Google Docs in Plain English

By | December 15, 2019

Home is where we keep the things we need.
Whether it’s a lawn mower or a coffee pot, it has a home in our lives. Of course, our
documents are no different. For years, they’ve lived on our computers. Each person has their
own computer-based home for documents. When we need to share a document, we usually
attach it to an email and send it to a friend’s or co-worker’s computer home. Here’s the problem:
When you attach a document to an email, copies are created. Consider this. If you send an
email attachment to three people, the same document will exist in four different places.
That’s a problem. There’s a better way, and it means saying
good-bye to messy email attachments. This new kind of home isn’t on your computer. It’s
on the Internet. And that makes sharing and collaborating on
documents much easier and gives you full control over who can see and access your documents.
Here’s the basic idea. Instead of attaching a document to an email, let’s switch it around
and look at how we can attach an email address to a document.
Meet Sam. Sam is the editor of a neighborhood newsletter called the Oak Tree View. She works
with local writers who would like to publish articles in the newsletter. Sam loves her
job but often feels frustrated when time is wasted managing all the articles. It’s a familiar
problem. Each month, writers send her draft articles as email attachments. She reviews
them and sends them back with comments. One article might create six different versions
of the same file, not to mention countless emails. Sam often feels buried by all the
email attachments. She finds it hard to keep track of all the versions being sent to her
from the writers. As the deadline looms, frustration rises. Something has to give.
Sam decides to try something new: Google Docs. Here’s what happens.
First, she visits the Google Docs page and creates a free Google account. She logs in,
and because some articles were already written, she uploads the current drafts right from
her computer. With a snap [clicking fingers] Google Docs turns the offline articles into
online versions. Now, all she needs to do is invite the writers to collaborate on the
documents. Here’s how. She clicks ‘Share’, inserts email addresses,
and click ‘Invite Collaborators’. Google Docs sends the writers an email with a secure link
directly to her document. One click, and they can edit and save the document online.
This means that when Julie edits the document, Sam see the changes immediately. Since there’s
only one document, there’s never confusion about updates or versions; it’s all saved,
along with the past versions on the website. For the first time, the articles all have
a home; a single place for organizing and editing that is accessible from any computer
with Internet access. Problem solved.
What’s really cool is that this problem isn’t just solved for documents but also spreadsheets
and presentations. All three can now have a secure home on the web that works exactly
like Sam’s documents. Sam is relieved. Without having to deal with
attachments, multiple versions and all that clutter, she can be an editor instead of a
document master. And for the next newsletter, not a single email attachment is sent and
Sam beats the deadline by a week. Sharing documents made simple, and all for
free. Google Docs rocks!

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