Having a list of Google Docs hacks on hand is a sure way to make life easier and win you some bonus points around the office.
Remember Clippy, Microsoft Word’s googly-eyed paperclip office assistant? Sure, his eager attempts at troubleshooting were usually more annoying than useful, but he always meant well. After all, everyone loves a good hack.
However, web-based word processors are the name of the game in 2018. We’ve compiled a list of the most essential shortcuts and hacks that will turn you into a better, real-live version of Clippy—but for Google Docs.
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1. Use templates
Hate staring at a blank page? Beat writer’s block by perusing Google’s template gallery.
Everything from project proposals to schedules, invoices, calendars and business letters can be found in a variety of readymade formats. And if your marketing team regularly uses a certain form, you can create your own template and add it to the gallery for quick use.
2. Add to your font library
Most companies use special typefaces that aren’t always readily available in dropdown font menu. You can add more by clicking the font menu, selecting “more fonts” and searching for the one you’re after.
3. Set up custom shortcuts
Click Tools and then Preferences to manage your style shortcuts.
For example, if you use the copyright and trademark symbol often, you can create a shortcut of your choice for them.
You can also disable the feature that automatically capitalizes words, which is especially useful if you’re writing about companies or products that have quirky spelling and punctuation.
4. Tweak the dictionary
Some industries have jargon that haven’t made it to the Google Docs dictionary. For those tired of seeing the dreaded red line under words or hitting “Ignore” too many times during spellcheck, go to Tools, Personal Dictionary, and add your words of choice.
5. Check notification settings
Before your inbox gets crowded with Google Doc notifications from collaborators, click the comment bubble icon in the upper right corner, select Notifications, and modify to your liking.
6. Adjust privacy and sharing parameters
If you’re working on sensitive or confidential material, you should double-check the privacy permissions on your file. Click Share in the top right, select Share with others, and then click Advanced. From here you can control who can or can’t re-share, download, print, copy, edit, or change access on your file.
7. Use keyboard shortcuts
Shortcuts are a huge timesaver, and Google Docs has plenty. You can find all of the keyboard shortcuts from the Help menu dropdown, or by using this handy shortcut: ⌘/.
Here’s a quick cheat sheet of our favs:
⌘+B = Bold
⌘+I = Italic
⌘+U = Underline
⌘+\ = Clear formatting
⌘+F = Find
⌘+K = Add hyperlink
⌘+Option+M= Add comment
Ctrl+Option+I = Open Insert menu
⌘+Shift+S = Start voice typing
⌘+Option+C = Copy formatting
⌘ + Option + Shift + h = Open revision history
⌘ + Option + Shift + I = Open Explore tool
Double click = Select word
Triple click = Select paragraph
8. Dictate your document
If you’re not in a position to type, or you’ve always dreamed of dictating (honestly, who hasn’t?), you can activate voice typing from the Tools menu, or by using the shortcut ⌘+Shift+S.
Don’t forget to give punctuation commands such as “period,” “new line” or “new paragraph.”
9. Configure for Word
For those who use the Google Chrome browser and are more comfortable with Microsoft Word, you can install the Office Editing for Docs Sheets and Slides extension. Once installed just make sure the Office Compatibility Mode is enabled from the File menu.
10. Access your doc offline
You can continue to work on your Google Doc on the go, or in a place where you have a spotty Internet connection. Turn on the Offline Sync option from the Google Drive home Settings menu.
This option only works with Chrome, and it’s a good idea to make sure you’re signed in to your Google account in the browser before you go offline.
Also, your work won’t autosave or sync until you’re back online, so get friendly with the ⌘S shortcut. (This will save an editable version of your file to your computer.)
11. Google search your work
One of the perks of working within Google’s suite is that you can search-as-you-go. If there’s a topic, term, or idea you want more information on, highlight it and click on Explore from the Tools menu, or use the ⌘ + Option + Shift + I shortcut to open the Explore Tool. A sidebar will appear with web results for your query.
