Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Google Documents - the next best thing!

What is Google Documents? Create documents, spreadsheets and presentations online!
Google Docs is a FREE (don't hear that word much anymore!), Web-based word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, and form application offered by Google. It allows users to create and edit documents online while collaborating in real-time with other users. Google Docs combines the features of two services, Writely and Spreadsheets, which were merged into a single product on October 10, 2006. A third product for presentations, incorporating technology designed by Tonic Systems, was released on September 17, 2007.

According to Google, Google Documents is much like a web based (meaning the software lives on the Internet NOT on your PC) version of Microsoft Office software. The Google software allows you to create basic documents from scratch or start from a template. You can easily do all the basics, including making bulleted lists, sorting by columns, adding tables, images, comments, formulas, changing fonts and more. And again the best part is that "it's free" (and the average copy of Microsoft Office 2007 currently costs about $159).

So how does it work? Upload your existing files. Things you have already created using Microsoft Office can be opened and added to and saved as a google document on your Google account. Google Docs accepts most popular file formats, including DOC, XLS, ODT, ODS, RTF, CSV, PPT, etc. So go ahead and upload your existing files.

Familiar desktop feel makes editing a breeze. In other words when you use the software the formatting tools are located in the same location, the saving tools are also located in the same location - this just makes it easier to learn and use. The over all interface with the software again, looks and feels just like Mircosoft Office 2003 software. (The Mircosoft Office 2007 software had a major face lift and the small companies like Open Office and Google documents have chosen to stick with the 15 year old style of the Mircosoft Office 2003 interface.
Share and collaborate in real time (what does this mean to me?) Recently, a client explained to me that he and another man who lived thousands of miles away were working on a book together. They were finding it very hard to keep up with all of the changes and had a major catastrophe when the 'currently editied' version of the book's file was lost. I suggested Google Documents, wherein both parties could work on the same document and the changes would take effect in real time. According to the google docs web site you can:
Choose who can access your documents.Just enter the email addresses of the people with whom you want to share a given document and send them an invitation.

Share instantly.Anyone you've invited to either edit or view your document, spreadsheet or presentation can access it as soon as they sign in.

Edit and present with others in real time.Multiple people can view and make changes at the same time. There's an on-screen chat window for spreadsheets, and document revisions show you exactly who changed what, and when. Viewing a presentation together is a breeze, as anyone joined in a presentation can automatically follow along with the presenter.
You can safely organize and store your documents with Google Documents (as I have mentioned) Edit and access from anywhere.There's nothing to download; you access your documents, spreadsheets and presentations from any computer with an Internet connection and a standard browser. And it's free.

Safely store your work.Online storage and auto-save mean you needn't fear local hard drive failures or power outages.

Easily save and export copies.You can save your documents and spreadsheets to your own computer in DOC, XLS, CSV, ODS, ODT, PDF, RTF and HTML formats.
Organize your documents. Easily find your documents by organizing them into folders. Drag and drop your documents into as many folders as you want.

Other highlights of using Google Documents include:

Publish your work as a web page.You can publish your documents online with one click, as normal-looking web pages, without having to learn anything new.

Control who can see your pages.You can publish to the entire world, just a few people or no one -- it's up to you. (You can also un-publish at any time.)

Post your documents to your blog.Once you've created a document, you can post it to your blog.
Publish within your company or group.With Google Apps, it's even easier to share important documents, spreadsheets and presentations within your company or group.
So WHO can benefit from using google documents?

If you do not have your own PC and you are using someone else's PC you may want to use Google Documents so that you can save your work and return to it at another computer at a later time. This makes google documents perfect for the student who may not have their own computer or may have to work on multiple PCs.

I work with senior citizens - many use the local library as their computer. This is another perfect example of someone who would find google documents (GD) useful.
As much as I would like to include the average business person in this I am not sure it is right as many large corperations do not want their information 'shared' as is possible with GD. However, the product again, is useful to any one who does not have their own copy of Microsoft Office or their own computer.
So now that you have decided that google documents is the right application (software tool) for your needs "How do I sign up for google documents?"
You will need to start with a google account:

This account will give you access to many other web sites as well (like the blogging web site that I am using to write this blog) it will also give you a new 'gmail' account (which can be set to send all mail to your Outlook box) and then of course you'll also have access to google documents. There will not be any software to download (maybe an active X ad on or something but nothing major). You can be creating in google documents within about 5 minutes - it's that simple.

I hope that you found this information helpful today! Please visit us on the web at or call 321-431-3866 if you have any computer needs! Simply Seniors Computer Tutor is here to help. We are the computer tech's you'd refer your own mother to! Stacey Kile is the owner of Simply Seniors Computer Tutor located in Melbourne Florida. SSCT is the owner of the content for this blog.
Thanks again for reading and please tell your friends!

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