Introduction to the new Google Docs Add-ons

If you’ve ever tried Google’s cloud-based document suite then you likely know it’s pretty great. Google Drive is completely free and offers each Google Account free storage along with free use of their Google Docs interface. You can build spreadsheets, word documents, and slideshows all within Google Drive.

google drive extensions add on store

Currently the newest add-ons will focus on docs and sheets. But there are plenty more in the works you can expect sometime in the future. This article is dedicated to getting you familiar with Google Drive’s add-ons and how you can install them for your own account.

The Basic Features

Most of the add-ons released are completely free to install and use at your leisure. It’s certainly possible that Google developers will release add-ons which eventually cost money, behaving much like the Google Chrome extension web store. But for now I’ve only come across free add-ons.

When opening a new document you can find add-ons within the primary links at the top of the page. If you’re new to Google Drive this link will have a small “new!” tag attached onto it.

google docs drive addons screenshot new feature

This menu only allows you to access the Google store for downloading new add-ons. These items will appear in the add-ons menu once installed. Each add-on requires authentication much like you would expect when accessing a 3rd party website using your Google account.

Running with Add-ons

Each installation is tied to your Google Account so add-ons should work from any computer. It’s one of the small benefits to working with Drive since it is a cloud-based web application.

Open the add-on store from the tools menu and you can choose from any of the most popular releases. Note that a document will provide different add-ons compared to a spreadsheet. Once you click “install” a small popup will appear asking for your permission. Click “Accept” and it should finish installation within seconds.

google drive addon accept decline message ui

From here you can always work with installed add-ons from the menu link. For example the Thesaurus add-on requires that you select a word and then try to find synonyms. A sidebar thesaurus extension will appear, offering some info about the word and plenty of synonyms.

I personally haven’t noticed any performance issues running with add-ons. Some might expect the cloud application to load slower – and this could be true if you install many different add-ons. If you ever need to remove one(or a few) you can do so from the menu Addons->Manage add-ons.

google drive add on manage extension popup

Overall this is a nice addition to Google’s free alternative to Microsoft Office. It feels good having access to all of your work from any computer with Internet access. These free add-ons are merely a delicious side dish next to the main course.

Writing your own Scripts

If you’re confident with your coding abilities why not try building your own add-on? The market is still brand new and there’s plenty of need for handy developers. And Google makes the process super easy with an API and cloud-hosted dev tools.

Check out Google Apps Script which is a general scripting language based on JavaScript. It allows developers to extend functionality for Google documents, forms, and other types of Drive content. You’ll do all the coding right within your browser, so there’s no need to download or install software to your computer.

The official page for script add-ons has a lot more information and guides for new developers. Google has made everything organized and quick to read, although it will take some time getting used to the code structure. Working strictly in the cloud feels like jsFiddle but with a greater performance requirement.

If you want to get into building add-ons just dive in and start reading. You might want to read about the basics of JavaScript first, but it’s entirely possible to build your very first Google Drive add-on without any prior experience.

Free Add-ons

Here’s a small collection of newer add-ons that you can install for free. Remember these scripts are built to run over multiple document types including spreadsheets and forms. I haven’t found add-ons for presentation slideshows, but hopefully Google will create this functionality somewhere down the line.

Gliffy Diagrams

gliffy diagrams extension drive addon

Track Changes

track changes drive extension addon

Thesaurus

google drive addons thesaurus words

Table of Contents

table of contents addon drive google

Texthelp Study Skills

google drive highlighter effect drive addon

HelloFax

hellofax hello fax google drive addon

EasyBib Bibliography

easybib bibliography document docs drive addon extension

Advanced Find & Replace

advanced find replace excel spreadsheets

Supermetrics

supermetrics google drive extensions spreadsheets

Template Gallery

google drive extension addon sheets spreadsheets templates

Remove Duplicates

remove duplicate rows entries spreadsheet google extension

Remove Blank Rows

remove blank rows spreadsheet google drive addon

Messenger

google drive docs messenger im addon free

Draw.io Diagrams

draw io diagrams drive extension addon

Maps for Docs

google docs drive maps extension addon

UberConference

uber conference chat google drive extension

Easy Header & Footer

google drive docs header footer document add-on

Lucidchart Diagrams

lucidchart diagrams extension addon drive docs google

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Jake is a researcher and writer on many design & digital art websites. He frequently writes on topics including UX design, content marketing, and project management. You can find more work on his portfolio and follow his latest tweets @jakerocheleau.

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