If you are not a Google Docs user here are 5 things for you to know:
Go to docs.google.com to create a new Google Doc or create one from Google Drive. A Google text document starts as a blank page for you to type a paper, create a flyer or create a list.
1. No Save Button
Google Docs save automatically.
You can find all of your Google Docs in Google Drive. You can access Google Drive at drive.google.com. There is also a Google Docs and Google Drive app for your smartphone. Your edits to the document will automatically show up in the app.
2. Blue Share Button
Click on the blue share button to change the sharing status.
Typing in a person’s email address explicitly shares the document with that person. Only you and that person can view or edit the document. The person will receive an email notification with a link to join the document.
When giving someone access to the document, you can choose to allow them to edit (default), view or make comments. Click on the “Can edit” button to change the permissions.
You can allow anyone to view the document, even if you do not know their email address. Click on “Get sharable link” to change the sharing permissions to “anyone with the link can view.” The link is copied to your clipboard automatically. Paste the link into an email, chat message or other location to share access to the document. To view the document, the person will need to click on the link.
3. Revision History
Using Google Docs changes how we share files with people. Instead of sending copies of the text document, the person is always viewing the live and current version. Multiple versions of the document are no longer floating around.
Collaborators are able to edit your document. If edits need to be reversed, the revision history allows you return the document to a previous revision. Click on the revision in the revision history side panel that you last edited. Click on the option to “Restore this revision” to rewind the document back to that moment in time.
4. Watch Collaborators Type
Google Docs open in the web browser. Instead of sharing a file, you share a link. Collaborators can find the link in their Google Drive by searching for it or clicking on “Shared with me” on the left hand side of Google Drive.
Opening the document shows the current and live version. If multiple collaborators are in the document at the same time, they can watch each other type.
Share Blank Documents
Since the Google Doc is the live version of the document, you can share the document before you type anything. This is good practice. Create a document, share the document and then type on the document. The invited collaborator can watch or contribute to the document creation process from start to finish.
5. Send a PDF or Word Copy
When a PDF or Word document is required, Google Docs gives you the option to send the document in other formats. Edits or updates to the Google Doc will not be reflected in the PDF or Word document.
Use the File menu to choose “Email as attachment.” Choose from the different format options. Google Docs will create the email and attach the PDF or Word file automatically for you. Simply indicate who you want to send the file to.
If you desire a PDF or Word version for yourself, use the File menu to choose “Download as” instead.
Make the Switch
Switching to Google Docs is a shift in thinking about text documents. While you can share or download Word or PDF versions of the document, I encourage you to switch fully to Google Docs. You can always access your files from any Internet enabled device. You always have the correct version. Google Docs makes collaboration truly collaborative. Files no longer live on one person’s computer. Collaborators have 24/7 access to the document, eliminating the need to ask for updates or the current status.
A side note: Google Docs is the generic term for the entire set of Google document types. When you hear “I use Google Docs,” this may indicate Google text documents, Google Sheets spreadsheets, Google Slides presentations, Google Drawings or Google Forms. Be aware that “Google Docs” may mean a text document or the entire set of Google document tools.