How to Chat in Google Docs and Why You Should.
Google Docs is a very popular word processor. It forever changed the way you write, take notes, and collaborate on the same document. Microsoft Word has always existed, but in a very limited form. Plus it was never free. Google offers its office suite for free. What else? The documents you create don’t even count towards the 15GB of free storage you get with Google Drive. Sweet. The hallmark of Google Docs is collaboration. People are now increasingly using the chat feature to communicate directly in Docs, rather than using third-party chat apps like Skype or Hangouts or other business chat apps like Slack.
Why? Good question. Let’s take a look at why people, especially teens, are increasingly using Google Docs to communicate with others, and how you can do it productively, quickly, and easily.
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Why use Google Docs for chatting
Imagine this. You are working on a school or office project within a document. Do you need help. You are asking your colleague or friend to join Google Docs. To do this, you quickly send him an email invitation and he is now online. You are both working on the same document right now, but your thoughts are not the same. Instead of using Slack or another chat application that you need to open in a new window, you can chat in Google Docs in the same tab.
This saves time and allows users to work faster and more productively without closing the document. It is even easier to draw attention to different parts of the document. You can select words or phrases and add comments to them for others to read. Comments, along with live chat, make Google Docs one of the best communication and collaboration apps out there.
Open a Google Doc if you don’t already have one. It doesn’t matter how many people are working on a document, you can send a chat message to everyone at once. Google Docs can be used for open group communication, which makes it very powerful.
To start a chat, just click on any person’s name to open a new chat window.
Now you can chat with this person live without leaving the document. As you can see, this can save real-time time and reduce the need to depend on another dedicated chat or messaging application.
Here are a few things you need to know about the chat feature in Google Docs.
- You can only see the chat option if more than one person is involved in the document. Otherwise, the chat function will remain invisible.
- You can chat in real time, however you cannot send or attach files using this function. I think Google wants you to use Drive for this. I think it would be great if you could attach files using the chat function, which will be available through the Drive servers. This way, you are still part of the Google ecosystem. Perhaps this feature will be added in the future.
- Even if you close the chat window, you will still receive messages in the background from other users who are still participating. You will see them all the next time you open the chat window.
- If there are unread messages, you will see a red dot next to the chat bubble at the top. This red dot will be displayed even if the document is open but the chat window is closed.
- You will stay in the chat as long as you are part of the document itself. They are viewed by Google as a whole. This way, once you accept the invitation to the Google Doc, you will be added to the chat if it is open.
- If the Google Doc is public, anyone who has received an email invitation can view and chat. Note that anonymous animals (users) who can view the document because they received a public link to the document but were not personally invited by email will not see the chat window or the messages inside it.
- If you are logged out. or close Google Doc, you will stop receiving chat messages. Any messages that were sent when you logged out will not be visible to you when you log in again. This means that chat messages are not saved anywhere, but still happen in real time.
- there is no way to export chat sessions or save chat messages for future use. The only way to save them is to take screenshots, which can be unwieldy to say the least. or you can select the chat window, press Ctrl + A on your keyboard to select all text messages and copy them. Then you can save it anywhere like a notepad file or something.
- Chat in Google Docs is also available for mobile users of the service. There are no additional steps here.
- The chat feature is only available to users aged 13 and over. Google will determine this from your Gmail or Google profile.
- If you do not see the chat window, it is also possible that the administrator deleted you from the document or completely disabled the chat function from the settings. This is currently only possible for GSuite users.
- This is a group chat feature, which means that you cannot chat with individual collaborators in separate chat windows.
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As you can see in the screenshot above, the chat disappeared the moment my colleague disconnected and returned. This is one of the inherent limitations of chat in Google Docs.
Use the speech-to-text feature in Google Docs for chatting
Another feature of Google Docs chat is speech to text conversion. You can use your voice to send messages and chat. This can save time if your hands are busy with something else. I like doing research. Here are a few things to keep in mind before we see how to enable and use this feature.
- Text-to-text conversion is available for laptop and desktop users only. Although smartphones support this feature, and even Google Assistant accepts voice commands, for some reason the chat in Google Docs on mobile devices skips this feature.
- You need a working microphone to use this feature.
How do I enable voice input?
Open Google Docs in any browser. I prefer Chrome. Open the document you want to talk about. Before you start chatting, make sure you have at least one collaborator online. Otherwise it won’t work as stated earlier. Now select Tools from the menu above and click on Voice Input.
You can also use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + S to enable or disable it. You should now see a microphone icon on the left. Now you click on it before speaking.
You can set your preferred language using the drop-down menu above the microphone icon. This will convert your speech to the correct dialect, as there are slight differences between, say, English (US) and English (UK). The microphone pop-up window can be moved anywhere on the screen if you think it interferes with the movement of the document.
Notice the dotted line under the new offer? This means that the sentence was typed using voice dialing to distinguish it from text typed using the keyboard. Have you noticed the lack of punctuation? You will have to say them too. For example, say “comma” if you want to insert it.
Here are some common punctuation commands that you can use. The list is not exhaustive.
- question mark
- new item
This should be enough to get you started. You can invoke “Voice Input Help” by saying the same command.
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Google Docs feature
The chat feature in Google Docs is random, as evidenced by the number of features missing from the roster. There is no way to attach files, export conversations, and if you exit the chat window, you won’t see past messages. However, it is very valuable for anyone working on one document. Live chat while collaborating can take the possibility of errors out of the equation. The only thing that annoys me is that I cannot share files, even if Documents are part of the Drive ecosystem.