This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
By Leo Babauta Jun. 29, 2007, 6:00am PT
Recently, Google rolled out a new look for its Google Docs & Spreadsheets software application … not exactly a major upgrade, as the tools themselves remain the same, but it’s still a new interface for organizing your documents. Google Docs is beginning to emerge as a productive tool for the web worker, and today we’ll take a look at some ways to make the most of it. 0digg First of all, why would we move from a desktop app like Word or Excel or OpenOffice? Web workers know the answer to this: It liberates you from the desktop. You can access your documents from any computer that has Internet access, without fussing with USB drives or emailing stuff to yourself or uploading and downloading documents to online servers. There are downsides, of course, which we’ll talk about at the bottom of this article — stuff Google needs to address. But for myself, and I know many others like me, Google Docs is a viable alternative. I use it completely, and for my simplified needs it gets the job done with a minimum of fuss. If you’re looking to give it a try, here are some productivity tips for Google Docs: 1. Shortcut to launch Google Docs. I use AutoHotKey to create a shortcut key combo so that I can launch Google Docs quickly, but you could also use Firefox’s keyword bookmarks to create a quick shortcut … go to your Google Docs bookmark in the Bookmarks menu, right click on it and select Properties, and put a short keyword in the keyword field (such as “gd”). Now, when you need to launch Google Docs, just go to the location bar (Ctrl-L) and type “gd” and hit enter. If you use Google Docs as much as I do, you need a fast way to access it. 2. Shortcut to launch new document. Do the same thing for new documents and new spreadsheets — either create an AutoHotKey shortcut or Firefox keyword bookmark, so when you need a new document quickly, it’s there in a flash. 3. Use search to find docs quickly. When you’re on the main page for Google Docs, with your listing of documents, instead of clicking through folders or scrolling to find a document, just go to the search bar and start typing. The names of documents with those letters will appear in a flash. If the keyword you’re looking for isn’t in the title of the
just press enter and you’ll get a quick listing of docs with that keyword. and your text will be in columns. etc. It’s much faster to use the search box than to use your mouse. Create a shortcut for them too (see item 1 above). filing isn’t necessary. I have certain documents I use several times a day — a log. but in the content. stress free. it’s a bit difficult to put ads on your Google Doc. You’ll have your own frequently used documents. Filing. Now click on the Star view on the left pane. Another excellent reason to use online word processing — publishing it for others to view is just a click away. 7. The time when tagging a document (putting it in a folder) is useful is when you want to view it in a certain way later. Also. Just go to the “Share” tab and enter the email addresses of people you’d like to view or collaborate on the document. but that’s not really necessary either for the most part. Publish. so it’s an alternative to blog publishing. as the search works very quickly. When you print. but still. But for those minimalists among us. 4. the table borders won’t be visible. Actually. You can add tags (now called folders) to a document. etc. so that only your Starred documents are showing. One of the problems with the new Google Docs interface is that it eliminated the old “Archive” button (although it’s rumored that Archive will be brought back soon). If you’re looking to add columns to your document. and thus create a minimal view. Clean. One of the great benefits of an online document such as Google Docs is the ability for people in different locations to collaborate on a document. and they’ll be sent and email with the link. 6. Now you’ve got a minimal view. Sharing. Formatting. if you want to quickly see all documents for a certain project.document. This means that all your documents and folders are in sight. my list of invoices. Minimal view. You can also go to Document Settings under the File Menu to change the document’s settings for . my budget. I know of at least one published Google Doc that made the front page of Delicious. you can do so by creating a table (from Insert menu). the collaborators. 8. But you can do something similar now: just tag each of your current documents or frequently used documents with a Star. 5. and minimize all the stuff in the left pane (the folders. the Archive was cool because you could get all the documents you’re not actually using out of sight. Shortcut to most often used docs. Of course. with one row and as many columns as you’re looking for. Document changes will be tracked. For example. I tend to only really use the Star for my most frequently used documents. you can tag it with the project name. so you can pull them up at any time without having to go to your documents list.). It’s also a great way of emailing documents to people without having to download it and attach it to the email. you could publish your Google Doc or Spreadsheet on your blog. 9.
Google Spreadsheets is very limited. Improved spreadsheets. Right now. use Firefox’s Page Setup option in the File menu. • • Formatting for printing. save. or 3 F2: Edit active cell (spreadsheets) Ctrl-Spacebar: Select entire column (spreadsheets) Shift-Spacebar: Select entire row (spreadsheets) Items Google needs to add soon Google Docs isn’t perfect. Bring back the archive button! We don’t need to see every document. Z. because you can use search operators such as label: and has:attachment. undo. Google Docs has most of the regular shortcuts used in word processors (copy. Google Docs doesn’t currently have that. Gmail’s search is much better. I don’t print stuff out. and U.line spacing. respectively). select all. V. but here are some of the more useful of the rest: • • • • • • • • • • Ctrl-J: Full justify Ctrl-Shift-L: Bulleted list Ctrl-L: Left alignment Ctrl-E: Center alignment Ctrl-M: Insert comment Ctrl-Space: Remove formatting Ctrl-1. 2. of course. Archive. For margins. I. font and background color. but many others do. And when they do. Edit tags better. paste. they want it to look a certain way. S. underline. . italics. Here are some things they need to add soon if they want to be a viable alternative to desktop apps for most people: • • • • Offline mode. 10. Search like Gmail. or 3: Header style 1. Right now it takes too long to add or remove tags (folders). Probably coming soon now that Google Gears is out. cut. At the very least. the Google Docs search should have the ability to search by folder name. bold. A. use Ctrl-C. for example. It needs to add at least half the features of Excel or Calc. B. Keyboard shortcuts. X. 2.