When it comes to writing and creating online, Google Docs can be your best friend. Compared to using Microsoft Word or OpenOffice, it's a flexible tool that can be reliably accessed everywhere, meaning if you've got access to the internet (and the cloud, as such) you can get to your precious files. But Google Docs can be a bit confusing if you're not familiar with all its tricks and tweaks.
As it turns out, there are some extremely useful hacks you can use to get the most out of the service, whether you're a novice or beginner. When it comes to hidden menus, shortcuts, and tricks, this list should get you started on some of the coolest ways Google Docs can help you become a more efficient worker.
Revert to Word after editing as Google Docs
You've likely seen this scenario a hundred times. You get a Word file, open it within Google Docs, and you edit it within your browser. The only issue after that is it's now in Google Docs format and not a Word file. There's a way you can solve this issue, and it's simple to switch on. Just make sure you're using Google Chrome before you tackle edits on one of these files, and install the Office Editing for Docs extension.
After it's installed, head to "File" in the menu and select "Office Compatibility Mode." With this mode on, you can save any file converted from Word to Google Docs as a Word file again by exporting. That way you can share the same file back as what you received it in, no sweat. You can save as a wide variety of different file types as well, like PDF, DOC, and more depending on your preference.
Work in the cloud and edit offline
One of the most important uses for Google Docs is keeping things online and accessible while you're away from home or unable to get to your normal PC. Having a writing program like that open for you to work in at all times on your phone or tablet (or computer) is super useful. You can still access Docs without an internet connection, though. All you need to do is navigate to Google Docs and write whatever it is you need. The document won't auto-save of course, but when you connect to the internet once more, your doc will sync to your Google Docs account and you'll get to keep all the progress you made. Just make sure "Create, open, and edit your recent Google Docs files on this device while offline" is toggled under the Settings menu.
Create a new doc on the double
Tired of navigating all the way to Google Docs from your email account or heading to the main hub to open up a new document? There's an easy way to get past all that. Just type "Docs.new" into an open browser. As long as you're signed into your Google account, you'll be immediately taken into a new Google Doc that you can fill out.
Check your word count
Earlier this year, Google finally started rolling out an automatic word counter to all Google Docs users that simply adds a counter to the bottom of your doc that will give you a consistent readout of how many words you have in real-time - like Microsoft Word already does.
It doesn't show up automatically though, but there's an easy way to see how many words you've been typing. Just head up to the top of the menu, select Tools, and then "Word count" for an immediate count of what you're up to so far — and check the "Display word count while typing" box if you want to see it as you write.
Ping an additional author to check out your doc
Skip email entirely when collaborating with other writers and work within Google Docs without having to send a single one.. Simply highlight a section or word of the document, then click the comment button on the toolbar. It should look like a speech bubble. When you click it, you can open up a comment. Type a plus sign, then the email address of the person you want to add. They'll then be alerted to check out the document via email.
Google Docs has also implemented "Live edits" options that help users keep tabs on all real-time updates that other document editors make. You can see all the edits being made on a side bar, which can either be read aloud for accessibility's sake or used to help track changes so you can keep an eye on what's shifting around. These tweaks should help make it much simpler and less headache-inducing to work with multiple authors on a piece.
Turn on dictation to save typing time
Speech recognition has come a long way, as the Apple Watch has shown us. If you'd rather dictate documents or edit them with your voice there's a quick way to turn that on. Just go to "Tools" and pick "Voice Typing" from the menu. Allow access to your microphone, and them you should be able to start talking with your words appearing on the blank page – like magic! Add punctuation by speaking it manually, but you'll still have to look it over as you work to ensure the voice recognition software has picked up everything accurately.
Recover lost work
If you accidentally make some changes you didn't mean to, erase a huge block of text, or otherwise want to go back to an older version of a file for any reason, you can actually recover your pat work by looking at an earlier revision. Just go to File, and then "See revision history" for a list of automatic saves you can check through to see the one you want.
Edit multiple words and phrases at once
This is a feature most word processors have, but you may not know how to get to it within the confines of Google Docs. If you need to suddenly edit every instance of a word or phrase without having to go through and do it manually, go to the Edit menu, then choose "Find and replace" for an easy way to go through your document and make mass edits.
Add your signature to your doc
Need to sign off on a letter or a document? You don't have to exit and convert to a PDF to do this quick hack. Go to the Insert menu, then click "Drawing." When you select the type of line you want, choose "Scribble." A box should pop up where you can draw in your name, and then you can save and close your signature, leaving it where you inserted it in the document.
Clear unnecessary formatting
Did you copy and paste something from an email into a doc? Need to erase a few errant fonts here and there? Just head over to the Format menu and choose "Clear formatting." From there, you'll get rid of any and all extraneous formatting to keep things looking uniform.
With these tips, you'll be editing like a pro in no time.