Google Docs is an excellent tool for anyone that works with documents often. It's a word processor that resembles classic tools like Microsoft Word. Docs has become popular because of its unique features and simple user interface. Whether you use it on a computer or one of the best new Android phones, it's a great option. Plus, you can use it for free! It helps to start by looking at what Google Docs is, what it does, and how to use it.
What is Google Docs?
Google Docs is a cloud-based word processor. Word processors are tools that can help you create and revise digital documents. If you're familiar with Microsoft Word, you can think of that as the original poster child for word processors. Cloud-based means that everything is stored in the Google cloud instead of on your computer.
You may have heard of Google Sheets or Google Slides. These productivity tools are similar to Excel and PowerPoint in the same way that Docs is similar to Word. There are other productivity brands, but Microsoft Office is the most recognizable. Google's analog to Office is Google Workspace. This paid service includes all of Google's productivity tools and more. You don't need to pay for Workspace to use the individual tools. Google Docs is at the top of the list for free Google software that's worth using.
What can you do with Google Docs?
Google Docs can be boiled down to a pretty simple workflow. It's best used for creating, editing, and sharing documents. Here's a brief look at the key features of this software.
Create documents in Google Docs
Creating documents is pivotal for making the Google Docs workflow hum. Generally, Docs has a + icon in the lower-right corner that you can click at any time. Once you do, it generates a blank document for you to start on.
This document is stored in Google's servers, so it doesn't take up space on your computer. It is only accessible by you unless you choose to share it. Documents you create in Google Docs display on the main page under Recent documents. It helps to give documents names that you can easily recognize later.
Edit documents in Google Docs
Document editing is the bread and butter of word processors. Docs is neat because any edits you make are automatically saved. It's worth looking into the specifics of how to edit using Google Docs. If you're new to word processors, start with simple things like how to check your word count and how to adjust the margins. There are more complex features if you want to do something like use text boxes in documents or insert a personal signature. Learning a few keyboard shortcuts speeds up the editing process.
Share documents and work with others
The document-sharing features in Google Docs are exceptional. Native integration with Google Drive and Gmail means sharing documents is quick and easy. You can also import Word documents and other Microsoft Word files. Docs is compatible with various file types, including DOCX, HTML, RTF, ODT, PDF, and more. No matter how you want to share your work, there's a convenient option.
You can customize sharing permissions when sharing a direct link for a Google Docs document. This involves choosing who you will share the document with and what they can do (view, comment, or edit). Once shared, you can collaborate with others on that document in real-time. These options make collaboration precise and simple.
Edit documents while offline
Since this software relies on storage in Google's servers, you generally need an internet connection while working. The good news is that you can use Google Docs offline. Google has some tutorials for how to use Google Docs offline, but the gist is that you need to enable offline access in Google Drive. Before doing any offline work, you may also need to prepare and check some specific document settings in Google Docs.
Download add-ons for Google Docs
Docs can add extra features, known as add-ons. Add-ons make Google Docs a versatile word processor. You can download hundreds of add-ons for free from the Google Workspace Marketplace. These add-on features range from simple things like adding more fonts to more complex tools. For example, the table of contents add-on is great for anyone working on longer documents with many subheadings. There are helpful add-ons available for all kinds of document work.
How to use Google Docs in the web browser
Using Google Docs through the web browser is a common way to get work done from anywhere. These steps outline the basics of using Google Docs on the web.
- Create or sign in to your Google account.
- Visit the Google Docs web page and click Go to Docs. You can also go straight to docs.google.com.
- Click the + icon in the lower-right corner to create a new document. You can start with a blank document or a template.
- If you want to import a document file, click the folder icon in the upper-right corner, navigate to where the file is located, and then select the file.
- Give your document a title.
- Experiment with the writing and editing tools visible in the toolbar at the top.
- Click the Share button in the upper-right corner.
- Use the drop-down menus to customize your sharing settings.
- Click Done.
- Click the triple lines icon in the upper-left corner of the main page for more options.
Once you've completed these steps, you're ready to move forward with document work and collaboration. The most convenient browser is usually Google Chrome, but Docs works with most browser options.
How to use Google Docs on your mobile device
You can use Google Docs on Android or iOS as well. The Google Docs app is similar on both platforms. These steps should help you get started using the Docs app on most mobile devices.
- Download the Google Docs app.
- Open the app, then create or sign in to your Google account.
- Tap the + icon in the lower-right corner to create a new document. You can start with a blank document or a template.
- If you want to import a document file, tap the folder icon in the upper-right corner, navigate to where the file is located, and then select the file.2 Images
- Give your document a title.
- Tap the pencil icon in the lower-right corner to use the writing and editing tools.
- Tap the checkmark icon in the upper-left corner when you are finished writing and editing.2 Images
- Tap the Share icon in the upper-right corner.
- Customize your sharing settings.2 Images
- Tap the back arrow in the upper-left corner to return to your document, and tap it again to return to the Docs main page.
- Tap the triple lines icon in the upper-left corner for more options.2 Images
You have now been introduced to using Google Docs on your mobile device. You're ready to get work done from your phone, no matter where you are.
A useful tool for productivity and collaboration
Google Docs is one of the best free word processors currently available. It's great for creating, editing, and sharing documents. Add-ons only make it a more versatile tool. If your documents are littered with spreadsheets, there are great add-ons for Google Sheets. With a little help, your most productive days are just around the corner.