If you’ve ever tried to share documents or struggled with merging edits from multiple collaborators, Google’s productivity apps make the process easy.
Here’s how to share and collaborate with Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides — three apps that are both capable and free.
The two previous articles in this “Going Google (apps)” series — “Part 1: Move your mail” and “Part 2: Move your docs” — have generated more than the usual amount of reader comments, especially among long-entrenched Office users. (I’ve used Office since its beginnings — making me, until recently, very entrenched.)
For many Office users, some missing features will make using Google’s productivity apps a nonstarter. For example: Yes, Google Docs does not have anything like MS Word’s Document Map. No, there are no pivot tables in Google Sheets and cell data does not automatically flow into an adjacent empty cell. True, you can’t go back and retrieve an email you deleted three years ago. If Google apps don’t provide some feature you can’t live without, that’s cool. Stick with Office.
On the other hand, Google apps provide a viable — and cheap — Office alternative if your productivity-app needs are relatively simple. And in some instances — particularly sharing and collaborating — Google’s apps are surprisingly capable. They’re also easy to set up and use; they work the first time, every time; and they don’t freeze (unless, of course, your browser does). And even if Windows crashes, Google saves your edits nearly continuously, so you never lose more than the last few seconds of changes.
To that, I add the liberating experience of viewing and working on Google documents on mobile devices such as the iPads, iPhones, and Galaxy Note I own.
Some readers expressed concerns over privacy and storing their data in the cloud. How can you trust a company that readily admits scanning all your email? It’s a good point — I hear ya. I’ll be tackling the privacy issues, which are thorny, in a future article in this series.