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The truth about seven persistent Google Docs myths

Susan Cline puts to rest seven persistent myths concerning Google Docs with an exploration of the truth.

Last week's post about the myths surrounding Google Sites roused some great comments, not to mention a few other myths that we were able to debunk.

This week we move on to Google's online file storage, word processing, spreadsheet, form, and most recently online video storage system - Google Docs.

The Google in the Enterprise weekly newsletter helps professionals get the most out of Google Docs, Google Apps, Chrome, Chrome OS, and all the other Google products used in business environments.

Myth 1: Microsoft Office 2010 files cannot be converted to editable Google Docs

Using the Google Docs Upload feature you can convert many different file types into editable Google documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and drawings. Here is a list of the different file types that can be converted:

  • For spreadsheets: .xls, .xlsx, .ods, .csv, .tsv, .txt, .tab
  • For documents: .doc, .docx, .html, plain text (.txt), .rtf
  • For presentations: .ppt, .pps, .pptx
  • For drawings: .wmf

There was a period of time after Microsoft Office 2010 was released when Google Docs could not convert those files to Google Docs. Support for Excel 2010 and Word 2010 came first, and just this summer Google released support for the conversion of PowerPoint 2010. As with all converted files, the formatting may not match the original exactly and non-supported features like macros and custom animations do not come over to Google Docs in the conversion process.

Myth 2: Google Docs Administrators cannot prevent users from creating public docs that can be found by search engines

If you are using Google Docs with a Gmail address you have three different options for sharing - Private, Anyone with the Link and Public. Documents that have the "public" visibility setting behave like standard webpages and the content may be picked up by search engine crawlers and available in public search engine results.

Those using Google Docs with Google Apps accounts have up to five different visibility settings, Private, People at Organization with the link, Anyone at the Organization, Anyone with the Link or Public on the web. However, in the domain dashboard, the Administrator can restrict the visibility options that are available. Users can be restricted from using the "Public" visibility option, and they can even be restricted from sharing docs with users who have email addresses on other domains.

Myth 3: Google Spreadsheets do not support complex data analysis

For what looks like a simple web-based spreadsheet application, Google Spreadsheets is actually very complex. The function list contains hundreds of functions for Math, Date, Financial, Statistical, and Engineering Analysis. The database functions even allow Google Spreadsheets to query and process data from other databases. Some of the functions even query other Google Applications like Google Finance, Google Translate and Google Search.

Myth 4: Files stored on Google Docs count against your 7GB or 25GB Gmail storage limit

The storage quota for Google Docs is separate from the storage quota for Gmail. Google Docs users have no limit for the number of Google Documents, Spreadsheets, Presentations, Forms and Drawings that they can have. There is however a limit on the size of some of these files; for example, Google Presentations are capped at about 200 slides.

There is however a quota for the amount of storage space for files that are uploaded to Google Docs. This includes images, videos, music and Office files that are not converted to Google Docs. Each user has 1GB of storage in Google Docs. Users can purchase additional storage for about $.25 a GB.

You can find out how much storage you are currently using by clicking the upload icon in your Google Docs list.

Myth 5: You cannot create animations in Google Presentations

Google Presentations is inferior to Microsoft Powerpoint when it comes to the zoom, checkerboard, and dissolve animations and transitions. However, Google Presentations does support an "incremental reveal" function. Using the "incremental reveal" users can order items (text, image, shape) on a slide and the items will appear in order triggered by a mouse click.

That's about it when it comes to animations with Google Presentations. You can of course always embed an animated YouTube video into the presentation itself.

Myth 6: You must have a Gmail or Google Apps account to view Google Docs

You do not need to have a Gmail Account, a Google Account or a Google Apps account to view Google Docs. The key here is that users who do not have a Google Account can see a Google Doc as a viewer, but if they are given "editor" access they will be required to sign-in with a Google Account. The best practice for sharing a Google Doc with a non-Google Account holder is to send them the Doc as an attachment. The other option is to change the visibility setting of the Google Doc so that "anyone with the link" can see it. Then share the link with that particular user.

Myth 7: You cannot attach Google Docs to emails

Many people think that they cannot attach a Google Doc to an email because they do not see their list of Google Docs appear when they click the "attach a file" link in Gmail. Instead of opening an email, and then attaching a file, in Google Docs, you should open the file, and then select an email address to send it to as an attachment. If you click on the Share button (old UI of Google Docs) or the Collaborate (new UI of Google Docs) link there is an option to "Email as attachment". Not only can you send the doc as an attachment, you can also select the file format in which to send the doc. For example, if you are sending a Google Document, you can attach the file as a Word doc, PDF, Plain Text, HTML or RTF file.

A downside to sending the attachment this way is that there is no record of the sent message in your Sent Messages. The easiest way to share Docs is by adding users as "editors" or "viewers" because you can track who has access to the Doc and what type of access they have.

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About

Susan Cline is the Director of Training and Change Management at Google Apps Parter Ltech. She is also the author of several Google Apps courses on Lynda.com. Visit Susan at her website http://susancline.com/ or follow her on Twitter @GoogleAppsSusa...

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