Google Docs add-ons work similarly to how a browser extension works. They are a third-party app that you install to Google Docs to gain additional features. Some add-ons increase productivity (like proofreading tools) and some add more extensive capabilities (like allowing teachers to integrate grades into students papers). Here’s how to install them and some of our favorites.
Installing an Add-On
To get an add-on, open a new or existing file in Google Docs, click “Add-ons,” and then click “Get add-ons.”
You can browse the list of all add-ons, use the drop-down menu to sort by category or search using the search bar. Once you find an add-on you like, click the “Free” button to install the add-on (if it’s a paid add-on, this button will reflect the purchase price).
Upon installing add-ons, you need to grant them specific permissions. These are fundamental to the operation of the add-on in order to function correctly. Make sure you fully understand the permissions and trust the developer before installing any add-on.
After you’ve installed an add-on, click on “Add-ons”, point to the one you want to use, and then click either “Start” or “Show.” This launches the add-on or docks the sidebar to your window.
Removing an Add-On
If you no longer need an add-on or one just didn’t perform as you expected, they’re easy to remove from Google Docs.
From your document, click “Add-ons,” then click “Manage Add-ons.”
In the window that pops up, scroll down to the add-on you’d like to remove, click the green “Manage” button, and then click “Remove.”
The selected add-on is removed and the manage button is now replaced with the blue “Free” install button.
Our Favorite Add-Ons
Now, with the how-to stuff out of the way, let’s move on to some of our favorite add-ons.
Nobody is a perfect typist. We all make some mistakes and not everyone has the luxury of having an editor. LanguageTool proofreads text in your document for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. It’s offered in 20+ languages, and they never store text, sending everything over an encrypted connection. Oh, and did we mention it’s free? Unlike other popular proofreading apps, LanguageTool offers at no cost many of the same features offered by other paid services.
One caveat to the free account is the number of characters able to be checked. You are limited to 20,000 characters, meaning you have to highlight the text with your mouse that you want to check in your document, unless the entirety of your document is under the maximum limit.
If you elect for a premium account, it’s available for as little as $6/month on a yearly subscription. Premium accounts get Microsoft Word integration, additional typo detections, 40,000 characters per check, and more.
One dilemma that’s plagued people for a while has been the issue of signing a digital report or invoice for clients. HelloSign eliminates the need to print out a report, sign it, scan it, then finally send it back. Instead, you use your mouse—or stylus—to sign your document and send it via email to your coworkers or clients. You can even request other signatures for documents that need co-signees.
This is one of the best signature add-ons available, as many others either don’t save your signature to use in other documents or don’t have as many features. The free version lets you add your own signature to documents and request signatures from other people up to three times per month.
Pro plans start at $14.99/month and provide unlimited signing requests, additional templates, and some other advanced features.
It’s hard enough writing a report these days without getting distracted by the ping of a notification or a friend messaging you in a chat. With the help of WolframAlpha’s free add-on, you don’t have to leave Google Docs to search the internet to find mathematical computations, science & technology, historical facts, and so on.
WolframAlpha uses vast databases and algorithms to answer questions, do analysis and generate reports for just about anything you can think of or may need to know.
Ever need to send a fax but don’t have a fax machine? It might not happen that often, but there are some people out there who still demand faxes. If you’ve run into this problem, this add-on is for you. HelloFax lets you send and receive faxes online through Google Docs to over 70 countries worldwide. Enter the fax number, fill out a cover sheet, and hit “Send.” That’s all there is to it, and your fax is sent to a physical fax machine.
This add-on is free for the first five sent fax pages, which is perfect for anyone that only needs to send a few faxes. If you need more than five pages, a basic plan starts at $9.99 for 300 pages/month.
Search & Navigate
Search &Navigate is an all-in-one add-on that automatically generates a table of contents; lists bookmarks, images, and tables; and lets you search your whole document to navigate around with ease.
Click on any of the links from any of the categories to move your insertion point directly to that part of your document or use the search feature at the top of the pane to parse your file for any keyword you want. Search & Navigate is 100% free.
Whether you’re doing research or writing essays, EasyBib is a dream when citing sources in your documents. It automatically handles one of the more tedious parts by alphabetizing and citing in MLA, Chicago, and APA format. Search for a source (books, journals, or websites) and add it to the end of your essay with a few simple clicks.
EasyBib is free to use, but if you want a bit extra, they offer a pro account that offers plagiarism checks, grammar and punctuation suggestions, and even more styles and sources. Pro starts at $9.95/month.
Translate Plus is a translation add-on built right inside Google Docs so you don’t have to go back and forth between browser tabs. Translate Plus translates over 100 languages (Google Translate’s add-on only supports five). All you have to do is highlight the text and launch the add-on. Selected text is automatically detected; you only have to specify the output language you want to translate into.
Translate Plus is 100% free.
OrangeSlice: Teacher Rubric
OrangeSlice: Teacher Rubric expands upon Google Docs and Classroom to add grades that stand out from the assignments and make rubric selections easier, increasing teacher’s grading productivity by eliminating repetitive clicks. Rubrics are fully customizable, allowing you to change any or all of the cells contained inside.
OrangeSlice is completely free for everyone to use.
Ever wanted a fast way to link to other documents in your Google Drive without having to open another tab, go to your Drive, copy the link, and then paste it into your file? Magic Link has you covered. It adds a hyperlink that sends collaborators directly to the Drive document of your choosing. This add-on is perfect for file sharing with team members, setting up agendas, or creating your internal Wikis.
Magic Link is 100% free.
Quickly create flowcharts, ERD’s, UML, Venn diagrams, network diagrams, wireframes, and so much more using the LucidChart Diagrams add-on. LucidChart Diagrams is easy to use, with tons of great features to satisfy anyone who needs highly detailed, professional-looking diagrams in their documents.
You must sign up for a free account with LucidCharts to start using this add-on. Free accounts are limited to 60 objects per diagram and 3 active diagrams per account. Basic plans start at $4.95/month for unlimited shapes and diagrams.
Do you have any favorite add-ons we missed? Leave us a comment and let us know!