Google Docs (Getting Started)

If you enjoyed Reader you’re gonna love Google Docs.

Google Docs is comprised of several tools that you might expect to find included in an “Office Suite” of applications. It also includes a few you might not expect. The most important thing to remember when working with Google Docs is that your information is stored online (in the cloud). This makes accessing and sharing your docs easy regardless of device or location.

So now you know that documents created within Google Docs are portable, stored online, and easy to share. Now let’s explore how easy it is to get started. Simply visit http://docs.google.com and log-in with your Google account. Once you login you should see a “Create” button at the upper left corner.

When you click Create you will be presented with different types of files you can create. We’ll start simple and choose to create a Document. Once you’ve created a new document the first thing you will most likely want to do is give it a name.

To give your document a name simply click on the “Untitled document” name, this will prompt you for a new document name.

Enter your document’s name and click Ok. At this point your document has a new name. You may not have noticed, but this also caused the document to save. Bringing me to another interesting point about Google Docs.

If you look in the file menu you will notice that a feature appears missing. Look closely and think about what looks wrong.

If you said there is no Save option, then you would be correct. In Google Docs you never save anything, it’s all done automatically. While this seems simple enough, it’s actually pretty hard to simply trust that all your hard work will “automagicly” appear without taking the time to save a document. Take a leap of faith and trust me. It works.

At this point I’d encourage you to take some time to click through some of the menu items, then hover over the formatting options. For the most part it works just like any other word processor you’ve used.

Perhaps you would rather work with some documents you’ve previously created, or simply see how compatible Google Docs is with your current word processing software?

Google allows you to upload files to your Google Docs as well. Next to the create button, you will find an icon that resembles a disk drive with an up arrow. Click this icon to view the upload features. You can upload single files, as well as entire folders full of files.

For more information regarding uploads you can see Google’s official documentation.

So in this post we’ve described how to access Google Docs, create and name a new document, introduced you to autosave, and shown you how to upload documents. I’d encourage you to play with the word processor and see what you can and can’t create. If you hit snags or want to know how to do something feel free to post questions below.

In my next post I’ll cover the basics of sharing, editing, and collaborating with Google Docs.

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2 Responses

  1. When I cut things from Word to paste in other formats — content management systems, particularly — I often have to take the additional step of pasting the content into Notepad to remove the formatting before moving it to its final destination. Would I still need to do that step if I used Google Docs instead of Word?

    • Actually I would think not, but it would require some testing. Different CMS systems might have different results. I’m writing this portion of the reply in Google Docs, and will paste it into WordPress as a simple test.

      It appears that this simple test worked just fine. Word uses a complex method of formatting that is included in copied data, Google Docs was built on the web so it should be more compatible with web based technologies.

      Happy testing let me know if it worked for you.

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