Using Google Docs

Part of Google’s Editor Suite, Google Docs is an innovative and unique word processor that allows you to both create and edit documents. With every key typed and with every error corrected, documents created in Google Docs are automatically saved, so you can pick-up right where you left off on any compatible device.

One feature that continues to lure in Google Docs users from around the world is its ability for one person to share their “doc” with as many people as they’d like – either to view the doc or to make changes (when the document creator grants this permission). Individuals given access to the doc are able to view the document all at once and can even see who else is also viewing it at the same time that they are. With editing permissions, teams are able to simultaneously work on one document and see any changes being made in real time.

Google Docs ease of use and maximum functionality makes it an excellent choice, whether you’re working solo on a document or collaborating with a team.

1. Access Google Docs from the app menu (6 dots in top right corner) in your Gmail account or go to and select Go to Google Docs or download the app on your mobile device to get started!

2. Choose to start working on a blank document or choose from one of the templates.

3. Rename your document in the textbox on the top left-side side of the screen.

4. Before composing your document, explore some of the editing functions located in the toolbar, as Google Docs offers many of the same editing tools that you’re comfortable and familiar using in Microsoft Word.

5. To start sharing your document, click the blue Share rectangle in the top right corner of the screen.

There are two ways to share a document. Steps 6 & 7 explains the first way, and Step 8 explains the second.

6. You’ll then be prompted to add the names/email addresses of the people who you want to share the document with.

7. When your “share list” is complete, from the drop-down menu on the right side of the dialog box, choose the role that you’d like for the listed individuals to have: viewer, commenter, or editor.

  • Editor – Can edit the document, invite other collaborators (if owner has given this permission), and download the document. This is the perfect option for team projects.
  • Commenter – Can make comments on the most recent version of the document, but can’t make any changes, and is able to download and save the document.

Comments made will appear in a colored text on the document, as well as in the margin. The document owner will receive notifications via email and within Google Docs when a new comment is added, and will be able to view the comments history by clicking the Speech Balloon icon in the top right corner of the screen.

  • Viewer – Can view the most recent version of the document, but can’t make any changes, and can download and save the document.

*Roles are not permanent and can be changed by the owner at any time. The owner can also remove people who once had access to the document.

8. An alternative way to share the document is to simply click Copy Link in the Share dialog box and share the link (e.g. via email) with only the people who you want to have access to the document.

9. Choose to notify the people who you’re sharing a particular document with by checking the box next to Notify People. You can also type a brief message to be included in the notification. Recipients will be notified via email.

*For most, the Notify People box is checked by default. Click the box to uncheck it if you do not wish to notify people that you’re sharing your document with them.

10. Click Send to send the notifications and to complete the share process.

11. Once you’ve finished working on your document for good or just for the time being, click the Docs icon in the top left-corner of the screen to exit the document and to go back to the Google Docs home menu. You’ll always be able to access any document that you’re in the process of working on or that you have access to from the Google Docs home menu.

For additional assistance, contact the IT Help Desk.