Google Docs originated from two separate products, Writely and Google Spreadsheets. Writely was a web-based word processor created by the software company Upstartle and launched in August 2005. Writely's original features included a collaborative text editing suite and access controls. Menus, keyboard shortcuts, and dialog boxes are similar to what users may expect in a desktop word processor such as Microsoft Word or OpenOffice.org Writer.
On March 9, 2006, Google announced that it had acquired Upstartle. Writely closed registration to its service until the move to Google servers was complete. Writely continued to maintain its own user system until September 19, 2006, when it was integrated with Google Accounts.
Meanwhile, Google developed Google Spreadsheets using the technology it had acquired from 2Web Technologies in 2005 and launched Google Labs Spreadsheets on June 6, 2006 as the first public component of what would eventually become Google Docs. The limited test was later replaced with a beta version available to all Google Account holders, around the same time as a press release was issued.
In February 2007, Google Docs was made available to Google Apps users.
In June 2007, Google changed the front page to include folders instead of labels, organized in a side bar.
On September 17, 2007, Google released their presentation program product for Google Docs.
On July 6, 2009, Google announced on their official blog that Google Docs along with other Google Apps would be taken out of beta.
On January 13, 2010, Google announced on their official blog that Google Docs would allow any file type, including 1GB of free space and $0.25/GB for additional storage.
On March 7, 2010, DocVerse, an online document collaboration company, was acquired by Google. Improvements based on DocVerse were announced and deployed in April 2010.
In June 2010, it was reported that access to Google Docs had been blocked in Turkey. As of September 29, 2011, Google Docs supports offline viewing through an opt-in beta HTML 5 web app.
Google Docs is Google's "software as a service" office suite. Documents, spreadsheets, presentations can be created with Google Docs, imported through the web interface, or sent via email. Documents can be saved to a user's local computer in a variety of formats (ODF, HTML, PDF, RTF, Text, Microsoft Office). Documents are automatically saved to Google's servers to prevent data loss, and a revision history is automatically kept so past edits may be viewed (although this only works for adjacent revisions, and there is currently no way to find and isolate changes in long documents.). Documents can be tagged and archived for organizational purposes. The service is officially supported on recent versions of the Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Chrome browsers running on Microsoft Windows, Apple OS X, and Linux operating systems.
1 GB of storage is included for free. Currently additional storage costs per year are: 20 GB-$5, 80 GB-$20, etc. up to 16 TB. Individual documents may not exceed 1 GB as of 13 January 2010, embedded images must not exceed 2 MB each, and spreadsheets are limited to 256 columns, 200,000 rows, and 99 sheets. However, Google Docs lacks an equation numbering feature. Find and Replace is available, and although there was no ability to do the search in a reverse direction in the original release, the newest version of Google Docs allows reverse search and reverse replace.
Google Docs serves as a collaborative tool for editing amongst in real time. Documents can be shared, opened, and edited by multiple users at the same time. Users cannot be notified of changes, but the application can notify users when a comment or discussion is made or replied to, facilitating collaboration. Also, the revision history included in the service allows users to see the changes made to a document, distinguished by editor, using their specific color. The application supports two ISO standard document formats: OpenDocument (for both opening and exporting) and Office Open XML (for opening only). Google Docs is one of many cloud computing document-sharing services. Its popularity amongst businesses is growing due to enhanced sharing features and accessibility. Google Cloud Connect is a plug-in for Windows Microsoft Office 2003, 2007 and 2010 that can automatically store and synchronize any for Microsoft Word document, PowerPoint presentation, or Excel spreadsheet to Google Docs in Google Docs or Microsoft Office formats. The Google Doc copy is automatically updated each time the Microsoft Office document is saved. Microsoft Office documents can be edited offline and synchronized later when online. Google Cloud Sync maintains previous Microsoft Office document versions and allows multiple users to collaborate by working on the same document at the same time. Google Spreadsheets and Google Sites also incorporate Google Apps Script to write code within documents in a similar way to VBA in Microsoft Office. Offline viewing is available as an opt-in beta HTML 5 web app.
Supported file formats
Google Docs supports 15 file formats:
Microsoft Word (.DOC and .DOCX)
Microsoft Excel (.XLS and .XLSX)
Microsoft PowerPoint (.PPT and .PPTX)
OpenDocument Format (.ODT and .ODS)
Adobe Portable Document Format (.PDF)
Apple Pages (.PAGES)
Adobe Illustrator (.AI)
Adobe Photoshop (.PSD)
Tagged Image File Format (.TIFF)
Autodesk AutoCad (.DXF)
Scalable Vector Graphics (.SVG)
PostScript (.EPS, .PS)
XML Paper Specification (.XPS)
Archive file types (.ZIP and .RAR)
Data safety and privacy
Data security issues and national interests mean that on-line document storage, and processing can be unsuitable for use by governments or commercial organisations. Especially so where sensitive or confidential data is being stored, edited or shared, etc. on systems and infrastructure that are outsourced and shared with many other organisations, individuals, users.
On March 10, 2009, Google reported, for example, that a bug in Google Docs had allowed unintended access to some private documents. Google claims the bug has now been fixed.
The Android Google Docs app, which is available for free on the Android Market, allows users to view, edit, and create Google Docs documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. The Android Google Docs app can also take a photo of a document, sign, or other text and use Optical Character Recognition to convert to text that can be edited. (Help, Overview) Furthermore, the Google App for iPhone and iPad allows users to view and edit Google Docs. Most other mobile devices can also view and edit Google Docs documents and spreadsheets using a mobile browser.
Google Docs Viewer
The Google Docs Viewer allows you to quickly view many file types online, including PDFs, Microsoft Office files, and many image file types. It also allows you to create a link that allows other people to view your document quickly and easily in any browser. You can directly access the Google Docs Viewer at http://docs.google.com/viewer.
Supported file types
The Google Docs Viewer supports over 15 different file types, listed below:
- Microsoft Word (.DOC and .DOCX)
- Microsoft Excel (.XLS and .XLSX)
- Microsoft PowerPoint (.PPT and .PPTX)
- Adobe Portable Document Format (.PDF)
- Apple Pages (.PAGES)
- Adobe Illustrator (.AI)
- Adobe Photoshop (.PSD)
- Tagged Image File Format (.TIFF)
- Autodesk AutoCad (.DXF)
- Scalable Vector Graphics (.SVG)
- PostScript (.EPS, .PS)
- TrueType (.TTF)
- XML Paper Specification (.XPS)
- Archive file types (.ZIP and .RAR)
Navigate the Google Docs Viewer page
Any file that you upload to Google Docs and don’t convert to a Google Docs format, has a Google Docs Viewer page. You can access this page by clicking the file's title in the Documents List or by following a link shared with you.
This is some of the information you can see on this page:
- The file title
- The file owner
- When the file was uploaded
- A preview of your file (this is only available for PDF, PPT, and TIFF files under 25 MB)
Here are some other actions you can take from the details page:
- Show revision history of the file (if you have owner or edit rights)
- Change the sharing settings (if you have owner or edit rights)
- Download and print by going to the File menu and selecting Download as...
- Search the content (only for PDF files)
Keyboard shortcuts for Google Docs Viewer
Note: If you use a Mac, you can use the shortcuts below by replacing Ctrl with Command key (or 'Apple' key).