Three Free Tools To Increase Your Google Docs Productivity

Google Docs & Spreadsheets is a stellar web-based office suite, and you can't beat the price. Here are three tools for you, the Google Docs power user, that will boost your productivity and keep your on- and offline work synced up--for free.
Published: Jan 31, 2008
Author: Jordan Running
Related OS: XP / Windows / Vista

I'm a big fan of Google Docs & Spreadsheets. The search giant's free online applications make it easy to access your documents from any computer (even your mobile phone's browser) and create documents that you can share with friends and colleagues even when you don't have access to Microsoft Office or another desktop-based office suite. But Docs & Spreadsheets can't entirely replace desktop products for everyone, especially heavy Office users. Fortunately, there are a few free tools that can help it along and make you more productive in the process.

Upload docs from your desktop: Google Document List Uploader

DocList UploaderGoogle Docs & Spreadsheets lets you upload documents one at a time using its web-based interface. This is useful, but not ideal if you want to put a bunch of documents online, or don't have a web browser open. As a remedy, Google's Data API team has released the Document List Uploader, a program for Windows that lets you drag and drop files en masse to upload them to you Google Docs account. It also adds a "Send to Google Docs" option to your right-click menu that can be used in any folder.

The DocList Uploader is mostly a proof-of-concept program to demonstrate how programmers can utilize the Google Data API, but for everyday users it works great for quickly getting batches of documents online.

Sync your offline and online docs automatically: DocSyncer

DocSyncerThe DocList Uploader is great, but if you want your offline documents to always be available online in Google Docs, you can do it automatically with DocSyncer. DocSyncer is a free third-party tool that combines a Windows donwload and a web-based interface to automatically keep your online documents in Google Docs synced up with the ones on your hard drive. DocSyncer is currently in beta and isn't without its flaws--the web interface is often sluggish, for example--but it works pretty well. Once you've created an account and downloaded the program, it will run constantly in your system tray (it doesn't take up too much memory, fortunately) and whenever you create or change a document it will automatically reflect it in your Google Docs account.

By default DocSyncer will scan and sync your entire hard drive, but through the web-based interface you can choose which folders will be included or excluded. It supports all of the file formats Google Docs supports: Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, OpenDocument, plain text, RTF, HTML, and CSV, though the latter few have to be enabled in Account Settings.

Unfortunately DocSyncer will only sync documents to Google Docs, not from--that is, it won't copy documents you have online to your computer--but otherwise it's a well-designed tool and very handy.

Keep your docs close at hand in Firefox: gDocsBar

gDocsBarIf you spend most of your time in Firefox like I do, you can keep your Google Docs & Spreadsheets files at your fingertips with gDocsBar. It's a free, third-party add-on for Firefox that gives you a sidebar in which you can quickly browse and access your online documents at any time. It includes built-in document searching and, like DocList Uploader, lets you upload single or multiple files simply by dragging and dropping them onto the sidebar. It's a simple, cross-platform tool that's perfect for the heavy Google Docs user.

About Jordan Running

Blogger since 1999, Jordan Running went pro in 2005 and never looked back. Sometimes programmer, occasional photographer, and serial tinkerer, he decided to to switch to Linux in 2001 but just hasn't quite gotten around to it yet.

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