Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides

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Price: Free from fave.co/2BKyQby Plat­form: On­line

Once con­sid­ered merely a lightweight web-based al­ter­na­tive to Microsoft Of­fice, Google’s trio of of­fice apps (fave.co/2B09iTR) has grown into a worth­while pro­duc­tiv­ity suite in its own right. Though its ca­pa­bil­i­ties still aren’t quite as ro­bust as most desk­top of­fice suites, its tight ties to other Google prod­ucts and ex­tend­abil­ity through a grow­ing mar­ket of Chrome ex­ten­sions make it a pow­er­ful, cost-ef­fec­tive op­tion for stu­dents and work­ers.

Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides are free to use by any­one with a web browser, a Google ac­count, and an In­ter­net con­nec­tion. The sub­scrip­tion-based G

Suite, which adds more busi­ness-ori­ented fea­tures, is avail­able in three pric­ing tiers for or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Hands on

Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides main­tains a con­sis­tent look across its three com­po­nent apps. El­e­gant and un­adorned, the in­ter­face has clearly la­belled menus with in­tu­itive tool­bar icons. All three apps also have a healthy set of hotkeys – ac­ces­si­ble by typ­ing Ctrl+/ on a PC or Cmd+/ on a Mac – for those who pre­fer to keep their fin­gers on the key­board.

Any files you work on in the suite have to be stored in Google Drive, the search giant’s pop­u­lar cloud stor­age. New Docs, Sheets, and Slides files are au­to­mat­i­cally cre­ated in your Drive ac­count, and you can also up­load Microsoft Of­fice files for edit­ing. All

your changes are saved to Drive as long as you’re on­line; you can in­stall a Chrome browser ex­ten­sion

(fave.co/2BJnMuV) to edit files off­line, but it re­quires some con­fig­ur­ing and it only works with na­tive Docs, Sheets, and Slides files.

The re­spec­tive apps do an ad­mirable job of im­port­ing Word and Pow­erPoint files, though you some­times have to tweak el­e­ments in the lat­ter. Im­port­ing Ex­cel files to Sheets is more of a mixed bag, with spread­sheets con­tain­ing ba­sic func­tions trans­lat­ing more faith­fully than larger, more com­plex ones.

The suite still shines bright­est as a col­lab­o­ra­tive tool for writ­ten doc­u­ments, thanks to fea­tures like real-time com­ment­ing, re­vi­sion track­ing, and deep in­te­gra­tion with Google Drive cloud stor­age. It’s also in­ti­mately con­nected to Google search, al­low­ing you to search for in­for­ma­tion rel­a­tive to what you’re work­ing on from within the individual apps.

Stand­out fea­tures

Ex­cel­lent col­lab­o­ra­tion tools Tight in­te­gra­tion with other Google prod­ucts Sim­ple, fast in­ter­face

Miss­ing fea­tures

Ex­ten­sive for­mat­ting op­tions Off­line edit­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties

Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides is best for:

Road war­riors, col­lab­o­ra­tive teams, and any­one else who needs the flex­i­bil­ity to work from mul­ti­ple lo­ca­tions will get the most out of Google’s of­fice

suite. If your needs run to cre­at­ing large, in­tri­cate doc­u­ments; mail merges; or se­ri­ous num­ber crunch­ing, you’ll likely find the suite’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties lim­ited and should look else­where.

Google Docs col­lab­o­ra­tive edit­ing fea­tures tower above all other suites

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