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How to make a form using the new Google Forms

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I always thought that Google Forms was one of the great, hidden features of the Google Drive/Google Docs suite. Not only did it let users quickly create an online survey form that could be sent to people or inserted into a webpage, the responses were automatically fed back into Google Sheets for sorting and other actions. I wasn’t the only one who was impressed; soon enough I began to see all kinds of other uses of Google Forms, from small businesses setting up appointments to online surveys for startups researching market trends.

Now there is a new Google Forms interface. It is superior to the old interface, looks better, and allows for quicker form creation and data review. As before, Google Forms is free, and in that sense provides a great alternative to Survey Monkey, which locks up some features behind a paywall. While Microsoft’s free online spreadsheet program Excel Online offers a new form creation tool, the interface is positively primitive compared to Google Forms.
Google Forms interface and tutorial

In the short video below I won’t get into all of the details of the new Google Forms interface, but it shows how to set up a basic form. I have also created another video that shows how to change the design of Google Forms.

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.

How to restore a deleted file in Google Drive

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It’s a pretty common scenario to have to restore a deleted file in Google Drive. Perhaps you deleted the file in error, or you trashed it and discovered later that you need to access it once more. The following method to restore a deleted file in Google Drive is not failsafe, but in many cases it will allow you to quickly bring it back to life. Note that this method works for native Google files (such as documents created in Google Docs, presentations created in Google Slides, spreadsheets created in Google Sheets, etc.) as well as files that were created by other applications or devices–photos, Microsoft Word documents, text files, PDFs, etc.

The video is less than two minutes long:

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 Docs: new document creation explained

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Google Docs new document creation explained

Google Docs: how to create a new document

Last month, I demonstrated the new Google Docs interface for the Web. This month we’re going to take a look at one of the most common actions in Google Docs — how to create a new document. There are a few ways to do it. The post below describes Google Docs new document creation in a browser (Chrome) or an iOS/Android mobile device. There is a also a short video that shows how to create a new document in Google Docs.

Windows/Mac/Chromebook

  1. Open drive.google.com and log on.
  2. From the Google Drive main screen: Click the New button on the left side of the screen. You will see different formats to choose from. Pick Google Docs.
  3. From the Google Docs main screen: Click the “+” icon.
  4. A blank document will appear (see screenshot). You can start typing right away.
  5. To change the name of the document, click the default “untitled” name at the top of the screen.

The document is now ready for you to add text, pictures and other elements. You can type some text to get started. There is no “save” function—Docs auto-saves as you type.

To close the document and return to the Google Docs home screen, tap the blue icon with white lines in the upper left corner.

Android/iOS

  1. Open the Google Docs app.
  2. Click the large “+” icon.
  3. Enter a name for the document.

You can now begin typing or adding other elements to the file. To close the document and return to the Google Docs home screen, tap the blue icon in the upper left corner of the screen.

Google Docs new document creation video

The following video demonstrates how to create a new document in Google Docs. There are two easy ways to do it. This 2-minute video shows how:

Google Docs icons explained

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Google Docs has a new stripped-down interface. It may look modern, but it can also be puzzling to people who are new to Google Docs and Silicon Valley software design standards. What do all of the icons do, how can users find what they are looking for, and how is the Google Docs interface different than Google Drive? The following short video explains it all in just 4 minutes:

Topics include:

  • Main menu
  • New document
  • More actions icon
  • AZ/Sort options
  • List vs. grid view
  • File picker
  • How the Docs interface differs from Drive