Find facts and do research inside Google Documents

Today we’re introducing the research pane—a new feature that brings the web’s wealth of information to you as you’re writing documents.

The research pane taps into Google Search directly from Google documents, so whether you want to add a cool destination to your itinerary for an upcoming trip to India or you're looking for the perfect presidential quote for a political science paper, you don’t even have to open a new tab.

You can access the research pane from the Tools menu by right clicking on a selected word that you want to learn more about, or by pressing Ctrl+Alt+R on Windows or Cmd+Alt+R on Mac. From the research pane, you can search for whatever info you need to help you write your document. With just a couple clicks you can look up maps, quotes, images, and much more.

If you find something you like, you can add it by clicking the insert button or, for images, by dragging them directly into your document. If appropriate we’ll automatically add a footnote citation so there’s a record of where you found the info.

Hopefully bringing knowledge from the web to Google documents will make your writing process just a little bit more efficient.

Posted by Sarveshwar Duddu, Software Engineer

Introducing Google Drive... yes, really

(Cross posted from the Official Google Blog)

Just like the Loch Ness Monster, you may have heard the rumors about Google Drive. It turns out, one of the two actually does exist. Today, we’re introducing Google Drive—a place where you can create, share, collaborate, and keep all of your stuff. Whether you’re working with a friend on a joint research project, planning a wedding with your fiancĂ© or tracking a budget with roommates, you can do it in Drive. You can upload and access all of your files, including videos, photos, Google Docs, PDFs and beyond.
With Google Drive, you can:
  • Create and collaborate. Google Docs is built right into Google Drive, so you can work with others in real time on documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Once you choose to share content with others, you can add and reply to comments on anything (PDF, image, video file, etc.) and receive notifications when other people comment on shared items.
  • Store everything safely and access it anywhere (especially while on the go). All your stuff is just... there. You can access your stuff from anywhere—on the web, in your home, at the office, while running errands and from all of your devices. You can install Drive on your Mac or PC and can download the Drive app to your Android phone or tablet. We’re also working hard on a Drive app for your iOS devices. And regardless of platform, blind users can access Drive with a screen reader.
  • Search everything. Search by keyword and filter by file type, owner and more. Drive can even recognize text in scanned documents using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. Let’s say you upload a scanned image of an old newspaper clipping. You can search for a word from the text of the actual article. We also use image recognition so that if you drag and drop photos from your Grand Canyon trip into Drive, you can later search for [grand canyon] and photos of its gorges should pop up. This technology is still in its early stages, and we expect it to get better over time.
You can get started with 5GB of storage for free—that’s enough to store the high-res photos of your trip to the Mt. Everest, scanned copies of your grandparents’ love letters or a career’s worth of business proposals, and still have space for the novel you’re working on. You can choose to upgrade to 25GB for $2.49/month, 100GB for $4.99/month or even 1TB for $49.99/month. When you upgrade to a paid account, your Gmail account storage will also expand to 25GB. Drive is built to work seamlessly with your overall Google experience. You can attach photos from Drive to posts in Google+, and soon you’ll be able to attach stuff from Drive directly to emails in Gmail. Drive is also an open platform, so we’re working with many third-party developers so you can do things like send faxes, edit videos and create website mockups directly from Drive. To install these apps, visit the Chrome Web Store—and look out for even more useful apps in the future. This is just the beginning for Google Drive; there’s a lot more to come. Get started with Drive today at—and keep looking for Nessie...

March in Review: Improved charting, expanded language support, and Apps Script updates

Another month and another batch of improvements to Google Docs. We recently debuted a new spell checker that gets smarter and grows with the web, and we’ve also turned on a few features that let you do more with Docs.

New charting options 
We’ve added a bunch of new ways to make richer charts in Google spreadsheets. You can now control the opacity of an area chart, set fonts to be bold or italic, and label sections of your charts along the axis.

These new features bring the number of charting improvements up to 30 since the beginning of the year, which is about 1 new feature every 3 days. Some of our favorite charts updates include annotations, error bars, a second Y axis, donut charts, and loads of formatting options.

OCR and spreadsheets support more languages
With Google Docs, you can upload PDFs and images of scanned text and have them automatically converted into Google documents using our Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. Starting this week, this is available in four new languages: Hebrew, Hindi, Chinese Traditional, and Cherokee.

Language support got better in Google spreadsheets too. For Hebrew and Arabic speakers, sheets and cells now offer right-to-left support.

