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Google Docs tips, shut down or restart?

Tech Talk

Google Docs tips

Have you been using Google Docs more since COVID-19 changed our work and school lives? Here are a few handy tips for using Google Docs.

Word count

If you’re working on an assignment with a word limit, you can set a word count to display and try not to go over. You can show the word count in your document by going to Tools > Word Count in the menu bar and clicking on Display word count while typing.

Open a new Google doc

The easiest way to open a new Google Doc is to type docs.new into the address bar of your browser.

Convert your Google Doc

You can convert your Google to a Word or PDF file by going to File > Download on the menu bar and choosing a file type. Check your file after converting it, especially for long documents with complicated formatting.

Add a handwritten signature

Instead of printing out a Google Doc, signing it, then scanning it to send back to whoever sent it to you, try signing it using the Drawing tool. From the main menu, click Insert > Drawing > New. Now click on the drop-down box by Line and choose Scribble. Okay, it won’t look much like your real signature, at least without a lot of practice, but at least it’s an option. Of course, the drawing tool is also useful for adding drawings to your documents.

Paste text without formatting

Don’t you hate it when you finally find the perfect quote to use in your document, but when you paste it in, it comes with the fancy formatting from wherever you found it? Here’s how to paste it in using the same formatting as your document: paste in the quote using Ctrl+Shift+V instead of just Ctrl+V. Or Cmd+Shift+V on a Mac.

Go back to an earlier version

If your cat jumped on your keyboard just before you hit save and you accidentally saved your cat-modified document, don’t worry. Google keeps track of your changes, and you can even go back to an earlier version. Go to the main menu and click File > Version history and click on the triangle next to your file’s most recent date and time to show the previous versions. Once you find the one you want, click the three-dot menu at the far right and click Restore this version.

Add words to your personal dictionary

Most programs don’t know how to spell Tehachapi until we tell them how. You can customize your Google Docs dictionary by adding the words you use all the time, so Google won’t keep underlining them with a red squiggle. Just put your cursor over the underlined word and click Add to dictionary. Especially helpful for proper names and on industry or trade-specific terms.

Enable offline editing

Google Docs requires an internet connection to work. If your internet connection isn’t reliable, or if you know a Public Safety Power Shutoff is coming, or some other calamity that might prevent you from getting online, you can enable offline editing. In Google Chrome, add the Docs Offline extension from the Chrome Web Store.

Shut Down or restart?

Most people know you should turn off your computer at least once in a while. But why? And what’s the difference between Shut Down and Restart?

Turning your computer off and back on can clear out background processes you don’t need anymore that might be slowing down your computer. If your computer is having a slow day (or slow week or slow month) try saving all your work, closing your browsers, and shutting it off. When you turn it back on, the system will only load the background processes you need for what you’re doing now, instead of everything since the last time you shut down your computer.

Okay, then what’s the difference between a computer Restart and a Shut Down?

On a Mac, restarting or shutting down your computer and then turning it back on is pretty much the same thing. On a Windows PC, though, there is a difference.

Unintuitively, a Restart actually kills everything running on your computer while a Shut Down doesn’t. Because when you Shut Down a Windows computer, it uses something called “fast startup” to keep track of what you were doing when you clicked Shut Down and loads everything back up when you restart it. You can bypass Windows’ fast startup by holding down the Shift key when you shut down your computer.

Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at [email protected].