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Google Docs Tips and Tricks


Google Docs is a great business productivity application with most, if not all, of the features you could want from a word processor. But some users have been slow to abandon desktop office applications for cloud-based options, because they fear they’ll lose functionality.

Here is some tips and tricks about google docs.

Google Docs Tips and Tricks

Enable Offline Access

Google Docs can work offline. This allows you to create new documents, continue working on current documents, and even just view your documents while you don’t have an Internet connection. When you connect to the Internet again, your changes will be synchronized online.

This feature requires Google Chrome, so it works on Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and Chromebooks. To set this up, open the Google Drive website, click the gear button at the top-right corner of the site, and click Settings. On the General pane, ensure the “Sync your work to this computer so that you can edit offline” option is enabled, and click Done. To use Google Docs while offline, just return to the Google Drive website in Chrome when you don’t have an Internet connection.




2. Insert an Image by Its URL

Any word processing application worth mentioning allows users to insert images from a local hard disk. But Google Docs allows you to add any online image via a URL—just click “Insert” in the menu bar, select “Image” from the dropdown list, navigate to the “By URL” option and paste your image link in the text box. Docs saves the image in your document, so even if the original file is removed from the internet or, the image stays just where you placed it. Bonus: you can also add images using Google Drive, your hard drive in the cloud.

Inserting an image by its URL

3. Change the view

There are a couple of useful links on the left of the Google Drive interface that can change the view of the files you’re looking at: use Recent to see the most recently opened files at the top of the pile, and Activity to see files that have recently been changed by you or someone else with access permissions.

Change view

4.Go to Next Typo / Previous Typo

For quick correction of mistakes, use the Ctrl + ‘ keyboard shortcut to go to the next typo in the current document and Ctrl + ; to go to the previous typo. This allows you to quickly correct typos without scrolling through the current document and looking for those red underlines.

Google Docs also recently gained a Spell Check feature that allows you to quickly skim through the problems in a current document, a feature it lacked for a long time — just click Tools > Spell Check to use it.


5. Edit an Image

A secondary click on the image or a click on “Image Options” in the toolbar with the image selected will bring up a few features specific to an image file, including the crop and edit functions. The tools here are pretty basic, but Google Docs allows you to edit the image’s transparency, brightness, and contrast from the “Image Options” sidebar.

Editing an Image

6. Multiple previews


Do you want to be able to preview multiple files at once, without opening them up? Of course you do. Place ticks next to all the files you want to see in the main Google Drive interface, then press the preview button (an eye symbol). Use the cursor keys or the arrows at the sides to navigate through your files.

7. Drive on the desktop

Drive on desktop

Google Drive’s desktop application lets you use the platform as an online backup service for your local files. You can choose specific folders to sync on each machine. Native Google Docs files are shown as web links on your hard drive


8.Configure Your Text Styles

Rather than manually formatting every bit of text in your document, you should format your text using styles instead. This means that, rather than setting all your headlines to a certain font size and bold text, you should just click the style box and set them to “Heading 1.”

You can also easily edit the font settings used for different styles. First, format some text to use the type of formatting you want to use for a style. Select that text, click the style box at the top of the screen, and click the arrow to the right of the style you want to modify. Click the “Update ‘Style Name’ to Match” option and that style will now use the type of formatting you selected.

To save these customized styles and use them in other documents, click the Options menu at the bottom of the list here and select “Save as my default styles.”



9. Add Image Alt Text

“Alt Text”, located in the menu bar’s “Format” dropdown, adds an alternate text title and description to the image. This text won’t usually appear in your document, but it comes into play when someone has accessibility features turned on, or when the reader’s connection is too slow to load images.

Adding an Alt Text Caption


10. Insert Maps

Maybe it’s not a traditional image you need, but a map. Again, the “Research” tool is your friend: Performing an “Everything” search for an address or location will yield a map result. Scroll down for more information about the location, or insert map the image into your document. Hit Edit on the map result to change how the location is displayed before adding it to your Doc.

Inserting Maps



11. Research

If you’re always switching to and from Google to look up information, you can make use of the Research pane (accessible from the Tools menu in Docs and Slides). Type a search term to see results from the web as well as your Google Drive and Gmail accounts.


12. Image drag

You can drag and drop images right into your documents, whether from your local hard drive or a website.

Drag images

13. Translate documents

Leverage the power of Google Translate and get your documents swiftly translated from the option on the Tools menu. 46 different languages were available the last time we checked.




14. Change Viewing Mode to Review Final Draft

Use Viewing Mode to Review a Final Draft

You can allow others to view your document without editing, but there are times you’d like to do the same. This will likely come at the last stage of the draft, after you’ve ironed out all of the errors. Choose “Viewing” from the toolbar dropdown in the upper right to read through your document without making any changes. No accidental keystrokes will inadvertently change your document, nor will cats running across your lap replace all of your hard work with random gibberish.

