DECEMBER 2012: If you’re still emailing updated files between frogs working on the same project, you’re missing out on one of the most time-saving advancements of cloud computing. Online editors allow you to easily create, share and store your word processing documents, spreadsheets, presentations and other file types using cloud-based software.
As soon as you share the file’s link, your collaborators can begin working with you in the same document immediately. In real-time. For free. No more emailed versions to keep track of!
Here are three full-featured, cloud-based online editors (plus two super-simple services) that let you leap into online document collaboration:
Fortunately for productivity-minded frogs like you, two tech giants are competing for your loyalty and have worked out previous bugs. Google Drive and Microsoft SkyDrive are reliable, secure services that include real-time online editing as part of their cloud storage offerings. Just create an account and get going.
Zoho is another popular cloud productivity suite. When you share files using any of these services, you and your collaborators can each work on them at your convenience and changes are updated immediately and automatically.
Or you can take it to the next level by working on the same files simultaneously in real time.
You can watch them make their changes and they can watch you make yours — hopping collaboration! Prefer a previous version? No problem — just retrieve it. Versions are tracked and saved, including information about who made modifications and when. Want to chat about what you’re doing or add comments for your collaborators? Use the built-in chat and comments features within each file. All three services launch on the web, Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Android devices, so you can access your files pretty much anywhere and with whichever device you choose.
In SkyDrive, you create and work directly in Microsoft Office Web Apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote) and get 7GB free storage. In Google Drive, you create and work in Google Docs (Document, Spreadsheet, Presentation, Form, Drawing and others) and get 5GB free storage. Google docs can be downloaded as Office files, and so can Zoho files. Zoho only comes with 1GB free personal storage, however.
All services have pricing plans that allow you to purchase more storage space so you can have one central place to upload and store all related files — documents, photos, PDFs, spreadsheets and others. Be aware that uploaded files can be opened and viewed but they’re not editable like the files created within the online platform.
Already using an approved collaboration tool at work? These services are totally appropriate for families and groups of all kinds. And if you just want to create and edit an online document super-quickly, try TitanPad or the more rudimentary QikPad. They’re so easy, even a tadpole could use them!