Google Docs, Sheets and Slides

Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides

The Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides icons
Developer(s) Google
Initial release March 9, 2006 (2006-03-09)
Written in JavaScript
Operating system Web, Chrome, Android, iOS
Available in 83 languages[1]
Website Google Docs
Google Sheets
Google Slides
Google Forms
Developer(s) Google
Initial release October 31, 2012 (2012-10-31)
Development status Active
Operating system Web, Chrome
Platform Yes
Type Survey software
Website Google Forms

Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Slides are a word processor, a spreadsheet and a presentation program respectively, all part of a free, web-based software office suite offered by Google within its Google Drive service. The suite allows users to create and edit files online while collaborating with other users in real-time.

The three apps are available as web applications, as Chrome apps that work offline, and as mobile apps for Android and iOS. The apps are compatible with Microsoft Office file formats. The suite also consists of Google Forms (survey software), Google Drawings (diagramming software) and Google Fusion Tables (database manager; experimental). While Forms and Tables are only available as web applications, Drawings is also available as a Chrome app.

The suite is tightly integrated with Google Drive. All files created with the apps are by default saved to Google Drive.

While Google Docs has been criticized for traditionally lacking the functionality of Microsoft Office, it has received praise for its simplicity, ease of collaboration and frequent product updates. In 2011, Paul Sawers of The Next Web described Google Docs as a "pretty robust set of free tools that are improving every month".[2]


Google Docs originated from two separate products, Writely and Google Spreadsheets.

Writely was a web-based word processor created by the software company Upstartle and launched in August 2005.[2][3] It began as an experiment by programmers Sam Schillace, Steve Newman and Claudia Carpenter, trying out the then-new Ajax technology and the "content editable" function in browsers.[4]

Google Spreadsheets, first launched as a limited test on Google Labs on June 6, 2006,[5] originated from the product XL2Web by 2Web Technologies, which was acquired by Google in June 2005.

On March 9, 2006, Google announced that it had acquired Upstartle. Writely closed registration to its service until the move to Google servers was complete.[6] In August 2006, Writely sent account invitations to everyone who had requested to be placed on a waiting list, and then became publicly available on August 23. Writely continued to maintain its own user system until September 21, 2006, when it was integrated with Google Accounts.[7]

Meanwhile, Google developed Google Spreadsheets using the technology it had acquired from 2Web Technologies in 2005 and launched Google Labs Spreadsheets[5] on June 6, 2006, as the first public component of what would eventually become Google Sheets. It was initially made available to only a limited number of users, on a first-come, first-served basis.[8] The limited test was later replaced with a beta version available to all Google Account holders, around the same time as an official announcement press release was issued.[9]

In September 2007, Google released a presentation program for Google Docs,[10][11] which originated from the company's acquisition of Tonic Systems on April 17, 2007.

In July 2009, Google dropped the beta testing status from Google Docs.[12]

Summary of developments

In January 2010, Google announced:

In March 2010, DocVerse, an online document collaboration company, was acquired by Google. It allows multiple user online collaboration on Microsoft Office compatible document formats such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.[15] Improvements based on DocVerse were announced and deployed in April 2010.[16]

In April 2010, Google launched a standalone drawings editor into the Google Docs suite.[17]

In June 2010, it was reported that access to Google Docs had been blocked in Turkey. Google believed the ban was accidental, and that it might be linked to the ban on YouTube.[18]

In January 2011, Google began to test a new homepage for This shows users all of the files and documents without having to go to multiple places.

In September 2011, offline viewing was enabled for Google Docs through an opt-in beta HTML 5 web app.

