How to Use Google Docs So Multiple People Can Edit at the Same Time

Google Docs is an efficient online tool that’s not only free and accessible to anyone with a Google account, but also incredibly handy for quick sharing, and great for saving precious storage space.

Apart from a number of benefits, Google Docs is also a brilliant option for working with a team or with clients, as it allows several people to access, view and edit documents, all at once, in real-time. Read on to find out how to use this magnificent tool.

How can you collaborate on a Google Doc?

Collaborating on a Google Doc is quite a quick and simple process. Firstly, a Google Doc is created by one person (the owner) who adds content to the document. Then, the owner shares the Doc in question with other contributors or collaborators, who have the ability to access the Doc, add new content, edit existing content, or simply make suggestions. The Doc owner then reviews these changes, and edits or approves whatever necessary. This process continues back and forth until the Doc is complete, and all parties approve.

How to invite people to collaborate on Google Docs

If you want to allow people to access your Google Doc and make edits and suggestions, you need to invite them to collaborate with you first. There are two ways you can do this:

Sharing via email invitation

  1. Click on the blue Share button in the upper-right corner of your Google Doc.
  2. Enter the email addresses of the collaborators you would like to invite into the provided bar.
  3. Then, you can select different access permissions (pencil icon) and even add a note for collaborators. Make sure to tick the Notify People box, so the collaborators receive email notifications.
  4. Now, click the Send button, and wait for your feedback. The collaborators will get an email invitation to edit your Google Doc.

Sharing Google Docs links

  1. Click on the blue Share button in the upper-right corner of your Google Doc.
  2. Then, click Get Shareable Link.
  3. Click the down arrow above the link, and select the people you’d like to invite to edit your Doc.
  4. Next, choose the applicable access permissions.
  5. Finally, press Copy Link, and then send it to your collaborators.

Google Docs sharing settings

No matter which way you invite people to edit your Google Doc, you’ll need to have the right sharing settings/access permissions. Here is a list of the options you will be given, as well as their explanations:

ON – Open to public

This setting means that your Google Doc can be found and accessed by anyone on the internet, even if they don’t have a link. Due to privacy concerns, this might not always be the best choice.

ON – Anyone with the link

This option will allow anyone who has the link to access your Google Doc. This can be a good choice when working with clients.

ON – Anyone at (organization)

This setting will allow anyone within your organization/company (with the same email domain) to access the Doc, even without having a link. If you’re using a free Gmail account, you won’t be able to see this option.

ON – Anyone at (organization) with the link

This setting will allow anyone within your organization/company (with the same email domain) to access the Doc, as long as they have a link. If you’re using a free Gmail account, you won’t be able to see this option.

OFF – Only certain people can access

This option means that only people with an email invitation can view your Google Doc.

Can view/comment/edit

The following options are the access permissions you will give collaborators for your Google Doc:

  • View permissions will allow people to view and read the Doc, without being able to make comments or edits.
  • Comment permissions will allow collaborators to make comments and leave feedback on the Doc, without being able to edit the content.
  • Edit permissions will let people change the content of the Doc without any restrictions. This is where they’ll be able to comment, suggest and edit.

Editing on Google Docs

When editing and making changes to a Google Doc, there are several different options you can choose from:

Editing

The editing option is the default for Google Docs. This will allow a person to add, remove and edit the content, without any distinctly tracked changes. When creating a new Doc, you’ll be in the editing mode. However, it’s not the best option when reviewing or making changes to a Doc.

Suggesting

This option is the best for contributors who want to make changes and edits to a Google Doc, as suggesting allows a person to make changes to the Doc that can later be accepted or rejected by the owner.

Commenting

Commenting is a great way to give feedback and add personal input, without changing the Doc. To add a comment on a specific part of the Google Doc, highlight the area in question, and then click on the plus icon that appears in the right-hand side.

If you want to mention a specific person in your comment, Google Docs also has the option of tagging. Simply type ‘@’ + ‘email address’ of the person you wish to tag, and they will get an email notification.

Resolving suggestions and comments

Once all the collaborators have left their suggestions and comments on the Doc, the owner can then go back and resolve the edits. The owner has the ability to Accept and Reject suggestions, or even reply to or Resolve comments.

Google Docs allows up to 100 people to simultaneously view and edit a Doc, with live changes and updates. However, it’s always best to limit contributors to a smaller, more manageable number, as too many people making changes to a Doc at the same time can often be disruptive and chaotic.

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