Google Docs Guide: How to do Stuff with Google Docs

Google Docs is like an online version of Microsoft Office where you can create and upload documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, then share them with anyone you choose. This tutorial and guide will help you get more out of Google Docs.

Google DocsA Practical guide to Google Docs: Learn how to do anything and everything with your online Google Office.

Q: How do I upload all my Microsoft Office documents from the desktop on to Google Docs?


A: List Uploader is a Windows utility that enables you to bulk upload files to Google Docs via drag-n-drop or through the right click menu.

Mac OS X users can upload documents through GDocsUploader - simply drag-n-drop the document onto the uploader icon. Another option is GDocsBar – just drag your files in the Firefox sidebar and they’ll automatically get uploaded to Google Docs.

Q: How do I associate the common Office file extensions like doc/xls/ppt with Google Docs so that desktop documents open directly in the web browser?

A: Get the Google Toolbar for Firefox and select the ‘Google Docs’ checkbox from Toolbar options. This will let you open Office documents directly in the browser bypassing Microsoft Office.

Q: I am worried that someone may hack into my Google Account and delete the important files. To play safe, I want to download all documents from Google Docs locally and burn them on to a CD. Is it possible?

A: To download a copy of all your Google Docs documents on to the hard drive, get this Grease Monkey script. It will create a list of all your online documents that you can download in one step using the DownloadThemAll add-on.

Q: How can I add watermarks (like PRIVATE, CONFIDENTIAL, etc.) to my Google Documents?

A: You simply need to edit the CSS of your document – add an image with non-repeating background.

Q: Can I open Word 2007 (docx) documents in Google Docs?

A: Unlike Zoho Office, Google Docs do not support the new Office 2007 format but you may convert these docx files to the older doc format using Zamzar and them upload them to Google Docs.

Q: I was checking mails on a mobile phone and a client sent me this PowerPoint presentation as an email attachment. My phone has no Office viewer so san I still view this presentation?

A: Sure. Just forward this email (with the attachment) to your Google Docs address. You’ll soon get an email back containing the link of your uploaded presentation that can be viewed in the mobile phone browser without requiring any Office viewer.

Q: I wrote a long document in Google Docs in English but my client is insisting for a French version. Can we translate Google Docs documents online?

A: Publish your Google Docs document as a public web page (read steps) and then use the online Google Translate tool to translate this page into any other language. You may copy-paste the translated text in a new document and then turn off public sharing for the original document.

Q: I am sending a Google Docs document to a large mailing list. Is is possible to track who read the document and when?

A: Go to your Google Docs Settings page (link) and turn on the option that says "Track visits to my documents using Google Analytics".

Q: Forget the mailing list, I am just sending a document to my immediate boss so how do I if he really opened my document?

A: Just embed a secret 1×1 tracking image in the document to know when people open your Google Documents.

Q: I want to create new documents in Google Docs in one click without having to go to File –> New Document.

A: Simple, either add a bookmarklet to your browser or install desktop shortcuts – see instructions.

Q: I want to turn Google Docs into a distraction free writing tool just like Writeroom.

A: Go to Edit –> Document Styles and turn the background color to either black. Then change the font foreground color to white or green and press Ctrl+Shift+F to enter Full Screen mode. See a similar hack for Word.

Q: OK, I know you can write documents or create spreadsheets in Google Docs but what else? Tell me some more creative uses of Google Docs.

A: Well, you may use Google Docs for live blogging, writing books, make a simple RSS Reader, compare text files, monitor web pages, run web polls, plan weddings and so much more.

Q: Tell me about some desktop applications that work with Google Docs.

  • GMDesk – AIR app that makes Google Docs behave like a desktop program. Thanks Ryan.
  • GDocsBar – The perfect Google Docs extension for Firefox.
  • Send to Google Docs – Upload web documents (including PDF) directly to Google Docs.
  • OO Add-on – Export or import documents from or StarOffice to Google Docs.

Q: Like other Google tools, can I access my Google Docs library from the Firefox Sidebar?

A: Create a bookmark for and set this to open in Firefox sidebar. You can browse all documents though the sidebar but can’t create new stuff.

Q. Can I use Google Docs like Microsoft OneNote for taking notes and saving web clippings?

A: Open a new Google Document in a separate browser tab and drag the clipping from another browser tab / window into this document. That’s it. Not sure if this works with Google Chrome.

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