For many of us, Google Docs is an oft-used weapon in the productivity battle. But even if you use Docs on the regular, you might not know about some of its best time-saving tricks.
Here are four under-the-radar but extremely useful ways to work smarter with Google Docs.
1. Type with your voice
Fun fact about me: I love, love, love a good dictation system—especially a free one. That being said, I have yet to find one (paid or otherwise) that can totally replace an actual keyboard. But the good news is that they keep getting better all the time.
If the mark of a useful dictation feature is simply that it’s almost as fast or faster than typing, then Google Docs dictation checks the box. It’s better than good, but not quite perfect, and works best in tandem with your hands on the keyboard for some manual maneuvering when you need it.
To try it out yourself, you’ll need to be using Google’s Chrome web browser. From the Tools menu, select the Voice Typing option, make sure you’ve got a decent microphone or headset, and then give your fingers and wrists a much-needed break.
2. Research within a document
You find yourself writing a report about caves, and you can’t remember if stalactites or stalagmites are the ones that hang from the ceiling.
Instead of opening up another browser tab, typing in each term, and fumbling your way through the first page of search results, you could simply highlight the term you need more information about, right-click, and use Docs’ Explore feature.
It’ll pop up a handy little sidebar that supplies at-a-glance information from relevant search results. Should you need more info, click a result’s title to open up the respective page in a new tab.
3. Do basic image editing
If all you need to do to an image is crop it, brighten it, or rotate it, there’s no need to download it, open it up in your image editor, make your edits, save the image, then drag it into Google Docs.
Simply click on your image and, in the toolbar above it, click the Crop Image icon or the Image Options button to the right of it. You’ve got access to cropping, rotating, resizing, recoloring, transparency, brightness, and contrast: plenty of functionality for quick edits, and no need to wait an eternity for Photoshop to open.
4. Ask people for feedback
And finally, resist the urge to email an entire document to someone, ask for notes on specific parts of it, and wait for them to mark it up and send it back to you.
Use the built-in commenting feature by selecting a chunk of text, right-clicking, and selecting Comments. From there, you can tag people by using the @ symbol and typing their name. Then, type your question and click the Comment button.
The person (or people) you tag will get an email with the chunk of text you selected and your questions about it. They can then reply directly via email which, in turn, will show up as a comment in the document.