12. Add bookmarks
This Google Doc hack comes in particularly handy when writing or collaborating on a long document with multiple sections. Go to Insert and select Bookmark to add links within the document to specific sections or pages.
13. Use headers to create an outline
As you create your document, make sure to give each section a title and apply heading formatting. To do this, select the Styles menu dropdown (beside fonts) and choose Heading 1 for main headings, and progress sequentially for subheadings.
After that go to View > Show document outline to see your document sections in a left-hand sidebar. This feature allows you to easily navigate and jump through lengthy documents.
14. Notify someone of a change
One of the essential features of Google Docs is its collaboration potential. But things can get tricky if there are too many anonymous animals in the doc, or poor communication protocols.
To alert a collaborator of a comment you’ve made, add a “+” followed by their email address in the comment bubble. The person will receive an email notifying them that you’ve requested their attention on a particular matter.
15. Locate your collaborator in real-time
If collaborating with someone in real-time, you can find your coworker’s cursor by clicking on their photo or avatar in the top right corner.
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16. Review the version history (and revert to an older version)
Click File, Version History, and See Version History to open a sidebar on the right detailing recent document changes. Uncheck Show Changes at the bottom to see revisions without coloured highlights.
If you’d like to revert back to an older version of the document, just click Restore this revision under the given editor’s name. You can also give your version a name, such as Finalest Final Finale, if you’re so inclined.
17. Identify who made the edit
If you’ve spotted edits that deserve a gold star, critique, or simple notes, you’ll need to figure out who made them. Under Version History, each editor is assigned a colour that corresponds to the edits they’ve made in the document. Click on the editor’s name to see their coloured edits throughout the doc.
18. See new changes at a glance
When you only want to see the latest changes made to a doc, click the link at the end of the menu bar, which will either say “See new changes,” “All changes saved in Drive,” or “Last edit was made on…”
19. Go into suggestion mode
Sometimes only suggestions are required. To switch out of editing mode and into suggestion mode, click the pencil icon in the upper right corner and select Suggesting. This way collaborators can see and decide whether or not to approve your suggestions.
The feature works similarly to Microsoft Word’s Track Changes option.
20. Upgrade with add-ons
Depending on your needs, it’s worthwhile to take a quick browse through Google Doc Add-ons library. Simply click Add-ons and Get add-ons to have a looksee.
Some cool options include Easy Accents, a tool that helps you add diacritics used in other languages. There’s also an EasyBib add-on that helps you generate bibliography citations and an analytics tool that lets you analyze revision stats.
21. Add an e-signature
Sign off business letters with a custom e-signature. Click Insert > Drawing and choose the Scribble line option to draw your name with your mouse.
22. Add the right links
If you’ve forgotten to add hyperlinks throughout your document, here’s a quick trick. Highlight the word or phrase that requires linkage, then click the link icon in the toolbar, or use the shortcut ⌘K.
In the pop-up window, Google will automatically suggest links. Click Find More at the bottom for additional web, image and drive options.
23. Translate into other languages
As we all know by now, Google Translate has its flaws, so proceed with caution here. But, if you need to quickly translate something for a colleague or other internal purposes, click Tools > Translate Document. You’ll be prompted to select a new name for the translated version, and then you can select your language.
24. Present your document
You can present your document within Google Hangouts Meet. Simply click Present now and choose your entire screen or a window to share with attendees. To end the presentation, select Stop presenting.
25. Find your work more easily
The more files you add to Google Drive, the more useful this Google hack gets. From Google Drive home, click on the down arrow located in the right ride of the search bar. A menu will appear enabling you to narrow down your search with filters for file types, owners, and date modified.
Lastly, if there’s a document you need regular access to, give it a gold star so that you can quickly access it from the Google Drive Starred folder. To star a document, just click on the star symbol right beside your doc title.
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