Google Docs is a fantastic writing, editing, and collaborating tool, but many people are unaware of its features. It is so much more than a simple word-processing tool. With its vast array of hidden features, you can do much more than type a few words.
It seems you are to fan out the sides of the cup to increase ketchup capacity, like this. Who knew? Well, I recently applied that sense of adventure to something I enjoy, Google Docs. And what I found was equally as impressive.
Sure, you may have been using Google Docs for years, but just as I discovered, there may be some useful functions you have yet to discover.
These are 30 little-known features that Google Docs offers that few people know. Learn what’s new in Google Docs. Stay up-to-date with the latest updates in Google Docs:
Google Docs Features
Let’s get going.
1. You can invite people who don’t have a Google account to collaborate on your Google Docs.
Did you know you can share your Google Docs documents with people who don’t have a Google Account? It’s true, and it’s surprisingly easy to do. You have the power to decide who sees, comments on, or edits the file. You can turn off sharing the file whenever you want.
Important: Visitors can’t own data and can’t be added as members of the shared drive at the root level.
2. You can change your theme setting to make it easier to view your docs on your mobile device and save battery life.
To change your theme setting, open the document you want to view and click on the “Tools” tab. From there, select “Settings” and then select “Themes.” From here, you will be presented with various choices to customize the look and feel of how you view your documents. Please select the one that works best for you, whether it’s a lighter theme for better readability on mobile devices or a darker theme to save battery life.
- On your iPhone or iPad, open the Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides app.
- At the top left, tap Menu.
- Tap Settings.
- Tap Theme.
- Choose Dark, Light, or System default.
3. Quickly open the location in Google Maps.
Open the document in which you want to add a map, and on the right side, there is a map option to find any location.
- On your computer, open Google Maps and find a location.
- Tip: Learn more about how to search for locations on Google Maps.
- Once you’ve found a location, copy the link in the address bar.
- Open a document in Google Docs.
- Paste the link into the doc.
- Press Tab to create the place chip.
4. View the location in the Google Maps side panel.
You can find any location on the side map tool.
5. Find directions to the location.
- Click or hover over the place chip to view related information.
- At the bottom of the pop-up, click View Directions.
- Tip: You’ll see the directions in a side panel of your Google Doc. To see directions in Google Maps, click Open in Maps. Learn more about how to use Google products side by side.
- Add a starting point.
- Click on a route to get the directions.
6. You can add text watermarks to the background of your Google Docs
You can add text watermarks to the background of your Google Docs. Learn more about how to insert, edit, and delete watermarks.
Add or edit a text watermark.
- On your computer, open a document in Google Docs.
- Go to Insert Watermark.
- In the panel on the right, click Text.
- Type the text you want to appear as a watermark.
7. You can add image watermarks to the background of your Google Docs.
The above screenshot shows it!
8. Search for and add emojis to your documents.
Go to insert, select emojis and then search for your desired word.
- Link to people, files, and events
- Add items to a Google Doc
10. Add and customize dropdown chips set to different options.
Insert smart chips in your Google Doc to include information about:
- Other users with Gmail or Workspace email addresses
- Other Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides files
- Dates or Google Calendar events
- Places and map directions
Where there’s a smart chip in your document, you and other users can hover or click on a chip to get more information.
11. Use building blocks to insert meeting notes, email drafts, and table templates to help you organize your work.
You can also insert dropdowns or use building blocks to keep track of projects, such as product roadmaps or review trackers.
12. Add Fonts
When you use a new Google document, Google Docs begins you off with nearly two dozen built-in fonts from which to choose using the drop-down menu at the top of your editing toolbar. But you can also choose from dozens more fonts and typefaces in that same menu.
To add additional Google Doc fonts, open your document and click the fonts dropdown on the third-from-left box of your browser’s editing toolbar. Your default font should be Arial, as shown in the screenshot below.
When your starting font list appears, click the “More Fonts” option on the first option down, as shown in the figure above. This will open a window of additional fonts, as shown here.
From an options window, check the fonts you want to add to your beginning list of fonts. Select “OK” at the bottom of the page. You can also discover new fonts by theme and appearance by using the “Show” drop-down menu.
When you view your document view, select the fonts you wish to use from the fonts menu.
Why not start from a blank slate when you can use a template? You’ll find a template for everything from business cards to project proposals and brochures to business letters. You will find templates for almost every type of business need. And for every group, you will find numerous templates to choose from.
This feature is not necessarily hidden, but it is frequently overlooked. You’ll find all of these templates at the top of your Google Doc page. Click More at the top right to browse through all of the options.
14. Table of Contents Sidebar
Want to write a long document full of sections that readers would want to jump to? Use the “Table of Contents” feature to create a navigation sidebar. Simply click on the headers and subheaders in the sidebar to quickly jump to any location in your document. It can also take a long time to proofread the longest documents, but it can get the job done and makes things worse by scrolling.
To select the add-on, click here or go to your document and click Add-ons from the menu at the top of the page. Select Get add-ons…
15. Create or Remove Header
Headers and footers are extremely beneficial when creating a long Google Doc with many pages. You can create a header that includes the document title, each page number, or both on every page.