More ways to use Google Apps Script 
Google Apps Script is a way for developers to customize Google Docs and other Google products. Over the past month, we’ve made some changes which developers may find helpful, including:

  • Support for adding your own HTML to your script’s dialogues and pages. Let’s say you wrote a script that prompts collaborators to play a game when they open a certain spreadsheet. It’s now possible to include more sophisticated HTML, like a table in the dialog that you built. 

  • The option to programmatically set sheet protection in Apps Script. If you’re a teacher, you could add a script that automatically looked at all your spreadsheets and made sure that you’re the only one allowed to edit any sheet named “Grades”. 
  • A redesign to the Apps Script menus. Sometimes when you’re starting a new project you’ll want to use scripts that you’ve already created. The menu changes make it easier for you to reuse scripts that you’ve already built and to share your scripts with other people . 

Posted by Michael Schidlowsky, Software Engineer

January in Review: Styles, Sparklines, Google+ sharing, and more

One of the best things about working on web apps like Google Docs is that it gives us the flexibility to frequently bring you new features and improvements. Starting this month, we’re going to make some small changes to how we communicate what’s been happening in the world of Docs. Instead of writing blog posts for each and every minor update, we're going to try bundling them together monthly to give you a detailed overview of our favorite features and a short list of other notable changes to make sure you don't miss out on anything new.

On that note, we’ve got a bunch of new features that launched today, as well as some great things that improved over the month of January.

Customizable styles in documents
Giving your document consistent and beautiful formatting should be easy. Before today, if you wanted to update all the Subtitles in your document to look a particular way, you had to change each of them one at a time. That’s too many steps. Now you can restyle all your regular paragraphs, headings, or titles with just a couple clicks. For example, if you want to update all the Subtitles in your document to be a particular size, set one Subtitle to that size, select it, right click and choose Update Subtitle to match selection. This will change all the Subtitles already in your document and automatically update the style for any new Subtitles you create. Plus, with the new Options menu in the styles dropdown, you can set the current document’s styles as the default for new documents or you can load your default styles into the current document.

Sparklines in spreadsheets and more charting options
In Google spreadsheets, we’ve added more charting options and support for sparklines to make it easier to communicate data. The new options give you a bunch of tools to create more sophisticated charts including different Y-axes on either side of the chart, formatting options for the axis and title text, and all sorts of other customization for how your lines, bars, or pies are displayed. We’ve also added sparklines, which let you display line or bar charts inside of cells and are handy for presenting and comparing data in a simple, bite-sized way. In the example below, we’ve used sparklines to plot currency exchange rates over a 30-day period.

Sharing forms on Google+ 
Sharing the forms you create in Google Docs with the right people shouldn’t be a hassle. Today we added a Google+ share to the form editor so that you can share your forms directly with your circles with just a couple clicks.

And there’s more… 
On top of today’s new features, here are some changes from January that you may have missed:
  • Adding images to your docs from a high quality stock photo gallery. Simply go to Insert > Image, select Stock photos, and then search for the images that you want.
  • A more streamlined format for document discussion notifications that batches multiple discussions into a single email.
  • Quickly opening and selecting items from specific menus with keyboard accelerators. For example, when using Google Chrome, Ctrl+Option+E on a Mac and Alt+E on Windows or Linux will open the Edit menu.
  • Copying and pasting via the context (right click) menu in documents when you have the Chrome App installed.
  • Easily adding Google drawings or Google Groups discussions to a Google Site from the Insert menu.
  • Progress bars while uploading files to Google Sites.
  • Searching for text inside of PDFs in your documents list using Optical Character Recognition
If you’d like to learn more about what we’ve been up to in January, I’ll be doing a Hangout On Air later this week this to talk about these changes and listen to your feedback. Stop by our Community Manager Teresa’s Google+ page on Thursday, February 9 at 12 p.m. EST to tune in.
Posted by: Jeff Harris, Product Manager

Google Docs and Sites 2011: A Year in Review

This year, we introduced over 100 new features to Google Docs to make creating, sharing, and collaborating in the cloud an even better experience.

In addition to the features you asked for the most, like page numbers and vertical merge, here are our team’s favorite improvements of 2011:

Our team also loved hearing from you throughout the year: We had you ask us anything in a Reddit AMA, met our Docs and Sites Top Contributors, and held our first Docs Office Hours Google+ Hangout. Our interactions with you were constant reminders of why we build these products.

Let us know in the comments what your favorite features of 2011 were -- and what you’re wishing for in the new year. Thanks for following along -- we look forward to bringing you more in 2012.

Happy holidays from the Google Docs team!

Posted by: Jonathan Rochelle, Product Management Director

Try Google presentations. No login required.

