Google Drive is a must for millions of people across the globe; it enables you to collaborate on files with an efficiency you might not find anywhere else. Out of the box, the service lacks a few tools that could make your on the go or work from home experience even better. Fortunately, Google allows you to install add-ons to extend the feature set of its tools. Let’s jump right in and take a look at some of these Google Drive add-ons.
How to find and install add-ons for Google Drive
To find Google Drive add-ons, open one of the apps in Google Drive (Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides) and click Add Ons | Get Add-Ons. This will open the G Suite Marketplace popup, where you can search for add-ons to include.
To install a Google Drive add-on, you only need to locate the one you want, click Install, click Continue, select the Drive account you want associated with the add-on, and then allow the necessary permissions for the it. Once the add-on is installed, you can access it from the Add-Ons menu. Note: Certain add-ons require you to sign up for a specific account.
The Doc Variables add-on might have a limited audience, but it’s one that will be of great use to those that need it. This particular add-on allows you to add, you guessed it–variables–to Google Docs and Google Sheets documents. With the help of an easy to use sidebar interface, Doc Variables includes a simple wizard to help you generate variables for text, date, drop-down, or even an embedded form. This add-on can help your work with templates far easier and more effectively. You can use Doc Variables for free, for up to 20 uses. After your 20th use, the feature set will be limited, unless you pay a subscription. Individual licenses start at $5/mo, and domain licenses start at $15/mo (for five users).
Text Cleaner should be considered a must-have add-on for anyone who shares documents with others, for any reason. With Text Cleaner you get an empowered version of the “clear formatting” command that allows you to do just that, while preserving such things as headings and paragraphs that conform to document styles. In other words, this is a very easy way to remove line breaks, paragraph breaks, extra spaces, and tabs without stripping that document of the formatting you’ve carefully added. With the easy-to-use Text Cleaner wizard, you can select what to preserve (such as bold, italics, underlining, strikethrough, indentation, and smart quotes) and what to clean (links, line breaks, paragraph breaks, multiple spaces, and tabs). Text Cleaner does have a few caveats. For example, paragraph-level attributes are only cleared when entire paragraphs are selected; removing links also removes underlining within the selected text (even if the text is not a link); text Cleaner also doesn’t remove highlighting or background colors from lists. This add-on is free.
If there’s one feature G Suite has been missing out on for some time, it’s a mind mapping tool. For those that have never used a mind mapping tool, you might not get the draw. For those that have, you get it. A good mind mapping tool can help you make sense out of things and even map decisions and more. For anyone who respects the mind map, MindMup 2 is the Google Drive add-on you’ve been looking for. With MindMup 2 you can collaborate on mind maps, add files and photos from Drive to nodes, insert multiple root nodes, create endless child and sibling nodes, add stickers, format text, and much more. MindMup 2 makes it simple for anyone to start using Mind Maps. Best of all, this add-on is free.
For anyone who needs to frequently reuse snippets of text in their documents, but would rather have a more efficient means than search through Google Drive and then cutting and pasting content, there’s the Doc Builder add-on. With the help of a handy sidebar, you can (with a single click) add snippets directly into your document, without having to jump through all of the hoops. The Doc Builder sidebar allows you to navigate through your Google Drive hierarchy, so you can create individual documents that contain your snippets and add the content with a single click. The Doc Builder sidebar also allows you to search Drive and uses native Google Docs formatting, or you can optionally auto-format snippets based on themes you define in a Google Sheet document. Doc Builder is a free add-on. One caveat I have found with Doc Builder is that it does not honor bulleted list formatting.
I may be a bit biased in my selection of what add-ons are most helpful, but for anyone who must write effective documents for business, the idea of upping your vocabulary should not be overlooked. One way to easily achieve this is by way of a thesaurus. Problem is, most dictionary websites have become a bit clunky to work with. That’s why anyone who uses Google Docs should add the OneLook Thesaurus add-on. From an easy to use sidebar, you can quickly find synonyms, triggers, rhymes, adjectives, and nouns. All you have to do is select a word from your current document, and then click the button for the word type you’re looking for in the sidebar. That’s really all there is to using OneLook Thesaurus. If you’re constantly working in Google Docs, this could be one of those add-ons you leave open all the time. OneLook is a free add-on.