In April 2012, Google launched Google Drive, which supplants Google Docs. It combines all of the Docs features with improved storage functionality. This also incorporates the Google Docs service into Google Drive.[19]

In May 2012, a research tool was introduced in Google Docs.[20]

In June 2012, Google announced:

In October 2012, Google Documents, Spreadsheets and Presentations were renamed Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, respectively. At the same time, Chrome apps were released, which provided shortcuts to the services on Chrome's new tab page.[23]

In January 2013, offline support was extended to Google Slides.[24]

In December 2013, Google released a new version of Google Sheets on the Chrome Web Store that added offline support and removed most of the spreadsheet size restrictions, among other improvements.[25]

In March 2014, Google introduced add-ons for Google Docs and Google Sheets.[26]

In April 2014, Google announced standalone mobile apps for Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Slides on Android and iOS. While Docs and Sheets were made available on both platforms immediately, Slides was announced to be "coming soon".[27][28]

In June 2014 at the Google I/O conference, Google Slides was released for Android, while the iOS version was announced to be released over the "coming weeks". At the same time, a new collaborative feature called 'Suggested Edits' was introduced. A new Chrome extension called 'Office Editing for Docs, Sheets and Slides' was also introduced.[29]

In July 2014, Google launched individual home screens for Google Docs, Sheets and Slides on the web. The interfaces incorporate Google's new Material Design language with a simplified menu and extensive use of colors, and is similar to the interface on the mobile apps. Users can still access all of their files collectively through Google Drive.[30]

In September 2016, Google released "Explore" updates to Docs, Sheets, and Slides.[31]

In October 2016, Google announced:[32]

In November 2016, Google announced updates to the Docs, Sheets, and Slides Android apps. The apps each get notification support, rather than relying on the main Google Drive app. The Sheets app gives users the ability to color sheet tabs, easier resizing of rows and columns, and creation and editing of data validation criterias.[33] At the end of the month, the Docs, Sheets, and Slides mobile apps for both Android and iOS were updated with trash view, allowing users to view and restore deleted files directly from the mobile apps. The Docs Android app was also updated with the ability for users to search for and insert GIFs into documents using the Google Keyboard.[34]

Features of Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides


Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides are the three primary services that form Google's "software as a service" office suite. Documents, spreadsheets, and presentations can be created with the suite. When editing, changes are automatically saved to Google's servers, and a revision history is automatically kept so past edits may be viewed (although this only works for adjacent revisions). Using the Google Chrome browser, users can save documents, spreadsheets, and presentations for offline viewing and editing. Files can be exported to a user's local computer in a variety of formats (ODF, HTML, PDF, RTF, Text, Office Open XML). Files can be tagged and archived for organizational purposes. The service is officially supported on recent versions of the Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, and Safari web browsers running on the Microsoft Windows and Apple macOS operating systems.[35]

Collaboration and revision history

The suite serves as a collaborative tool for cooperative editing in real-time. Documents can be shared, opened, and edited by multiple users simultaneously and users are able to see character-by-character changes as other collaborators make edits. Users cannot be notified of changes, but the application can notify users when a comment or discussion is made or replied to, facilitating collaboration. There is no way to highlight changes made by a particular editor in real time during a writing session, nor a way to jump to the changes made. However, an editor's current position is represented with an editor-specific color/cursor, so if another editor happens to be viewing that part of the document they can see edits as they occur. A sidebar chat functionality allows editors to discuss edits. Also, the revision history included in the service allows users to see the additions made to a document, with each author distinguished by color. Only adjacent revisions can be compared, and users cannot control how frequently revisions are saved.


Supported file formats

Files in the following formats can be viewed and converted to Docs, Sheets or Slides formats:[36]

File limits

There are limits, specific to file type, listed below:[37][38]

Documents (Google Docs)
Up to 1.02 million characters, regardless of the number of pages or font size. Document files converted to .gdoc Docs format cannot be larger than 50 MB. Images inserted cannot be larger than 50 MB, and must be in either .jpg, .png, or non-animated .gif formats.
Spreadsheets (Google Sheets)
Up to 2 million cells.
Presentations (Google Slides)
Presentation files converted to .gslides Slides format cannot be larger than 100 MB. Images inserted cannot be larger than 50 MB, and must be in either .jpg, .png, or non-animated .gif formats.

G Suite

The Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides suite is free to use for individuals, but it is also available as part of the business-centered G Suite service by Google, which is a monthly subscription that enables additional business-focused functionality.[39]

Offline editing

While Google Docs, Sheets and Slides are primarily online services, offline viewing and editing is supported by enabling offline availability for each file in the Android and iOS apps; when using a PC or Mac, offline functionality is limited to the Google Chrome browser. Users can then enable offline sync of Docs, Sheets and Slides in Google Drive settings.[40]

Mobile access

Google Docs, Sheets and Slides on Android and iOS allow users to create, view and edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations respectively. These apps also work offline and are compatible with Microsoft Office file formats.[27]

Other functionality

A simple find and replace tool is available.

