Saturday, May 17, 2014

Day 21 - "Pin" your Drive so that it's Always Available

Many people have built up a habit of automatically clicking on Microsoft Word each and every time they want to create a document. While Microsoft Word can still be the right tool for very complex documents, keeping your Google Drive always available makes it quick and easy to use for most of your Documents. Using Google Drive instead of Microsoft Word provides you with all of the benefits that we have touched upon in the Google Drive and Docs Challenge (Documents available every where from any device, sharing and collaboration, etc.)

Some modern web browsers (Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox) offer the option to "pin" browser tabs so that the web pages and applications you use the most are always available as soon as you open your web browser. This is a great way to keep your Google Drive available so that it's always ready when you want to create, edit or view a document.

  1. Open your Google Drive using Google Chrome
  2. Right-click on the "My Drive" at the top of the web browser window
  3. Select "Pin tab" from the menu that appears
  4. The "My Drive" tab will shrink and "pin" itself to the left of the browser window
  5. You can pin all of your most used websites and services (e.g. Gmail, Infinite Campus, etc.). Any tabs that you pin will automatically appear each time you open Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox on that specific computer
Try using Google Drive, Documents, Spreadsheets, and Presentations instead of always using Microsoft Office and start to benefit from having the latest versions of all of your Documents and files available from any device.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Day 20 - Converting an Existing File to a Google Document, Spreadsheet or Presentation

Over the past two days, we have reviewed how to upload files to your Google Drive and how to setup your Drive so that it will always prompt you about converting files when you upload them. However, there may be some situations in which you want to convert a file into a Google Document, Spreadsheet or Presentation that has already been uploaded to your Drive.

Fortunately, there is an easy way to convert files that are already in your Google Drive into one of the Google formats, allowing you to edit, collaborate and share. Here's how:
  1. Select a file in your Google Drive by checking the box to the left of its name
  2. Click the "More" button that appears at the top of the Drive list
  3. Select "Open with" from the menu and click "Google Docs" (or Google Sheets or Google Slides)
  4. After a few moments, the files will be converted into an editable Google Document, Spreadsheet or Presentation
  5. You will now have two versions of the file in your Drive;
    • You will have the original, unconverted file that you can download in its original format
    • You will have an editable and shareable Google Document, Spreadsheet or Presentation

You can find more information about converting files to Google Documents, Spreadsheets and Presentations in the official Google Drive Help documentation at

If you run into any issues when trying to convert a file, here is some information about the size limits, as well as other limitations,

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Day 19 - Uploading Files to Drive (Part 2), Moving your Stuff

In yesterday's tip, we setup our Google Drive so that it will always prompt us about whether or not we want to convert any uploaded files to the corresponding Google formats. For example, when we upload a Microsoft Word document to Drive, do we want to convert it to the Google Document format or leave it in the original Word format? We also went over the various "Pros and Cons" of each approach.

With all of that in mind, here's how to upload files to your Google Drive:
  1. Click the "Upload" button to the right of the "Create" button.
  2. Select "Files".
  3. Find and select the file(s) you want to upload and click "Open". TIP: You can select multiple files to upload by holding down the CTRL key on the keyboard while you select the files with the mouse.
  4. The Upload settings window will appear.
    • If you are uploading documents, spreadsheets, or presentations and you want to convert them to the Google Documents format, select the "Convert documents, spreadsheets, presentations..." option.
    • If you are uploading PDF files or photos and you would like Google Drive to try and extract the text from these files and insert it into a new Google document, select the "Convert text from PDF and images..." option.
  5. Click "Start upload".
  6. A small progress window will appear displaying the progress of the files upload and conversion
  7. Once the upload and conversion is complete, the files and documents will appear in your Google Drive.
    • Files that have been converted will appear with Google Document, Spreadsheet and Presentation icons.
    • Unconverted files will NOT appear with Google icons.

There are additional ways to upload files (and entire folders) to your Google Drive, but this will get you started.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Day 18 - Uploading Files to Drive (Part 1), To Convert or Not to Convert!

If you have existing files (e.g. Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, PDF files, photos, videos, etc.) that you want to be able to access from anywhere, you can upload them to your Google Drive. You can think of your Google Drive as an online thumb drive that's available from any internet connected device!

When you upload files to your Google Drive, you have two basic choices:

Choice #1 - Upload the files in their original format

  • Pros
    • The files retain all the original formatting
    • When downloaded, the files can be opened and edited using the application used to create them (e.g. Microsoft Word)
  • Cons
    • The files cannot be edited directly within Google Drive
    • When you share the files, you can only give collaborators "Can view" permissions. The "Can edit" and "Can comment" permissions will not function
    • Many of the other features of Google Drive (chat, research tools, history, etc.) are not available for files that have not been converted into one of the Google formats
    • The size of the uploaded files count against your combined Mail and Drive storage quota

Choice #2 - Upload and convert the files to the Google formats

  • Pros
    • The converted files can be edited directly within Google Drive
    • You can give collaborators the permission to Edit and Comment on documents
    • All of the features of Google Drive (chat, research tools, history, etc.) are available for files converted into one of the Google formats
    • Files uploaded and converted to one of the Google formats do not count against your combined Mail and Drive storage quota
  • Cons
    • The files MAY not retain all the original formatting through the conversion. This is especially true for more complicated documents with complex tables and columns
    • When downloaded, the files may not be able to be opened and edited using the application used to create them (e.g. Microsoft Word)

