Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Instant Editing with GoogleDocs: My Recipes

As someone who works online, I basically am working with a web browser window open all day long. Google Documents - Docs.Google.Com - allows me to open a document with a single click and edit it instantly; Google Documents even saves automatically for me, so all I have to do is open the document, type my notes, and it is saved automatically for me. So, if you are looking for a quick and easy way to keep notes, to-do lists, etc., Google Documents is a great solution. As a demonstration, I'll show you how I use it to keep track of my recipes!

I used to have a regular Word-type document on my computer where I saved recipes. But when I found a good recipe I wanted to save online, I had to go open Word, open my document, paste in the recipe, save, etc. But here's what I do now instead with Google Documents.

It's easy to create a Google Document. First, I created a Google Document for my recipes with all the recipes I had in my old Word document file. (I just cut-and-pasted the document, but I also could have uploaded the Word document itself if I wanted to do that.)

GoogleDocs are webpages - and you can bookmark them! When I have the file open in Google Documents, it has an address, just like any other webpage, so I am able to save it as a bookmark. Although it may seem trivial, being able to save a specific GoogleDoc as a bookmark in your web browser is one of the biggest advantages to using it as a filing system. Having each document I access frequently saved as a bookmark means whenever I want to see the document, edit the document, etc., I just click on that bookmark - it's instant access!

So, if I find a recipe on a webpage somewhere (or if someone sends it to me in the email) and I want to keep it, I just click on the bookmark to open the Recipes document, then I cut and paste the recipe into the document. I can either click on Save myself, or just let Google Save it for me automatically (if I leave the window open, Google will save it for me). As you can see, Google wants to help me improve my spelling - it has put the wavy red lines under the typos, but since it is just a recipe file, I'm not going to worry about the typing:

GoogleDocs CAN be made public. By default, a Google Document is private; even if someone else has the address of the document, they cannot view it. However, I can choose to share the document with others, making it a public webpage.

So if I want my mom to be able to see share my recipes, I just send her the link in the email - link to Laura's Recipes (I'm not much of a cook, as you will see) - and she can open the document as a webpage, but she cannot edit it. She sees the contents, but none of the editing options, the wavy red lines to indicate spelling errors are gone, etc. It's the same document as shown in the previous screenshot, but when someone views it who is not me, all they see is the contents of the file itself, without being able to change those contents.

Of course, I could also choose to make her a "collaborator" (that's another one of the Share options), and we could both be adding recipes to the file together!

Access from any computer. If you work on multiple computers, you also have this advantage: your Google Documents are available from any computer. So if you are cooking at someone else's house and want to check on a recipe, you can do that instantly - to access your documents from anywhere, you just need a web browser.

Recipes... To-Do Lists.. So many uses! I keep finding all kinds of new ways ot use the instant editing that Google Documents makes possible - I even keep an honest "to-do" list which I update regularly, because GoogleDocs makes it so easy to edit the "to-do" list instantly, letting me add things as soon as they come to mind. If I don't write it down immediately, I'll forget - and now, instead of having a computer covered with post-it notes, I have a handy little "to-do" list, color coded and printable, thanks to GoogleDocs! If you play around with this great online service from Google, I'm sure you'll also find all kinds of ways to take advantage of the many conveniences it offers, with each of your documents a single click away, and instantly editable.

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