Online word processing programs have become a terrific alternative to the usual software that you can only use on a single computer.
With an online word processor you can create and save any regular sort of document, then open and edit your document wherever you have access to the internet – library, smartphone, iPad or Android tablet. You can print your document or download it to save on your PC, and you can share your document or even collaborate with other folks on the internet.
And, another great feature, the best of these online word processors are free!
Online word processors are quite easy to use. They’re actually quite similar to the “Word” or “Word Perfect” programs that you’re already used to.
As with everything on the internet, you need to sign up for an account, but once that’s out of the way, it’s very easy to just open up a program and get started using it right away.
There are several free online word processors, and it looks like more will be coming, but for now, the biggest fish in this pond is “Google Docs”. You get to it by clicking the “Documents” link at the top of most Google pages or by going directly to “docs.google.com” on the web.
If you already have an account for anything at Google (like Gmail or Picasa), then just use that account to start using Google Docs.
If you don’t already have a Google account, just click on the red “Sign up” button in the upper-right corner on the Google Docs log-on page.
Once into your Google Docs account, click on the red “Create” button at the upper left, and select “Document” from the list. That will bring you to a web page that looks like this:
As you see; it looks a lot like your usual word processing program. You’ll see the normal tools to format your pages and to fancy up the words that you type there. Plus, of course, handy helpers like spellcheck.
One big difference is that, about as soon as you type anything, it will be saved for you automatically — out in “the Cloud”; on the internet. You can type a few things and then close this window entirely, and then come back anytime later to find your document waiting in a list out on the front where you clicked “Create” before.
That means that you can start a document at home, then go to the library and open it to make changes, then go to the park and open it on your smartphone. Or, as I do: open it to make a shopping list at home, then go to Hannafords and open it up on my phone to save me from aimless wandering.
Notice the “Share” button up on the right. If I click “share” on my shopping list and then enter my wife, Annie’s, email address, she will now be allowed to see and (if I say so) to change the shopping list from her own computer or even from her Kindle Fire.
If you collaborate on a document this way, the changes show up within seconds on every device that has the document open. So, if it was a group document – like, say, a proposed meeting agenda – all interested parties could see changes to the document as they happened and each change would be labeled with the name of the person who made the it.
Spreadsheets and slide shows too:
You may have noticed the other document types when you clicked on the “Create” button. There are spreadsheets that do almost all the tricks that Excel will do, and presentation slides similar to PowerPoint and there are even document types for collecting and presenting data in lists and forms and charts. These are all there and waiting, whenever they might be useful to you. Give them a try.
There’s a great deal of “Help” files to help you figure things out. And there’s a huge collection of document templates that have been created by other users and shared in the template database. If there’s a particular type of document that you need, try searching to see if a template might already exist.
And, of course, give me a call anytime if I can help with online word processing; Mike Pepper ~ Computer Guy, 845-855-4824. www.PawlingComputerGuy.com
Ps: with all the storms we’ve been having lately, please be sure to check the article on surge protectors, here on the PPR web site. A good surge protector is easy to find and can be a real headache preventer too. (http://goo.gl/X49bH)