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November 21, 2010

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Google Docs

Google Docs Is Awesome

Scoroncocolo, Scoroncocolo Tech Pages, ScarewareBack in June of this year Microsoft launched a free version of Office Web Apps meant to compete with Google Docs. This article is about Google Docs. The next article I intend to write will be about Microsoft's new Office Web Apps. Which is the better? What are they exactly? How are they different? Which, if either, should you decide to use?

google docs

Google Docs Is Taking On Microsoft Office

You can use Google Docs to create a Google document on your computer at work and later you can work on the same document at home on your home computer. When you get back to work the next morning you’ll be able to open the document on your work computer and see the changes you made. This magic is made possible because you are creating this document not on any of the computers you are using but you are creating it on Google's servers.

That’s just one of the many ways that Google Docs can make your life easier, help you get things done and make you more productive.

Google Docs is a free-to-use set of cloud-based document creation applications or Apps. Google Docs allows you to create and edit Microsoft Word-like documents and Excel-like spreadsheets, Powerpoint-like presentations, forms and drawings like those you might create with Microsoft Paint. You can also upload and store any type of document you like to your Google Docs account. You get 1 GB of free storage for documents you upload and do not convert to Google Docs format and you can purchase additional storage for 25 cents (US) per GB. Only stored files that you have not converted to Google Docs format count towards the maximum limit. Files in your account that have been converted to Google Docs formats don't use up your storage space. If you delete a file and empty your trash folder, you get the storage space that file was taking up back. Google Docs works in all major Web browsers (Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer and Google Chrome, of course) with the exception of Opera. Google Docs, for some reason at the time of my writing this, will not work in the Opera browser.

One of the easiest ways to get to your Google Docs (provided you've created some and we'll talk about how to do that shortly) is from your Gmail account. Look on the top left of the page listing all of your mail and you'll see a link that reads: Documents. Or you can get to your Google Docs account by typing into your browser's address bar. You can also get there by going to Google's home page at and clicking the arrow to the right of the word more on the upper left-hand side of the page. If you do any of the above while signed out of your Google Account, Google will ask your for your password before allowing you access to your Google Docs Account. If you want to sign up for Google Docs just click this link to get started with Google Docs.

Google Docs Is Really Cool

Google Docs Is Hot

Google Docs Is So Cool It's Hot

First things first: if you don't have a Google Account, you'll need to get one. That's easy enough. Just sign up for a Gmail account and you'll automatically have a Google Account.

Once you've used the above link to sign up for a Google account you can use any of the methods I mentioned at the top of this page to get to your Google Docs home page. Once there you'll want to either upload or create some documents to work with. Let's start with creating a new document first. In the upper left side of the page you'll see a button titled Create New so click that and look over your options and then click on the first option which reads Document and boom! you're presented with page that looks a little like an on-line version of Microsoft Word. So start typing. Just like with Word you'll have no trouble inserting images and tables, spell checking and bolding and italicizing and doing indents and most anything else you are used to doing in a modern word processor.

Once you're finished, don't bother clicking File and looking for a Save option. You won't find one. Look on the right-hand side at the top of the page you are working on and you'll see that Google is saving your work automatically every few seconds. It's scary the first few times you close a Google Document without manually saving but you don't even need to hold down the Ctrl key plus the s key in order to save your work because Google assumes you want to save your document otherwise you wouldn't have gone to the trouble to create it in the first place. You have to wonder why Microsoft hasn't figured that out by now.

If you have documents you have already been working on on your computer, it's a snap to upload them to your Google Docs home page so that you can do further work on them there. Like I said at the very top of this page, you might want to be able to work on a document at home and work on that same document somewhere else like at work or at a public library for instance. Uploading files to your Google Docs account is really easy. Right next to the Create new button on your Google Docs home page is a button that reads Upload... so click that and brows your computer for the file or files you want to send up. You can use your Ctrl key or your Shift key to select more than one file to upload. But here's something very important: If you want to be able to edit this file in Google Docs, be sure to check the box that reads Convert documents, presentations, and spreadsheets to the corresponding Google Docs formats before you begin the upload. If you don't make sure there is a check mark in that box, Google will upload the file and you'll be able to open it and even download it on to any computer anywhere in the world but you won't be able to edit it on Google's servers in your Web browser.

When you log into your Google Docs page, you'll see all of the files you have created or uploaded listed by the dates they put there with the newest files listed at the top of the page. If you edit an older file then that file will go to the top of the page and you'll be able to see the date and the time that changes were made to the file. If other people are collaborating with you on a file (and we'll get to collaboration later on in this article), you'll be able to see who made the most recent changes to the file by looking to the right of the date-stamp. If you are the one who made the changes you'll see the word me at the right of the date-stamp.

