7 Essential Google Docs Tips You Should Know

Posted by jun auza On 6/25/2011
Google Docs, after LibreOffice is one of the most viable alternatives to the overrated MS Office. Unlike other major Office Suites, Google Docs creates, edits and stores the documents in the cloud. Of course, it has some pitfalls but for someone who isn't a hardcore office user, Google Docs can be more than sufficient. However, that doesn't imply that Google Docs is a mere stripped down version of an Office Suite. There are a few tips and tricks you can use to get the most out of it. Here are 7 of them:

1. Use Document Templates

Need to make a Family Budget Planner, an invoice or how about a recipe book? Google Docs helps you create all those and more using its huge crowd-sourced templates library. Here you'll find templates for creating almost anything including greeting cards, yearbooks, legal letters and plenty more.

To get started with templates, go to Google Docs and click on the button to the top left which says 'Create New'. Now, choose the option that says 'From Template'. Here, a new window opens allowing you to choose from a variety of templates including the ones mentioned above. Choose the one that suits your need and have fun.

2. Use Collections

Collections are Google Docs' answer to folders on the desktop. However, they don't exactly mimic that concept. Collections on Google Docs function quite similar to the way labels work in Gmail. Your files, like your mail in Gmail, are labeled once they're added to a particular collection. Hence, collections can be useful for grouping similar files together and quickly accessing them when needed.

To use Collections, go to the top left corner again and click on the 'Create New' button. Then choose the option that says 'Collection'. Give a name to the collection and start adding items to it. To add an item to a collection, just drag the file from the middle pane to the collection in the left menu.

3. Store any file

Google Docs allows you to store any kind of file on your account, be it an mp3 file or a jpeg image. Of course, mp3s won't open in your Gdocs account. However, Google Docs can play most types of video files using Google Video player. So, Google Docs can be very useful for backing up almost all kinds of files right there on the cloud.

4. Get cheap storage

Google offers some pretty cheap online storage across all Google accounts. Plans range from $5 per year for a 20 GB account to $4,096 annually for a whopping 16 TB one. Now, 20 GB is more than enough for any user to backup all his important documents. If you want to dump all your mp3 collections on the cloud, then you can opt for higher plans like $20/ year for 80GB storage. The storage can be used across all Google services including Gmail, Picasa and of course Google Docs.

5. Learn Keyboard Shortcuts

People in the old ages used to tell us that to be an efficient user, always learn the keyboard shortcuts. Yeah, that sounds a bit lame but anyway, Google Docs does have some nifty keyboard shortcuts that you can learn to become a Docs ninja. Here's a list of the shortcuts for Google Documents (https://docs.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=179738). Here's the list for spreadsheets (https://docs.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=181110) and go here for help on presentations (https://docs.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66280).

6. Publish documents as web pages

With Google Docs, you could also publish your documents as web pages and share them with other users online. To publish your document, click on the down arrow next to the Share button that sits on the top right corner. Select the option 'Publish to the Web'. You can also make the Web page update automatically whenever you edit the document. In that case, just select the option that says "Automatically republish when changes are made" before publishing your document.

7. Add YouTube videos to Presentations

You can easily add YouTube videos to your Docs presentations. To do that, create a new presentation. Then in the menu bar, click on Insert, then select the option that says “Video”. Here a small window will pop up allowing you to search YouTube for the video you want. Choose the video and double click on it to insert it in the document. Once inserted you can move and resize the video any way you want. Selecting it and pressing the delete key will delete the video.

Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

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