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Google Docs is one of the productivity applications that’s included with free consumer Gmail and with Google Workspace (for business).
Google Docs is a cloud-based word processor, which means that no desktop software is required to create and edit documents. Documents are stored on Google Drive, which is the cloud drive included with Gmail and Google Workspace.
Google Docs has all the core capabilities that can be found in traditional word processors. It also has a number of capabilities that relate to the fact that the documents are stored on a cloud drive (vs. on one person’s desktop). So, how does Google Docs work? Here are just a few of the capabilities.
A document can be fully private to its creator, who is also the initial owner (ownership can be transferred within an organization). A document can be shared with one person, a group of people or with everyone in the world. When the document is shared with everyone in the world, the default setting is View Only (see example below).
Sharing can also have an expiration date. For example, the document owner can use this to give someone a deadline for making edits to a document they created.
Google Workspace users can share with other Google Workspace users within and outside of their organization. A Google Workspace user can share a Google Doc with a consumer Gmail user and visa versa. A Google Doc can even be shared with someone who has a Google account without Gmail.
One or more people can be added to a document as collaborators. The owner of a document can give a collaborator full edit permissions, comment only permissions or view only permissions.
The owner and collaborators (aside from view only collaborators) can make general comments. They can also direct or assign comments to another collaborator as a task. The latter is done by pre-pending the collaborator’s email address with a “+” sign.
Any collaborator can email any other collaborator(s) from within the document.
There are at least seven ways that an image can be added to a document. Most can be done without leaving the document.
A chart from Google Sheets can be embedded in a document. When the spreadsheet data behind that chart changes, an Update button will appear in the embedded chart within a Google Doc. Clicking that button will refresh the embedded chart based on the current data.
A range of cells from a Sheet can be copy/pasted into a Doc with the same refresh capabilities as charts.
Inserting a Drawing into a document allows for pasting multiple images into one frame within a Google Doc. For example, an entire Google Slides slide can be copy/pasted into a Drawing within a document.
A Google Doc can be saved to a local drive in any of the following formats. Once saved, it can be edited (except for PDF & EPUB formats) and emailed or uploaded to another location.
The document can also be directly emailed to anyone as an attachment — right from within the document itself. One of the options is to include the document (along with any images) in the body of the email.
A Microsoft Word document can be dragged and dropped into Google Drive and then converted to Google Docs format.
With a Chrome extension called Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides, a Word document can be dragged onto a browser tab and edited as a Word document. It can also be converted to Google Docs format at that point.
Note: Entering a valid domain name does not mean that you are committing to linking your domain to Google Workspace.