Hidden Google Docs Hacks That Save You Time

Think you knew everything about Google Docs? Think again

Aerial image of man sitting in front of his computer and typing

Hero Images/Getty Images 

Do you want to make Google Docs work for you instead of against you? There are a plethora of secret Google Docs hacks you can use to save yourself some time when creating and editing your documents. Here are a few favorites.

There are many ways to save yourself time and effort using Google Docs. You can create templates for future documents, change your document margins, quickly check your word count without an add-on, and find and replace words with keyboard shortcuts.

How to Edit Google Docs Without Wi-Fi

Sometimes, Wi-Fi simply isn't available when we need to create a document or make changes to an existing one. The good news is Google allows you to create new documents and edit existing ones without Wi-Fi.

After you're done with your work and return to connectivity, Google will sync and save automatically. To get this to work, you'll need to complete a few steps first.

  1. Open Google Docs on your computer.

    You must use the Chrome browser to make these changes. You can download the Chrome browser if you don't have it available.

  2. On the main screen, select the menu icon in the upper left-hand corner of your screen.

  3. Select Settings.

  4. Toggle Offline on.

    Screenshot of Google Docs settings on desktop
  5. You'll now be able to create new documents or edit and open your recent Google Docs files from anywhere.

Optimize Your Google Docs for Easy Searches

Are you using Google Docs to create website pages or blog posts? You'll need to make sure your text is search engine ready. Google Docs makes it easy with the SEO Writing Assistant by SEMrush add-on available for free.

  1. Open Google Docs on your computer and either create a new document, or open an existing document.

  2. In the toolbar, select Add-Ons. Once the Add-ons window appears, search for the "SEO Writing Assistant" using the toolbar.

  3. Select +Free to add the add-on to your Google Docs. You might need to choose which Google account you wish to use the add-on with.

  4. Select Add-Ons again and highlight the assistant. A submenu will appear. Select Show to open the assistant menu on the right-hand side of your screen.

    Screenshot of SEO Assistant Add-On in Google Docs
  5. Viola! The SEO Writing Assistant is ready to go. As you write, the assistant will score the quality of your text, plus its readability. It will also track the word count and offer suggestions on target keywords you should use. To close the assistant, simply select the X in the right-hand corner of the window.

Want even more Google Docs capabilities? There are many different add-ons available for your Google account. Simply search for a capability you're looking for in the search box or browse until you find something useful to fit your needs.

How to Set Up Google Docs Text Shortcuts

Do you have a phrase you use often in your Google Docs, such as clauses, phone numbers, or long blocks of text? You can easily create a text shortcut to use as a placeholder for this text, removing the need to copy and paste or type the phrase over and over again.

  1. Create a new document or open an existing document, then select Tools > Preferences.

    Screenshot of Tools menu in Google Docs
  2. Select Automatic Substitution if it's not already enabled.

    Screenshot of Preferences screen in Google Docs
  3. On the left, you'll find replacement fields you can use to enter the phrase you wish to use as the shortcut. Enter the text you want to replace in the field on the right.

    Screenshot of Preferences screen in Google Docs

    Make sure you create a shortcut that's easy to remember. If you create several shortcuts, make sure to jot them down until you can recall them by memory for use in your documents.

  4. When finished, Select OK. Now, when you enter your shortcut into a document, your text will appear.

How to Create and Edit a New Document Using Your Voice

You can create and edit documents through Google Docs using only your voice. Before you begin, you must make sure voice typing is open.

  1. In your Google document, select Tools.

  2. Select Voice Typing to open the voice window. It will open on the left-hand side of your document screen.

  3. You'll need to allow Google Docs to access your microphone if this is your first time. Once approved, you'll be able to start speaking immediately.

    Screenshot of Voice typing in Google Docs
  4. As you speak, Google will transpose your words into your document.

    Screenshot of Google transposing words in Google Docs
  5. To add punctuation to your document, simply say the punctuation you wish to add. For example, say "period" to add a period to the end of a sentence.

    You can also add new paragraphs by saying "new paragraph" or "new line" while speaking into your document.

  6. To edit your document, say "italics" or "bold" to enhance words within your sentences. You can also say, "go to the end of the line" to skip ahead.

Conduct Research Right From Your Google Doc

Are you working on a difficult project and you might need some answers about the subject you're writing about? Google allows you to perform research right from your Google Doc to save you critical time.

  1. In your Google Doc, highlight the word you'd like more information on.

    Screenshot of Google Docs document
  2. Select Tools > Explore.

  3. The Explore sidebar will appear on the right-hand side of your screen. Here, you'll find images, topics, and related research about the word or phrase you highlighted in your document.

    Screenshot of Explore screen in Google Docs
  4. You can select any of the links to visit a webpage for more information. Or, you can select More to see even more information about your topic.