Google Docs includes a web clipboard tool that allows users to copy and paste content between Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Drawings. The web clipboard can also be used for copying and pasting content between different computers. Copied items are stored on Google's servers for up to 30 days. For most copying and pasting, Google Docs also supports keyboard shortcuts.[41]

Google offers an extension for the Google Chrome web browser called Office editing for Docs, Sheets and Slides that enables users to view and edit Microsoft Office documents on Google Chrome, via the Docs, Sheets and Slides apps. The extension can be used for opening Office files stored on the computer using Chrome, as well as for opening Office files encountered on the web (in the form of email attachments, web search results, etc.) without having to download them. The extension is installed on Chrome OS by default.[42]

Google Forms and Google Drawings

Google Forms

Google Forms is a tool that allows collecting information from users via a personalized survey or quiz. The information is then collected and automatically connected to a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet is populated with the survey and quiz responses.[43]

Google Drawings

Google Drawings allows users to collaborate creating, sharing, and editing images or drawings. Google Drawings can be used for creating charts, diagrams, designs, flow-charts, etc. It contains a subset of the features in Google Slides but with different templates. Its features include laying out drawings precisely with alignment guides, snap to grid, auto distribution, and inserting drawings into other Google documents, spreadsheets, or presentations.[44]

Discontinued functionality

Google Cloud Connect was a plug-in for Microsoft Office 2003, 2007 and 2010 that could automatically store and synchronize any Word document, PowerPoint presentation, or Excel spreadsheet to Google Docs (before the introduction of Drive) in Google Docs or Microsoft Office formats. The online copy was automatically updated each time the Microsoft Office document was saved. Microsoft Office documents could be edited offline and synchronized later when online. Google Cloud Sync maintained previous Microsoft Office document versions and allowed multiple users to collaborate by working on the same document at the same time.[45][46]

However, Google Cloud Connect has been discontinued as of April 30, 2013, as Google Drive achieves all of the above tasks, with better results.[47]

2009 issues

In early March 2009, a privacy error caused documents to be shared without user consent. Google released a statement, specifying that "sharing was limited to people with whom you, or a collaborator with sharing rights, had previously shared a document." The issue was fixed by Google, and followed by a statement that "less than 0.05% of documents" had been affected by the issue. Furthermore, Google said it has "extensive safeguards in place to protect all documents, and are confident this was an isolated incident."[48]

However, later the same month, security consultant Ade Barkah wrote on his blog about security issues with the software suite. Issues included that embedded images in private documents could be viewed publicly on the Internet (even after document deletion); when users got access to a document that included a diagram (a new feature at the time), the new user could see any previous version of the diagram (including any sensitive information that was removed before sharing); and in some scenarios, users who had access rights removed from a document could still access the document without the owner's knowledge. Google released a statement that it takes "the security of our users’ information very seriously", but "based on the information we’ve received, we do not believe there are significant security issues with Google Docs". The statement finished with, "We will share more information as soon as it’s available."[49][50]

