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

2023-03-14 • 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!