We recently launched a new version of Google presentations with many new features to help you create beautiful presentations together. We’ve added the new editor to our Docs demos to make it easier to test drive your presentation building skills.

Check out the new animations and transitions, get artsy with drawings, and show off your masterpiece to a friend or colleague. You can share the link in the demo with others and work on the same presentation together. No login required. No Google account needed. Just go to to take it for a spin.

The new Google presentations continues to gradually roll out to all users. You can try it in the demo and if you like it, you can enable it in your Docs settings.

Posted by: Sarah Cooper, User Experience Designer

Faces of Docs: Vance Vagell, User Interface Software Engineer

One of my favorite things about being the community manager on the Google Docs team is working alongside people with a myriad of backgrounds, interests, and talents. From learning of one of teammate’s pro cricket player past or another’s literary aspirations, I’m constantly discovering new things about the people I spend my workdays with. I thought you might enjoy reading about them, too--which is why we’re taking a cue from our friends at Gmail to bring you “Faces of Docs,” a series that will spotlight the people that make up our team.

Photo by: Antonella Pavese

Vance Vagell

What do you do on the Docs team and how long have you been at Google?
I lead a team of user experience (UX) prototypers. We build realistic-looking prototypes of new Google Docs features, so that our researchers can try them out with people. This lets us improve them before our engineers build the real thing. I’ve been here two years, but things move so quickly it may as well be 10.

What’s your typical day like?
I hop on the subway, read a few chapters of whatever sci-fi novel I’m working through (currently “Olympos” by Dan Simmons), and get to the office in about an hour.

Grab a coffee, then try to tackle my email inbox. Afterwards, I’m usually doing one of three things: building a prototype, preparing for a study, or running brainstorm and design sessions. My mind is usually at least one year in the future, although sometimes people force me to think about near-term problems.

What do you like most about what you do?
Watching someone enjoy a feature I’ve helped revise a few times—once we’ve finally gotten it right. I like being an advocate for what’s truly useful, and what people need. On the other hand, occasionally I get to work on bigger changes that help push technology in new directions, and that’s a blast too.

What’s the most challenging part of your role?
There are so many teams that want to see their ideas prototyped, that sometimes I have to put a few on the backburner. That said, we always prioritize, and then squeeze in a few “blue sky” projects so we keep moving forward and never get stuck in the status quo. We call a project “blue sky” when it’s unrealistic by today’s standards, but could be a great direction tomorrow.

What did you do before joining Google?
I’ve always worked in NYC—love the east coast (as I alienate myself from my west coast colleagues with this post). Started out as an indie game developer, then worked in voice technology for a few years. I was delighted to discover a posting for “User Interface Software Engineer” at Google NYC, and haven’t looked back since. I focus more on UX than engineering these days, but there’s an important intersection between the two that I represent.

What are the three Docs features you wouldn’t be able to live without?
Can I list ones that haven’t launched yet? Probably not. Okay, in that case: @-mentions in document comments that shoot off emails to people, Google Forms to quickly gather feedback, and real-time editing to bang out ideas as a group. These are all critical to my daily work.

What do you do when you’re not working on Docs?
Far too much computer gaming. Some of my favorites: Everquest (original and EQ2), Planetside, Eve Online, and City of Heroes.

Also love to go bird-watching. My favorite spot is Central Park. People are often surprised that you can spot over 20 bird species in a single afternoon there with a pair of binoculars. Did you know there’s a family of red-tailed hawks in the park that has reared several seasons of chicks now? Google “Pale Male”. On one outing, one of those hawks dove not more than a foot above my head to pick up a mouse beneath a tree across from me. Promptly carried it to a nearby branch and … dined. Very cool experience.

What kind of desk flair do you have?
Souvenirs from aquariums and zoos I’ve visited, and a photobooth print out of me and my partner at one of the Google NYC holiday parties. At last year’s, they had caricature artists, but I’m not ready to share that particular image of me yet. :)

What’s your pet peeve?
Apathy. Be passionate about something, and don’t be afraid to stand up for it.

What do you do in your downtime?
Between projects I like to catch up on UX blogs and papers. Some of my favorites are UX Matters, Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox, and Don Norman’s essays.

What would your last meal be?
Definitely my partner Ray’s vegetable curry, it’s sublime, and you can’t beat home-cooked!

Posted by: Teresa Wu, Community Manager

A fresh start for Google presentations

A year and a half ago, we released completely new document, spreadsheet and drawing editors. Google Docs has been picking up speed ever since with more than 60 new features and millions of new users. Today we’re rounding out the suite by previewing a new version of presentations with faster collaboration and more features.

