Let’s face it, not everyone uses Microsoft Word anymore. What you really need to know is just how to create a document. Google Docs, released in 2006, is free to use, web-based, and not only for text documents; you can create slideshows and spreadsheets, too. Here’s how to use it.
Setting Up a Google Account
First things first, you have to have a Google account to take advantage of its products. You probably already have a Google account of some sort, but in case you don’t, here’s how to get one.
To create an account, go to Google.com and look in the upper right-hand corner for the blue Sign In button. Click on it and select Create Account. Here you’ll have to divulge some personal information but you have a choice to make first. You can create an account with an existing email address or create a Gmail address instead. Once you’ve made your choice, you pick a username and password. It’s as simple as that.
Launching Google Docs
Once you’re logged in, to find the Docs app, look again in the upper right-hand corner and click on the square composed of nine smaller squares. You’ll be shown a menu with the most popular apps listed. To go straight to Docs, click on More at the bottom of the menu and look for the Docs icon. That, or you can navigate straight to docs.google.com, or navigate to docs.new in your browser to open a blank Google Docs page.
With the web app open, you can see your many document options. Google provides templates for résumés, reports, anything you might encounter in your day-to-day life. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, a blank document is the easy choice.
TIP: You can also access your Docs through your Google Drive, where you can create folders and organize all of your work, and see all the files shared with you.
Creating a Doc
Now that you’ve chosen what type of document you’d like, you simply click on it and it will launch, bringing you to a fresh, white page. You can title your document by clicking on Untitled Document in the upper left-hand corner, and further customize it like you would a Microsoft Word file. It’s pretty intuitive.
Something pretty key to use when working on a document with multiple collaborators is the editing modes, and commenting, and chatting. In the upper right-hand corner, under the Share button, you’ll see a pencil next to the word Editing. If you click the arrow to the right of the word, you can choose between editing, suggesting, or viewing. Editing means you are directly editing the document and making changes. If you choose Suggesting, then it will be like the Track Changes function on Word, meaning it will document all of your changes and someone will need to go and accept those changes at some point. Viewing is seeing what the document will look like when all is finished.
To share your document with others, and possibly collaborate, look for the blue Share button in the upper right-hand corner with the lock icon next to it. When you click, you are able to enter the email address(es) of whom you desire and are able to grant them certain permission, either can edit, can comment, or can view.
Also through Google Drive, you can create spreadsheets, what Google calls Sheets, and slideshows, what it calls Slides. These are comparable to Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint, and also have the benefit of collaboration. With Drive, you get 15 GB of storage for free, so start creating.
Originally posted on Popular Mechanics