Tech Talk: Top 10 Most Powerful Google Docs Features

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Google Docs updates are so frequent and rich in features that it's sometimes hard to keep track of all of the great tools you have at your disposal when using Google's web-based document management and editing program. Precisely because of that, here are the top 10 most powerful features currently supported by Google Docs. For starters, there's an easy clean up the formatting of a text you've pasted in Google Docs. To do that, make a selection and tap the text icon at the top of your screen, then scroll down to the bottom and choose "Clear Formatting." This menu also allows you to change the font of your selection and if you're using the web version of the app, you can even add more fonts to it. Simply select the "More fonts" option on the previous menu and take your pick. Google Docs even offers a convenient preview of fonts which you view prior to installing them and if you're in the mood for more testing, tapping the sample sentences will allow you to write your own.

Have you ever used Google Docs to collaborate with someone? If you have or are going to, you'll probably find the app's robust Suggestion mode quite useful when trying to communicate with your partners while simultaneously contributing to a document. Select the pencil icon at the top of any document and locate the "Suggesting" option. Once you've turned it on, Google will start tracking any changes made to the document with comments written in different colors denoting the collaborator responsible for the change. In addition to that, project leaders have access to "Accept" and "Reject" options attached to the comments so that they can quickly go over and manage the latest contributions. If you're manually writing a comment on some part of the document you're collaborating on, you can tag people in order to make them instantly aware of your endeavors. In order to do that, type the "+" or "@" sign in the comment box and start writing the name of the collaborator you want to tag. Once tagged, the collaborator will receive an email notification about your tag.

If a collaboration goes wrong or you simply want to bring back an older version of your document for some other reason, you can achieve that by navigating to "File" and "See revision history". This will open a pop-up menu where you'll see the list of changes to the document made from the beginning of time. Simply click on one and select the restore option that pops out in order to restore the older version of the document. At the moment, this feature is exclusively available in the browser version of the app. Furthermore, if typing feels like a chore to you, why not try dictating instead? Google Docs features an integrated voice-to-text plug-in which you can activate by going to "Tools" and opening the "Voice typing" menu. Once activated, you'll be able to quickly turn your device's microphone on or off by interacting with the microphone icon which will now appear on the right side of your browser. Unfortunately, this feature is currently not available within the Android app but that will hopefully change in the near future.

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When editing large documents, you'll find out that you're scrolling too much and will wonder whether Google Docs supports any alternative method of navigation. As a matter of fact, it does. Namely, the product features a bookmarking mechanic which you can start using by going to "Insert" located on your toolbar and selecting "Bookmark." Not unlike Microsoft Word bookmarks, these tags in Google Docs can be turned into links after they've been selected which significantly facilitates navigation through large documents. All versions of Google Docs also sport a convenient research feature which you can use to quickly look up information while editing your document. If you want to take advantage of this tool from within the app, simply make a selection and tap on the settings icon in the upper right corner of the screen, then tap on the "Research" option. If you're using the browser version of Google Docs, you can find the same option by right-clicking on any selection.

If you often find yourself in areas with weak service or just prefer to do your edits offline, Google Docs supports an offline mode which can either be turned on globally from the app's main settings menu which will prompt a download of all stored documents or used in a more selective manner. To do the latter, open any document, tap on the three-dot settings icon in the top right corner of the screen and hit the "Available offline" switch. Once you come back online, Google Docs will automatically update all of the offline edits you've made. Last but not least, Google Docs can be quite autonomous when making various substitutions regarding certain symbols, abbreviations, and similar stuff but you need to let it know what you expect from it in advance. Luckily, that's not hard to do; simply navigate to "Tools", click on the "Preferences" option and either edit the present list of automatic substitutions or start adding your instructions. This substitution system will be especially useful to people looking to write in a quick and efficient manner.

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Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]

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