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Microsoft Word Archives - Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes

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.

How to convert multiple Google Docs files to Microsoft Word .docx

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Here’s the situation: You write all of your reports, letters, invoices, and fiction masterpieces in Google Docs. There are scores of Docs files in your account, but now you need to convert the Google Docs documents to Microsoft Word .docx. Why? Maybe you want to apply special formatting to the files (Microsoft Word is far better than Docs when it comes to formatting). Or you need to share them with someone else who doesn’t use Google Docs, but does have MS Word. Here’s how to handle the conversion of multiple Google Docs files at once, without opening the files and converting them one by one.

The method basically involves selecting (but not opening) multiple Google Docs files in Google Drive, and then using the “download” option, which auto-converts them to MS Word .docx. The following video shows how to do it:

For more information, tips, and tricks related to Google Drive and Google Docs, check out my book!

Google’s Office Compatibility Mode: Pros and Cons

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Users can edit Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides using Google’s Office Compatibility Mode. This is a great feature that may save you the hassle of converting between Microsoft formats and the equivalent Google program — for instance, it may no longer be necessary to convert a Microsoft Word .docx file to Google Docs, make edits, and then convert the Google Docs file back to .docx.

Office Compatibility Mode comes built into Chromebooks and the mobile apps for Android and iOS, and can be activated on the Chrome browser on PCs and Macs (go to Window > Extensions, search for Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides and install).

However, there are some limitations:

  • Office Compatibility Mode will not work with Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, or other browsers.
  • Files with the .doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx, .ppt, and .pptx extensions can be edited if they were created in Microsoft Office 2007 or newer versions of Microsoft Office. Older files (created in Microsoft Office 2003 and earlier) are not supported unless they are resaved with a more recent version of Microsoft Office.
  • It may not be possible to edit large documents, especially large Excel spreadsheets.

Converting Microsoft formats for collaboration

Collaborative editing (described in Chapter 6 of Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes) is not possible when Microsoft Office files are opened for editing. However, it is possible to convert Office files to the equivalent Google formats for collaborative editing (see screenshot, below). Conversion can take place automatically during the upload process. Alternately, you can select the uploaded file in Drive and use one of the following methods to convert it:

  • Right-click over the selected file and choose Open with.
  • Click the More Actions icon (which looks like three vertical dots) at the top of the screen and select the option to open it in Google Docs/Sheets/Slides.
  • Preview the file, then select the Open with option

Google Drive Office Compatibility mode vs. collaborative editing

How to convert Google Docs files to Word (or PDFs)

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Lots of people use Google Docs, the free Web-based word processor that’s part of Google Drive. If you’re a Docs user, at some point you will have to convert a Google Docs file to Word, either for your own use or to work with someone who only uses Microsoft Office. This short blog post explains how to convert Google Docs to Word, and I’ve also included a video at the end which shows an alternate method of converting the file types.

Here’s the standard method to convert from Docs to Word:

  1. Open the file in Docs that you want to convert to Microsoft Word. Then follow these steps:
  2. Click File>Download As
  3. Select Microsoft Word/.docx
  4. The exported file will download to your computer.
  5. If it doesn’t open automatically, open on your downloads folder to find it.

Note that you can also use the File>Download As feature to export PDFs — it’s a listed option below MS Word/.docx.

Here’s the video tutorial that shows an alternate method for converting a Google Docs file to MS Word:

How to convert .docx files to Google Docs

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If you are making the switch from Microsoft Office to Google Drive, you’ll eventually have to convert .docx files to Google Docs. Or, you may have a situation in which someone emails you a .docx attachment and you need to import it into Google Docs to edit it.

Fortunately, it’s not hard to do. The quick video at the bottom of this post shows how to import and edit a .doc or .docx file, or you can follow these instructions:

  1. In Google Drive’s main screen, click the red up arrow symbol next to the Create button. New button and select File upload.
  2. Choose the .doc/.docx file that you want to import. It will show up in your Google Drive list with a Word symbol next to it (a blue “W”).
  3. Open it by clicking the name of the file. It will be displayed in read-only mode, perhaps with altered formatting, owing to inconsistencies between Word and Docs. No editing is possible.
  4. To perform editing, choose File>Open With>Google Docs
  5. If you want to bring the document back into Word later, you can re-export the document as a .docx file (but not .doc).
  6. If the exported file is reopened in Word, the formatting you applied in Google Docs may look different.

A little additional explanation is needed for this last point. While Google Drive makes it very easy to import all kinds of MS Office files, compatibility may be limited. This is especially true of .doc or .docx files that were heavily formatted in Microsoft Word. If the formatting is not supported in Docs, it will be stripped out.

Here’s the video that shows how to convert .docx to Google Docs:

How to publish a Microsoft Word doc on the Web using Google Drive

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Here’s the scenario: You have a Microsoft Word .doc or .docx file. It’s important, and you want other people to see it, but you don’t want to email it around. The following short video (less than 5 minutes long) will show you how to publish a Microsoft Word document on the Web, using the free online word processor that comes with Google Drive.

While this method of online publishing may not preserve fine-tuned Word formatting, fonts, or special graphic treatments in the original .doc or .docx file, it’s great for publishing rough drafts of reports, letters, homework assignments, or other documents that you want to share with a wider audience. Google Drive will generate a link that you can copy and paste into other documents or email programs. Drive also lets you publish the link directly to Facebook or Twitter, and for those people who know how to use HTML, it’s also possible to embed the video in a blog post or some other type of online publishing system.

