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Note Taking with Google Drive and Docs

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Note-taking app choice

There are a plethora of great note-taking applications available now for your organisation. Applications like Evernote and Microsoft OneNote tend to top lists of ‘best note-taking apps’. And it becomes a headache if you search inside the mobile app stores. They are full of applications that provide you access to save all your thoughts from long brainstorming discussions, meetings, or lectures.

Don’t overlook Google Drive

However, don’t overlook G Suite’s Google Drive as one of the best top note-taking choices. Google Drive is a secure online storage tool … but its links to G Suite’s cloud-based office suite (Docs, Sheets, Slides) make it perfect for notes. Using Google Drive and Docs gives great advantages that the popular Evernote and Microsoft OneNote don’t offer.

How using Google Drive for notes works

If you are working on a group project requiring input from your team, don’t overlook Google Drive’s excellent collaboration tools for writing and sharing notes with other colleagues or friends in real-time.

Using Google Drive and Docs as your preferred note-taking application removes the clutter and chaos of trying to recall exactly where you saved various attachments to your notes. It makes it easier to use Google Drive for taking notes because Google Drive allows you to store documents, images, audio files or videos in the same place.

The image above shows Google Drive, with the option to create a new Google Doc highlighted.

What about other storage providers?

You might ask what about other file storage options, such as Dropbox. It’s not as ideal a solution, simply because you don’t have the ability to create, edit, and share documents with colleagues or friends.

When all of your documents, files, and notes are saved in Google Drive. This makes finding your notes or documents very easy. Google Drive is extremely powerful when it comes to search capabilities – which of course, Google is best known for. While Evernote’s searching capabilities are good, they do not compare to Google’s.

How to take notes with Google Drive

I’m hoping I’ve persuaded you that note-taking with Google Drive and Docs is the best option. So, here’s how to get started…


Create a folder

The first step is to create a folder to store all your notes. For team projects, it’s handy to have this in a group folder. This way all documents and files are already shared with the team for the project you’re working on. For personal notes, it’s good to keep in your own Drive and share with other people by adding them as editors or viewers to the folder or document.

The Image shows adding a new folder, titled ‘Personal Notes’ to a personal Google Drive account.

Create single or multiple folders, to store all your notes and other files you want to keep organised. Drive also allows nested folders if you want to further subdivide your notes. You might do this if you wanted to organise your notes by project.


Share a doc and input in real-time with another Google Drive user

If you want to work on a project or brainstorm ideas with others collaboratively, look no further than Google Docs. It is very easy to share a document as you have it open. This is done by using the blue ‘Share’ button in the top right-hand corner.

The image shows the blue ‘Share’ button in a Google Doc.

If you are sharing a document from inside Google Drive, you right-click on the folder and select the share option in the menu. Then type the name or email address of the people that want to share with. You can also add a comment if you’d like.

Image shows a Google Doc being shared with a sales team from the Google Drive app. The sharing note reads: ”Hi Team, here are the notes from today’s meeting”.

The ‘Add a comment’ function allows others to comment. You can also ask questions to a person by assigning the comment to that person, or just to discuss specifics with people – all within your document.

Image shows the ‘Add a comment’ function, on the right-hand side of a Google Doc.


Add tables for structure

Sometimes a blank page with text is fine for your thoughts, but other times you may need to introduce structure. Creating a table on a page is a great way to organise your note-taking. A table may be useful for writing out a campaign or new product requirements, for example.

The image shows a Google Doc, with the ‘Insert’ ribbon highlighted and the ‘Table’ menu selected.


Make the camera work for you

It’s very simple to add pictures to Google Drive or Docs, just take a photo with the Drive iOS or Android app, or use your computer’s web camera. From here you can add the image to a document or upload it to your Google Drive.

Google Drive - iOS Upload

Image shows a picture of a lined paper with the handwritten text “This is a note!”.

Just like Evernote, Google Drive has optical character recognition (OCR) to allow the searching of text inside the first 100 pages of a PDF and the first 10 pages of an image-based format file. To be able to do this, the images you take must be clear. To get the best results, opt for high-resolution images.


Use Google Docs’ Explore Tool

The Google Docs’ ‘Explore’ tool, formerly called the Research tool, is a great way to look-up more about a topic. You can find it in the ‘Tools’ menu at the top. The Explore tool lets you perform web and image searches or searches of your organisation’s documents through the ‘Cloud Search’ option. This tool can be very useful if you’re taking notes on a new topic.

Image shows a Google Doc with the Explore panel on the right-hand side. Web results for ‘note taking’ are listed.

Getting started with G Suite

If you are interested in modernising your workflows by using G Suite in your organisation, contact us today.


Blog updates

This blog has been updated since it was written in Feb 2015. This includes changes to the images and feature descriptions to ensure the information is accurate.