Google Docs is one of the best online tools for creating and editing documents. Able to open Microsoft Word files, documents saved in PDF format and many other types of files, Google Docs acts as a true online word processor.
To use it, in fact, you simply need to use a web browser without having to install any software or add-ons on your local system. As we will see later, then, Google Docs was born as a collaborative editor but in case of temporary absence of the Internet connection “does not fail”, if properly set to work in offline mode.
As for the support of PDF files, Google Docs certainly contemplates it but does not currently integrate a PDF editor worthy of the name. There is the limit to the possibility of starting a character recognition (OCR) on any images extracted from the PDF document (think of the paper pages scanned and saved in PDF format).
For the modification of PDF and OCR on their content we suggest to look elsewhere, following for example the advice given in the article Modify PDF, the best tools to do so.
A Selection of Useful Tips For Working Well With Google Docs
Quickly Move Text in Google Docs
To move a portion of text, for example a word, a sentence or an entire paragraph, just make a selection and then start a dragging operation with the mouse, holding down the left button.
By simultaneously holding down the Shift+ALT keys and using the arrow keys, you can quickly move the text up or down within the document.
Quickly Change the Size of the Text
After selecting the text of interest, just press the key combination CTRL+SHIFT then “comma” or “point” decrease or, vice versa, increase the size of the text without altering the font chosen.
Paste the Text in Google Docs Without Formatting or Copy the Formatting Used
Also in the case of Google Docs the key combination CTRL+SHIFT+V is very useful to paste text copied from any source (for example from a web page) removing any information related to formatting.
Using this key combination, as explained in the article Paste text without formatting: here’s how you do it, images, tables, highlights, italics, lists and so on will be completely deleted and you will only get pure text.
By clicking on a paragraph then selecting the Copy format icon at the top left of the toolbar, you can copy the formatting used for the text. If you click elsewhere in the document, the same formatting will automatically be recovered and reused.
Searching For the Most Useful Functions of Google Docs
Few people know that Google Docs integrates a practical feature that allows you to find in a blink of an eye the tools to edit the most useful documents: just press ALT+/ (the bar to press is located above the numeric keypad) and type what interests you.
Suppose, for example, you want to turn text into capital letters: just select the text then, to quickly search for the corresponding item in the Google Docs menus, press ALT+/ and write capital letters. By clicking on the CAPITAL command, the previously selected text will be transformed into uppercase letters.
Activate Voice Recognition in Google Docs
The speech-to-text mechanism of Google Docs works really well: the user does not have to install any add-ons. By accessing the Tools menu then selecting the voice Typing voice you can literally dictate the text to write to Google Docs that will recognize it in real time.
In the article Voice Recognition, how to dictate texts without installing anything we analyzed in detail the operation of the voice recognition tool integrated into Google Docs. To dictate texts, even long and complex, will no longer be a problem and you can do it directly using the microphone of your PC.
The Google Docs dictation system allows you to use commands such as semicolons and question marks together with all the useful vocal indications to format the text according to your needs. The entire list of voice commands that can be used to write the document without ever touching the keyboard is collected in this support page.
Take a look at the contents of the Add Punctuation and Step 3: Use the voice commands sections.
Google Docs’ speech recognition mechanism is useful whenever you need to transform any recording or audio track into editable text. Just start the Voice Dial as seen above and then press the Play button. The content of the voice file or audio recording will be detected as text, automatically inserted into the document.
To perform voice recognition and launch the next text recognition in a more professional way (obtaining a more precise speech-to-text), we suggest reading the article Convert audio to text without installing anything.
Doing Searches Without Ever Leaving Google Docs
The Explore button located in the lower right corner of the Google Docs screen allows you to start instant searches between your documents, stored on Drive, as well as on the web.
By searching for topics of interest to you, you will be able to get answers immediately without having to switch between the tabs in your browser.
The Explore feature is useful for searching for short information or some data that you just can’t remember. With a click on the links returned from the web search, in fact, you will still open a new tab in the browser.
To limit the search to the content of documents published in your Google account, just click on Drive.
Add an Image From the Google Photo Gallery
Google Docs integrates a feature that is very useful for those who are used to using the service and the Google Photo app.
By clicking on Insert, Image, Photo, Google Docs will show all the content of the photo gallery of Google Photo (see Google Photo, app to manage your archives and create a backup and Google Photo: features to improve images and create new content).
Google Docs allows you to edit and trim the images inserted in the document: just select them with a click and then select Image from the Format menu.
Here you will find the tools to crop the area of the image of interest, apply re-colorations, transparencies, act on brightness and contrast (Image Options).
A Dictionary at Your Fingertips
By selecting any term inserted in the document and then pressing the key combination CTRL+SHIFT+Y, you can ask for information on the meaning of the word highlighted, find synonyms and antonyms.
Instantly Access Keep Notes
If you often use Google Keep (see also Post it desktop with Windows, how to take notes), one of our favorite apps, you can quickly retrieve the content of your notes and paste it into Google Docs documents.
To proceed, just click on the Keep icon shown in the Google Docs sidebar.
Google Docs, the best tricks for creating and editing documents
Translating an Entire Document Into Another Language
By accessing the Google Docs Tools menu then using the Translate document item you can create a new document, automatically saved in Drive, containing the translation of the text currently displayed.
Collaborate More Effectively
Being a web application, Google Docs was born keeping in mind the needs related to collaboration and provides the tools to collaborate with several hands, even simultaneously, to the drafting of a document.
By moving the mouse pointer over the right end of the Google Docs document, a “+” icon will appear inside a small circle. By clicking on it it is possible to add a comment in order to draw the attention of the collaborators on an aspect deserving to be carefully weighed.
Open Google Docs in the Window and use it Also Offline as a Normal Wordprocessor
Chrome users can turn Google Docs into a kind of desktop application with its icon in the Windows taskbar. The procedure to follow is explained in the article How to turn web applications into desktop programs and we mentioned it, for example, also in the case of Gmail and WhatsApp (Tips WhatsApp: the most useful and the least known).
Google Docs can also be used offline, even when the Internet connection is not available: the advantage is that you can write a document or edit it at will even when the network is temporarily unavailable and make sure that it is saved and synchronized once back online.
In the default configuration, it is not possible to work on a Google Docs document without an Internet connection (remember that the service saves the file on Drive with every key pressed). To activate Google Docs offline just follow the instructions in our article Use Google Docs, Drive and Gmail offline.