Image: OpturaDesign/Shutterstock

Given I spend between five and nine hours a day within Google Docs, I consider myself a power user. So, anytime I can find a new feature that makes my life easier, I jump on it. Sometimes those new features sound good on paper but fail to really impress in reality. Every so often, however, Google nails it.

This time around, Google hit a home run with a new insert tool.

SEE: The future of work: Tools and strategies for the digital workplace (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

One thing I’m always in search of is a way to keep my fingers on the keys and not jumping back and forth between keyboard and mouse. This new insert tool does just that.

The gist of this tool is quite simple: As you’re working through a Google Doc, you can (without having to access a toolbar menu) quickly insert things like

  • Collaborators
  • Bulleted and numbered lists
  • Checklists
  • Meeting notes (from your Google Calendar)
  • File attachments (from Google Drive)
  • Images
  • Tables
  • Drawings
  • Charts
  • Headings
  • Dates
  • Page components (such as page numbers and footers)
  • And more

This new feature will be an absolute breath of fresh air for any Google Docs user looking to make interacting with the app even more efficient. And although this new insert doesn’t offer a 1:1 feature equivalent to the Google Docs Insert menu, it does include the most commonly used options inserted into documents.

SEE: The future of work: Tools and strategies for the digital workplace (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

How do you use the new insert feature?

First, this new feature only works in the desktop version of Google Docs, so mobile users are out of luck.

Using the new insert tool is very simple. As you write, type the @ symbol and the popup menu will appear (Figure A).

Figure A

The new Google Docs insert popup menu.

From that list, you can use your cursor keys to scroll up and down (thereby avoiding using the mouse) to locate the item you want to insert.

At first, it might take a bit of time to get used to how this works. For example, if you want to add a new bulleted list, you’d want to make sure to type the @ character where you want to start the list. Or, you could type the first entry in the bulleted list, type the @ character, and then select the bulleted list entry from the menu. This will result in everything in that line being the first item in your bulleted list.

So, placement of the @ character is important.

And that’s pretty much it for using this new tool. I can tell you this, once you start using the new @ insert feature, you’ll wonder how you managed without it.

Enjoy that newfound efficiency within Google Docs.

Subscribe to TechRepublic’s How To Make Tech Work on YouTube for all the latest tech advice for business pros from Jack Wallen.