Since I’m in the middle of reformatting my computer (that’s a long story), I don’t have access to my usual software. Being that I’m inspired to write, I needed software that would facilitate writing and still be operational on a computer that is not fully functional. Since I have a Google Drive, I thought why not try working with Google Docs.
Let’s get this out of the way right now. I’m old school. I like writing my documents on my local computer. Either on my local computer or a device connected to my computer, but writing my thoughts and ramblings out in the cloud doesn’t sit right with me. I know cloud is all the rave and has become the norm, but this dinosaur still likes her local files.
Having said that, Google Docs seems to be working pretty well in this pinch. My daughter uses it all the time for her school papers and reports, but I’m still stuck with an old 2000 copy of Microsoft Word. Or, when that acts funky, I use OpenOffice.
As much as I hate to admit it, using Google Docs is pretty straight forward. There is one habit, however, that I just cannot shake and that’s the habit of periodically hitting “Ctrl + S” to save my documents every couple of paragraphs. As a former tech writer I got into the habit of saving documents frequently. My motto is to save frequently to avoid having to remember what you wrote in order to reproduce it in the event of a computer issue. Save as much as you don’t wish to rewrite.
Apparently Google Docs saves rather frequently. As I type I see the “Saving…” notification at the top of my document. When I stop typing it changes to, “All changes saved in Drive.” So Google Docs saves as I type and stops saving when I stop typing. That’s a nice feature. Even with that feature, I still hit the Ctrl + S keys. It doesn’t do anything in Google Docs, but I don’t want to get out of the habit because I still use other programs that don’t save quite so often.
Spell Check and Grammar
Having spell check is extremely important. I was that person voted class worst speller. Similar to Microsoft Word, it checks as I type and am notified of a misspelled word by the red underline beneath the questionable word. I’m not so sure about how well it checks grammar, but I’ve had disagreements with Microsoft Word’s grammar, so I’m okay with not having grammar check here.
Google Docs has all of the basic formatting functions that I need. As long as it has bold, underline, Italics, headers, footers, bulleting and page numbering, I’m good to go. I’m not too fussy about formating.
As a solo writer, I don’t use the collaboration feature very much, but it is great to have when working on projects. It came in handy at Thanksgiving when my daughter created the menu in Google Docs and shared it with me to make the final corrections. In the past we used pen and paper to create and update the list. By using Google Docs in our shared Google Drive we were able to keep track of what was prepared and cross it off the list as we cooked.
I guess my biggest question is, what happens if my internet connection goes down and I’m working on or need to retrieve a document? Having voiced that concern I did a quick search to see if there is a non connected way to access/view my documents, and apparently there is. Google has provided the ability to view, edit and access Google Docs without an internet connection. In order to do so you must think ahead and configure your Chrome browser accordingly. Once my computer has finished reformatting (actually recovering lost files), I’ll give it a whirl.
As I was typing, the software seemed to stagger. I looked up and saw a notification, “Trying to reconnect.” That alarmed me for a moment. Shortly thereafter the “reconnected” notification displayed. My loss of connection was only for a few seconds, but it makes me question just how frequently this happens and can it happen when I’m in the middle of a major project? Only time and more experience using Google Docs will tell.
There is the option to print from a mobile device or from your computer to a local printer. Printing to my local computer is a two-step process. I first must download the document as a PDF and then print it from the PDF. In essence you’ll have at least 3 copies of your document. One in Google Docs, one as a PDF and the last as a printed copy. I guess it’s not so bad as you can always delete the extra PDF copy. It just seems to be an additional unnecessary step.
The other printing option is to print from a mobile device. In my case since I have an HP Printer, I would have to download the HP ePrint app and configure it to be able to print from any ePrint enabled printer or service. I started the process but my printer’s home configuration didn’t agree with the instruction video on the HP site, so I decided to leave things as they are. If it’s not broken, there’s no need for me to fix it.
After using Google Docs to write a few articles, I’m having a hard time giving it a thumbs down. I know Google is the large company that everyone loves to hate, but I’ve got to say Google Docs is a convenient alternative to my usual Microsoft Word. I’m not saying that I’m a convert just yet, but I can see that its definitely promising! After all, I was able to type a two-page article on my Galaxy Note with Google Docs using just two fingers (it required a lot of editing, but the basics were there). Who would have thunk it?