An Alternative to Microsoft Word
I've been using Microsoft Word since I was in middle school. I've always found it helpful, and until recently, I wasn't aware of any other application/software that has the same potential as Word.
However, when it comes to formatting, Word can make your document look like a disaster in a matter of seconds once you start playing with the format settings. So, this was the part of Microsoft Word that I always disliked.
I was recently working on a project and, at the suggestion of a friend, started using Google Docs. It is a fantastic tool that Google provides you for free. If you are a regular Google user, you will appreciate the intriguing service Google provides.
What Is Google Docs?
Google Docs is a free online word processor that allows you to format and create documents. It also allows you to share your work with others. It is a cloud computing tool that is one of the many document options available within Google Drive. You don't need to carry USB devices with you if you use Google Drive; all of your files are always with you wherever you go.
There are many misconceptions about Google Docs, such as losing the privacy of your documents just because it is cloud-based, but this is not the case at all, and you have complete control over anything you create and share.
The article discusses nine reasons why you should use Google Docs, as well as how to use it to create, format, download, and share your work.
1. It’s Free
Google offers its users 15 GB of free storage space on Google Drive. It lets users save data, documents, videos, or whatever else they choose to store. So, if you write and save your file in Google Docs, it will remain in your drive and will take up no space on your device, but you can download the file in multiple formats if you want. We will discuss this feature in more depth later in this article.
2. Easily Accessible Anywhere
To get started with Google Docs, you just need to sign in to Google Drive on any device (Computer, Mobile, Tab, etc.) with an internet connection. It is easier than Word, and does not require any downloading or installation. Word is more time-consuming, whereas Google Docs is more user-friendly and smooth.
3. Download in Different Formats
Google allows its users to download files in several formats. Whether you need to save your work as TXT, EPUB, RTF, PDF, HTML, or any other text format, the software's intricate details can quickly help you convert your files to the required format in only a single click.
Google lets you save your file in the following formats:
- HTML or Webpage format (.html)
- Microsoft Word (.docx)
- Open document Format (.odt)
- Plain Text (.txt)
- Rich Text Format (.rtf)
- E-Publication (.epub)
- PDF format
You're probably unaware that Google Docs includes specific text-to-speech features that allow your screen reader app to read documents for you. Before you can use this feature, you must first have to install a screen reader software.
You can skip this step if your computer already has screen reader software built in, such as Apple VoiceOver or ChromeVox. If not, I suggest using the NVDA screen reader software. It is a free, open-source screen reader software that is simple to use.
There are no additional settings to configure in order to use it with Google Docs. Just download and install the software and follow the instructions given below.
How to enable Google Docs screen reader
If the Google Docs screen reader option is not enabled, your screen reader software will be unable to read the text. Here's how to enable screen reader in Google Docs:
- Click on the “Tools” menu in the top bar, then select “Accessibility settings.”
- Now check the checkbox next to “Turn on screen reader support” and click “OK."
- After this, you will notice a new Accessibility menu in the top bar. You can use it to read aloud text in Google Docs.
- Open the document and select the text you want to read aloud. A simple trick to select all your text is to press Ctrl+A.
- Now, on the top menu bar, select "Accessibility" and then "Speak selection" from the "Speak" option. And bingo, your screen reader software is ready to read aloud the text.
There is also a keyboard shortcut in Google Docs for this function. Once the required text has been selected, press Ctrl+Alt+X to begin reading aloud.
Note: If you don’t want to install a screen reader software on your computer, then you can also use this Screen Reader (Chrome Extension) by Google. But, this screen reader will only work in the Chrome browser.
5. Easy Sharing
Google Docs makes sharing documents with others simple and easy. This is ideal for receiving comments on your writing as well as editing. Click the share button and enter the other person's email address; the person will receive an email alert and can begin editing and commenting immediately. This is more convenient than sending and receiving documents via email.
The commenting feature is the most interesting. Edit in real-time with easy sharing, and use comments, ideas, and action items to keep things going. For rich teamwork, use @-mentions to add relevant people, files, or events to your online Docs. It's easy.
Select some text, right-click, and select "comment." Your comment appears to the right, and whatever you comment on is automatically shared with the person who created the document. In combination with sharing, this feature makes it fast to discuss and edit documents without the need to create versions, save, or email.
7. Translate Your Document
Google Docs allows you to translate your document into any language. Just install the Translate add-on and you're ready to go.
8. Work Offline
One advantage of using Google Docs is that you can edit, save, and create documents even when you are not connected to the internet. This can be beneficial if you need to get some work done while traveling. The changes you make will be saved and synced when you reconnect to the internet. However, this is not an automatic function. You must enable offline connections in your account.
To do so, go to the Google Docs homepage and look for the menu button on the left side. A pop-up box will then appear on your screen. Toggle the Offline option to "on" to enable offline editing.
9. Voice Typing
You can speed up your writing process by using voice typing in Google Docs. To use the feature, first, check your device settings to ensure that your microphone is functioning. Then on Google Docs, click Tools and then Voice Typing. A microphone symbol will appear.
Click the microphone icon to begin the speech-to-text feature. Google will transform your spoken words into text, which you will see appear on the page.
The Beginner’s Guide to Google Docs
Now that we've covered what Google Docs is and why you should consider using it, It's now time to explain how to use it.
Step 1: Sign In
- Go to Google Docs and sign in to your Google account.
- On the top left, under "Start a new document," click the + sign.
Step 2: Write or Edit
- Open a new (blank page), write or import a file to edit from Google Docs, Drive, or your device. To import a file dropdown File> Open> choose the document from shared documents, Google Docs, recent, or upload from your device.
- Start writing or editing.
- Google Docs, like Microsoft Word, allows you to select your favorite font, text size, and style.
- To undo or redo an action, at the top, click undo or redo.
- You can also insert images, tables, drawings, charts, etc. from the insert option on the toolbar
- You can also do speech-typing as we discussed above.
- It also allows you to translate the document in a matter of seconds.
- Google Docs also provides some wonderful extensions. The feature is more than just interesting. This feature is known as Google Workspace Marketplace, and it allows you to install extensions to your Chrome browser that can help you with the creation and editing of Google Docs documents.
Step 3: Download, Share or Email the File
You don't need to worry about saving your file because it is an automatic system, and Google Docs will always save any changes you make. There are numerous tips and tricks that users can take advantage of while using Google Docs — whether working as an individual or with a team.
Share your document with others: You can share files and folders with other people and choose whether they can view, edit, or comment on them.
Email the file: You can also share your document with an email address. This will send an invitation to the person’s inbox and add the document to their Google Drive.
If you like, you can also control the privacy settings while sending the file through email. You can choose whether they can view, edit, or comment.
Download the file to your device:
Google Docs allows users to download files in a variety of file formats to their devices at any time. It provides several formats for downloading files, including TXT, EPUB, RTF, PDF, HTML, and some more.
I hope you found the article interesting and learned something new about this fantastic tool that Google provides. As Google is behind the software, you can be confident that it will only grow. You get the backing of one of the world's leading software companies, and absolutely free. Enjoy!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Misbah Sheikh