See also


  1. Hill, Ian (June 18, 2013). "18 New Languages for Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides". Google. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
  2. 1 2 Sawers, Paul (September 2, 2011). "15 tips to get the most out of Google Docs". The Next Web. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
  3. Chang, Emily (October 5, 2005). "eHub Interviews Writely". eHub. Archived from the original on July 22, 2011. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
  4. Hamburger, Ellis (July 3, 2013). "Google Docs began as a hacked together experiment, says creator". The Verge. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
  5. 1 2 "Google Announces limited test on Google Labs: Google Spreadsheets". Google. June 6, 2006. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
  6. Mazzon, Jen (March 9, 2006). "Writely so". Google. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
  7. "Google Account Sign-in LIVE". Writely. September 21, 2016. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
  8. Rochelle, Jonathan (June 6, 2006). "It's nice to share". Google. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
  9. "Google Announces Google Docs & Spreadsheets". Google. October 11, 2006. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
  10. Bodis, Attila (September 17, 2007). "Our feature presentation". Google. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  11. Trapani, Gina (September 18, 2007). "Google Docs Adds Presentations". Lifehacker. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  12. Glotzbach, Matthew (July 7, 2009). "Google Apps is out of beta (yes, really)". Google. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  13. Bangaru, Vijay (January 10, 2010). "Upload and store your files in the cloud with Google Docs". Google. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  14. Sheth, Rajen (January 29, 2010). "Modern browsers for modern applications". Google. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  15. Jackson, Rob (March 5, 2010). "Google Buys DocVerse For Office Collaboration: Chrome, Android & Wave Implications?". Phandroid. Retrieved October 20, 2016.
  16. Belomestnykh, Olga (April 15, 2010). "A rebuilt, more real time Google documents". Google. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  17. Rochelle, Jonathan (April 12, 2010). "A new Google Docs". Archived from the original on April 13, 2010. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  18. Metz, Cade (June 8, 2010). "Turkey bans Google Books, Google Docs, Google Translate...". The Register. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  19. Pichai, Sundar (April 24, 2012). "Introducing Google Drive... yes, really". Google. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  20. Duddu, Sarveshwar (May 15, 2012). "Find facts and do research inside Google Documents". Google.
  21. Warren, Alan (June 5, 2012). "Google + Quickoffice = get more done anytime, anywhere". Google. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  22. Tsotsis, Alexia (June 28, 2012). "Google Docs Will Now Support Offline Editing". TechCrunch. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  23. Sawers, Paul (October 23, 2012). "Google Drive apps renamed 'Docs, Sheets and Slides', now available in the Chrome Web Store". The Next Web. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  24. Frederick, Michael (January 23, 2013). "Create, edit and present with Google Slides offline". Google. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  25. Lloyd, Zach (December 11, 2013). "New Google Sheets: faster, more powerful, and works offline". Google. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  26. Gupta, Saurabh (March 11, 2014). "Bring a little something extra to Docs and Sheets with add-ons". Google. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  27. 1 2 Levee, Brian (April 30, 2014). "New mobile apps for Docs, Sheets and Slides—work offline and on the go". Google. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  28. Kastrenakes, Jacob (April 30, 2014). "Google releases Docs and Sheets apps for iOS and Android". The Verge. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  29. Tabone, Ryan (June 25, 2014). "Work with any file, on any device, any time with new Docs, Sheets, and Slides". Google. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  30. Smith, Chris (July 30, 2014). "Google's Material Design is about to change the way we look at the worldwide web". BGR. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  31. Ranjan, Ritchan (September 29, 2016). "Explore in Docs, Sheets and Slides makes work a breeze — and makes you look good, too". Retrieved September 30, 2016.
  32. Weber, Ryan (October 19, 2016). "Five new ways to reach your goals faster with G Suite". Google. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  33. "Notifications and more in the Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps for Android". Google. November 9, 2016. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  34. "Trash view and more in the Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides mobile apps". G Suite Updates. Google. November 29, 2016. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  35. "System requirements and browsers". Google. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  36. "Work with Office files". Google. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  37. "Files you can store in Google Drive". Google. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  38. "Insert or delete images or videos". Google. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  39. "G Suite - Choose a Plan". Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  40. "Work on Google files offline". Google Drive Help. Google. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  41. "Copy and paste text and images". Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  42. "Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides". Google. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  43. "Create a survey using Google Forms". Google. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  44. "Create & edit drawings". Google. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  45. Sinha, Shan (February 24, 2011). "Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office available to all". Google. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  46. White, Charlie (February 24, 2011). "Now Anyone Can Sync Google Docs & Microsoft Office". Mashable. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  47. "Migrate from Google Cloud Connect to Google Drive". Google. Archived from the original on March 17, 2013. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  48. Kincaid, Jason (March 7, 2009). "Google Privacy Blunder Shares Your Docs Without Permission". TechCrunch. Retrieved November 27, 2016.
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Further reading

External links

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