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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.

7. Insert links in a snap

You can enable forms to gather data from the public without letting participants see your spreadsheet. The most common way to insert a hyperlink into a text document is to choose Insert and then Link, or to press Ctrl-K. But another option is to click and drag a shortcut from the bookmarks toolbar or even from the bookmarks menu to the To What URL field, where it will instantly become a hyperlink. This method works only in Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, however. You can even drag links straight from the bookmarks toolbar and the bookmarks menu onto the document to create hyperlinked text.

8. Max out your editing space

To lose the toolbar and use your entire browser window for editing, select View and then Hide Controls. To return things to normal, press Esc.

You can combine this setting with your browser's full-screen mode to dedicate the entire screen to editing. To go full screen in most browsers, press the F11 button on your keyboard. Pushing your mouse cursor to the top of the screen will make the menu visible once more, and clicking the Restore button will return the window to normal.

9. Explore the templates

The Previews add-on from Google Labs lets you preview documents within Gmail. Many people don't realise that Google's word processor and spreadsheet tools offer hundreds of document templates, including some highly sophisticated ones for tax work and other specialised purposes.

To view the document templates, select Create New and then From Template on the Docs homepage.

10. Preview documents in Gmail

For a live preview (within the Gmail window) of a document that you've received via email, activate the Google Docs Previews in Mail add-on in Google Labs. To access Labs, choose Settings and then Labs. Once you've found the add-on, choose Enable and then click the Save Settings button.

11. Use rules to colour code spreadsheets

You can automatically change the colour of spreadsheet cells based on their content. To do so, highlight the cells that you want to apply colour coding to, and select first Format and then Change Colors with Rules.

From the dropdown list in the dialogue box, choose the criterion that you want the colour coding to filter by - the text of the cell, say, or the date. Then enter the filtering criterion that you want to use into the text field alongside. For example, to colour-code all cells containing the name 'Melvin', select Text Contains from the dropdown list, and enter melvin into the text field. (The field isn't case-sensitive.)

Google lets you automatically colour code spreadsheet cells based on their contents. Then, in the Text and Background boxes, choose the cell colours that you want to apply, and click Save Rules when you're done.

NEXT PAGE: Click and drag images into Docs from the Desktop

  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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