15. Track Edits with Suggestions

Track Edits with Suggestions

Rather than editing a document, try “Suggesting”. Similar to Microsoft Office’sTrack Changes, “Suggesting” allows you or a collaborator to edit a document without committing the changes. All suggestions are marked in a secondary color and tracked in the right sidebar. From there you can accept or reject the proposed changes. If you have any questions about changes made by a collaborator, return to the comment feature to discuss the changes before making them permanent.

16. Backtrack with Revision History

Backtrack with Revision History

From the “File” menu, select “See Revision History” for a list of changes made in the document, all the way back to when it was first created. Unfortunately, the revisions list isn’t very descriptive, giving only the date and time of the revision and the name of the editor. With “Show Changes” selected, however, you can take a look at how the document was edited for each revision, allowing you to easily revert to or compare with a previous version if necessary.

17. Learn Keyboard Shortcuts

Google Docs Keyboard Shortcuts

There are a ton of keyboard shortcuts in Google Docs to speed up editing. While the basics—like Control + I in Windows and Command + I in OS X to italicize text—are all included, there are a bunch of Google Docs-specific shortcuts designed to cut down on mouse clicks.

Google provides a list of all of its Docs shortcuts, accessible from the “Help” menu. Shortcuts are broken out by operating system (OS), so you won’t need to figure out the various keystrokes from Mac to PC to Chrome OS.

18. Access Menu Items with the “Search the Menus” Shortcut

Access Menu Items with the Search Menu Shortcut

There really are a lot of shortcuts available in Google Docs, but this is one of my favorites. It’s the “Search the Menus” shortcut, accessible via the Alt + /or Command + / keystrokes. This shortcut opens the “Help” dropdown and places the cursor in the search field. But you’re not going to search the FAQs: Instead, you can search all of the menus in Docs.

By typing in what you want to do, you can accomplish a lot without bothering with any of the actual menus. Quickly change fonts, apply paragraph formatting, insert special characters, run a spell check, and a lot more.

19. Quickly Add a Link

Quickly Add a Link

Any editor will let you link a string of text to a URL, but Google Docs makes it a bit easier to link to exactly the page you want. Of course, you can link text by selecting it and then clicking “Link” from “Tools” in the menu bar, but if you’re not sure of the URL you need, enter a search term into the “Insert Link” field. Google will do a quick search and provide you with the top results, including search results from your other documents.

20. Remove Unwanted Formatting

Remove Unwanted Formatting

Ever find yourself accidentally pasting in text that’s formatted in a foreign text? It’s unruly to edit and doesn’t look nice on your page. To quickly dismiss this nasty formatting, highlight the text, select “Format” in the menu bar and click “Clear formatting.” You could also highlight the text and use the keyboard shortcut, Command + \.

21. Streamline Math Writing with Equation Shortcuts

Equation Shortcuts Streamline Math Writing

If you’re crunching numbers while you write, the Google Docs equation shortcut can be a time saver. They don’t rely on memorizing special keystrokes, so they’re easy to implement with very little effort. Select “Equation” from the “Insert” menu to place a new equation field in your document. From there, just type names of the symbols you wish to include, preceded by \. Greek letters, math operators, and relations symbols are all included, and you can get a full list of shortcuts from the Google Docs Keyboard Shortcuts list, accessible from the Help menu.

22. Create Your Own Shortcuts

Create Your Own Shortcuts

Google Docs allows you to create your own shortcuts with “Automatic Substitution” in “Preferences,” found in the “Tools” dropdown. Use personal keyboard shortcuts to automatically fill in words or phrases you use repeatedly, mimicking popular text expansion applications. Another great use is to add frequently misspelled words, allowing Google Docs to autocorrect your errors without running a spell check.

23. Adjust Auto-Editing

Adjust Auto-Editing

Also located in your “Preferences” options are three formatting features that are worth considering for your work. First, “Use smart quotes” gives you the option to employ the quotation marks that indicate the opening and closing of a statement rather than the vertical lines. “Automatically detect links” will instantly change to And “Automatically detect lists” will indent your text when you

  • create a
  • list
  • with hyphens.

24. Manage Your Personal Dictionary

Manage Your Personal Dictionary

The “Personal Dictionary” is similar to “Automatic Substitution”: it lets you whitelist names or uncommon words to prevent Google Docs from questioning your spelling. You can add red-underlined words that Google has already flagged by secondary-clicking on the word and choosing “Add to Personal Dictionary,” or open your “Personal Dictionary” from the “Tools” menu and add words manually.


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