What I dislike about Google Docs (and what I like about it)

March 14, 2023 • 2 min read

I use Google Docs every day at work to communicate with various groups of people. It’s a very effortless tool to start writing and share the output with whoever I want once I’m finished. But it definitely lacks a few critical features that hinder my productivity.

What I like: Convenience and Collaboration

Google Docs makes it easy to write and share documents with others and to invite them to review and collaborate.

  • It’s super simple to share a document with someone, a specific team or group of people, an organization, or the entire internet. Plus I can set different access levels for each person. This way, no one would accidentally edit the document, when they are just invited to provide their feedback and comments.
  • Speaking of comments, Google Docs makes it very convenient for other people to select a part of the text and leave their comments. Everyone then can reply to the original comment and start having a conversation around that specific selected text without cluttering up the original text.

What I dislike: Findability

Writing awesome docs is just half of the equation, and if I (or any other person) can’t find it later, I’ll be less motivated to spend time and effort writing a similar masterpiece next time. I wish Google Docs allowed me to:

  • Filter the search results. It comes with basic search functionality to look for all the documents that contain some specific keywords and leaves me with a list of titles at the end. It doesn’t let me filter by author, commenters, creation date, or almost anything else.
  • Add some metadata to each document and filter by them later on. I could add tags like type: meeting-note or status: draft to a document to be able to find it more easily next time. This would also be helpful when I want to share the list of documents that author in [person a, person b] and project = X and status = published with the stakeholders of Project X.
  • See each document’s backlinks. Google Docs has a handy feature for linking to another document by typing @ and searching for the title or just pasting the link to the document. But it misses the other side of the linking and doesn’t provide a way to know which documents are linking back to the current one. This is a key feature of PKM tools like Obsidian and Logseq. With a list of backlinks for each document, we could see where people are referencing our RFCs and guides. This gives us a much better idea of who are the actual audience and users of our documents, instead of guessing it or relying solely on our own perception.

Also I would love to use Google Docs in dark mode. Please!

About me

I'm a data scientist based in Amsterdam, currently working at Spotify.

I work on projects aimed at enhancing the productivity and experience of developers, using research and data analysis to inform our platform strategies.

When I'm not working, I enjoy pursuing personal side projects, playing tennis, and taking photos.

Please get in touch!

I love helping others, and if you have a project or career question that I might be able to assist with, feel free to reach out to me. Whether you're interested in collaborating on one of my open ideas or need feedback on something you're making, I'm always happy to chat. Don't hesitate to drop me an email or connect with me on Twitter.

Saeed Esmaili

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