5 Alternatives to Google Docs You Should Check Out

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Google Docs. I use it all the time for collaborations with people across the world. It is free, simple to use and as secure as any cloud app can be. But who doesn’t love choice? Who isn’t interested in seeing what else is out there and checking out the options? That’s why I put together this quick guide to five alternatives to Google Docs you should try.

Google Docs is great but basic. It is part of a generalist office suite that offers word processing, presentation, spreadsheet and a few other bits. Alongside Gmail, it provides a free, cloud-based suite for most high level document creation. For the individual or small business wanting to minimize costs, Google offers free access to these apps or a premium version for quite a low cost.

Not everyone likes putting their eggs all in one basket and trusting a single platform for everything. For others, including myself, the interface of Google Docs just isn’t nice to look at. We can live with it but if there is an alternative, I for one will try it. Whether it’s the huge phishing hack targeting Gmail and Google Docs users or the desire to see what else is out there, these five alternatives have you covered.

Microsoft Office Online

Let us get the big one out of the way first. Microsoft Office Online is a free, cloud-based version of the office suite. Different from Office 365 in that it more resembles an installed version of Office 2016, it has a free version of Word which competes directly with Google Docs.

You will need a Microsoft account to use it but once in, it is an analog of the installed office application that covers most document creation tasks.  If you also have OneDrive, you can integrate one with the other to upload, create, edit and save documents within the infrastructure. It apparently works with Dropbox too but I didn’t test that.

The main advantage with Word and Office Online is familiarity. If you have used Office 2016 or Office 365, you will be instantly familiar with this version as it is identical. Aside from a few more advanced document formatting and editing tools, it is very similar to the paid versions.

ONLYOFFICE

Despite thinking a product name looks good only in caps, ONLYOFFICE is a very viable alternative to Google Docs. I had not heard of it until it was suggested to me but I liked what I saw. Not only does it include a replacement for Docs in the snappily-titled ONLYOFFICE Document Editor, it also has alternatives for all other office apps and more. It has a working email platform, document management suite, CRM application and a whole lot more.

ONLYOFFICE is free for personal use but there are also paid-for versions with more features for enterprise. Just sign up for an account and you’re in. The cloud interface is familiar and you will feel right at home there. Document creation and editing is very similar to Microsoft Word and has the same document compatibility.

One other neat trick the platform has is two modes, Fast Mode shows real-time collaboration changes while Slow Mode waits until those changes have been saved before updating everyone. It’s a small thing but when you’re creating a document remotely, it can make a big difference.

Dropbox Paper

Dropbox Paper was another Google Docs alternative I had never heard of. I don’t have a Dropbox account any more, not since Google Drive began offering such generous amounts of storage for free. If you do have a Dropbox account, Dropbox Paper is worth checking out. It is a free app for individuals that contains most of the features of a word processor we look for.

The interface is minimalist to say the least but it does concentrate the mind on creation. It doesn’t have the same level of features as Word but has other tricks up its sleeve. Review features are more plentiful with much better comments and collaboration. Paper also supports code snippets, emoji and embedded media so makes creating interactive documents a breeze.

There is no telling how long Dropbox Paper will be around as the company’s product lineup is being radicalized right now. If it gains a large enough foothold it may stick around but for now, it is free and simple to use so is well worth checking out if you use Dropbox.

Zoho Writer

Zoho Writer is a well-known alternative to Google Docs. I have used this one before so can attest to its efficacy for teams and solo writing. It is part of a larger office suite that has been around for years. Based in India, Zoho has offered a free, online office suite that has provided viable alternatives to Office for a while now and doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.

Writer is a simple cloud-based document editor that is reminiscent of earlier versions of Microsoft Word. All of the commands are where you would expect, menus are similar but without the ribbon. It can work with .docx files from Word, is fully compatible with most formats and can also work with PDF files. There is a mobile version too if you create while on the move.

The app is free for individuals but there are premium accounts for enterprise or smaller businesses. Zoho Writer interacts with Dropbox and has a desktop client for most OS should you want to move from the cloud.

Quip

Quip was suggested by a buddy of mine who has a habit of trying out new applications. It is like a cross between Word or ONLYOFFICE Document Editor and Evernote. I feature it here because I think it has a very neat way of handling discussion. If you collaborate, rather than discussing through chat or email, use Quip and each document can include a threaded discussion within the app. This has huge scope for distributed teams and is the reason I feature it here.

It also uses proper version control which is of significant benefit to anyone who works within project management teams or in regulated industries. The interface is simple but effective. Document creation and editing is simple and documents are compatible with more formats. Quip is in the cloud but also provides a desktop client if you prefer.

Those are my five alternatives to Google Docs. Got any others to suggest?

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