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Part of Google’s Editor Suite, Google Sheets is the all-in-one spreadsheet editor. Not only is it free, but it transports with you – as long as you have a compatible device, then your spreadsheets are coming along with you wherever you might go. There’s no need to download files or save them to a jump drive; all of the spreadsheets that you’ve been working on or need access to in a moment’s notice will always be accessible.

In addition to having all of the features that many have grown accustomed to using in Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets allows users to download add-ons, so make your spreadsheets as simple or customized as you want. It’s also collaboration friendly. Invite your team members to your spreadsheets to not only share information, but to construct and edit simultaneously in real-time no matter your individual locations.

1. Access Google Sheets from the app menu (6 dots in top right corner) in your Gmail account or go to google.com/sheets/about/ and select Go to Google Sheets or download the app on your mobile device to get started!

2. Choose to start working on a blank spreadsheet or browse through the Template Gallery to choose an existing spreadsheet.

3. Rename your document in the textbox on the top left-side side of the screen.

4. Before you begin working on your spreadsheet, explore some of the editing functions located in the toolbar, as Google Sheets offers many of the same editing tools that you’re comfortable and familiar using in MS Excel.

*To make your sheets even more powerful with added functionality, go to the Add-ons tab and click Get add-ons to browse the available extensions that will give your Google sheets more extensive capabilities.

5. To start sharing your spreadsheet, click the green Share rectangle in the top right corner of the screen.

There are two ways to share. Steps 6 & 7 explains the first way, and Step 8 explains the second way.

6. You’ll then be prompted to add the names/email addresses of the people who you want to share the spreadsheet with.

As you begin to type, names and emails of individuals from your institution or who you frequently communicate/share with via G Suite will be suggested to you.

7. When your “share list” is complete, from the drop-down menu on the right side of the dialog box, choose the role that you’d like for the listed individuals to have: viewer, commenter, or editor.

  • Editor – Can edit the document, invite other collaborators (if owner has given this permission), and download the document. This is the perfect option for team projects.
  • Commenter – Can make comments on the most recent version of the document, but can’t make any changes, and is able to download and save the document. Hover over certain cells to see if comments have been made. The spreadsheet owner will also receive notifications via email and within Sheets when a new comment is added, and will be able to view the comments history by clicking the Speech Balloon icon in the top right corner of the screen.

  • Viewer – Can view the most recent version of the document, but can’t make any changes, and can download and save the document.

*Roles are not permanent and can be changed by the owner at any time. The owner can also remove people who once had access to the spreadsheet.

8. An alternative way to share the spreadsheet is to simply click Copy Link in the Share dialog box, and share the link (e.g. via email) with only the people who you want to have access to the spreadsheet.

9. Choose to notify the people who you’re sharing a particular spreadsheet with by checking the box next to Notify People. You can also type a brief message to be included in the notification. Recipients will be notified via email.

*For most, the Notify People box is checked by default. Click the box to uncheck it if you do not wish to notify people that you’re sharing your spreadsheet with them.

10. Click Send to send the notifications and to complete the share process.

11. Once you’ve finished working on your spreadsheet for good or just for the time being, click the Sheets icon in the top left-corner of the screen to exit the spreadsheet and to go back to the Google Sheets home menu. You’ll always be able to access any document that you’re in the process of working on or that you have access to from the Google Sheets home menu.