Google Tweaks Docs for Better Access to Content

A new preview panel and Home view are designed to make it easier for users to find the content they're looking for.
Posted January 31, 2011

David Needle

Google has made several improvements to the way its Google Docs program handles documents that it plans to roll out over the next several days.

About a year ago, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) gave Docs users the ability to upload, store and share any file in the Google Docs cloud so that they are then available wherever the user happens to log into Google Apps. In a blog post today, Google said it's now addressing a need to better organize the number and variety of files users can access in one place.

The Docs update, or what Google's calling a refresh, adds several filters designed to help users narrow a search by file type, visibility state and other criteria. Also, leveraging a feature that first appeared in Gmail, Docs now has a priority sorting option. As in Gmail, priority sorting attempts to present users with the most relevant files at the top of the list based on various "signals" the system uses for analysis such as how often a user accesses a file.

Other changes include a new preview panel that lets users get a quick view or thumbnail of files. You can also play video directly in the preview panel if the preview is of a video file. For photos, the new magnifying glass icon will open a full screen slideshow viewer when it's clicked on.

"This is really great. I use Docs to store all of my pictures in a way to get around the 1000 file album limit in Picasa Web Albums. Docs is becoming much more image friendly, and would love for Docs to continue the trend by supporting image tags and facial recognition," said a user named Philip.

Finally, the other addition is a new view called Home. Google said Home is a place users can put content they use most often to get at it quickly.

"You can remove files from the Home view by right clicking the file and selecting Don't show in home" to hide them. And when you need them, these files can always be found later by selecting All items or using search," Google product manager Vijay Bangaru said in the blog post.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

Tags: cloud computing, Cloud, Google Docs, Google Apps Marketplace, document management

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