November 2, 2012

Google Drive Is Top Productivity Tool

Amidst all the attention on Google’s newest Nexus devices this week, a pretty significant improvement to Google Drive may been overlooked.

The Research Pane, which debuted in Docs, now has made its way to Slides (formerly Presentations) and Drawings. It creates a panel on the side of the screen in which you can conduct a Google search without needing to open a new tab.

For Slides and Drawings it will be most useful in searching for images to use in your file. Some of the tools are closely tied to Google, such as pulling images from a Picasa album or Google+ post. If, like most people, you are not a heavy user of either of those services, at least the web search tool is rather useful.

The nature of productivity now often involves pulling materials from the web. This is one area I feel Google Drive has surpassed Office or iWork: a stronger connection to being online while writing or creating presentations.

The online word processor’s compact mode got some extra polish that makes it even easier to find actions in the menu and increase the viewable screen real estate when writing.

A double arrow now resides at the top-right corner of the screen, which when clicked will minimize the toolbar into compact mode. Previously this required going to the View menu and then selecting this setting (there is also a keyboard shortcut for Mac, PC, and Chrome OS).

If you are using Chrome on a Mac, it performs well at allowing the document to encompass most of the screen real estate.

I recently have moved to Google Drive as my full-time productivity suite after many years of using Office. I had held off for a while, as I felt that Docs especially just didn’t have feature parity with Word. But after the redesign with the advent of Google Drive finally crossed the threshold.

The instant saving, easy organizational features and embedded Google search technology have made it a powerful combination. There are still occasions when Word or PowerPoint may offer a feature not found in Drive, but that is occuring with far less regularity.

Image Credit: Google Drive

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