Power up your productivity
Although Google has done plenty to improve Google Drive over the years, the search giant is now outsourcing the job to third-party developers. With Add-Ons for Docs and Sheets, you can extend the usefulness of Google’s online productivity suite even further. These 10 add-ons lead the new pack, offering convenient solutions for translating text, plotting addresses, signing documents, and more.
If you already make heavy use of Google Translate, this add-on can save a lot of time. Instead of having to open Google Translate in a new browser window, you can just highlight some text and translate it from inside the document.
On the downside, the add-on currently supports only five languages—English, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish. We hope its repertoire will expand with time.
On the rare occasion (we hope) that you have to send a fax, here’s a way to skip the trip to Staples. HelloFax’s add-on lets you fax documents directly from Google Docs, and even includes a built-in form for cover pages. You only get five fax pages for free, but you can send more for $0.99 per fax, or sign up for a faxing plan starting at $10 per month.
Google Drive has a few electronic signature options, but HelloSign is the simplest. For signing your own documents, you just draw your name in the signature field and drag the signature into your Google Doc. If you’re collecting signatures, HelloSign takes you to its own website, where you can add a signature field to the document and send it by email. The free version allows signatures on three documents per month, and you can upgrade to unlimited documents for $15 per month.
As the name suggests, this is just a mini calculator that opens up right next to your document. The Calculator add-on does only the basics, and it doesn’t support keyboard input unless you click on the number field, but it’s still better than juggling multiple windows when your document requires a little math.
Need to print out a bunch of form letters with people’s names and other personalized details? Check out DocumentMerge, which lets you generate multiple Google Docs based on personal info in a corresponding Google Sheet. That may sound intimidating, but the add-on includes a helpful wizard to guide you through the process.
Yet Another Mail Merge
Much like DocumentMerge, Yet Another Mail Merge lets you generate form letters from a spreadsheet. But while DocumentMerge is for printing, Yet Another Mail Merge is for emailing. After you’ve drafted a message in Gmail and inserted some syntax, use the add-on in Google Sheets to select the message and mail it out. The add-on itself isn’t especially intuitive, but the store listing has a straightforward walkthrough. Yet Another Mail Merge lets you send 99 messages per day, which should be just fine for personal (read: non-spam) use.
These are actually five separate add-ons, but together they represent some powerful tools for editing your Google Sheets. Remove Duplicates scans and highlights duplicate cells, while giving you the option to remove them. Advanced Find & Replace lets you search across spreadsheets and offers additional search tools. Split Names lets you separate values into individual cells, and Merge Values fuses them back together. Find Fuzzy Matches looks for spelling variations on a given search term.
Mapping Sheets takes a list of addresses and plots them onto a Google Map. You can filter the map data by category, as specified on the spreadsheet. It may not seem like a broadly useful tool, but all kinds of potential uses come to mind, from plotting an efficient delivery route to visualizing all the places you’ve been.
With the Styles add-on for Google Sheets, you can quickly give your spreadsheet a little extra visual flair. Just select the cells you want to format, and click on one of the 42 preset visual styles. Unfortunately you can’t create and save your own styles, but a “Pro” version with this feature is apparently on the way.
After all this hard work, it’s time to relax—or maybe work yourself into a bigger frenzy—with some Sudoku. The Google Sheets add-on can generate puzzles at four difficulty levels and helps you create your own. You can also check your answers from within the sheet or insert the solution in a separate grid. Try printing out a few puzzles to stave off boredom on your next flight.
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