Mastering G Suite

This foundational workshop session will provide you with a thorough introduction to G Suite, including Google Drive and the core suite of Google Apps contained within it. We will look at the key ideas behind Drive; how to store, manage and share your files, offline mode, Microsoft file conversion, and much more. You'll leave this workshop with a thorough understanding of G Suite and how to use it the right way! Come as a beginner, leave as an expert!

Getting Started Activity

  1. Your email address (for sharing) - Please complete this form
  2. Docs Activity 1 - Simultaneous editing of the same document

Google Drive and Google Docs

Google Drive offers cloud storage - a place where you can store your files without needing to know exactly where they are stored. You can store any kind of files. You have unlimited storage capacity.

You have a set of great tools for managing your Drive files.

  1. Grid view vs List view - switch between both views as needed
  2. Activity and Details - See all the properties of a file or folder, including recent changes
  3. Sort by Name, Last Modified, Last Opened - Click the column headers to change how the files are sorted
  4. Search by name or contents - Search your files! It's the fast way to find what you need.
  5. Detailed Search Panel - Find files even when you can only remember just a few details about it.
  6. Stars - Add a star to your files to add them to a starred (or favourites) list
  7. Recent - See the most recent files you've accessed

Google Drive has a range of productivity apps that offer similar functionality to other software tools you may know...

  • Google Docs <=> Microsoft Word
  • Google Sheets <=> Microsoft Excel
  • Google Slides <=> Microsoft PowerPoint, Keynote
  • Google Drawings <=> MS Paint
  • Google Forms <=> Survey Monkey
  • Google MyMaps <=> GIS software
  • Google Sites <=> Weebly, Wix, etc

The Google versions are usually simpler because they don't try to cram every single feature in, but they have one very big difference. They are all collaborative, allowing people to easily share files and work together, simultaneously, in real time. This gives them some distinct advantages.

Other useful things that Google Docs can do

  • Sharing and managing who can do what in a document
  • Collaboration in real time
  • Revision History
  • Accurate voice typing
  • Easy options for adding images
  • Explore tool
  • AddOns for extra features
  • Live links to embedded data, such as charts
  • File conversion to Microsoft Office format (import and export)

Practical Activity

Getting to know Google Docs

  • Docs Activity 2 - Get to know what Google Docs can do. Click the link to make your own copy of a document that will let you explore some of the cool things you can do with a Doc.

Sharing Your Google Docs

When you create a document YOU are the Owner, and the only person who can access the file. Nobody else gets access until you explicitly allow it. You can also revoke access at any time.

Sharing with individuals is as simple as clicking the Share button and entering their email address (or name) into the Invite people box (1). Once you add the person's email, choose whether you'd like them to be an Editor, Commenter or Viewer of the document (2). Optionally, enter a short message to the recipient (3). Then click Send (4).

In the Advanced settings you also have further options to control document security. Ticking these boxes will restrict what people can do with the document.

  1. Prevent other editors from sharing the doc with anyone else.
  2. Prevent others from downloading, printing and copying the document.

Use these controls carefully, and only add restrictions where necessary.

You can share a document with as many individuals as you wish, and each one can have different permission levels. For example, some people could be editors, others commenters and others just viewers.

If you change your mind later, you can increase or decrease any person's access level, or even revoke it completely. You can even give access for a specific period of time that expires after a number of days.

As the document owner, you are always in complete control of who can do what.

You can also share whole folders as well as individual documents. Sharing a folder causes every document in that folder to inherit the folders permissions. If documents inside a folder have different permissions to the folder, the most permissive wins.

To share with specific groups of teachers or students, your school (or school system) may already have pre-made lists of staff, students, yeargroups, etc. You can share with a list of people and everyone within that list will have the doc shared with them (plus, if the list membership changes, so does the people the doc is shared with). Check with your IT admin for more info.

Files that are Shared with You

When someone else shares a file with you it appears in your Shared with me collection. You cannot organise the files in Shared with me. They are literally just a collection files that are shared with you.

Files that are not shared with you specifically by name do not appear in Shared with me, however you can find them using the search function if you know the name or some other information about them.

If you would like to file a shared document in your own Drive, you must first add it to your Drive by clicking the Add to Drive button. You can move a file or folder anywhere in your Drive's filing system and it does not affect other people's view of the file/folder. (However, do not move a file out of a shared folder or you will remove it for others! Read all warnings carefully!)

When you delete a file that has been shared with you from your Drive, you only remove your view of it. You don't actually delete the file, since you are not the owner and only the owner can completely delete a file.

Link Sharing

Sometimes, you might want to share a document with a larger group, such as a class, the whole school, anyone in your domain, or even just anybody on the Internet. It would be a bit inconvenient if you had to type all their names into the Share box! Fortunately you don't have to.

