Cloud Computing, Document Generation, Email Management, Productivity, Technology

What’s New with Google’s Gmail and Docs?

Gmail and Google Docs are rolling out some big changes. These include new features in Docs, a new interface in Gmail, offline access and more. If you use Gmail and Google Docs for home or work, read on to find out what is new with these products.

New Gmail Interface

For Google Workspace users, and eventually all Gmail users, you will soon see a new toolbar to the left of the email interface that gives you quick access to other Google communication tools including Chat, Spaces, and Meet. You will no longer have to open new tabs to access these tools. Some Google Workspace subscribers will also be able to select which of these apps they would like to appear. Already in the interface on the right side you can jump to quick views of your calendar, Keep, tasks and contacts. Below those apps is a plus sign where you can enable add-ons like Zoom, Trello, Webex, Dropbox, DocuSign, Clio, and many more.

If you don’t see the new interface, you may be able to enable it. Go to the gear icon (Settings) in the upper right corner of Gmail, and in Quick Settings look for “Try out the new Gmail view” and then reload the app. If you already have the new interface but you don’t like it, you can revert it to the old design.

Gmail and Google Docs Offline

One aspect of the browser-based suite that gives business users pause is the fact that to use the tools to edit and access Microsoft Office files you had to be online. On your laptop with no Wi-Fi, you could not access your email and documents, unlike the Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Premium suites that come with both browser access AND installed software. Well, Google is now rolling out the ability to edit Microsoft Office documents while offline in Google Workspace. Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides will support offline work on Office files.

One caveat – you will need to open the Microsoft file types in the Google Workspace/Drive app at some point to access them offline. You will also have to enable offline access after installing the Google Docs Offline Chrome extension. Go to Google Drive then the Gear icon at the top right, select Settings and turn on the Offline setting.

Gmail is also getting an offline mode. With this enabled you can access your inbox, open emails, and set up new emails and responses to send when you are back online.

To enable offline mode in Gmail, click on the gear icon (Settings) in the upper right corner and then click “See All Settings”.  Go to the “Offline” tab in the top navigation bar. Check the box for “Enable Offline mail” and adjust the settings to match your preferences. Of note – make sure your computer has room for all that email! You can choose to remove offline data from your computer, but it may take “a few hours” to resync when you log back into Gmail online. You can choose to store email (attachments optional) on your computer for 7, 30, or 90 days so don’t expect to be able to access all your Gmail offline since the beginning of time. Don’t forget to save your changes once you have selected your preferences.

Time Saving Google Docs Features

If you use Google Docs to generate word processing documents, you need to know about some of these features.

  • Like MS Word, you can now select multiple portions of text at once by double clicking on a word and then holding down the Ctrl key (Windows) or Command key (Mac) and then double click on the next word or portion of text. You can then change the formatting, cut the text, or whatever you need to do.
  • You can now add text shortcuts in Google Docs, like Microsoft Word’s Autocorrect. Go to Tools – Preferences and in the Substitutions tab you can add your own replacements and shortcuts. A caveat (and it is a big one) – formatting and capitalizations don’t work so this, currently, is of limited usefulness. You can also customize the personal dictionary in Google Docs by going to Tools – Spelling and Grammar and choose “Personal Dictionary.”
  • If you are all in with Google and use not only docs, but Gmail, Contacts, Drive and more, you can check out the Smart Chips feature. Place your cursor in a document and type the @ symbol. It will bring up a scrollable list of items. Select the item or further narrow your Smart Chip selections by adding keywords and then choose the item from the drop-down list. It will drop the text into your document. In addition to adding contacts, files and other content, you can easily insert building blocks (templates) like meeting notes, litigation assets, checklists, images, dates, headings, and much more. Smart Chips seems to combine elements of Microsoft Loop and some of the features of Notion and is the new way to work smarter.
  • If you are collaborating with others on a Google doc, which is a core strength of the application, you can now assign items and tasks within the document to another collaborator. Select text, an object, or image and then click to add a Comment on the right. Type the @ symbol with the collaborator’s name and then check the box for “Assign”. Task assignment for multi-author collaboration in MS Word documents in MS 365 works much the same.
  • If you use Styles and like MS Word’s Navigation pane (View – Show – Navigation Pane) to jump around a document and move sections of text, now you can see a document outline in Google Docs. Use heading styles to format and go to View – Show Outline.


Google continues to bring enhancements to its products and move forward with business focused tools and features to rival other business suites.