Everything You Wanted to Know about Google Drive but were Afraid to Ask
When people need to create documents, they fall back on old standards. I’ll bet the last time you had to “type something up,” you opened up Microsoft Word and got to work. Word, however, is no longer the last word on documents. (See what I did there?)
Google is synonymous with search. The phrase “Google it” entered the popular lexicon some time ago. But did you know you can also use Google for creating, collaborating on, and storing documents?
Enter Google Drive and Google Docs, which started out as a simple web-based alternative to Microsoft Word. Then Google began offering alternatives to Microsoft spreadsheets and PowerPoint slides. To more accurately portray its offerings, Docs is one of the apps you can get bundled in G Suite, which is managed through Drive.
Business has become a more collaborative venture. It used to be one person pounding on a keyboard, creating a Microsoft Office document. That person would finish the document, attach it to an email, and then send it. These days, one person creates the original draft, then forwards it to sales for changes, who forwards it to marketing, who forwards it to legal. Instead of forwarding, you could simply share the document with your collaborators using Google Drive. Using the Suggested Edits setting, you can see all the changes everyone wants, and accept or reject as needed.
I know you feel safe with Word and Excel and PowerPoint, and honestly, most people still use them, as do I. But give Drive a chance. I migrated the checkbook issued by my credit union to Google Drive. I don’t have to buy paper checkbooks anymore. I used to keep Microsoft spreadsheets containing family birthdays and gift amounts, and one with annual expenses, on my laptop hard drive. Now I keep in in Drive. Why? I like checking details any time I want using my mobile device. Also, I no longer fear losing all that data if my laptop drive crashes.
Note: As of June 7, 2017, Google Drive was having problems opening Sheets files, which are the equivalent of basic Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheet format. If you are experiencing this problem, navigate to your Drive Sheets using your browser, but put your browser in Incognito mode. This fix should allow you to open your file and download if needed.
Interested in what Drive can do for you? Excellent! The Help Files, created with Docs and stored on Drive during editing, has got some nifty tips for you..
For some Microsoft Word users, the ability to turn on Track Changes is priceless, and a deal-breaker if Google Drive didn’t offer a similar function. Well, guess what? It does! According to this post from PC Magazine, you can easily turn on a function called Suggest Edits. Do this by clicking the Pencil button to open a menu.
If your knowledge of Google Drive is minimal, but you’re eager to learn, this Tips Library by G Suite would be a good place to start. Discover how to work with Microsoft Office files, receive notification when someone shares files with you, and learn how to save email attachments in Drive. All this and more awaits you.
This post on Process Street says that Google Drive is tops at collaboration, especially if you have an entire department collaborating on a file. This very article, for instance. I use Google Drive, specifically Google Docs, to write and format every issue of The Help Files. We started out using Microsoft Word. No surprise there. Then I discovered Docs. I realized I could share an article to several people at once. I LOVE TECHNOLOGY. I no longer had to (1) create a Gmail message, (2) attach a Word document, (3) send the message to three people, and then (4) merge all of their individual changes into one file. If you are sharing a file with many people, as I with The Help Files, you can see what everyone is doing as they are doing it, which can be critical if certain circumstances arise. For more tips, read the piece.
As this article on Hubspot says, you can work around the Gmail limit of 25 MB (which means no large image, audio, or video files) by using Drive to share files of up to 15 GB. To do this, you would create a folder, upload your files to that folder, and then share that folder out to others.
As Google Drive is associated with your Gmail account, you can store any attachments you receive into your Drive account. Brian Voo’s piece gives you all the details. Also, if you use the Chrome browser and you find an image you like, you may save the image to your Drive account if you have the Save to Google Drive Chrome extension.
Have some tips or tools to share with your fellow technical communicators, information developers, and content creators? Let’s network! Drop me a note: HelpFiles@TechWhirl.com. Follow me on Twitter, connect with me on LinkedIn, circle me on Google+, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I enjoy connecting with others in the industry.