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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.

3. Create drawings within presentations

When creating a presentation, you needn't switch to the separate drawing component to make a sketch. Instead, click Insert and then Drawing. These commands will open the drawing interface in a floating window. When you're finished, click Save and then Close to insert the drawing into the presentation, where you can reposition and resize it.

4. Fix pictures in position

You can fix images into position within documents, forcing text to flow around them. By default, the Google Docs word processor inserts pictures in such a way that they move with the text; this arrangement is known as Inline positioning. To fix the picture to the page so that it remains stationary while text flows around it - and so that the only way to move it is by clicking and dragging it - first select the image and then, at the bottom, click Fixed.

5. Quickly back up all of your documents offline

If you'd like to save all of the documents that live on Google's servers to your hard drive, start by hovering the mouse over any file in the Google Docs homepage file listing. Next, choose Actions and select Download in the menu that appears.

In the resulting dialog box, click the All Items tab. You'll be see many items of each file type that you can download; if you're happy, click the Download button. The files will be downloaded together in a .zip file.

6. Gather spreadsheet data using forms

Don't want to leave your work only in the cloud? You can back up your Google Docs files locally. Sometimes you need to gather data from co-workers, customers, or other individuals. Forms provide a quick way to satisfy this need, offering simple multiple-question interfaces that you can e-mail to people or include on web pages.

To get started, open a new spreadsheet and select Form; then choose Create a Form. In the window that appears, type your first question into the Question Title field. You can provide explanatory text in the Help Text field if you wish, if you do, that text will appear above the question on the form. In the Question Type dropdown field, select the type of answer you're looking for--multiple choice, plain text, or whatever the case may be. If you're requesting numerical data, select Text.

To enter another question, hover your mouse over Sample Question 2 and click the pencil icon. Then repeat the steps described above. To add more questions, click the Add Item button at the top left of the window.

Once your questions are complete, email the form to its intended recipients by clicking the Email This Form button. Alternatively, open the More Actions dropdown list and select Embed to obtain HTML code that you can insert into a Web page.

Any data that people enter on your form will appear at the top of the spreadsheet. You can manage or delete forms by using the Form menu within the spreadsheet.

NEXT PAGE: Insert links in a snap

  1. Get more done in the productivity suite
  2. Create drawings within presentations
  3. Insert links in a snap
  4. Click and drag images into Docs from the Desktop
  5. Find a video's technical details

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