Some new ways to get stuff done in Google Drive

In case you haven’t noticed them already, here are a handful of small updates that will make it easier to find, organize, and view stuff on Drive.
  • Search by person: Can't remember the name of a file but know who shared it with you? Now Drive search auto-completes people’s names making it easier to find the stuff you’re looking for.
  • View Google Earth map files: You can now open, preview, and interact with Google Earth files (.kml and .kmz) right inside Google Drive on the web.
  • Create new folders while organizing files: Now when you select files in your Drive list, in addition to adding them to an existing folder, you can add them directly to a new folder.
  • Drag and drop folders in Chrome: If you’re using Chrome, you can drag and drop entire folders from your desktop to Drive on the web.
  • Search includes your trash: Sometimes files you are looking for accidentally ended up in your trash, so now search results include files there too.
Posted by Josh Hudgins, Product Manager

Offline updates and a quick look back at June

Summer brings fun in the sun (in our hemisphere, at least) and a bunch of updates to Google Drive. A few weeks ago at Google I/O, we announced a couple of highly requested features: the ability to edit Google documents offline and a Drive app for iOS.

When you enable Docs offline in Google Drive, you can create & edit Google documents and view Google spreadsheets, without being connected to the internet. Today we updated the offline experience so it looks the same as when you’re online - except it’s filtered to show just your offline docs. Here’s an extra tip: if you want to preview which files are available offline, select More > Offline Docs in the left navigation pane while you’re still connected to the web. This update will roll out to all Drive users over the next few days.

In the past month we’ve also made several other improvements like:

  • updates to Google Apps Script including a standalone script editor, the ability to create richer user interfaces, options to easily store your application’s data, and support for publishing scripts to the Chrome Web Store 
  • expanded language support in the documents and presentations spellchecker to include German, French and Italian 
  • the ability to print documents, spreadsheets, and presentations to any cloud connected printer with Google Cloud Print from any browser 
  • up to 400pt font support in documents and presentations 
  • copying and pasting images from your desktop into a document or presentation 
  • an easy way to edit or open links from text by right clicking on them 
Posted by Owen Merkling, Software Engineer

Improved Accessibility in Google Docs and Sites

Today we announced some of the updates we’ve released recently to make Google’s applications more accessible to the blind community. For Google Docs and Sites, we’re pleased to announce new keyboard shortcuts and better screen reader support for our blind users.

Screen reader support in Google Docs and Sites
To help blind users read, edit and navigate content, Google Docs (including documents list, documents and spreadsheets) and Sites now support two screen readers: JAWS and ChromeVox. Here are a few examples of how screen readers work in Google Docs and Sites:
  • In documents, you’ll hear feedback when you format text or insert tables, lists or comments in your document.
  • In spreadsheets, you’ll hear the cell’s location, contents and comments when moving between cells.
  • In both documents and spreadsheets, you’ll hear feedback as you navigate to areas outside the main content area, such as the menu bar, chat pane and dialog boxes.
  • In your documents list, you’ll hear feedback when you upload or download a file, organize collections or move between files in your documents list.
  • In Sites, you’ll hear feedback as you navigate and manage your sites, create and edit pages, and navigate through menus and dialog boxes.
For a complete list of screen reader-supported features and instructions for how to use them, visit the Docs and Sites help centers.

New keyboard shortcuts
We’ve also added new keyboard shortcuts to make it easier to use Google Docs and Sites. In your documents list, for example, you can use the up and down arrow keys to move through the files in the list, and you can open the selected document by hitting Enter. For a complete list of keyboard shortcuts, please refer to the help center articles for spreadsheets, documents, documents list and Sites.

With these new accessibility features, we hope to make it easier for everyone to use Google Docs and Sites. Please use this form to share your feedback directly with the accessibility team so we can continue to improve our products.

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

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) in 34 languages

Last June, we introduced the ability to upload documents into Google Docs using Optical Character Recognition (OCR). OCR analyzes images and PDF files, typically produced by a scanner (or the camera of a mobile phone), extracts text and some formatting and allows you to edit the document in Google Docs.

