As a Google Docs user, you know behind its austere design is a wealth of powerful word processing features. But it’s easy for those features to hijack your time and attention when you have to format a paragraph or hunt down some function in the middle of working on a document. Here are some time-saving tips that will help you edit more efficiently so you can keep your focus where it belongs—on the content.
1. Know your keyboard shortcuts
The quickest way to speed up your document editing is to employ shortcuts. Google Docs has more than you could ever commit to memory—for everything from formatting to navigation—but that’s OK, because you can access all of them from the Help menu. They’re categorized by operating system (PC, Mac, Chrome OS, Android, and iOS) for easy reference, depending on which device you’re using.
You can even use a shortcut to get to your shortcuts: from within your document, press Ctrl+/ on a PC or press ⌘+/ on a Mac to bring up a searchable overlay with all of Google Doc’s hotkeys.
2. Search the menus
Mousing through the toolbar every time you need to format a paragraph or change a font eats up a lot of time that can be reclaimed by this shortcut.
Click Help, and you’ll see a search field at the top of the drop-down menu. From here you can search all the menus in the Google Docs toolbar by typing in your query.
3. Personalize your dictionary
Spell-checkers are notorious for slowing down your writing workflow by red-flagging legitimate words they just don’t recognize. Instead of correcting Google Doc’s spelling cop each time it erroneously catches a proper name, technical term, or abbreviation, white-list those commonly used words in your dictionary.
Go to Tools > Personal dictionary and add as many words as you wish. If you’d rather update your dictionary on the fly, just click Add to Personal Dictionary whenever Google Docs mistakenly flags a word.
4. Add links from within your document
Web links are essential in most documents today, but the process of opening a new browser tab, finding the webpage, and copying an pasting the link can be a speed bump, especially if you have to do it over and over again.
Google Docs harnesses the power of Google Search, so you can find links without ever leaving the page. Go to Insert > Link—or right-click on the page and select Link—and a floating box with two fields will open. Type your search terms in the bottom field—it works like any other Google search—then select your link from the results. Next, type the text you want hyperlinked in the top field, and click Apply. Your link is added and you can continue with your document without missing a beat.
5. Resize your workspace
When you work on a laptop or other small screen, you sacrifice document space and have to spend more time scrolling up and down the page. Give yourself more breathing room with the Compact controls shortcut.
To activate Compact mode, press
Ctrl+Shift-F. This will hide the document title and menu bars to give you a bit more space at the top of your doc. Use the same key combo to turn Compact mode off (these controls are also accessible from the View menu). When you close your document, Google Docs will remember its settings and will reopen it in the last viewing mode.