In early 2018, I received an email from a TechRepublic member asking me to revise and update an article I wrote back in 2012. In Add Google Docs to the Windows 7 New menu (revised), I showed how to add various links to Google Docs to the New section of the Windows 7 context menu. It was a complicated hack of the Windows Registry and not something anyone should undertake lightly.
Since receiving that email, we have been exploring other options users can take to add easy access to Google Docs to Microsoft Windows 10. The simplest and most efficient way is to add links to the Chrome jump list located on the Taskbar as explained in How to create new Google Docs using jump lists in the Microsoft Windows 10 taskbar.
SEE: Comparison chart: Enterprise collaboration tools (Tech Pro Research)
However, despite showing you an easier way, and despite the warnings, some of you will still want to use the method that involves hacking the Windows 10 Registry file. Here are the steps you can take to add links to the Windows context menu (Figure A) that will allow you to start a new Google Doc, Spreadsheet, Presentation, or Drawing.
WARNING! This technique involves the edit of the Windows 10 Registry file. The Registry is vital to the operation of the Windows operating system. A corrupted Registry could render Windows inoperable and require a complete re-installation to repair. Backup the Registry and create a System Restore point before you attempt this technique.
SEE: Windows 10 power tips: Secret shortcuts to your favorite settings (Tech Pro Research)
Editing the Registry
The total amount of editing to be done to the Windows Registry with this technique is too great and too rife with the possibility of error to list in this article. Instead, to simplify the process, I have created a downloadable file that you can use to do the edit for you. Click the link below to download the file and then extract its contents into an empty folder.
The file was originally created by HowToGeek for Windows 7 but has been modified to reflect changes made by Google over the years. That is the other major drawback of this technique, besides editing the Windows Registry, Google could change the links to create new documents at any time, which would break this hack and require another revision.
The folder with the extracted files should look like Figure B. Copy the four icon files to the Windows folder so the system can find them. Next, run the AddGoogleDocsToNewMenu.reg file by double-clicking it. The system will warn you about editing the Registry file, click OK and let the edit take place.
It may take a few seconds for the change to finish processing, but the next time you right-click on an empty spot on the Windows Desktop and navigate to the New menu item you should see four new entries, as shown in Figure C.
This edit is specific to the free version of the Google productivity suite. Subscribers often use Google Docs from within a domain structure. In this situation, the AddGoogleDocsToNewMenu.reg file must be changed to reflect the domain. Links to each type of document will have to be modified to look like this:
Right-click on the AddGoogleDocsToNewMenu.reg file and open it with Notepad or some other text editor. Do not just double-click it or select Open—that will just run the file with the wrong links. Change the links of each section to reflect your domain and then save the file.
Revert to normal
If you want to remove the links from the New item list of the Windows context menu, double-click and run the other file located in the download called: UninstallGoogleNewMenu.reg. This file will eliminate the keys created by the other file and revert the New menu back to its default settings.
This technique should work for any version of Windows 10 and as long as Google maintains the current file reference system. However, it is the more dangerous option. Adding links to the Taskbar makes more sense, particularly in an enterprise environment, where IT departments frown severely on users editing the Windows Registry.
- How to add a new file type to the Microsoft Windows 10 Context Menu (TechRepublic)
- Windows 10: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
- Windows 10 Spring Creators Update: How to get it early (TechRepublic)
- Here's how you can still get a free Windows 10 upgrade (ZDNet)
- Google Drive comment functionality now includes Microsoft files (ZDNet)
Will you use this technique and edit the Windows Registry, or will you use jump lists and the Taskbar? Share your thoughts and opinions with your peers at TechRepublic in the discussion thread below.
Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.