Google gives Sheets, Docs, and Slides their biggest usability upgrade yet

Google Workspace apps like Docs, Sheets, and Slides are great companions to get serious work done. But by now, all three of these services have amassed a plethora of tools scattered across different menus, making some outright impossible to discover some of them. To make the hunt less daunting, Google is doing what it’s best at: It’s introducing a search tool that helps you find all the hidden functions and features in the three apps.

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This “enhanced tool finder” is more powerful than anything we’ve seen on the platform before because it understands regular human sentences and instructions. Google offers the example of typing “who last viewed this document,” which automatically opens up the Activity dashboard containing the details of the people who have viewed the document. The feature also works for simpler commands like “remove column a” – seriously, this is much better than dealing with the right-click menu.

Users who have just created a new document, spreadsheet, or presentation will find preset options or suggestions to help them get started, including Insert rows/columns in Sheets, Meeting notes within Docs, and Edit theme or Spell check in Slides.

This animation shows the new tool finder in action on a Google Sheets document. It is used to apply formatting, change row sizes, and more by just searching and hitting enter.

Google says it might take a while until the feature becomes available for everyone, but it’s rolling out now in any case.

Google admits that the search bar isn’t entirely new. Right now, a less powerful version of it lives in the help menu, also accessible via the Alt+\ or Option+\ keyboard shortcut, which is going to be used for the new search tool, too. People who currently use this method will be redirected to the new one.

Following the transition, the redirect will be removed as the tool finder secures its place in the toolbar. The feature will be accessible to all Workspace customers, including personal Google account holders.

The new search tool complements recent AI-focused inclusions to Workspace apps like Gmail and Docs, with Google broadening the visibility of its AI tools on the two apps for public testing.

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