I live and die by Google Docs. I’ve used it for years and pay for extra storage. Google Docs treats me well, and I have nothing to complain about. However, I am always on the lookout for alternatives. One company that seems to be doing everything right is Zoho. They have alternatives for nearly every service you need.

I recently became aware that their Writer tool underwent a number of improvements. The last time I logged onto my Zoho account to take a peek at their word processor, my conclusion was simple: It’s a serviceable alternative to Google Docs and MS Word 365.

Upon recent inspection, I have drawn a different conclusion–one that might make you want to try Zoho Writer. The one issue I had was that everything I have written for the last seven-or-so years is housed in Google Drive. With the idea that I’d need to access that content, I wanted to give Zoho Writer a go with it connected to my Google Drive account.

SEE: Google Drive: Tips and tricks for business professionals (Tech Pro Research)

It took me a bit to get those connected. Why? Because the Zoho instructions aren’t quite clear. Fear not, I’m going to make it easy for you.

But first, why Zoho Writer?

What Zoho writer can do

You need to write words. Or at least that’s all you think you need to do. Truth be told, you need to write, format, edit, distribute, post, convert, mail merge, sign, collaborate, and more. Zoho Writer does all of that, and makes it incredibly easy to handle every step. Even better, Zoho Writer does all of this with a UI that makes everything intuitive (Figure A).

Figure A

Zoho managed to create a word processor that is every bit the equal (and in some ways superior) to Google Docs and MS Word 365.

But then there’s Google Drive. Without being able to integrate with Google Drive, I (and others) would have issue with using Zoho Writer. Fortunately, there’s a way.

Connecting Google Drive

First off, ignore the Zoho directions on connecting Google Drive to your Zoho account. Instead, do the following:

  1. Log into your Zoho account.
  2. Go to docs.zoho.com.
  3. In the left navigation (Figure B) click the UPLOAD drop-down.
  4. Click the Google Drive entry.
  5. When prompted, click the Authenticate Google button.
  6. In the resulting window, select the Google account to be used (or, if necessary, first sign into your Google account).
  7. When prompted, click Allow to give Zoho Docs permission to access your Google Drive account.

Figure B

You should see a new window asking you to attach files from Google Drive (Figure C).

Figure C

Select the files you want to attach and click Ok. Those files are now accessible from within Zoho Docs. Don’t worry if you miss files, as you can always click the UPLOAD drop-down, select Google Drive, and associate more files to Zoho Docs.

Saving to Google Drive

When you create a file in Zoho Writer, chances are you want to save it to your connected Google Drive account. Fortunately, the developers thought of that as well. To make this happen, do the following:

  1. From within Zoho Writer, click the File drop-down.
  2. Select Save to Other Drives (Figure D)
  3. Select Google Drive.
  4. Navigate to the folder that will house the file.
  5. Click Add to this folder.

Figure D

Believe it or not, that newly saved file will be in the default Google Docs format, ready for editing, sharing, etc. all from within your Google account.

The caveat

As with everything in technology, there is always a caveat. When you go to associate files from Google Drive, you won’t see folders. If you are like me, and you are a stickler for a tidy directory structure, and your Google Drive files are neatly packed away in carefully named and nested folders this might cause concern. The Zoho Docs Google Drive file selector ignores your folders and simply displays all of your files. This means you’ll probably spend a lot of time up-front locating files you want to associate with Google Drive. If you have a ton of files, this could be a problem.

SEE: Cost comparison tool: Google Apps vs. Office 365 (Tech Pro Research)

Give Zoho Writer a try

Bottom-line if you’ve hesitated (because you need Google Drive) to give Zoho Writer a try, I highly recommend you make this connection and spend some time with Zoho’s tool. It’s worth the effort. You might even find Zoho Writer to be far superior to the competition.

The Zoho logo.
Image: Zoho