It’s been said that we’re living in a digital world, and when you consider how many people work, play, and learn using their computers, you can’t help but agree. Word processors such as Microsoft Word revolutionized how we do things, and Google Docs came along to push things to a whole new level.
What exactly is it, you may wonder? Well, this is an application that allows you to create and manage your documents both while connected to the internet and while working offline. You determine, as the document creator, whether access to the document is either private or public, meaning that you can work on it simultaneously with an entire team of people all over the world as long as they have access to a working internet connection. Here’s a quick look at some of the features and capabilities that make this application what it is.
1. Offline Accessibility Function
This is probably its most useful feature when you consider it in comparison to other online word processing tools available. Should you be working on a document or spreadsheet when the power shuts down or the Wi-Fi shuts off, as can happen anytime without warning, Google.Docs will change over automatically from its online mode to its offline setting. You won’t have to worry about any loss of data as you continue with your work; the application will synchronize any changes you make offline with the online version of your document the moment you reconnect to the internet.
2. Real-Time Collaboration
This offline capability goes hand-in-hand with what is perhaps this application’s most widely-admired function – its ability to allow for collaboration between people in different locations in real-time. By clicking on a Share button located on the document page and typing in the intended collaborator’s email address, you can grant them as much access to the document and editing capabilities as you want. This means that they will be able to work on the document at the very same time that you are, and both of you will see the changes and additions being made on each side as they occur. You don’t have to grant them full access, though, if you would rather not. You can specify whether they can only view, comment, edit, or any combination of the three.
It seems like such a set-up can get real messy real quick right? Well, they seem to have thought of that as well. To prevent the confusion overlapping edits can cause, they created it with a tracking function that lets you see everything as it was before any changes were made, at which point you can then authorize any changes made to the document before they become permanent. As we mentioned earlier, Google Docs will allow you to tag as many people as you like as collaborators, meaning you aren’t limited in how many people you want to include in your project.
3. Research Capabilities
One of the most powerful features of this application comes as a direct result of its affiliation with its parent company, Google, which went ahead to incorporate its ultra-powerful search engine capabilities into it. What this means for users is, rather than exiting your document to look up pertinent information elsewhere, you can get your information right from the Google Doc screen’s search box. This feature allows users to look up quotes, academic papers, images and whatever else they might need. Moreover, they have provided a handy ‘Cite’ button that allows you to indicate the source of your information with a footnote notation at the click of a button.
4. Multiple Format Compatibility
One of the biggest challenges users face when creating and sharing documents is the issue of cross-compatibility across different platforms. Many competitors try to lock in users on their platforms by making it difficult, if not impossible, for a document created on one platform to be shared and viewed on another. Google Docs chose not to be one of them. They give users the option to download or email documents in various formats including .pdf, Word Document (.docx), Web Page (.html), and many more.
This feature is a really important one when you take into consideration the fact that one of the program’s most important features is its ability to bring collaborators together from different places to work on a single document. Computers and platforms can vary from place to place, so it’s vital that a job-sharing platform accept formats without exception. That’s the only sure way to get the most out of such a program.
5. Custom Personal Dictionaries and Automatic Substitutions
While this might not be such a spanking-new innovation in itself, it deserves a mention due to its sheer usefulness. This feature allows Google Docs users to program words that may not be included in traditional, acknowledged dictionaries so they may be freely included in the document without being flagged as typing errors, which can get irritating. This can be especially useful to those handling works of fiction, technical articles, or pieces including words in a foreign language.
Closely related to this feature is the automatic substitution function, which, if we’re honest, can be pretty handy for a lot of us, especially those among us whose smartphones have led them to develop a dependency on auto-correct. The substitution function in Google Docs doesn’t work exactly like the auto-correct feature in smartphones, however, as you can select certain words and specific phrases to have the application help you out on. If you’ve got some words that always leave you unsure of their spelling (it happens to all of us, don’t worry about it), you can manually set the program to fill them in for you, giving you the peace of mind to continue typing away without those nagging doubts to interrupt your flow.
6. Direct Email Attachment
While users have the option of sending Google Docs documents as email attachments, they are also offered the choice of reversing this process and saving attachments directly to the document itself. You can attach videos, other documents, images, and sound files to your project folder straight from your Google interface at the click of a button.