Using a Bluetooth keyboard with the Google Docs mobile app

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If the virtual keyboard on your phone is difficult to use with the Google Docs mobile app, and you don’t want to use voice-to-text dictation features of Android or iOS, you have the option of pairing a Bluetooth keyboard to your phone.

Bluetooth is a short-range wireless technology that lets people wirelessly connect their phones to other computers or accessories. Bluetooth keyboards are inexpensive and lightweight, and can easily fit into a briefcase or small backpack. For the Google Docs mobile app on an iPhone or Android phone, serious typing is only possible with a bluetooth keyboard.

After turning on Bluetooth on your Phone (via Settings > Bluetooth) and charging the keyboard, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to pair it to your phone using a special on-screen code. This only needs to be done once; afterwards the phone will automatically detect the keyboard as long as the phone’s Bluetooth is activated and the keyboard has power. The following video shows how to pair a bluetooth keyboard to an iPad running a recent version of iOS:

You can then use the keyboard to type email or use other applications, including productivity apps such as Microsoft Word, Google Docs, PowerPoint, and more. I have heard of students who can’t afford a computer using their phone and a Bluetooth keyboard to complete reports and other homework assignments using Google Docs!

Typing and text tricks with the mobile Google apps on an iPhone

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If you have never owned a touch-screen device, entering text into the Google mobile apps (including Google Docs for iOS) will seem strange at first. Instead of a tiny physical keyboard (like the BlackBerry) letters and words are entered on the iPhone’s screen using a tiny virtual keyboard. The touch screen can also be used to select, copy, and paste.

Step-by-step instructions on how to use these features are shown below. Once you get the hang of it, the touch screen will seem like second nature.

How to use the iPhone’s virtual keyboard

Tapping your finger in any area that allows text input (including the cells in Google Sheets, the composition field in Google Docs, or the name field on any of the iOS apps) brings up a virtual keyboard, which covers the bottom third of the screen.

If you have never used a touch screen keyboard before, it will be awkward at first. To type a single letter, a light tap is all it takes. As you type the letter, a tiny square displays the letter being typed right above the key. This is a visual confirmation that you are typing the correct key.

Other keyboard functions include:

  • Deleting a letter. Press the gray Delete button on the right side of the keyboard.
  • Make a letter uppercase. Tap the shift key (upward-pointing arrow highlighted in the image below) once and then tap the letter.
  • Tap the shift button once. It will change from gray to white, and the letters will change from lowercase to uppercase.
  • Shift-lock. Double-tap the shift key. It turns white, and the arrow is underlined. Tap it again to switch back to lowercase mode.
  • Add basic punctuation or numbers. Tap the “123” key once, which brings up the numbers keyboard (see screenshot, above).
  • Add advanced punctuation and numerical operators. From the numbers keyboard, tap the “#+=” button.
  • Emoji and international keyboards. Tap the globe or emoji icon next to the space bar.

How to place the cursor to add or delete text

To place a cursor on another part of the screen (for instance, to add or delete text in the middle of the sentence) follow these instructions:

  1. Hold your finger on the place on the screen where you want to place the cursor.
  2. A magnifying glass appears under your finger, showing the text and the placement of the cursor (see image, below). Move your finger down slightly to get a better view, but don’t let go.
  3. Move to the left or right to move the cursor.
  4. When the cursor is placed where you want it, lift your finger.
  5. Add or delete text as needed using the keyboard.

iPhone typing and text tips

How to copy and paste text

It is also possible to select a word or phrase. Tap and briefly hold a word. The word will be highlighted, with two handles on either side and a menu above:

  • Pull the handles to increase the size of the highlighted text, or select All.
  • Copy or cut the text (you can paste it somewhere else later by double-​tapping where you want to insert the text).
  • Tap the arrow to see other options, which may include formatting and inserting photos into emails.

Google Cloud Print and wired printers

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It’s possible to attach a wired printer to Google Cloud Print. Why would you want to do this, considering a PC or laptop can send print jobs directly to the printer, without Google Cloud Print?

The answer: Other laptops, PCs, and mobile devices on the same network will be able to wirelessly print Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides files. It’s a cool feature, albeit one that requires extra setup steps to make it work.

Here are the instructions for enabling a wired printer to be used with Google Cloud Print services:

  1. Make sure the wired printer is turned on and connected to the PC or laptop you are using with a USB cable.
  2. Launch Google Chrome, and click the More actions icon (three dots in the upper right corner of the browser window).
  3. Click Settings, then Advanced.
  4. Scroll down to Google Cloud Print and select it.
  5. Select Manage Cloud Print Devices.
  6. Under Classic Printers, click Add Printers.
  7. Select from available devices.

Once Google Cloud Print is enabled for a wired printer attached to a PC or a laptop, the printer will not need to be configured for other computers and devices connected to the same wireless network.

How to delete Google Drive (desktop application or mobile app)

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People typically delete Google Drive applications for one of the following reasons:

  • They aren’t using it (or prefer to use Google Drive in a browser)
  • There are issues with syncing files, especially if large files or folders are regularly updated.
  • The computer is about to be sold or transferred to a new owner or user.

Steps to uninstall Google Drive are covered below. Note that files may still be left on your computer or device even after Drive has been removed. To disconnect the new Google Drive Backup & Sync application, follow these steps.

Removing the Google Drive application from a desktop or laptop

If you want to remove the Google Drive application from your computer, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Google Drive icon in the System Tray (Windows) or Menu Bar (OS X) and select Preferences.
  2. Select Account.
  3. Press Disconnect Account

Then follow these steps:


  1. Press Start > Control Panel.
  2. Select Programs > Programs and Features.
  3. Select Google Drive


  1. If the Google Drive icon is still visible in the Menu Bar, click it and select Quit.
  2. Open the Applications folder and drag the Google Drive application to the trash.
  3. Removing the Google Drive application will not remove files or folders. Those will have to be deleted separately.

