Are you a writer longing for more freedom and portability? Google Docs has captured my writer’s heart: it's free, robust, and turns my phone into a word processor I can use anywhere.

 I first looked at Google Docs in The best Android app for writers working on the go. Here I continue my exploration of this great tool for writers and as before, this article was written entirely on my mobile phone. Although I use Android, I should point out that Google apps also run on the iPhone and iPad, too.

Before downloading and installing Google Docs, you will need to sign up for a Google account if you don’t already have one. (iPhone and iPad users might not.) Gmail counts, as does Google+. Get logged in to your Google account and then install the app.

Once the app is installed, it's ready to go. It syncs up with your account, and when your data is turned on, Docs saves your documents to Google Drive.

Google Drive

One benefit of Google Drive syncing is access to deleted documents in the Trash folder.

Google Drive

The files can be displayed in list or thumbnail form, and you can open documents to see if you might want to keep them after all. Once you select the document it gives you options:

 Google Drive Trash

You can restore it to your current document list, move it to a more appropriate folder, or bid it adieu forever.

Another benefit from Google Drive integration is the ability to directly create things to embed in a document.

Google Docs on Android

Besides creating spreadsheets and slides, you can take pictures using an integrated camera which can be scanned into a PDF file.

Scan in Google Drive

If you're putting together a blog post or an article with graphics, on the go and away from a computer, Google has you covered. Photojournalists could whip out their phone and at least draft a story. That's flexibility.

Auto-saving

Maybe the best feature for a writer is the automatic save feature. Whenever the document you're working on is closed, the app saves it. Even if your phone shuts down - whether you did it or the battery died - the app saves the file as part of the phone shutdown process.

I turned off my data connection, opened a new document, typed a couple of sentences, and then shut the phone down. After turning the phone back on, I opened the app and it told me it wasn't able to refresh the thumbnails of the documents working on. But did that mean my document couldn't be retrieved?

Lo and behold, I could open the document I was using when the phone was turned off, and not one letter had been lost! Then as soon as I turned my data back on, the app synced up with Google Drive and the copy of the document stored temporarily on my phone was uploaded to my Drive.

As I was typing this article, my phone battery died, right in the middle of a sentence. I recharged, and hadn't lost a thing. That feeling - knowing a dead battery and no data connection can't rob me of my hard work - is so satisfying.

Templates

Google Docs can even help a writer’s style thanks to a variety of templates.

When you start the app, a red button appears at the bottom right of your screen. Touching it brings you the option to start with an entirely blank page or with a predesigned page.

Google Docs templates

Choose Template opens up a screen offerings for many short-form writing broken into four sections: Resumes, Letters, Educational, and Work.

Google Docs templates

The thing about these templates is they’re all formatted for you. Pictures, indentations, subheadings, you name it. All you have to do is replace their stuff with your stuff.

Google Docs templates

Just type over the Latin. You can do it.

Once you open a template you can change the formatting if you need to, but the basic formats are remarkably useful. The reports (including a book report template!) are versatile and professional. The resume templates are crisp and organic.

Google Docs template

Google Docs is my favorite productivity app. It has freed up my writing by cutting the laptop umbilical. I can write during breaks at work, standing in line at the grocery store, or even in bed, situations that a laptop isn't well equipped for. And as a free app with full functionality, it's perfect for this writer’s needs.

Written by: David W. Jones (on his Android phone)


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