What is Google Docs? How Does Google Docs Work?

by Finn on January 21, 2012 · 1 comment

in Google

Because Google Docs was "Cloud" before "Cloud" was "to the Cloud!"

To be short, Google Docs might still be the best underutilized tool in Google’s invaluable free online offerings. Not that many, many people aren’t using Google Docs, they are. It’s just that the tool is so impressive that it should be adopted by every corporation & contractor in some form, somehow, in some way.

Why? What is Google Docs?

Google Docs is a free brower-based (accessible by a web browesr like Internet Explorer, GOOGLE CHROME!…) online word processing tool comparable to Microsoft Office. though it doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles as compared to Microsoft’s industry leading platform, but given that Google Docs is FREE, never needs updating, and never needs licensing renewal, the cost-saving benefits of Google Docs is simply undeniable.

Google Docs Offerings

  • Document: Like Microsoft Word documents. It’s simpler but does worthwhile job of presenting documents with header, footer, & footnote options. Not as many font offerings, but how many of those fonts do you really really nead?
  • Presentation: Like PowerPoint. PowerPoint offers a little more but, once again, Google Docs Presentaion more than does the job, especially for the price, value and maintenance.
  • Spreadsheet: The free alternative to Google Excel. Once you get used to the header changes you’ll find that it essentially does the same things that Excel does. And it’s easier to freeze headers and columns.
  • Form: Make your contact forms, questionnaires and contact forms. And if you’re afraid you won’t be able to style it pretty enoug, don’t worry! There’s more than enough free templates out there to utilize.
  • Drawing: If you’re looking for a free alternative to Photoshop, check out Gimp! But if you need something simple, check out Google Drawing. It usually gets the job done.

Google Docs Key Advantages

Google Docs has 3 advantages that simply set it apart from Microsoft Word and competing open source business software platforms such OpenOffice.org.

  1. Browser-Based - as mentioned in the begging of this review, The fact that Google Docs is browser based means I can work on my work on most any desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile device. And since 2011, I’ve have also begun to love the support Google gives to the mobile devices.
  2. Google-Secure - For PC users that have Microsoft Windows, in order to keep the computer and documents secure, the computer has to keep up with the most recent updates as well as maintain a worthwhile antivirus program. For those who share computers or work on a network, document security is as secure as the person with the mose risquee browsing habits. With Google, as long as your password is wortwhile, your stuff stays securie within the Google Cloud (note: if sharing computers or if the computer is where others can use it, always logout or lock the computer when leaving).
  3. Online Collaboration: “Cloud” before “Cloud” was “Cloud” – The word “Cloud,” has become a trending uber-branded term to help consumers understand the power of online collaboration. I blame Microsoft. But for those who have been using Google Docs for that last few years, they know that Google Docs has had cloud / collaboration potentials before we knew there was a word for it. Have more than one writer on a document? Well, all document writers can work on the document AT THE SAME TIME and see each other working on the document in real time.

Permissions can be set per document, folders, or collections of folders. Each person you give permission to can either have edit or viewing rights.

If the document writers want to tell each other what they’re doing without having to use an additional chat program, there’s a comment section on the right of the document that doubles as an online chat program. Just hit the Comments on the top-right of the browser and the chat window pops out.

Have a question about a specific edit?

    • Highlight the section you would like to leave a comment about
    • Go up to the header bar at the top left above the document
    • select Insert>Comment
    • type in your comment.

The highlight section will remain highlighted in Post-It Note yellow

On the right side of the document you’ll see a little window appear with your user name and gravatar along with your comment. The comment will come with a date and timestamp. The other document writers will be able to leave follow-up comments and when the issue is resolved, simply hit the Resolve button and it all goes away.

Even more beautiful: in the comments section in the top right side where you got the chat window, there is a settings section so you can get emailed updates of the progress so you can see comment progress.

  1. Make it public: if you want to show everyone your progress, you can the header bar top-left of the document to File > Publish to the Web.
    You are able to:
    • publish the link: https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1IEieSKpavBnpks1JP7ibKj6OHYsw3Ma93M3DCd8VtUw
    • Or pull the embed code and post it on the page.

    Google Docs Video Tutorials

    These YouTube videos are from Google. They do a great job explaining the features found in Google Docs. Take some time to go over them and if you don’t have time, then make sure to bookmark the page.

    Business Owners? Try Google Business Apps!

    For those who want to use services like Google Docs for their businesses along with Gmail and Google Calendar, check out Google Business Apps. It’s all-in-one.

    Google Docs Questions

    Have any questions on how to use Google Docs or any Google -related services? Let us know. It’s why NWISM is here!

    Photo Credit: Adrian Richards via Flickr

Nat Finn just tries to help out with the community. His list of projects and employers include livemercial, Milestone Internet Marketing, Blog Indiana, #NWITweetup and…his little design & development shop: BakedFInn

He’s also a Cubs fan – which means he’s unusually faithful and devoted :-P

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