It’s hard to imagine life before Google Docs. Passing versions around of Word documents, not knowing which one was the most recent version was a bit of a nightmare. Multiple authors working on separate documents that some poor soul had to integrate into one document is another one. And don’t forget trying to muddle through the dreaded “track changes” in Microsoft Office. I am still an Office user, but the majority of my work is in done in Google Docs – both for personal and business projects. There are a number of awesome things about Google Docs, so I’ll offer ten in this post.

1. You can still go old school and use folders in Google Docs. Although Google has a feature allowing you to search all your documents, many people are accustomed a certain way of doing things and like to see things organized in folders. So if you are used to your Windows Explorer view with a list of folders, you still have a version of that with Google Docs.

2. The ability to have multiple authors working on the document at the same time is the selling point for most people. You, me, and several other people in the office can be working on a document online and all of our changes are saved without overwriting what the other people are doing. There are no multiple versions, leaving people wondering which is the most recent.

3. Although there are not multiple versions for someone to combine into one final version, there is still a revision feature. When you go to File, you can see a revision history. The way people manage this in Word is to save a document multiple times, with names like Rev 1, Rev 2, etc. In this case, Google does that work for you. You are still working in a single document and have the ability to access previous versions.

4. Your document can be public or private. If you are creating something like a flier for an upcoming event, there is no need to upload to a website or other online source just for the purposes of sharing it. Instead, you can simply publish the document to the web and share the link of where the document is located. That makes it very easy to share information with the public.

5. Using Google Forms is probably one of my favorite features. Have you ever sent out a survey, then manually tabulated that information in a spreadsheet? That is no longer a consideration with Google Forms. When you send out a survey, the participant responses are automatically dropped into a Google Spreadsheet. You may need to do some manipulation with the data once it is there. But at least you are no longer scrolling through a number of incoming emails and cutting and pasting the responses.

6. Access it anywhere. Were you working on something in the office and wanted to finish it up at home? If you cannot access the office server remotely, you have to remember to bring those flash drives back and forth to and from work. With Google Docs, since everything is accessible online, the only thing you need is your log-in information to access data from the office, home, or maybe even the beach! You really can work from anywhere. (Although, if you’re at the beach, it’s probably better if you’re really taking time off.)

7. Use it in other formats. Did you work on a document online and really need to finish it up in Word for whatever reason? You can download it to Word to continue your edits. Or maybe it’s done and you need to send it out. Download it as a PDF and send it out in that format so it’s difficult for other to make changes.

8. Are you a shortcut user? Prefer to click a few keys on the keywords rather than using a mouse? Hold down the ctrl key while selecting “/”. You’ll have a quick display of the shortcut keys available. Chances are all those shortcuts are not something you will memorize in one day. If you do pull it up anytime you are in Google Docs and try one or two of the shortcuts, eventually it will become second nature for you to use the keys if that is your preferred way of working.

9. Are you easily distracted? These days, who isn’t! The top toolbar has the same items you would see in Microsoft Office with dropdowns for things like font, and the predictable File, Edit, and other menus. If you want to have a totally clear screen, choose View, then Full Screen. This way, you are viewing a clean white document with the extras out of the way. To get them back, simply hit the escape key.

10. The really great part? It’s all free. Google has a number of free tools and their version of Microsoft Office is definitely a tool people should try out. It may not be a total replacement for Microsoft. There are some features, especially with presentations, that I prefer on Microsoft, but the majority of my work in done with Google.

Did I miss anything? What’s your favorite feature about Google Docs?

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