Raise your hand if you remember Writely. A four-person company called Upstartle launched the online-only word processor in August 2005, taking advantage of a then-new browser technology called AJAX. It allowed users to instantly save and retrieve content generated in the browser but stored on the server. And it workedÂ—so well that Google bought Upstartle less than a year later.
At the time, a product like Writely was unique (the software didn’t come on a CD), but still considered a gamble. Pundit Om Malik said of the purchase, “Convincing the masses that their documents will be safe [online]…may be quite challenging, even if it’s FREE!”
Fast forward eight years. Google’s online office suite of tools has done nothing but grow. Now under the umbrella of Google Drive (formerly Google Docs), you’ll find a file management and storage service as well as the various appsÂ—which still get collectively called Google Docs, even by Google. The apps include: a word processor (sometimes simply called DocsÂ—it’s Writely, all grown up), spreadsheet (Sheets), presentations (Slides), drawing, and forms.
It’s a full suite of tools that now takes on Microsoft’s far more mature Office; in fact, Google Drive’s very presence in the market arguable drove Microsoft to create its own Office Online versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to work with its OneDrive storage/sync service.
But after almost a decade, Google Drive has come a long way in its own maturity. Anyone with a Google accountÂ—the kind you have for Gmail or any other Google serviceÂ—gets instant instant access to the tools. Businesses, schools, and non-profits have the option of using Google Apps, a version of Google Drive with all the storage and tools, plus integration of Gmail, Calendar, Sites, and more under their own domain name.
DriveÂ—one of our Editors’ Choice suitesÂ—is a serious set of tools for serious (or fun) work, all entirely free. But it pays to know more than just the basics. That’s why we’ve put together these 30 tips for you on how to get the most out of Google Drive. Share your own advice for fellow Drive-rs in the comments below.