Google Docs logo on a white background

When you have a dozen tasks to do before lunchtime, any shortcut to speed things up is welcome. Here are several time-saving features for Google Docs that can help make creating and editing documents go quicker.

1. Multiple Text Selections for Faster Formatting

Google updated Docs in the first half of 2022 to make selecting text simpler. You can grab multiple portions of text at once for faster formatting or even deletion.

Double-click a word or use your cursor to drag through the first portion of text. On Windows, hold Ctrl and on Mac, hold Command. Then, double-click or drag through the next portion.

Multiple text portions selected

Continue the process until you’ve selected all the text you want. You can then head to the toolbar or menu to apply font formatting, use Delete to get rid of the text, or do whatever it is you want with those multiple text selections.

Multiple text portions bolded

2. Text Replacements for Shortcuts

You might use text replacements on your mobile device so you can type “OMW” and have it display as “on my way.” You can do the same type of thing in Google Docs. This gives you a fast way to insert text or symbols you use often.

RELATED: How to Use Text Shortcuts in Google Docs

Go to Tools > Preferences. Select the Substitutions tab and you’ll see a list of existing replacements.

Substitutions in Preferences

To add your own, enter the shortcut you want to use in the Replace box and the replacement text in the With box. Check the box for Automatic Substitution, click “OK,” and then give your replacement a try.

Substitution added in Preferences

Note: Formatting such as uppercase letters may not display as such.

3. Smart Chips for Quick Insertions

Smart Chips made their debut a while back with inserting contact information and interactive dates. Now, you can use the feature for building blocks, files, lists, media, dates, headings, page components, tables, and more.

Place your cursor where you want to display the Smart Chip options and type the @ (At) symbol. You’ll see a drop-down list open with a scrollable list of the items mentioned above.

Smart Chip options

To get to the item you want faster, you can follow the @ symbol by a contact’s name, file name, or item name for what you want to insert.

Type to reduce the results

Choose the correct item in the drop-down list. It’ll pop into your document instantly so you can move on to your next task.

Inserted file in Google Docs

4. Assign Items and Tasks with a Click

When you’re collaborating on a Google Doc, you might split up the tasks for creating or editing the document. Using Comments, you can mention a collaborator and then assign them the duty.

RELATED: How to Assign Document Tasks in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides

Select the text, object, or image, and then pick “Add Comment” (a blue speech bubble with a plus sign inside) in the floating toolbar on the right edge of the page.

Type the @ (At) symbol followed by the collaborator’s name and optionally include a note. Then check the box for Assign to [name] and click “Assign.”

Comment assigned

The person you mention will be notified you’ve assigned them a task and you can see when they complete it in the comment history.

This feature allows you and your collaborators to easily distribute work and keep a record of it all in one spot.

5. Document Outline for Built-In Navigation

While you can create a table of contents for your document with a built-in tool, you might not want it to be part of your document. Instead, you can use the document outline to create navigation to document locations automatically.

To add text to the outline, format it as any heading style. When you do, that text pops up in the document outline immediately. The outline displays headings in a hierarchy layout.

Heading styles in Google Docs

To view the outline, go to View > Show Outline and then click the Outline icon on the top left of the document.

Show Outline in the View menu

You can then quickly maneuver to any spot in the document by clicking the corresponding heading in the outline.

Document Outline in Docs

Tip: You can also add a document summary directly above the outline for a nice summation of the document.

6. Gmail Drafts for Easy Collaboration

Another terrific Google Docs feature for collaboration can also be a time-saver for your own tasks. You can create messages for Gmail and send them to the email application as drafts ready to send.

Go to Insert > Building Blocks and choose “Email Draft” in the pop-out menu.

Email Draft under Building Blocks in the Tools menu

When the block appears in your document, add the recipient, optionally contacts for CC and BCC, the subject, and your message. When you finish, click the Gmail icon on the left.

Gmail draft in Docs

That email then lands in your Drafts folder in Gmail. Head there when you’re ready to send the email.

For a handy way to collaborate on messages or an easy way to create several emails in one spot, check out this awesome feature.

7. Personal Dictionary for Your Own Words

If you’re in the habit of running the spelling and grammar check in Google Docs, you’ll appreciate this next feature. With the Personal Dictionary, you can add words of your own that will not set off the checker’s alerts.

RELATED: How to Check Your Spelling in Google Docs

Go to Tools > Spelling and Grammar and choose “Personal Dictionary.”

Personal Dictionary in the Spelling and Grammar options

Type your word in the corresponding box and click “Add.” You can continue to add more words and click “OK” when you’re done.

Personal Dictionary in Google Docs

Moving forward, you can enter those words in your document and run the spelling check without the worry of those words appearing as misspelled. This speeds up your review process and is great for personal or product names that are out of the ordinary.

These Google Docs features can save you tons of time whether working alone or with a team. Keep them in mind so you can spend more time on other tasks and less on creating and editing documents.

RELATED: 9 Basic Google Sheets Functions You Should Know

Profile Photo for Sandy Writtenhouse Sandy Writtenhouse
With her B.S. in Information Technology, Sandy worked for many years in the IT industry as a Project Manager, Department Manager, and PMO Lead. She learned how technology can enrich both professional and personal lives by using the right tools. And, she has shared those suggestions and how-tos on many websites over time. With thousands of articles under her belt, Sandy strives to help others use technology to their advantage.
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