We’ve gotten a lot of feedback on this feature, and one of the biggest requests was to add support for additional languages. Today, we’re happy to announce that we’ve added support for 29 additional character sets, including those used in most European languages, Russian, Chinese Simplified and some other Asian languages. See the upload page for the full list.

How does it work? When uploading your images and PDF files using Google Docs, tell us what language your documents are in:

Hit upload, and we’ll use this information to search for the right characters in your file. As usual, you will get best results with sharp, high-resolution images or PDF files. This update will also result in an improvement in OCR quality for languages that we’ve supported previously (English, French, Italian, German, Spanish). We’ve also made improvements to the way we import formatting from your documents, and are now doing a better job in preserving font and alignment information.

We’ll keep adding languages and at the same time will continue to improve speed and accuracy for the existing ones. In the meantime, we hope you take advantage of this new way to import your data into Google Docs.

A refresh to the Documents List

Over the past year, many of you have been taking advantage of the ability to upload any file to Google Docs. With more files and of a variety of file types in one place, it becomes more difficult to organize and find what you need quickly. As a result, we are happy to announce that, over the next couple of days, we’ll be rolling out a refresh to the documents list, aimed to make it more useful to find, explore and share all your files stored 100% on the web.

First, we added a number of filters in this refresh, making it easier to narrow your search by type, visibility state, and other criteria. We also added priority sorting as a option in all views. Priority sorting is like Gmail’s Priority Inbox, in that we look at a number of signals to put your most relevant files at the top of the list. And you can still use other sort orders like Last Modified Date or by Name.

This update will also improve the experience of exploring and browsing your files. We added a preview panel on the right side of the document list, so that you can see a preview thumbnail, sharing settings and more at a glance. And if the file is a video, you can start playing it directly from the preview panel or from the recently announced video player.

To make it easier to view photos, you can now click on the magnifying glass on a photo to open a full screen slide-show viewer.

There is also a new view called Home. The contents of the Home view are controlled by you so that the content you access the most often is easier to get to. You can remove files from the Home view by right clicking the file and selecting Don’t show in home to hide them. And when you need them, these files can always be found later by selecting All items or using search.

You may also notice Collections have replaced Folders in the left navigation bar. Collections are designed to combine the best features of labels and folders. A file can live in multiple collections, just like with Gmail labels. Collections can also be stored hierarchically, just like folders on your desktop. And of course, collections can be shared, just like you can share docs.

Along with the improved find-ability and browsing experience, we streamlined the interface. For example, instead of using checkboxes to select multiple files, you can just use your Shift or Control (Cmd on Macs) keys.

That’s not all. We’ve also been working hard on increasing the speed of the documents list by overhauling our back-ends to make things snappier.

This refresh is rolling out now and should be available to everyone over the next couple days. For Google Apps for Business customers that don’t have “Enable pre-release features” box checked, this refresh will be coming in a few weeks.

Once the refresh is rolled out to your account, take the in-product tour and let us know what you think.

Update: Thanks everyone for the helpful feedback. We’re listening, and are making a number of changes including:
  • Collections: Now you will see all collections appear in the left hand navigation pane, even if you remove them from your Home view. We also added a new filter for “Collections” to the “More options” so you can find collections faster.
  • Details Pane: For those who pointed out that the new details pane doesn’t work on smaller screens or you simply want to hide it, we’re going to make the details pane collapsible in the next few weeks
  • Search: While in the new “Home” view, search results focus only on items in Home. If you’d like to search across all your stuff, you will need to switch to “All Items” and search in there. To help clarify, starting next week, we’ll be including a message at the top of the search results that will provide a link to “Search All Items” instead of just the current location.
Keep the feedback coming, there are more changes on the way as we work to make the document list simple and easier for you to use.

This week in Docs: Video player in the document list

Happy New Year! We’re starting this year by making it easier to view memories from 2010 that you’ve uploaded to your document list directly in your browser. Just click on a video in a supported format and press play.