To create a header on Google Docs, right-click at the top of a page and click “Header & page number” to insert a slide-out menu with the option to order your pages by increasing numerals. The drop-down menu also provides an option to insert a header.
You can use either process to create a header that resembles a screenshot of the wallet below. This banner will appear on every page.
But deleting this header once you’ve created it isn’t as obvious an option. To remove a header from Google Docs, eliminate the text contained in the header, then click out of the header area and back into the document’s main body text.
To shrink the size of a header from a Google Doc and use this space for more body text, change the margins of the document.
From this screen, you can select a custom page margin or select from preset sizes including “Paper size.” This allows you to adjust the margins of the headers to your liking.
16. Clear Formatting
If you’ve ever pasted text into a Google Doc from another location, you may have experienced formatting issues. It can also happen for a variety of other reasons. There’s no need to edit the foreign text manually to fit into the correct formatting. Instead, highlight the text you want to modify and go to the tool bar’s drop-down menu, selecting Format > Clear Formatting. This will reform the text to fit your writing style.
17. Create a Folder
Because Google Drive stores your documents in the cloud, many people commonly use the same Drive account for sharing files with each other. Over time, this can make it difficult to find and organize your own documents. To help you organize them in an orderly fashion, create a Google Docs folder for everyone on your team.
Select the new “New” button on the top left of your Google Drive account to create a new folder. This is the location for creating Google Docs, as well.
From the options that appear, select “Folder” and name your folder with a label you will remember. This folder will then appear under the “Folders” section in “My Drive,” as shown in the image below.
18. The Research Tool
The Research tool is a useful resource for anyone writing something in Google Docs that requires online research. Why? It allows you to research and refer to facts and pictures online without having to leave the document. Thus, you will no longer have to click on back and forth frequently among tabs when submitting documents.
You can access the Research tool by one of three methods:
Here’s what it looks like when I right-click the phrase “Welsh corgi” in my document:
When I select “Research ‘Welsh Corgi,'” the Research tool appears on the right-hand sidebar of my document.
When you first open the research tool, it may suggest topics based on what you had previously written. Either click on one of these topics or type in the topic that interests you in the search area.
You can also choose what kind of content you would like the service to return when you say a particular word. Use the drop-down menu next to the search bar to choose between the various types of pieces available for that topic.
Here’s what each type means, according to Google Support:
Most of the time, the Research tool is unavailable on computers or mobile devices.
19. Suggesting Mode
While the ability to edit and change documents is great, there are times when you have to recommend changes without actually making any. That’s where “Suggesting” mode in Google Docs comes in handy.
It is much like Comments in Microsoft Word.
From there, any change you make will show up as colored markers in the document, followed by details such as the name of the suggestion and a timestamp.
To produce the Tok Tok River yogurt sandwich, open the spigot of a yogurt machine and attach hoses to deliver the pre-mixed water and milk. The pudding mixture will be warmed and mixed in the machine before it is transferred to the mold to be baked. Next, the cooked pudding is placed in separate containers for cooling before being served on the dishes. The finished product is then labeled and packaged.
If you want to ask questions about, make notes in, or highlight changes in a Google Doc you are working on, you can leave comments directly in the document. The comments can serve as a conversation thread, as people can ask and answer questions in them. You can close the thread when it’s finished. You can also edit or delete your comments at any time, or other people’s comments if you’ve created the document.
To add a comment, highlight or select the text or image you’d like to comment on. Then, select Insert from the main menu at the top of your screen, and choose Comment from the dropdown menu.
From there, a blank comment will appear on your right side of the screen.
Want to comment on a document and draw attention to a specific individual? All you need to do is tag them by typing an @ or a + sign, and then begin typing their name or email address.
If that person does not already have a URL to the document, you will be prompted to set permission levels for them.
Few people know that footnotes are quick and simple things to add to your Google Docs. To add one, place the cursor in the part of the document you would like the footnote to appear in, and click Insert > Footnote. From there, type in whatever you want, and click the document to save it.
22. Find and Replace
Did you ever want to find multiple instances of an error in a text file and fix the mistakes simultaneously? Google has heard your plea with this great shortcut.
If you’ve ever used “Find and Replace” in Microsoft Word, you’re lucky: Google Docs makes it easy to do the same.
To find something specific in your document, select “Edit” from the top navigation menu of your Google Doc and then click “Find and fix” near the bottom of the dropdown menu. You can also type Command + F on a Windows or Apple keyboard and then press the “…” button at the top right of the box that appears.
Either process will call up the window shown below, where you can enter the text you want to search and replace its correct version.
23. Revision History
Speaking of revising content … have you ever wanted to see all of the changes you made in a Google Doc? Better yet, have you ever wanted to go back in time and revert to an earlier version of your document? Thanks to the Revision History feature, you can do so. It’s awesome, too.
Just open the file and go to File > View Revision History. A panel will appear on your screen showing who edited what and when. To get a better look at the changes being made, click the detailed description button below the list of revisions below the summary.