You can create your own contact list using Google Contacts and share a Doc with that. Note that any contact lists you make are available only to you.

You can also share to any existing Google Groups lists. These lists will usually be created by your school IT admin.

As well as sharing docs with individuals and contact lists, you can also share a doc to a non-specified collection of people.

You can share to...

  • Anyone at <your domain> with the link (unsearchable)
  • Anyone at <your domain> (searchable)
  • Anyone with the link (unsearchable)
  • Public on the Web (searchable)

For each of these access levels, you can also define the role of Editor, Commenter or Viewer.

This multiplies out to offer a large number of variations on how you decide to share a document! This is why it's important to really understand how sharing works!

Practical Activity

Docs Activity 3 - Choosing the right permissions for your Google Doc

Choosing the best Permissions for your Google Doc

Team Drives

Every file in Google Drive, has an owner, and usually that is owner is a person. This is not really a problem, until that person is no longer around. What happens when a teacher develops a lot of great documents, then leaves the school? Your school administrator could manually transfer the ownership of those files to a new person, who then becomes the new owner. While this might solve the problem, it's time consuming and there is a better way.

Team Drives solves this by creating project-specific Drives that are owned by the school (or your school system), not by individual people. Any file added to a Team Drive will have the ownership of that file transferred to the school. Access to the document in the Team Drive is then controlled by managing who the members of the Team Drive are... if you're a member with the right permission, you can work with the files as usual, but the school still always owns the file.

Different members of the Team Drive can have different levels of access to the files, but the school is always the owner .

Because a Team Drives takes ownership of the files inside them, they occasionally seems to do some frustrating things, like not allowing you to add a file to a Team Drive that you don't own, for example. But when you think about it, it makes sense... unless you own a file, you shouldn't be able to transfer or surrender the ownership to someone else (ie, the school).

Team Drives are ideal for faculties, executive teams, working groups, and so on.

Moving vs Adding a File

If you move a file from one place to another in your Drive it appears in the new location, and is no longer in the original location. Moving a file works exactly as you'd expect if it was a real object.

However, Google Drive allows you to do something else that you can't do with real objects. You can Add them to other locations without removing them from the original location. Get your head around that... it's not a copy, not a shortcut, not a link. It is literally placing the same file in two places at once. You can delete either of these instances, but just don't remove the last one or you will remove the file from your Drive completely.

To Move a file, select it in Drive and simply drag and drop it to a new location. Alternatively, press the Z key to navigate to a new location and move the file there.

To Add a file to another location, select it in Drive and Control-Drag it (Windows, Chromebooks) or Option-Drag (Mac) it to a new location. Alternatively, press the Shift-Z key to navigate to a new location and add the file there.

Google Docs and Microsoft Office: How does that work?

You can store any kind of file in Google Drive - PDFs, JPGs, video files, Photoshop files... anything. When you want to work on those files you just download them back to your computer, open them with the appropriate application and then save them back to Drive afterwards.

With Microsoft Office files you have a few more options. If you choose to, Word, Excel and Powerpoint can be converted directly into Docs, Sheets and Slides, turning them into editable, sharable files in Drive. Or they can be left in their original format and simply stored in Drive like any other kind of file. It's your choice.

Converting Microsoft to Google

When you add a Microsoft file to Drive, you always have the option to convert it to the corresponding Google Doc format. You can just convert MS files to Google Docs on demand as needed.

Or you can just go all in on Google and automatically convert any MS file to the corresponding Google file every time. Here's how... In the settings menu of Drive you can check the box for Convert uploaded files to Google Docs format (1). If you turn it on, then every Word, Excel or PowerPoint file you upload to Drive will be converted to the corresponding Google format file.

File conversion has gotten much better over the last few years and generally does a pretty good job of converting Office file to Google format. However, if a Microsoft file uses features that simply do not exist in Google Docs then those features will generally be ignored. Don't worry though, the original Office file is never modified so feel free to try it and if you're not happy with the conversion you still have your original.

Converting Google to Microsoft

Going from a Google Doc to Microsoft format is even easier! Documents you create directly in Google Drive can be easily exported out in a variety of different formats, including MS Office, PDF, and others, using the File > Download As command.

Best practice tip: Develop a habit of creating all new documents using Google Drive. Later, if you need to have them in MS Office format you can always export them. This is a more reliable approach to doing it the other way around.

Extension tip: Try the Office Editing for Docs Sheets and Slides Chrome Extension. It allows you to open and edit any Word, Excel or Powerpoint file directly in Chrome. It's amazing!

Other settings

While you're there in the settings, you might consider setting up Offline Mode if you use the same laptop all the time (2). And the screen density setting to suit your taste (3).

Practical Activity

Google Sheets

Google Slides