If you want to have a reference for this and other Google Drive tips and tricks, check out my book, Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes. In addition, if you enjoy the video, please share it or like it:

How to find good fonts using Google Drive

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At some point in the course of your work or studies, or maybe even a project at home, you will need to find a good font. Maybe it’s a sans-serif font for a report, a cool font for a flyer, a typewriter font for a list, or a stylist font for a Web project. How can you find good fonts? Many people use Microsoft Word and scroll through the available fonts. But there’s a better tool: Google Drive. Not only are hundreds of fonts available, you can use the fonts right away in a document or a slideshow, and print or share the results as needed.

To access the fonts, log into Google Drive, which is Google’s free online office suite (instructions on how to register and get started with Google Drive can be found in my Google Drive guide). Once you are logged in to Google Drive, create a new document (or slidehsow). The Font drop-down menu only has about a dozen fonts that are displayed by default. However, if you select “More Fonts” at the bottom of the list, you’ll be brought to a huge list of additional fonts that you can add to your palette. Here’s what it looks like:

Google Drive fonts

I didn’t count them all, but there are hundreds in the list, with more being added every month. The fonts run the range from conservative serif fonts to playful fonts with names like “Swanky and Moo Moo” and “Architect’s Daughter”. There are cursive fonts, kid fonts, gothic fonts, and fonts based on foreign or custom letters.

Once you’ve selected the fonts that you want to have available to your work, click the OK button. You’ll be brought back to your document. Then, highlight the text that you want to apply the new font to, and click the Font drop-down menu. The fonts that you just selected will be available in the list for you to choose. Apply the appropriate font, and look at the results. If you like what you see, that’s great, but if you don’t, you can go back to select another font.

The document or slideshow can then be printed out, displayed or even shared online. Doing these steps is beyond the scope of this post, but I recommend checking out Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes if you want to learn more.

How to convert a PDF to Word or Google Docs

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If you write reports, publish research, help companies produce manuals or marketing material, or deal with legal documents, eventually you will want to learn how to convert a PDF to Word or Google Docs for editing or republishing. This post and video (updated in 2015) show you how to do it.

It’s a very common — and very frustrating — scenario. Adobe PDF documents are meant for publishing and displaying information according to fixed layouts. However, PDFs cannot be edited, except with special software.

What typically happens is people find they need to extract text from or convert a PDF to Microsoft Word’s .docx file format or Google Docs, so the text can be updated or edited. The hard, frustrating way to do this involves copying and pasting text from the PDF into Word or a text editor, and then dealing with lots of formatting problems — copying text from a PDF ignores column structures and tables, which leads to weird braks, and sometimes unneeded text is captured, including page numbers, headers and footers.

But there’s a workaround that involves Google Drive and the free online word processor included with Drive, called Google Docs. The steps include:

  • Uploading the PDF to Drive
  • Using Google Drive to convert the PDF to Google Docs
  • Editing the document in Docs, or re-exporting it to Microsoft Word as an editable .docx file.

The video below shows exactly what steps to take. Note that converting PDFs to .docx files is a two-step process, and you will need to delete the image files that are created during the conversion process (assuming you no longer want them, and just want the text).

In addition, the conversion process does not work with PDFs that are based on images. The underlying data in the PDF needs to be text, not an image that was created with a camera.

After watching, if you’re interested in learning more about creating, sharing, and collaborating on documents using Google Drive & Docs, check out my guide. It’s called Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes and is available for the Kindle, iPad, Nook, Android tablets, and as a PDF and paperback.

Without further ado, here’s the video. Please “like” or share it after you’re done:

Three easy ways to upload files to Google Drive

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This post describes how to upload files to Google Drive. A typical scenario is storage of non-Google formats (such as image files, PDFs, or Microsoft Word files) but in certain cases people may want to upload files to convert them to Google Drive formats such as Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides. There are three easy ways that people use to upload files to Drive:

  1. Go to drive.google.com, logon, and click the red upload button to find the file you want to add (see inset image, below).
  2. Drag the file into the Google Drive folder on your hard drive
  3. Save the file directly into the Google Drive folder on your hard drive, using whatever application that can create the file format in question (for example, Microsoft Word, PhotoShop, etc.)

Google Drive upload buttonOne thing to note about using the red upload button: For certain file formats, including Microsoft Word or Excel, Google Drive may automatically convert the file to the equivalent Google Drive format (Google Docs, Google Sheets, etc.). While Google Drive formats are useful for collaboration and other functions, some users do not want or need conversion. To turn off conversion, click the Settings icon in the upload window (see image below) and uncheck “Convert uploaded files”.

I’ve found dragging and dropping to be the easiest method of transferring large numbers of non-Google file formats to Google Drive. It’s very easy, as long as you have have the Google Drive application installed on your PC or Mac. Simply select a file, folder, or group of files and folders in My Computer (Windows) or Finder (Mac), and then drag them to your Google Drive folder.

As for saving files directly to Google Drive from whatever application you are using, you’ll need to have the Google Drive application installed on your PC or Mac. When saving the file for the first time (or using “Save As” or “Duplicate” functions), just be sure to select the Google Drive folder on your hard drive, instead of My Documents or other folders you use.

For more information on setting up Google Drive on your PC or Mac, read Chapter 7 of “Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes”. Conversion is discussed in Chapter 2 (Google Docs). Purchasing options are listed here.

Image: Changing the automatic conversion settings for Google Drive:

Google Drive automatic conversion