It’s hard to think but there was a time when a web browser didn’t have tabs. You could browse a single website and that was about it. It made using a lot of the up and coming Web 2.0 activities a bit of a challenge since you could only do one thing at a time. Fortunately, browsers evolved to the point where you could have multiple websites open. It was possible at that point to open one tab with one website and another with another website and move content from one to the other. Copy/paste or export/import were valuable skills. And if your basic browser didn’t have the desired function, you could extend its functionality with add-ons or extensions. That single feature moved me years ago to make Firefox my default browser. Of course, all of this is ancient history in the digital timeline given the modern browsers that we all enjoy.
In particular, working with a document in Google Docs was a big example of this for me. I would often start with something in one tab, develop it, and then bring it into my document in another tab. Doing so made you feel so cutting edge!
Now things have changed. Recently Google upped the game by adding add-ons for use right in your open document. This is an incredibly valuable feature. With the right add-on, there’s no need to even move to another tab – you stay right in your document, create your content and then use the add-on as needed.
As you might expect, people were right out of the blocks writing posts about the “Top 10 Add-ons” for Google Docs and essentially picked some of the best for a post. (Go ahead – Google it) I started poking around adding, removing, based upon what I could see myself using and/or recommending to others. At the end of the testing, I settled with five that I feel really comfortable with now.
To install, it’s as simple as selecting Add-ons menu and then “Get add-ons”.
The option to “Manage add-ons” as you would expect lets you have control over what’s installed and to delete the ones that you don’t want anymore.
Adding opens a menu of what’s available.
My first visit was overwhelming. I need this; I need this; I need that….
So many options. As you add one, you have to give permissions for the add-on to access your Google information. It’s worth noting every time you give any application access to your account. Check to see if you’re comfortable with the permissions that you’re granting.
As I explored, I just knew that I had to keep things under control. Which ones to keep?
From my perspective, here are my keepers. I know that I’ll use them often. Each of the add-ons make a “call home” and then opens on the right side of the screen. No more tabs or windows browsing. I’m really liking the functionality at my fingertips. Just like extensions for the browser itself, extensions to the documents just extend the functionality and increase my productivity.
Here’s the calculator. So often, I end up doing calculations when working in a document. This tool now makes one instantly available.
At this point, here are the five that I have decided to keep.
- EasyBib Bibliography Creator
- Lucidchart Diagrams
Other add-ons can be added on a whim.
I’m excited about this addition to Google Docs functionality. These five definitely are keepers from my perspective. I’ll keep checking the menu and looking for more exciting tools. First to write an RPN Calculator wins my heart!
I’m interested in hearing from you. What add-ons have you found to be keepers?