While Google Docs has risen to become one of the most popular word processors around, there's more to it than what you can do with a keyboard and mouse. The app for iOS and Androi has a number of interesting tricks up its sleeves -- and a few unexpected limitations that you won't find in the web app version that's optimized for internet browsers.
Let's show you how to make yourself look like a Google Docs wizard, no matter what device you're using to connect to it.
Navigating the mobile version of Google Docs
In a nutshell, Google Docs is like Google Drive (download for iOS or Android), but specific to text documents. So you will see a lot of similarities between the two a mobile apps, when it comes to navigation and overall visual design. Like Google Drive, you can switch between different Google accounts by tapping on the hamburger menu in the upper left, then tapping on the profile picture.
In fact, if you want to go directly to Google Drive, this menu has a link right to it at the bottom that will open the Google Drive app on your device, if it's installed.
By default, Google Docs will display your files in a grid. This lets you peek at the document before opening it, but you may prefer a list instead. If so, tap on the three-dot menu in the upper right, then select "Sort By" and choose "View as List."
You can also browse via the search tool by tapping on the magnifying glass in the upper right, and you can pull files from your Google Drive account into Google Docs by tapping on the folder in the upper right and selecting "Google Drive."
Like Google Drive, each file here has its own three-dot menu. Tapping it will show you your sharing tools, plus basic functions like printing, downloading, renaming and removing.
If you deal more with Microsoft Word than Google Docs, this menu will also let you save the file as a Word document with the .docx extension. You can also default to creating a Word version by tapping the hamburger menu, then Settings, then tapping on the slider next to "Create Word Files."
If you tap the three-dot menu and then tap the "i" icon in the upper right, it will give you the file's metadata, such as when it was created, who made it and who has been given access.
The major navigational difference between Google Docs and Google Drive is that Docs doesn't allow batches of file deletions. To put a document in the trash, you must open its three-dot menu, scroll down and select Remove.
Note that Remove won't delete a file -- it just puts it in your Trash folder, which Google periodically empties on its own. If you want a document erased altogether, tap the hamburger menu, then Trash, then the three-dot menu next to the file you want to delete, then choose Delete Forever. Not the easiest process, but Google sometimes favors data preservation over convenience.
Last but not least, you can create a new document at any time by pressing the circular "+" button in the bottom right of the file browsing section.
Editing and writing in the mobile version of Google Docs
When making changes to a document, be aware that your menu options change according to how your device is physically oriented.
In landscape mode, the three-dot menu that appears when you open a document has only six actions available. If you want to see the other six actions, they're only visible when you hold your phone in portrait mode.
The semi-hidden section of this menu doesn't contain anything critical for most users, thankfully: sharing & exporting, add-ons, offline availability, bookmarking, the details pane and tech support.
If you're wondering where your text editing tools are when you open a document, you need to tap the circular pen icon in the bottom right to make those appear. Note that this will also reveal a few additional actions in the aforementioned three-dot menu: Explore, Spellcheck and Page Setup.
The Explore option is a bit of an outlier in terms of actual word processing functionality, because it's a combined search tool for both the web and the contents of your Google Drive.
But if you're looking for images to insert into a text document, the Explore tool may come in handy, because it has a toolbar that lets you specify GIFs, high-resolution images, product shots and even particular shades of color that may complement the visual aesthetic of other things that you're doing in Docs.
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If you're using Google's "Gboard" virtual keyboard (download for iOS or Android), then you can tap the microphone icon in the upper right to begin dictation, which may be faster than typing with either the onscreen keyboard or a physical one.
(If you need a physical keyboard, you can pair a wireless Bluetooth version with most Android phones and tablets, and the iPad has a number of options for keyboard covers.)
Like the web browser version of Google Docs, all of the changes that you make to a file are saved in the cloud within seconds. So if you accidentally close the app or drop your phone, you don't have to worry about losing work.
When you're done editing, tap the check mark icon in the upper left. Then if you want to return to your document list at that point, tap the arrow pointing left.
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