Two of the most used office applications are word processors and spreadsheets. And the two software solutions that have most dominated the market and still do to some extent are provided by one company, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). But both of these, Microsoft Word and Excel, have to be purchased. As free alternatives, Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) has done a commendable job with its version of a word processor called Google Docs and spreadsheet called Google Sheets.
In addition to being free, the Google applications also have the benefit of being able to extend their capabilities with add-ons that provide a wide range of functionalities.
Google Drive Add-ons
There are numerous third-party plugins available for Docs and Sheets, but sifting through all the options can be a time consuming and exhaustive process. Here are some of the more noteworthy add-ons you can use to make Docs and Sheets even better.
If you have clients you bill regularly, you can use BillMyClients to merge a spreadsheet with their information and a Google Doc template, to send them as a PDF to each client automatically.
Conferencing is an essential part of collaboration, which has now become the preferred way to bring everyone together. With UberConference you can create a conference call while you are collaborating on Google Docs.
Fax is still an essential tool in the office. If you want to fax a Google Doc document, with HelloFax all you have to do is just add the fax number, fill out your cover sheet and hit send.
If you want to track the feedback from Twitter using Sheets on your next campaign, Twitter Archiver lets you save tweets around trending hashtags, conference tweets, your brand mentions, geo-tagged tweets and more.
Small business owners, in many cases, are a one person operation, which makes task managers a critical tool to keep everything running smoothly. Todoist is used by more than six million people around the world and it has been praised for its simplicity and efficiency by leading publications.
Todoist syncs all your devices automatically 24/7 so you never lose track of your to do list when you add, complete, and re-schedule tasks from your phone, tablet, desktop, browser, email, and more — even offline.
PandaDoc integrates digital signatures to Docs so you can sign any document without having to print and scan it. The app also has automation features to quickly fill documents, and it tracks when a recipient opens your document and the amount of time they spend on it.
The app called autoCrat populates dynamic fields in a document by letting you take data from spreadsheets and merge it into a document via a template. You can specify which fields to merge, and it will mass-generate personalized documents.
Images often times communicate what we want to say better than words — or emphasize what we want to say. With Openclipart, you can choose from more than 50,000 clip art images and add them to your Docs document.
Providing location data has become as important as any other contact information you can share. Mapping Sheets plots your data onto a Google Map directly from Sheets. Everything from your appointments to business contacts can now be identified by location for use by you, staff, colleagues and everyone else.
QR Code Generator
With QR codes you can quickly make information available to your audience. The QR Code Generator add-on lets you create QR codes from values in Sheets. The codes can then be saved in a Google Document or as PNG files in Google Drive.
People use different applications to crunch their data, so bringing them together seamlessly can make things easier. This add-on for Sheets lets you send and receive data automatically. With Data Everywhere, you can sync with Excel, Forms, Salesforce and more. You can then get the data with any of the other connectors from Data Everywhere.
After entering large amounts of data on Sheets, it is not uncommon to find duplicate entries. If you try to find these manually, it can be highly frustrating. Remove Duplicates highlights any duplicate entry in one sheet or in two columns, and it quickly lets you move or delete them.
If you have a presentation with a lot of data, you have to make it easy to consume. Slemma takes all of the data on Sheets, as well as the other apps on Google Drive apps and Dropbox, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Amazon Redshift and other databases and allows you to create charts and use the collaborative features to embed these charts on your website.
If you have any digital presence, Google Analytics is one of the best tools to measure your metrics. With this add-on, you can have the power of this API in Sheets to query data, create custom calculations, schedule reports and more.
Mail Merge with Attachments
Mail Merge with Attachments, a Sheets add-on, lets you send personalized emails from Gmail by inserting attachments for every one of your recipients instead of using the generic CC or BCC fields. Each person on your list will receive the email as if they were the only person. You can then track who has read the email and schedule messages.
Lucidchart Diagrams lets you create and insert flowcharts, Unified Modeling Language (UML), wireframe, mind map and other diagrams into Docs so you can collaborate on flowcharts, mock-ups, network diagrams and more.
Google Docs Quick Create
Google Docs Quick Create is an extension you can add on to your browser bar to quickly access Docs, Sheets, Forms, and Drawing from Google Drive.
Auto Notes lets you capture notes when you are browsing on Google Chrome and save them with one click to Docs.
Changing the case of text should’ve been a default feature in Docs, but until it becomes one, you can use Change Case. With this add on you can make changes to the case of text in block selections: uppercase, lowercase, first letter capitals, invert, sentence and title case.
Even if you are a small business, digital technology lets you have a global presence. With Translate, you can quickly translate selected document text between several languages and reinsert it into the document.
The beauty of Google Docs and Sheets is, they allow developers to constantly add new functionalities to these applications. So if you don’t find a feature you really need, it will only be a matter of time before it becomes available. But if you can’t wait and you are a developer, you can go do it yourself by going to Google’s developer page for add-ons.
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I love Google Docs but admit that I couldn’t live without full-blown Excel. I use too many of the advanced features that Google Sheets hasn’t built.
When it comes to spreadsheets it is hard to beat Excel, but Google Sheets provides enough tools to meet the demand of most users. And when you consider the price – FREE – it is not that bad.
I have tried a mail merge add on. I did not know that you can do a lot more in Google Drive.
The add-ons that are available for Docs and Sheets provide solutions for some of the smallest and biggest problems you might have to improve the functionality of these applications.
I would love a label merge option similar to Avery that doesn’t limit to their templates as I have my own template needed; and if I’m not asking for too much, the trigger availability that is in autocrat. I would be set for a very long time if this was available.
Google Docs is really where it is at. Some of the tools that separate it from Excel are 1.) =importfeed() or any of the other inport functions. 2.) App Script is leaps and bounds better than VBA. 3.) =query() – you can run sql queries in google docs. This
I would like to know can I invoice my clients, but this is only one at a time…. let me explain myself, I have a business that sells a service, and I need to invoice the client after I finish the job. How can I do it using a template that I created in google sheets? and then send it to my client’s email as a PDF?
Thank you for your help!!