Copying and Pasting in Google Docs

google docs web clipboard

Google Docs Clipboard Is Awesome

Sure you can use the Windows method of Copy and Paste when working with Google Docs and by that I mean you can select (highlight) text or an image then press and hold the Ctrl key and then type the letter c to copy that text or image to the Windows clipboard and then click in the Google Docs document you are working on to make your curser blink at the location where you want to place the copied text or image and then press and hold the Ctrl key and type the letter v to paste it there. That's Document Creation 101. We all do that all the time. But Google Docs has a special non-Windows clipboard that allows you to Copy and Paste not just from one window on your computer to another window on your computer but copy and paste from one computer to another computer even if those computers aren't networked together and are half a world away from one another. Now that is definitely cool! Here's how this works.

Here are Google's own words on the subject of using the Google server clipboard menu to copy and paste from a Google Doc on one computer to a Google Doc on another computer.

Once you get used to using Google Docs Clip Board you'll fall in love with it. It's so easy to use and much more powerful than the Microsoft Operating System's clipboard that we are all so familiar with.

To use Google Docs clipboard follow these steps:

  1. Select what you'd like to copy.

  2. Click the Server clipboard menu that appears in the toolbar of your doc. server clipboard icon.

  3. Click Copy selection to server clipboard.

  4. In the destination document, click the server clipboard menu; you'll see the selection that you previously copied. If you copied multiple things, you'll see a list of the items you've recently copied.

  5. Place the cursor where you want to paste the content.

  6. Click the Server clipboard menu.

  7. Select what you want to paste. Depending on your selection, you'll see different formats that you can choose from to paste what you've copied (for example, HTML or plain text).

  8. Select a format.

Google will store items on your Google server clipboard for 30 days. If you do not use the stored clipboard information within that time frame and by using it I mean copying it into another Google Doc within 30 days, Google will delete it from their servers. Or you can delete all items stored on the server clipboard yourself by clicking the drop-down menu and selecting Clear all items.

The Google Clipboard icon is prominently displayed on every Doc you choose to edit in Google Docs. It's on the Google Docs toolbar. You can't miss it. It looks like a old-fashioned clipboard with a cloud beneath it.

The Google Docs Clipboard is an amazingly useful tool. Using it you can so easily move huge amounts of information from one computer to another. Having access to this capability makes using Google Docs a no-brainer.

Google Docs - Sharing and Collaboration

google docs collaboration

Google Docs Clipboard Is Awesome

Every Google Doc begins as a private file. Only you have access to the files you create in Google Docs. But Google allows you to share a file or any number of files with another person or as many people as you like. You simply email them a link to the file and they can view that file in their browser. Google allows you to let the person viewing your document edit it as well or you can choose not to allow editing of the files you share. You can also choose to make a document public so that the whole world has access to it. If you make a file public it becomes accessible through search engines like Yahoo search, Bing or Google search.

In October of 2009, Google introduced Shared Folders. This allows a team of people to be able to collaborate on projects that require multiple documents, spreadsheets or presentations. In order to share a folder you simply need to select Folder from the Create new drop-down menu and give it a name. Next, you will have to add documents to the newly created folder. In order to do so, simply drag and drop them from your Docs list to the folder. Just click My folders in the navigation pane on the left of your docs, select the folder you’d like to share, click the Share drop-down menu, and select Invite people. When inviting people, enter their email address. Press Send to send them an email with a link to your folder. Or you can click Add without sending invitation if you don’t want to send them the notification. Shared folders are just like shared documents in that you can you can allow those you're sharing with to be able to view the contents of the folder or to view and edit any documents in the folder.

Google Docs allows collaborating on a document in real time. This works and looks a lot like Google Wave (remember Google Wave?) used to work in that you can actually see your collaborators curser's position as he or she types words into the document. You can have more than one collaborator working on a document. Each collaborator (editor) is assigned a color so that as the document is being edited everyone working on it will be able to see who is adding or changing what.

There's also a chat feature in Google Docs that allows you to chat with your collaborators about the document as you are working on it. So in a little pop-up window on the right side of the document you can chat with anyone and everyone who is currently collaborating with you.

Google Docs allows you to see how a document has been altered over time. To do that open the document and click “file,” then choose “revision” or “tools” then “revision history”.If you created the document and invited others to collaborate on it with you, you own the document and you can choose to dismiss a collaborator. To deny someone access to the document simply click “Share,” then click “Share with others.” You’ll see a message that says “This document is currently shared,” as well as a list of currently active collaborators with an “x” after each name which you can click to deny them access to the document.

You can collaborate on any type of document that is editable in Google Docs including text documents, spreadsheets, presentations and even drawings. So get in touch with some ex-Google Wave buddies and give it a try. It's fun!

Google Docs - Presentation App

I made this PowerPoint-like presentation using Google Docs's presentation app.

The presentation will work properly here on this page but to see it in all its glory you'll need to open it in a new window. To do that just click the little flag icon next to the slide counter at the bottom of the presentation.

I plan to write a post in the near future about how to create Powerpoint-like presentations using Google Docs. In the meantime, if you have any questions about using Presentations or any other Google Docs application, just email me and I will get back to you.

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