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How to permanently delete a file in Google Drive or Docs

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How to permanently delete a file or folder in Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, or Google Drive, using the new Google Drive interface released in 2015. While most people think that clicking the trash can icon for a selected file or folder in Google Drive will remove it for good, that’s not the case — it still exists in a sort of holding pen. The following two-minute video explains how to permanently delete a file or folder in Google Drive:

For more tips and tricks on how to get the most out of Google Drive, check out Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes, 2nd Edition.

Google Docs: How to add an image from the Internet

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This three-minute video shows how to add an image from the Internet to a Google Docs file, using a URL of an image from the World Wide Web. This is useful if you see an image on the Web that you want to include in a report, letter, or other document you are writing in Google Docs. Of course, only use the image if you have permission, or it’s marked with the appropriate Creative Commons or Public Domain license.

Without further ado, the video:

For more tips and tricks that can show you how to get the most out of Google Docs, check out my book, Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes.

How to convert a text file to a PDF using Google Docs

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This short video explains how to convert a text file (.txt) to a PDF using Google Docs. It’s quick, and the conversion process adds a few extra benefits that aren’t found in other text-to-PDF converters. The three minute video explains how:

Why would you want to convert a text file to a PDF? Perhaps it’s because you want someone else to see it, but you don’t want them to edit it. Or maybe you want to post it to the Web, Scribd, or some other online service.

For more tips about Google Docs, check out the latest edition of my guide, Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes, 2nd Edition.

How to restore a deleted file in the new Google Drive

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Learn how to restore a deleted file or folder, using the new Google Drive interface released in 2015. Because Google Drive doesn’t delete selected files or folders when you “remove” them using the trash can icon in the Google Drive toolbar, you can restore them. This means that old project folder or a Google docs file you mistakenly trashed can be recovered as long as you haven’t emptied the trash. The video below explains how it works:

This video is less than 2 minutes long. For more tips and tricks on how to get the most out of Google Drive, check out Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes, 2nd edition.

Google Sheets: How to embed a live spreadsheet

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Recently, I published Sample spreadsheet: AutoFill on the official Excel Basics In 30 Minutes website. In addition to including a sample Excel .xlsx file, I also embedded a live version of the same spreadsheet that people can edit and play with, right on the blog post. This post explains how to embed a live spreadsheet using Google Sheets, the free online spreadsheet program offered by Google. It involves a small hack, which I will describe below.

While Google Sheet’s Share button makes it easy to share a link to a spreadsheet, and allows the owner of the spreadsheet to enable anyone to edit it, editing is not possible if the embed option is chosen for the File>Publish to the Web feature.

That is, when you embed the spreadsheet on a blog post or Web page, you won’t be able to edit or format the cells, or create formulas. For example, here is an embedded spreadsheet. Notice you can highlight cells, but can’t input or change information, or use any other features of Sheets:

Google Sheets how to embed a live spreadsheet that can be edited

But there’s a workaround. Follow these steps:

  1. Open the spreadsheet, and select _File>Publish to the Web
  2. In the Publish to the Web popup, press the Start publishing button
  3. Under Get a link to the published data, change Web page to HTML to embed in a page
  4. Copy the embed code, which will look something like this:

After copying the text (Edit>Copy) and pressing the Close button, paste the embed code into a text editor or the blog editor (make sure the raw code or HTML view is showing). At this point if you publish the page, the sheet will be viewable but not editable. Follow these steps to enable live editing of the spreadsheet on the page:

  1. Go back to the spreadsheet in Google Sheets, and press the Share button
  2. In the Share with others popup, click Advanced
  3. Under Who has access, click the Change link and select On: Anyone with link
  4. At the bottom of the Who has access popup, change the Can view drop-down to Can edit and click Save
  5. The Sharing settings popup will appear. Copy the Link to share and close the popup

Now what needs to happen is most of the URL in the iframe embed code needs to be deleted, and replaced with the link you’ve just copied from the Sharing settings popup. Basically, delete everything in the quotation marks after src= starting with https:// but leave &widget=true. Then, paste in the other URL before the ampersand. I’ve highlighted the part of the iframe code that needs to be replaced:

iFrame Google Sheets URL

At that point, once you’ve published the page, the live spreadsheet will not only be visible, but it will also be editable. To see an example, visit this page on the official Excel Basics In 30 Minutes website.

If this tutorial has been helpful, please consider tweeting or sharing it elsewhere.

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:

Microsoft Office vs Google Drive: An honest overview

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A reader recently emailed to ask me about Microsoft Office vs Google Drive. He noted that Microsoft has invested millions of dollars refining its Office Suite over many decades, and the suite has now evolved to Office 2013 and the subscription-based Office 365. He added that Microsoft Word, although not perfect, is full of extremely useful functionality. Moreover, Microsoft Office has Access (a pretty powerful database tool), for which Google doesn’t even offer a corresponding product.

Microsoft Office vs Google Drive honest reviewAs I read his email, I found myself nodding in agreement. Microsoft Office is a powerful suite. Although I have written an in-depth guide to Google Drive & Google Docs, I am by no means a Google zealot. The Drive suite competes poorly against its Microsoft counterparts in several key aspects. However, it also has some functionality that Office does not have. Here’s my response to the reader asking about Google Drive vs. Microsoft Office:

If Access is a must-have application in your business suite, I would say that you should stick with Office. Likewise, if you need advanced formatting options in Word and PowerPoint, Office beats the Google Drive suite, hands-down.

The formatting options in Drive are very basic, suitable for basic business letters, reports, and spreadsheets, but for professional looking business-grade documentation or presentations Office is superior. Tracking changes in Word is also superior to Google Docs’ rudimentary functionality.

As I explained in my guide, where Google Drive excels is in its collaboration features and online integration. The real-time collaboration and permissions are very powerful, and the ability to publish documents to the Web for external review or other purposes is unmatched. Google Sheets also has neat features that let you publish online forms to the Web to gather data (for instance, a simple survey or customer contact form) and the data is automatically flowed into a spreadsheet or emailed to the account owner. Sheets can also publish a spreadsheet to the Web so audiences can slice and dice the data or even add their own data (if permission is granted). I describe how to use all of these features in my guide.

In the end, I have to acknowledge that the Microsoft Office suite is a superior tool in many respects to Google Drive. However, the powerful online features of Google Drive, not to mention it’s browser-based functionality are attractive to millions of users across the globe. In addition, it’s possible to work with both suites (I use Office and Google Drive for my business) and there are many conversion tools in Drive, which make it possible to convert a PDF to Google Drive or Microsoft Word, or convert a Google Sheets spreadsheet to Microsoft Excel.

Finally, Google Drive offers a powerful reason for newbies to at least try it out: It’s free for the basic storage plan offered by Google. Microsoft is experimenting with low-cost or free programs with Office Online, but for the full-featured Office suite, you’ll have to pay.

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: