Google Drive: Seven of Sixteen Secrets

secrets_google_driveMany small business owners use Google Apps for email, calendar, contacts, advertising and a whole lot more, including their Google Drive service.

Google Drive includes word-processing, spreadsheet, presentation, form-creation and drawing services. Previously called Google Docs, the service is an indispensable tool for business people around the world. I came across an article this morning titled 16 Secrets of Google Drive in the online MACWORLD magazine. I don’t think all of these secrets are that secret but here are seven of my favorite tips from the article.

1. Search by Person

One of Google Drive’s best features is the ability to collaborate with others on a document in real time. With so many comments flying back and forth, however, it can sometimes be a challenge to find the one you’re looking for. Recently Google added the ability to search not only your documents, but to find documents by the name of people who share those docs with you. This is perfect if you can’t remember a document’s name, but you do remember who shared it. To use this feature, navigate to your drive in a web browser, click the Shared with Me link to the left, and then enter a person’s name in the search field. All documents owned by that person (or shared between the two of you) will appear.

2. Search Google Docs and Gmail

If you use Google Drive, it’s also likely that you use Gmail. If you want to save time and use Gmail’s search box to search both places, navigate to Gmail, click the Gear icon, and then choose Settings from the menu. Click the Labs tab and enable the Apps Search option. Now when you use Gmail’s search box, any relevant Google Drive documents will appear beneath your Gmail results!

3. Keep the Conversation with Your Document

Having a conversation about the details of a document in an email thread and then switching over to that document to make changes is just not cool. Know what’s cool? Collaborating on a document in real time and having that conversation right there in the document. When you see one or more collaborators’ names appear at the top of the document, click the Chat button that appears to start a conversation to the right of what you’re working on. Plus, that conversation stays with the document as you work on it, share it with new collaborators, and move it around in your Drive.

4. Obligatory Keyboard Shortcuts

What list of tips for a productivity suite as large as Google Drive would be complete without a mention of keyboard shortcuts? So here is a great list of keyboard shortcuts to help you work faster in Google Drive.

5. Customize Google Forms

Google Drive’s Forms let you build surveys and collect data for just about anything you can imagine. You can turn a spreadsheet into a form or use the new Create > Form option in your Drive. To make these forms even more useful, Google recently added customization options that allow you to add elements like progress bars, data validation and the embedding of YouTube videos.

6. Easy Table of Contents

If you need a way to navigate large documents or simply add a table of contents, the Insert > Table of Contents menu item has you covered. Apply headings to content from the Format > Paragraph Styles menu to build your table.

7. Edit Documents, Presentations and Drawings Offline

Want to access your Google Drive documents even when you’re offline? This set of instructions will let you install an app from the Chrome Web Store to take Google Drive offline should the need arise. You can currently work offline in your browser to edit documents, presentations and drawings, but only view spreadsheets and presentations.

Not a Google Drive fan? If you or your company is more Microsoft oriented, I recommend checking out Outlook.com. They have a reasonably robust suite of comparable services.

What do you use in your business—Google, Microsoft or something else? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.