8 essential add-ons for Google Docs and Sheets

Give Google's cloud-based office apps some extra oomph with these eight essential add-ons

Filling in the gaps in Google Docs and Sheets

Filling in the gaps in Google Docs and Sheets

Google's cloud-centric office suite has come a long way over the years -- but for anyone whose needs stretch beyond the most basic word processing and spreadsheet editing functions, Docs and Sheets can at times leave something to be desired.

Lightweight as they may be, Google's Web programs are fully expandable via third-party apps -- a capability that's somewhat hidden and easily overlooked. If you've always wished Docs or Sheets would gain some feature that's currently M.I.A., there's a decent chance you can make it happen with the right add-on.

Here are eight worthwhile additions that fill in the gaps and make Google Docs and Sheets more powerful.

(Note that these apps all install directly into your Docs or Sheets account and function fully in the cloud. Consequently, they should work on any browser and from any computer at which you're signed in.)

Lucidchart Diagrams

Lucidchart Diagrams

Google Docs doesn't have its own tool for creating charts and diagrams, but an app called Lucidchart Diagrams is ready to fill the void. Lucidchart's drag-and-drop interface makes it simple to build everything from flowcharts to Venn diagrams and even floor plans. All you have to do is pull up the app from Docs, select what you want to make from its template gallery, and once you've finished putting your graphic together, add it directly into your document.

Lucidchart offers a limited free trial that allows you to create charts for up to five Google Docs documents. If you want to continue using the service beyond that point, you'll have to pony up for a paid plan; those are sold via subscriptions that start at about $40 per year.

Change Case

Change Case

As far as basic word processing functions go, Docs is reasonably full-featured, but one elementary option that's bafflingly absent is the ability to change the case of a selected block of text. If you want to transform a sentence into all uppercase, all lowercase, or all sentence case, you're all out of luck.

The aptly named Change Case changes that: Add the app into Docs, and it'll give you a new menu option to shift any text into whatever styling you might need.

Doesn't get much easier than that -- and BoY, ARe We GLAd.

Envelopes

Envelopes

A case-changing feature isn't the only thing oddly missing from the native Docs arsenal. Also absent is a function for printing properly formatted envelopes -- which you'd think any word processor worth its salt would offer. Don't worry your dreamy little face, though: An add-on called Envelopes -- a fitting name if I've ever heard one -- has you covered.

Envelopes adds an option into the Docs menu structure to turn your current document into a print-ready envelope. You select the envelope size from a list of standard options, input your text into the appropriate places, and -- ta-da! -- you're ready to roll.

But don't get confused and lick the screen. Seriously -- nothing good can come from that. (Er, that's what I've heard, anyway.)

Avery Label Merge

Avery Label Merge

If you're looking to print a full sheet of labels, the Avery Label Merge app for Google Docs is exactly what the Doc ordered. Label Merge lets you select from a list of common label-sheet formats -- technically tied to Avery brand products but also supported by most other label manufacturers -- and pull over data from a Google Sheets spreadsheet and have it placed into a print-ready page.

Peel, stick, celebrate. You're welcome.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Ever find yourself working on a gigantic document and wishing you had a quick way to navigate to different sections? Meet Table of Contents. The free app gives you a sidebar with automatically generated links to all the headings in your document. Click on any of the links, and you'll be taken directly to that area of the text.

Table of Contents uses text formatted with a "heading" setting -- "Heading 1," "Heading 2," and so forth -- to identify index-worthy points. All you have to do is make sure you use one of those settings for your headers, and the app will take care of the rest.

Split Names

Split Names

Sometimes the simplest things prove to be the most useful. Split Names is an app that performs one very specific function and performs it well: It takes a column of names from a Google Sheet spreadsheet and splits it into multiple columns -- you could have all the first names from your spreadsheet in one column and all the last names in a different column.

The app lets you specify if your column has a header, which keeps it from accidentally sorting that layer of data. It also lets you select whether your data includes middle names along with salutations and suffixes, so any such info will be split apart and sorted properly if present.

Remove Blank Rows

Remove Blank Rows

Any guesses what this app does? Anyone? Bueller?

All right, all right, I'll tell you: Remove Blank Rows -- wait for it -- removes blank rows from your Google Sheets spreadsheets. It may sound silly, but if you have a gigantic database with blank rows scattered throughout, it could be the time-saver you need.

The app searches your sheet for rows without content, then -- with a single click of your mouse -- zaps 'em all to hell and condenses your data.

Add it to your Google Sheets toolbox now; you never know when it might come in handy.

Add Rows And Columns

Add Rows And Columns

Another one for the oh-so-obvious file, the Add Rows And Columns app allows you to -- you guessed it, Sherlock -- add any number of rows or columns to your Google Sheets spreadsheets in one fell swoop.

Lest you think that's a strange thing for an app to do, remember that Sheets provides the ability to insert new rows and columns only one at a time. If you're trying to add a large number of rows or columns at once, it can get tedious fast. (You can, of course, add as many rows to the end of a spreadsheet as you like in one fell swoop natively with Sheets.)

In addition to the oh-so-obvious file, we should probably file this one under "Filling In Obvious Gaps In Functionality." As this list of applications reminds us, that's a critical file to keep full.