Sunday, September 17, 2023

Fabulous Features of Google Docs

Google Docs is a powerful word processing program with loads of useful features, and Google frequently adds new tools and options.

Even if you use Docs often, you may not use all of the features, or even be aware of some of them.

Recently I went through all the menus, settings, tools, and options in Docs to try to compile a list of some of my favorite features. I ended up with a list of 23 fabulous features of Google Docs which I am sharing below.

If you are new to Google Docs, or just a casual user, this list will help introduce you to the features that make Docs unique and powerful. Or if you are a seasoned user, hopefully you will pick up a few new ideas or reminders for tools that you can make more use of.

Either way, be sure to let me know what features I have left off the list that you would recommend, as well as how you use those features. I am excited to learn from you!

🧰 Session Resources

🗣️ Voice Typing

Speak to Docs and have your words automatically typed for you.
  • Click "Tools" then "Voice typing".
  • Click the microphone and speak to dictate to the document.
  • Can include punctuation.
  • Can change language.
  • Can be used for comments - say "Insert Comment" followed by comment
  • Can be used for emojis - say name of emoji followed by "emoji"
  • Great for assistive technology, young students, multi-tasking or poor typists.

🔠 Web Fonts

Choose from over 1,500 fonts.
  • Click the font menu and then choose "More fonts"
  • Use them in Docs, Slides, Sheets, Drawings, and more.
  • Display correctly for all users.
  • Also browse with previews at

🖌️ Paint Format

Easily copy the style from one part of your document to another.
  • Select the source text, then click the "Paint format" button.
  • Select new text to apply the format.
  • Double-click the "Paint format" button to repeatedly apply style.

🅰️ Set Default Fonts and Styles

You can set the default fonts and styles for any new document you create.
  • Format some text the way you want the defaults to be.
  • Select the text.
  • Click "Format" then "Paragraph Styles" then "Normal Text" and finally "Update Normal Text to Match".
  • Now click "Format" then "Paragraph Styles" then "Options" and finally "Save As My Default Styles".

😀 Emojis

You can add emojis to your documents.

🔗 Internal Links

Add internal links to jump to different parts of your document.
  • Click "Insert" then "Link".
  • Link internally to headers or bookmarks.
  • Can be used for organization, navigation, "Choose Your Own Adventure" stories, and more.
  • Blog post - "Choose Your Own Adventure Stories with Google Docs" - Website link
  • Sample - "Dragon Quest" Interactive Story - Google Document link

✨ URL Tricks

Change the document link for other ways to share it.
  • Normal view link - "…/edit" - Example
  • Force a copy - "…/copy" - Example
  • Show Doc without menus - "…/preview" - Example
  • Preview with copy option - "…/template/preview" - Example

▶️ Playing Videos

Play YouTube videos in Docs with the popup window.
  • Add a YouTube link to your document.
  • When you click on the link, you will see a small animated thumbnail showing the first few seconds of the video.
  • You can then click on the "Open preview" link in the bottom right corner of the thumbnail.
  • The video will now open in a popup window in the bottom right corner of the Google Document and start playing automatically.
  • You can click and drag the top left corner of the video window to make it larger or smaller.
  • The video will stay on top and play while you continue to work in the document allowing you to watch the video and do your work.
  • Normal video functions are still available such as volume, captions, playback speed, and more.
  • When done you can close the video window.

🟢 Smart Chips

Add interactive chips to your document.
  • Date, People, File, Calendar Event, Place (free version)
  • Voting Chip, Stopwatch, Timer, Variables (paid version)

🔽 Dropdowns

Add interactive dropdown menus inside of your documents.
  • Click "Insert" then "Dropdown".
  • Can be used for tracking projects, grammar activities, cloze reading, and more.
  • Blog post - "Create Cloze Reading Activities with Google Docs Dropdown Chips" - Website link
  • Tutorial video - YouTube link
  • Sample - "Frog Cloze Activity" - Google Docs link

🧱 Building Blocks

Insert pre-made templates for common tasks.
  • Meeting notes, Email drafts, Calendar events, Product roadmap, and more.
  • Create, save, and reuse your own custom building blocks.

🎨 Embedded Drawings

Embed Google Drawings inside of a document to add an interactive element.

🔎 Explore Tool

Search for content from the side panel in Docs.
  • Click "Tools" then "Explore".
  • Search and insert web pages, images, and more.
  • Provides proper citation for inserted web pages.

💡 Google Keep Integration

Access and insert Google Keep notes from the Docs side panel.
  • Click "Keep" in the Docs side panel.
  • Docs allows you to access anything you have saved in Google Keep.
  • You can then bring those items into your document.
  • Great for frequently accessed content, comments, images, resources for a project, and more.
  • Blog post - "Using Keep for Grading Comments" - Website link
  • Sample comment banks - Google Docs link

🈴 Translate

You can translate an entire document into another language.
  • Click "Tools" then "Translate document".
  • Choose the language you want to translate into.
  • A new copy of the document will be created in the chosen language.

🤖 AI Assistant

If you have Duet AI for Google Workspace you can use AI to help write and rewrite text.

🔔 Notifications

Get notified anytime someone makes a change to a particular document.
  • Click "Tools" then "Notification settings".
  • Select notification option for "Added or removed content".

⏳ Version History

See all changes ever made to the Doc, who made the changes, and when.
  • Click "File" then "Version history" then "See version history"
  • Great for tracking changes, group work, plagiarism, etc.
  • Different versions can also be named (such as Rough Draft, Final Version, etc.)
  • Older versions can also be copied as their own documents.

➕ Add-ons

Extend Docs features and options with Add-ons

🔌 Extensions

Extend Docs features and options with Chrome Extensions

👩‍💻 Apps Script Code

Extend Docs features and options with Apps Script code

📃 Templates

Templates can save time when creating documents.
  • Use pre-made templates from the "Template Gallery".
  • Add your own templates to your school's gallery.

📶 Offline Access

Google Docs can be used when offline to edit and create documents.
  • Click the settings gear in the top right corner of Google Drive screen, and choose "Settings".
  • Scroll to find "Offline" settings.
  • Check the box for "Create, open and edit your recent Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides files on this device while offline."
  • Click "Done".
  • Now when you are offline you can go to Drive and can access and edit any files that are not grayed out (these will be recently used files).
  • Specify a particular file for offline use by clicking "File" and "Make available offline".

Post by Eric Curts
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1 comment:

  1. Thanks Eric ! Our students found out about the Video Preview and are using to listen to music while working although they don't have access to Youtube... Kind of a workaround !