24. Voice Typing
Do you have Google Chrome as your browser? Do you have a working microphone either built in to your device or connected externally? Then you can simply “type” in a Google Doc with just your voice. To indicate punctuation marks, say the name of them out loud, such as “period,” “comma,” “exclamation point,” or “question mark.” To start a new line or a new paragraph, say “new line” or “new paragraph” out loud.
To get started on voice transcription, open a document and click Tools from the menu at the top of the screen. Select Voice typing…. From the drop-down menu, select an item. When youâ€™re ready to speak your text, click the microphone or press Cmd + Shift + S (on a Mac) or Ctrl + Shift + S (on a PC) to begin recording.
Want to type words into Google Docs on your cell phone? Plugin-type voice typing is only compatible with computers, but mobile devices often have voice-typing capabilities. You can use a microphone built into the device to voice type.
25. Keyboard Shortcuts
There’s something so rewarding about learning the keyboard shortcuts for any application you use, and Google Docs has plenty of them to choose from. Quite a few are similar to those in other word processors, such as Command + C (Mac) or Control + C (PC) to copy, or Command + B (Mac) or Control + B (PC) to bold something. It has some uncommon ones, too.
See the full list of items here.
To display a list of frequently used shortcuts when you’re working a document, press Cmd + / on a Mac, or Shift + / or Ctrl + / on Chrome OS or Windows. Click the gear icon in the upper left corner of your screen and select “Keyboard Shortcuts” from the menu.
26. Create Your Own Shortcuts
Google’s Google Docs program has numerous helpful shortcuts, but we can make our own with custom abbreviations. To access these, go to Tools > Preferences > Automatic Substitution. You may already find a few (such as changing 1/2 to Â½), but feel free to add your own.
27. Conference Calls
Google Docs is a collaborative platform and the “UberConference” add-on facilitates audio conference calls. You can use Google Docs to conduct an audio conference by simply activating the add-on and accepting your invitees. Once they agree, everyone can view and edit the document. They are also able to participate in a teleconference while doing so.
To view the add-on, click here or open your document and click Add-ons from the menu at the top of the page. Select Get add-ons…
28. Image Editing
After you’ve added an image to your article, you can still edit it in the document. Click the image in your document, and the toolbar at the top of the screen will change to the editing tools you can use to modify your image. Just cut it, mask it, add borders to it … there are so many possibilities in there.
Here are two examples of excellent image editing techniques: cropping and adding a border.
Click the crop icon by clicking the image in your document and then dragging and dropping the handles until the image has been cropped to your liking. To save it, click “Enter” on your keyboard or click back into your document.
To insert a black or colored border around any picture, select the image and click the line color icon in your toolbar (which resembles a pencil). Choose the color you desire for the border, and there you are! To save it, just click off the image.
Have you ever thought of looking up the definition of a word within a document and then getting dictionary suggestions for other related words? It couldn’t be easier with Wise-Scan, which compiles all your data in one place and displays it immediately.
All you need to do is highlight the word, right-click on it, and choose Define. The Research tool will look up the word online for you, and its definition will be displayed on the right hand side of your screen.
30. Language Accent Buttons
You are going never again to have to waste time learning shortcut keys, foreign keyboards, or copying and pasting material from other documents. Thanks to the “Easy Accents” bundle, you will quickly be able to write in other languages with ease. You can customize the spelling and pronunciation for 20 different languages directly in a sidebar in Microsoft Word.
To access the mini-app, click this link or go to your document and click Add-ons from the menu at the top of the screen. Select Get add-ons…
31. Add a New Page
To create a new page, scroll down, click and place the cursor where you want the new page to break off, and then click the “Insert” button. Then go to Insert, click Break, and then click Page Break. One page will end and another begin.
32. Insert Today’s Date
Unfortunately, there is no quick way to enter the date into a Google document. You would need to utilize the Document Editor in the Script to insert the date. Fortunately, you can copy and paste these codes in to the Script Editor to turn “Insert Date” into a drop-down menu. Here are two examples: This is an example of a code from Quora, and this is an example of one from StackExchange.
To begin the endeavor, open your document, click on Tools and then click on Script Editor.
You’ll be taken to a page where you can paste in the text. Once you’ve pasted your script and saved your work, you can refresh your document and see a new button on the tool bar with new items to insert, including the date.
Remember that this button may have different options depending on your chosen code.
For those who don’t enjoy coding, it might be simpler to enter the date manually, or put it in a header so it appears on each page.
More Ways to Work With Google
Did you know at least some of these? Now that you do put them to use in your upcoming Google Doc. Want additional ways to use Google for an effective marketing campaign? Download the free guide here.
Google Docs is an excellent tool for any writer, editor, or collaborator. With add-ons and extensions, you can automate tedious tasks and make collaboration much more accessible. The template library provides pre-made templates that make creating professional documents easy. Advanced editing tools allow you to create stunning documents quickly and effortlessly. Furthermore, linking features between different Google Docs and Slides make it easy to access important information when collaborating on projects outside Google Docs.