Please note that some videos uploaded earlier last year might not have been processed yet and will be available soon. Also, newly uploaded videos may take some time to process before they are available for viewing.

So what are you waiting for? Press play!

Our favorite Docs things - 2010 Year in Review

We’ve been keeping busy this year with over 85 new enhancements to Google Docs and Google Sites, making it possible for you to work, communicate and collaborate entirely in the cloud. We wanted to take a moment to share a few of the most exciting enhancements from 2010 that are making it easier for you to go “100% web.”

In addition to some of the most requested favorite features like mobile editing, OCR, advanced sorting rules and a more consistent look, here are more of our team’s favorite things from this last year:
We look forward to bringing you more improvements next year. Let us know what is at the top of your Google Docs and Sites wish list in the comments.

On behalf of the entire the Google Docs and Google Sites teams, happy holidays! We’ll see you in the New Year!

New this week in Docs: Drag and drop upload and compact controls

We just launched a pair of features that can save you time and give you more room to work: drag and drop upload and compact controls.

Drag and drop upload
A few weeks ago, we made it easier to add images to your documents using drag and drop. Today we’re extending that functionality to the file upload page, making it even easier to move your files into the cloud. Now if you’re using Chrome, Safari, or Firefox, you’ll be able to quickly drag files into the drop area and shoot them up to the cloud.

Compact controls
The document editor borrowed a feature from spreadsheets to save screen space. You can now hide the title bar above the editor by choosing View -> Compact controls or pressing Ctrl Shift F (Cmd Shift F on Macs).

Let us know what you think in the comments.

Tips & Tricks: Moving my files to the cloud

About a year ago, I started scanning and uploading all the important papers floating around my house into Google Docs. It seemed like an obvious solution to three things that drove me crazy:
  • Clutter (I believe papers not only accumulate but secretly multiply)
  • Access (I always need that bill/file that is at home and not at the office with me)
  • Sharing (It’s a common occurrence that I need someone else to also look at that file, and that person is hardly ever with me at the office either.)
Scanning and uploading ended up being only half the battle. My house was cleaner, but my organizing and sharing work-flow was far from perfect. So, I developed a system in Google Docs to keep organized. Here are some tips & tricks that you may find useful:

Folders and sub-folders
What: With the Create New button in the upper left, you can create folders to organize your content. Click on your newly created folder on the left hand side of your document list. While you’re there, you can click Create New again to make a sub-folder within the first folder.
Tip: To minimize how many folders I see on the left hand side, I create general folder titles like Bills and Photos. I then use sub-folders for clearer classification like Electricity and Cell Phone under my ‘Bills’ folder. When I’m uploading a scanned document I’m able select the appropriate sub-folder right away.

Shared folders
What: Once you’ve created a folder, you can keep it for yourself, or share it with anyone. Right click on a folder, select Share, and choose the sharing option that best fits your need.
Tip: My husband and I compiled all of our immigration paperwork into one folder. Recently my brother took the plunge and also had to work his way through this process. By sharing my folder with him, it made it easier for him to see what was needed and simplified the process a bit (at least that’s what he told me...).

Managing document versions
What: Click on any file and select ‘Add or manage versions’ in order to upload and group different versions of the same document together.
Tip: While this is an ideal tool for a designer that wants to keep iterations of the same graphic in one place, I found my own everyday use for this feature. I keep track of items where the most recent has more importance than past ones. For example, I scan my taxes, and upload the oldest ones first so the newest one is visible, but I have the option to download past copies.

Exporting your files
What: Someone you know doesn’t live in the cloud? Gasp! No worries, I can easily export all the files in a folder. Just right-click the folder, choose Export, and click the Download button.
Tip: Taking this action will save a .zip file to my computer’s hard drive that I can then email to anyone who’s not as tech-savvy (though, I might have to unzip the file for them too!).

If you’re in the mood to give your filing cabinet the boot, chime in here with your own tips for moving your files to the cloud.