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21 power tips for Google Docs

Get more done in the productivity suite

We've taken an extended look under the hood of Google Docs and uncovered 21 tips for getting more done by exploring some of the less obvious features in its word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation software - with a few hints for Gmail, too.

If you haven't looked at Google Docs recently, now's a good time to check in with it. The office suite, which works entirely within a browser window, has slowly but steadily continued to evolve into a highly usable set of free tools.

The lineup has come a long way since Google bought the collaborative Writely word processor in 2006. Unlike desktop software releases such as Microsoft Office, which get big updates every few years, Google Docs is a continually changing work in progress. Google introduces new features on a rolling basis, and add-ons continue to emerge both from the Google Labs and - for those who use Google Apps for Business - from the Google Apps Marketplace.

We've taken an extended look under the hood of Google Docs and uncovered 21 tips for getting more done by exploring some of the less obvious features in its word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation software - with a few hints for Gmail, too. Our coverage ranges from editing photos in place in a text document to working with multiple currencies in a spreadsheet. We'll also share cool ways to use the revamped homepage document organiser and to maximise your editing space.

Before you get started, though, note that Google Docs works best with either Google's own Chrome browser or Mozilla's Firefox. Functionality tends to be slightly limited in Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

1. Search Docs and Gmail together

You can work with more than one currency in a spreadsheet by clicking the More Formats button on the toolbar. Wouldn't it be great to be able to search both Gmail and your list of Google documents at the same time? Luckily, the Gmail Labs have worked out a way to do this. To get to the Labs from Gmail, click Settings in the top right portion of the screen, and then click the Labs link.

Scroll down until you get to the Apps Search entry; there, click Enable, and then click the Save Changes button at the top or bottom of the list. Henceforth, any search that you request within Gmail will also search your documents, and the doc results will appear beneath the Gmail results.

2. Work with more than one currency in a spreadsheet

To set the base currency format for a spreadsheet, click File and then Spreadsheet Settings. Alter the Locale setting to the relevant country (United States for the dollar, for example).

Regardless of the Locale setting you choose, you can mark cells or ranges of cells to be formatted in a different currency. To do so, highlight those cells and click the More Formats button on the toolbar (It's the button labelled '123'.). Then scroll down to the More Currencies pop-up menu and make your selection.

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