A collaborative approach
Presentations are made to be shared—whether it’s presenting your thesis to your professors or inspiring colleagues at a conference. And the best presentations are made together, collaborating with others to build a compelling story that captivates your audience. Creating presentations together is easy because you can:
  • See exactly what others are working on with colorful presence markers
  • Edit with your team members simultaneously from different locations
  • Use revision history to see who made changes or to revert to earlier versions
  • Say hello, start a conversation or share new ideas using built-in chat

More than 50 new features
In the new presentations, we’ve added many of your most requested features, including:
  • Transitions to move between slides with simple fades or spicier 3D effects
  • Animations to add emphasis or to make your slides more playful
  • New themes to create beautiful presentations with distinct visual styles
  • Drawings to build new designs, layouts, and flowcharts within a presentation
  • Rich tables with merged cells and more options for adding style to your data

What’s next
We’re gradually rolling out the new presentations. To get an early start, click on the gear icon in your document list, and select Document settings. Then, from the editing tab, check the box to “Create new presentations using the latest version of the presentation editor.” Learn more about getting started with the new presentation editor over at our Help Center.

Many of the new features were built using technologies that are only available in modern browsers. If you’re using an older browser you’ll be able to view, but not edit, the new presentations.

With today’s launch, the Google Docs suite is now built on a single, solid foundation. Now that the groundwork is in place, you can expect more useful and collaborative features, delivered faster than ever before.

Posted by: Steven Saviano, Software Engineer

Experience the new look of Docs and Sites

Starting today, we’re rolling out the new design for Google Docs and Sites to everyone.

We began rolling out these improvements in early August with the documents list and have since upgraded our entire collaboration suite. You may have noticed that our new look matches other recent Google visual updates, which aim to bring a consistent, improved experience across our products.

Your content is what’s important, and we aim to highlight it with this new design. You’ll see clean menus and toolbars, prominent action buttons, and colorful presence that pops when you’re editing with others.

To people who opted-in to try the new look — thank you. Based on your feedback, here are some of the improvements we made:
  • We made it clearer that your document is always saved, by showing “Saving...” right after you make a change and then “All changes saved” once it’s fully saved.

  • We added an icon to the Share button so you can tell if your document is shared at a glance.

  • If you’re looking for options that were previously under the Share button (e.g. “Email as attachment...”), you can now find these in the File menu.

  • By default, the documents list automatically fits a comfortable number of documents on your screen (large desktop monitors show more, smaller laptop screens show fewer). We also added density options to give you more control:
If you’re not quite ready for the new look, choose Help > Use the classic look (or in the gear menu, for some products). We’ll support the classic look for at least a few more weeks, but encourage you to use the new look, get settled in, and send us any feedback you have.

We hope you enjoy this refreshed experience.

Posted by: Vance Vagell, User Interface Software Engineer

This week in Docs: Format painter, Google Fusion Tables, and drag & drop images

This week in Docs, we’re introducing three new tools that put the fun in functional.

Format painter in Google documents

First, we’ve added a format painter to help you copy formatting within Google documents. The new format painter allows you to copy the style of your text, including font, size, color and other formatting options and apply it somewhere else in your document. To use the format painter, select the text for the formatting you want to copy, press the paintbrush button in your toolbar, and then select the text where you want to apply that formatting.

If you double-click on the format painter icon, you’ll enter a mode that lets you select multiple sections of text so you can apply the same formatting to each section.

You can also use keyboard shortcuts for format painting. To copy the style of your selected text, press Ctrl+Option+C for Mac or Ctrl+Alt+C for Windows. To apply any copied styles to whatever text you have selected, press Ctrl+Option+V for Mac or Ctrl+Alt+V for Windows.

Google Fusion Tables in documents list

With this week’s update, we’re also integrating Google Fusion Tables into your documents list. Google Fusion Tables is a data management web application that makes it easy to gather, visualize and collaborate on data online. Now you’ll be able to store and share your Fusion Tables with the rest of the files in your documents list.

Recently, people have used Google Fusion Tables to:

Go to Create new > Table from your documents list menu to get started visualizing or sharing tables of data in .csv, .xls or .kml files.

We're working on making Google Fusion Tables available to Google Apps customers and will let you know as soon as they are. Take a tour to learn more about Google Fusion Tables.

Drag & drop images in Google drawings

We also made it easier to add images from your desktop to Google drawings. If you’re using the latest version of Chrome, Safari, or Firefox, you can now drag an image from your desktop and drop it directly in the drawing canvas.

Give these tools a try and let us know what you think in the comments.

Updated 9/13 to add shortcuts for Windows