a footnote citation so there’s a record of where you found the info.

4. Better Spell Checker

Google recently updated spell checking in documents and presentations to make a system that grows and adapts with the web instead of relying on a fixed dictionary. This makes the spelling much smarter. For example, the spell checker knows that if you type “Icland is an icland,” you mean “Iceland is an island.” Also, if you write “Let’s meat tomorrow morning for coffee” you’ll see a suggestion to change “meat” to “meet” — even though “meat” is a correctly-spelled word.

This new spell checker is available for English, Spanish, Dutch, and Finnish.

5. More Fonts

Google has added over 450 new fonts to Docs so that you aren’t stuck having to make every doc in Arial or Verdana. To use these new fonts, click on the font menu and select “Add fonts” at the very bottom, which will take you to a menu of all the Google Web Fonts available. Once you’ve selected new fonts, you’ll be able to select them from the font menu.

6. Easier Image Inserts

There are now more options for inserting images in Docs, including inserting from Google Drive, searching for images from the LIFE Photo archive, or taking a snapshot with your webcam.