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10 Steps To Move Your Office Apps to Google
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By Rich Karpinski


Step 4: Take the Google Docs and Spreadsheet plunge If youíve gotten this far, itís time to check out the biggest leap ó moving your word processing and spreadsheet work onto the Web. Time to check out Google Docs and Spreadsheets.These tools let you create and edit documents and spreadsheets in a (somewhat) familiar interface, albeit inside your Web browser. You start with a very nice file manager, which helps you keep track of and file your docs and sheets into folders. Lots of nice menus and drag-and-drop capabilities to make you feel like you're not in a bare bones browser app.

The word processing application, Google Docs, will immediately feel familiar thanks to a basic editing toolbar. But formatting is sparse: no easy table builder; no automatic table of contents; no footnotes or endnotes. Again, whether this is a good or bad thing depends on what type of user you are. Most importantly, group document editing is a breeze with Google Docs ó you can assign document access permissions and tear apart a doc until your heartís content.


The Google Docs toolbar (click to enlarge)


As for spreadsheets, again the user interface and toolbars look familiar. You can style cells, sort entries and even write formulas. Itís not a power environment, but few small businesses are spreadsheet power users anyway.

Google Docs and Spreadsheets are at least minimally compatible with Office document formats. For instance, you can create a Google Docs document and export it to .doc. Same for Google Spreadsheets ó send it out to .xls. If youíre still with us, then:

Step 5: Move Outlook onto Google If youíre getting comfortable with online apps, the next step might be an easy one. Move your email, calendaring and to-do list management onto Google. Googleís email reader, Gmail, is a very slick app, featuring drag-and-drop functionality, easy-to-use message threading, tags instead of folders for simpler archiving and of course Google search functionality for finding old messages. You can get Gmail for free and even if you prefer a desktop client the service includes free email forwarding and POP access with a standard Gmail account. That plus 2 GB of storage.

Google Calendar is also very sharp -- it lets you manage multiple private and public calendars as well as synch calendar data with other applications. You can even add to-do management to your Google Calendar using plug-ins from third-party vendors such as Remember the Milk.

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