Removing the Google Drive app from mobile devices

To delete the Google Drive app from a phone or tablet, follow these steps:


  1. Open Google Play or the Play Store app.
  2. Press the Menu icon (three horizontal bars) and select My Apps.
  3. Under Installed, select Google Drive.
  4. Press Uninstall


  1. Hold down the Google Drive app icon until it begins to wiggle.
  2. Press the “x” to delete it.

Files that have been downloaded to the device from Google Drive will not be automatically deleted from the device. In addition, uninstalling Google Drive will not impact the operation of the Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps.

How to create links to Google Docs files

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If you do a lot of work in Google Docs, there are times when you may want to create links to Google Docs files so other people can view or edit them. Sharing public links in Google Docs is easy to do, but the menu is buried and some of the options can be a little confusing. In addition, sometimes you may want to add restrictions to limit who can view the Google Docs file or who is allowed to edit the file. These are important considerations if you are collaborating using Google Drive or Google Docs.

The following 3-minute video explains how link sharing works for Google Docs. It covers both public links (viewable by anyone) as well as private links (limited to people you contact or people in your company):

Google Docs notifications when a file is opened?

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A reader of Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes wrote to me with an interesting question involving Google Docs notifications:

I live by myself and my closest relatives live far away.  Should something happen to me, I’d like a way for them to have quick access to some critical information about me: who to contact, financials, and certain passwords.  They should never look at these except under dire circumstances.  In an ideal world, I would be notified if anyone other than me entered the folder.  Next best would be if anyone opened any of the documents.  In this way, if an account of mine were compromised, I could eliminate the info on my Google Drive as the source of the problem.
So the question is whether for the purpose of alerts, merely opening the files triggers an “edit” notification or does it require someone actually saving the document?  Alternative solutions?
It’s a common situation to want to leave instructions and other documents for someone else to open in case of death, injury, or disability. However, regarding the idea to get notified whenever a Google Docs or Google Drive collaborator accesses a folder — this feature does not exist in Google Docs, despite many people requesting it. I understand there is a Google Docs extension called “ezNotifications” (described here) that allows notifications that are associated with edits to the document, but I have not tried it and therefore cannot recommend it.
As for alternatives, Google Sheets does have a notification feature that will alert an account owner whenever a collaborator makes a change, but it does not alert owners when the spreadsheet is opened. I suppose sensitive information could be added to the spreadsheet as text, and edit alerts would be sent to the owner, but there would be no indication to the creator of whether or not it was merely opened by a designated collaborator.
Dropbox also has a feature that alerts owners when any document is changed or updated, but it does not alert for merely opening a document. (I have written a book about Dropbox called Dropbox In 30 Minutes that explains how Dropbox collaboration works).
Finally, planning for personal disaster is a complex topic. Before attempting to distribute documents in case of death or injury, I advise consulting with an estate-planning lawyer who has experience in this area.

How to change the design in Google Forms

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Last year, I wrote a post about how to create a form using the new Google Forms interface. In today’s episode, we’re going to look at how to change the design in Google Forms, Google’s free alternative to Surveymonkey that integrates with Google Sheets and Google Drive.

If you use Google Forms to to gather information from customers or survey a group of people, you can really improve the look of the form by changing its design. There are all kinds of reasons for changing the design:

  1. The default Google Forms design looks too plain.
  2. You want to apply your own design sensibilities to the form
  3. You have branding elements such as logos or special photos you want to incorporate into the design.
  4. You want the form to better match the fonts, colors, and other elements of your product or website.
  5. You think your audience will respond more enthusiastically to a different design.

This last point is not just being considerate of your audience’s aesthetic sensibilities. If different design elements convince more people to start the form and finish it, that means you will get more (and perhaps better) data.

Change the design in Google Forms: Step by step

Changing the design in Google Forms is not hard to do. This quick video will show you how to add photos, change background colors, and alter other design elements of Google Forms:

How to use the Google Docs mobile app to edit MS Word .docx files

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The Google Docs mobile app for Android and iOS now has the ability to edit Microsoft Word .docx files on the go! The following three-minute video shows how it works, using an actual .docx file stored in a Google Drive account and accessed through the Google Docs mobile app for iOS. Note that editing and formatting tools are limited, but at least it gives users a quick way to access and edit Microsoft Word documents when there is no easy access to a desktop computer or laptop.

To see how to edit a .docx file in Google Docs on a PC, Mac, or Chromebook, see our recent posts on this topic.

Edit .docx files in Google Docs using Office Compatibility Mode

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So you have a .docx file, and you want to edit it. A few years ago, you would have needed Microsoft Word to open and edit the file, or you would need to use a workaround, such as uploading the .docx file to Google Drive and converting it to Google Docs for editing. Now, it’s possible to use Google Docs to edit the original .docx file in Google Docs using Office Compatibility Mode–no conversion required!

The following video shows how it works. Keep in mind that editing options for MS Word .docx files in Google Docs are limited to formatting, such as bolding or italicizing text, applying different fonts, aligning text, and adding bullet lists. Advanced Word features involving inserting photos and tables or tracking changes are not supported in Google Docs (at least not yet). The video is less than four minutes long, and if you need more information, I have written about the pros and cons of Office Compatibility Mode in Google Drive.

Google Docs printing basics (and troubleshooting)

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So you are finally using Google Docs as your primary word processing program, and now you need to print out a document. The following short video covers Google Docs printing basics as well as common problems and how to troubleshoot them. Topics include printer setup, saving to PDF, getting rid of unwanted header information, setting orientation (portrait vs. landscape) and other basic information about Google Docs printing issues.