Google Docs introduction

Google Docs introduction

Google Docs is the word processor in the Google suite. Like Google Drive and the other applications (Sheets, Slides, Forms, etc.) that are part of the Google suite, it runs on Google’s servers and is accessed through a Web browser on a computer or its dedicated application for Android or Apple iOS.

Since its beginnings in 2005, it has become one of the most popular word processors. The text-editor with a user interface integrates well with the other applications in the suite. Being browser based, allows it to run on any operating system and does not restrict how many computers it can be installed on.

User interface

Docs presents users with eight menus, a toolbar, and a right-click menu. The menu items below are links to associated pages.

Docs has eight menus and toolbar. The menus contain items that are sub-menus or launch a dialog.
  • Menus
    • File
    • Edit
    • View
    • Insert
    • Format
    • Tools
    • Add-Ons
    • Help
  • Toolbar
  • Right-click menu


The Docs interface users experience through a Web browser is highly integrated with the other applications. Any application type can be created from an open document, and any type of document also can be opened through one.

Documents also can be opened and created through Google Drive, the central management system for the suite that allows users to access and create any type of document. Docs has its own management system that only allows users to see and create word-processing documents. This can be used through the Web, and there are Android and iOS apps for Docs management system.

Comparing to Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is one of the oldest word processors. It is the most popular one on the market, just about every alternative one has been designed to open and edit documents in the standard docx format that is native to Word. Docs has become its top competitor, based on the number of users.

Docs does not have the features that the version of Word for Windows and the one for Mac have. Google does not offer versions for Windows or Mac. The only way to use it on a traditional PC is through a Web browser. It works well in just about every browser, but it has some additional capabilities and features when it is used in Google Chrome.

Microsoft restricts the number of computers Word can be installed on. It also doesn’t have a Linux version.

There is an online version of Word. It does not have as many features as Docs, but it can run in just about every browser. This means Linux users have access to Word.


Though not as feature rich as its desktop counterparts, the advantage of Docs is that it is better at collaboration. For more than a decade, Google’s word processor has had real-time editing and the ability to easily share a document with other users, either through attaching one to an email or inviting someone to edit or view it through his Web browser.

Word 2016 for Windows and Mac also have real-time editing capabilities, but they are more clunky than Docs. Word Online and other server-based word processors have excellent collaborative  capabilities. Docs is the most popular one, and many people already have it.


Anyone who has a Gmail account has Google Docs. Those who do not have Gmail can sign up for a Google account with their current email. Someone with a Google account can use Docs and collaborate with any other account holder. These accounts can be used to sign into the Android and iOS applications.

Google also offers a package for businesses and organizations, called GSuite, that has a per user fee. It offers more storage space, tech support, and a business email. Docs and the other apps are not enhanced. The free version of Docs has the same features and capabilities as the GSuite version.


Docs native format is gdoc. Only Google Docs can open and edit these documents. To edit a document that it is in a different format, it needs to be converted to gdoc.

When being used in Google Chrome, Docs can edit docx documents without converting them. A plugin needs to be added to Google Drive for it to have this capability. It loses a lot of features when when the format is still docx. It has a lot less features than Word Online.