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Get the Most Out of Google Docs

How to Get the Most Out of Google Docs to Improve your Business Efficiency.

In the past, co-workers shared documents by emailing them to each other. This often resulted in a great deal of confusion, with different versions of each document flying around, changes mysteriously appearing on documents with no indication of who had made them, and people from different mailing lists accidentally getting copied on important documents.

By introducing the suite of online productivity applications that together make up Google docs, Google has made some of these problems a thing of the past. Let’s look at it in more detail.

Basic Features of Google docs:

1. System requirements:

Google Docs is compatible with Internet Explorer version 6 or greater, Firefox version 1.07 or higher (but not Firefox 3) and Safari 3.1 or higher. In addition, you must enable JavaScript and cookies to use the applications.

2. Access:

To access Google Docs, you need to create a Google account. Google accounts are free. All you need is a valid e-mail address — and the willingness to agree to Google’s terms of service — to create one. If you've signed up for Gmail, you already have a Google account.

3. Compatibility:

With an account, users can either create a new document, spreadsheet or presentation, or upload an existing file to the system. Google Docs is compatible with the following file formats:
  • Comma Separated Value files (.csv)
  • Hypertext markup language (HTML) files
  • Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel files (.doc, .ppt or .pps, and .xls, respectively)
  • OpenDocument Text and Spreadsheet formats (.odt and .ods, respectively)
  • Rich text format (.rtf)
  • StarOffice documents (.sxw)
  • Text files (.txt)

4. Ownership:

You become the owner of any file you create or import into Google Docs. Owners can edit and delete files and invite collaborators and viewers. Collaborators can edit and export files. The owner can also choose to give collaborators the ability to invite other collaborators into a project. Viewers can look at files and export them, but aren't allowed to make edits.

5. Organization:

The organizational approach for Google Docs is a simple file-and-folder system. You can create folders and subfolders for all your files. Google provides you multiple ways to sort data, including alphabetically or by the latest updates.

6. Storage:

Google Docs users get a lot of storage space with their accounts, but it’s not unlimited. Each account can have up to:
  • 5,000 documents of up to 500 kilobytes each
  • 1,000 spreadsheets of up to 1 megabyte each
  • 5,000 presentations of up to 10 megabytes each

7. Using Google Docs:

  1. Multiple people can view and edit a Google Docs file simultaneously. More importantly, they don’t have to worry about creating duplicate copies of the same file.
  2. With Google Docs, everyone working on a project makes changes to the same master document. As users make edits, Google Docs tracks all the changes and tags each edit with the responsible Google account holder’s name. That way, the owner of the document can scan changes and see who is responsible for each edit.
  3. Google designed Google Docs to autosave almost constantly, preserving each edit shortly after a user makes it. Other users see the updated changes instantly.
  4. While working with documents or presentations, users can see who else is in the file.
  5. And with spreadsheets, users can click on a tab labeled “discuss” to chat in real time about the project.

Exciting New Features:

1. Google Gears:

This allows users to edit documents offline. Once you reconnect to the Internet, Google Docs automatically syncs the offline copy of your document with the master copy stored in the Google account. If another user has made edits to one of the sections you’ve changed, your changes won’t be implemented. Instead, Google alerts you to the issue and gives you the opportunity to compare your changes against the other user’s edits. If you still want your changes to go into the file, you can copy and paste them into the document.

2. Google Finance:

This allows you to retrieve information about a publicly-traded company. Users enter a company’s stock ticker symbol and request a specific piece of information about that company. The information updates as market conditions change, though the data can lag up to 20 minutes behind actual conditions.

3. Google Lookup:

This is another spreadsheet feature. Let’s say you’re building a table that compares the population of different cities. With the Google Lookup feature, you’d enter a formula, signify the city you are interested in and ask for the attribute “population.” The Google search engine looks for that information and retrieves it. If there are multiple answers for a particular attribute, Google presents all of them to you so that you can determine which one is right for your needs.

As with all Cloud Computing, security is the biggest concern of many users. Google assures users that all data is password-protected and kept private, and also inaccessible to the spiders sent out by Search Engines. Users also retain all ownership rights to their materials.

In conclusion then, Google Docs make the virtual office a reality, as well as allowing greater levels of collaboration, improving efficiency, and saving time, effort and money. Sounds like enough reason to try managing your next project online?


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