Don't assume anything with evolving Google Docs
Image: Andy Wolber
Last week, I called a client at a time we’d agreed to talk. My call went to voicemail. I tried again a few minutes later. Voicemail again.
When we finally connected, she said, “Oh, sorry. I took another call. It’s a business line.”
A random incoming call took precedence over our scheduled conversation. I was frustrated. I suggested that an inability to communicate at a scheduled time makes remote work difficult.
She operated on the outdated assumption that all incoming calls must be answered. Her actions ignored the
fact that Caller ID and voicemail exist. Those tools allow us to choose which calls we accept, and to store messages from callers we miss.
What we “know to be true” drives our behavior. But sometimes, we need to re-examine our assumptions and work to change a habit. For example, let’s look at five assumptions you might make when you move to Google Docs.
Assumption 1: Documents take up storage space
(Reality: Native Google files don’t. Other files do.)
In the days of desktop computing, when you saved a document it took up space on your system. When you store a Microsoft Office document, PDF, or video to Google Drive, the file counts against your storage limit.
But files in Google formats, such as a Google Doc, Sheet, Slide, or Drawing, don’t count toward your storage quota on Google Drive. You can create as many Google-native files as you like. In other words, while a Google Doc won’t use up your storage space, a Word document will reduce the storage space available.
To save space, you can convert Office files into native Google formats when you upload your files to Google Drive. That way, these files won’t count against your total available Google Drive storage space.
Look at the File Size column. Native Google files don’t take up any storage space on Google Drive. Files in other formats such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, and image files reduce the storage space available.
Image: Andy Wolber
Assumption 2: You need a keyboard to type a Google Doc
(Reality: No. Instead, you can talk.)
Open a Google Doc in your web browser, then choose Tools > Voice Typing (or press Ctrl+Shift+S) to enable Voice Typing. You talk and Google Docs types.
Voice typing also understands many editing instructions. With voice commands, you can move the cursor within the document; select, cut, copy, paste, format, and delete text. For the complete list of options, say “See all voice commands” while voice typing is active.
Use Google Voice Typing to create and edit a Google Doc in your web browser.
Image: Andy Wolber
Assumption 3: To learn how to use Google Docs, read the support pages
(Reality: Support pages help. Illustrations and videos do, too.)
Reading helps, but sometimes video helps more. For example, I needed to replace a door knob recently, so I bought one from a local hardware store. The manufacturer’s instructions looked complicated, with small fonts and illustrations. So I searched YouTube.com for “how to replace door knob”. I found several videos that showed the entire process. I replaced the knob — without stress — in a few minutes.
Google offers documentation in a variety of places. You can learn about Google Docs in:
– standard support pages at https://support.google.com/docs,
– illustrated tips at https://apps.google.com/learning-center/products/docs/, and
– videos on the Google for Work YouTube channel.
Assumption 4: People need a Google account to see a shared Google Doc
(Reality: Not necessarily.)
Google gives you control over the Share settings for each document you create. On the web, select the Share button, and then choose “Advanced”. You can then add individual access (i.e., add a person’s email address) or adjust link sharing settings (i.e., choose “Change…” under the document’s “Who has access” settings). You can choose options that range from “Public on the web” to “Specific people” to entirely private.
However, a Google Apps administrator can limit sharing options for people in the organization. For example, a student might not be able to share a document with people outside the district. Or a hospital system might restrict shared options to colleagues and specific trusted partner organizations. Google Apps offers administrators options. If you run into limits, talk to your Google Apps administrator.
Customize the Advanced Sharing settings to make your Google Doc as public, or private, as you choose.
Image: Andy Wolber
Assumption 5: Delete a Google Doc and it’s gone.
(Reality: No. At least not until you empty your trash — and maybe not even then.)
When you remove a file from Google Drive, it moves into Trash — where it will stay until you empty the trash.
You can restore your file — so long as you haven’t emptied the trash. To move a file out of trash, go to drive.google.com, then choose Trash from the left menu. Locate the file (or folder) you want to recover, select it, then choose “Restore”.
If you’re a Google Apps customer, an administrator may be able to help you restore files — even if you’ve emptied the trash. Typically, a Google Apps administrator can restore files deleted from trash within the last 25 days.
When you move to Google Docs from an installed-software and local files world, you still create, store, share, and recover documents. But to get the most from this web-based, collaborative tool, you may need to examine your assumptions about documents and files.