You can setup Google Drive to ask you each time whether or not to convert uploaded files to Google formats. Here's how:
  1. Click the "Settings" gear button
  2. Select "Upload settings"
  3. Click to select "Confirm settings before each upload"
  4. You can verify that you selected the setting correctly. If you click the Settings gear and click Upload settings, "Confirm settings before each upload" will be checked

Now, each time that you upload a file to your Google Drive, you will be prompted as to whether or not to convert the file to a Google format. Tomorrow, in Part 2, we will walk through the process of uploading files into your Google Drive.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Delay in Day 18

Hi everyone. There is going to be a day or two delay in the posting of the Day 18 tip. I've been ill with a sinus infection for several days and I'm just starting to get back on my feet. It will take me a little bit to catch up.

Thanks in advance for your patience.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Day 17 - Use the Template Gallery

Like Microsoft Office, Google Drive has a Template Gallery with a large variety of templates that can help you get your Document, Spreadsheet, Presentation, or Form started. Unfortunately, this great feature in Google Drive is a little hidden and takes a few clicks to discover.

  1. Create a new Document, Spreadsheet, Presentation, or Form
  2. Click the File menu, select "New" and click "From template"
  3. Click on the "Public Templates" tab at the top to view all of templates submitted to the Template Gallery
  4. Click the "Types" and "Categories" links on the left to narrow down the kinds of templates that are displayed
  5. If you see a template that you would like to take a closer look at, click the "Preview" link next to that template
  6. If you like the template and you would like to use it to create a new Document, click "Use this template". If you don't want to use the template, click the "Close this window" link to return to the Template Gallery
  7. When you use a template, a fresh copy of that template will be created in your Drive

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Day 16 - Shortening a Document's Long Sharing Link

In yesterday's tip, we learned how to make a Google Document public and how to get a link to share with others. While the link works well, it can be a little long, especially if you want to post it on a webpage or blog.

Google has an url shortener that you can use to take the gigantic sharing link for a Document and shorten it into something more manageable. I use it all the time when I share Google Documents, especially when I create Google Forms. The Google url shortener also collects some basic statistics about who how many people click your short link. It even let's you create QR codes for a link!

Here's how to use it:
  1. Copy the URL/link of the shared Document. You can always find the URL/link by clicking on the "Share" button
  2. Go to the Google url shortener at
  3. Check the upper right corner of the page and make sure that you are signed into your Google account
  4. Paste the long URL/address/link into the box and click "Shorten URL"
  5. A short link will be created to the right. You can copy it and use it in place of the old long URL/address/link
  6. The Google url shortener also keeps a history of all the short links that you create. You can go back and find them at any time
  7. If you click the "Details" link next to a link, you will find some basic statistics as to how many visitors have clicked on the link, as well as a QR code that you can use to direct people to the link

Day 15 - Making a Document Public

Besides sharing Google Documents with specific people, you also have the option of changing the visibility settings of a Document to make it accessible to the public. This is an excellent option for Documents that do not contain sensitive or confidential information and need to be shared with a large group of people, including some who do not have Google accounts.

Why would you want to make a Document public? Well, it could be an easy (and paperless) way to share a classroom newsletter with parents and students, send out an informational flyer, or just post public information on the web (like meeting minutes, policy documents, etc.) The best part is, if you make a change or a correction to the Document, it is immediately available to the public!

Here's how to make a Document public:
  1. Open a Google Document, Spreadsheet or Presentation
  2. Click on the "Share" button in the upper right corner of the Document
  3. Click the "Change" link in the "Who has access" section of the window. This will allow you to change to overall "visibility" of the Document
  4. Select the "Public on the web" option
  5. Select the level of access the Public should have (e.g. Can view, Can comment, or Can edit)
  6. Click "Save"
  7. The level of access or "visibility" of the Document has now changed to "Public on the web"
  8. Right-click the "Link to share" to copy the link to the public Document. You can send this link to people via email, post it on a website/blog, or share it via social media.
  9. Click "Done"
  10. You'll notice that the icon on the "Sharing" button has changed from a padlock (i.e. Private) to a globe (i.e. Public). This is a good visual indicator of the visibility of a particular Document

Monday, March 31, 2014

Day 14 - Download as

Today's tip goes hand in hand with "Day 13 - Email as attachment". If you ever need to export a Document, Spreadsheet, or Presentation from Google Drive, there is a built-in feature that allows you to download any Document. Even better, the "Download as" function provides a number of different choices of file formats, including PDF. Essentially, Google Drive can act as a very versatile (and free) file exporter!

Here's how:
  1. Open a Google Document, Spreadsheet or Presentation
  2. Click the "File" menu and select "Download as"
  3. Choose from the various different download options, depending on whether it's a Document, Spreadsheet, or Presentation

  4. Your Document, Spreadsheet, or Presentation will be downloaded in the format that you selected