Google Docs offer teams and colleagues around the world, the ability to collaborate on a project online seamlessly and efficiently. Work solo or simultaneously at any time of the day regardless of timezone.
“That’s pretty cool. What about the ability to communicate with one another? Are you subjected to just leaving comments?”
That’s one way of doing it. Not a very good way though. You could always just chat using an app or social media platforms like Slack or Facebook Messenger. They work and it’s very likely that everyone has a Facebook account. However, you can avoid all of that third-party, jumping around and get to chatting right there in the Google Doc.
“Google Docs has a chat function too?”
It does! Just open it up and get to typing. Prefer speech-to-text over the clickety-clacking sounds of your keyboard? So long as you have a microphone setup on your PC, it’s just a few easy steps to get you started.
Keep reading to find out how you can chat within a Google Doc.
Communicating Within Google Docs
Communication within a Google Doc is super easy to achieve without using an outside source or app. While working simultaneously with your workmates, you can pull up a chat box, type in the message, and send it out. Anyone currently working within the Doc will receive the same message as the chat function is used for open communication.
To begin using the chat function:
- Have the Google Doc open in front of you.
- You’ll also need someone else currently working on the Doc at the same time or the function will not be present for use. Anonymous viewers will not count as chat is only available to those of which the document was specifically shared.
- Located at the top-right of the window, click Chat.
- Enter whatever message you wish and hit the Send button or just press Enter.
- When you no longer need the chat function, click Close at the top-right corner of the chat window.
When you close the chat window, you are not yet removed from the chat itself. Messages will still be received as the conversations continue. Those users currently within the document that don’t have their chat window open will have a red dot appear over the Chat icon. This will indicate to them that someone has sent a message that they have not yet read. Those with the chat window open will receive messages as they are typed out.
Everyone currently logged into the Google Doc can see the messages. The only exception is those from anonymous accounts. They cannot see the chat nor those currently participating in a conversation.
Once you close the Google Doc or log off from it, they are automatically removed from the chat. If they were to come back into the document, all chat that had been received as well as all messages sent in their absence will not be visible.
Chats will not be saved nor is there a way to export them. If you’d like to keep an archive of previous chat sessions, you’ll need to do so by taking screenshots of the conversation. For those collaborating through the use of a mobile device, all you need to do is open the file. You can already chat without any extra steps.
In Google Docs, all you need is a working microphone and a PC to ditch the basic chat for the more hands-free speech-to-text option. You’ll be able to pause and resume dictation at any time through the use of verbal commands.
Before you get started:
- Make sure that your microphone is set up correctly and is fully operational.
- Currently, speech-to-text is only available to PC users and does not work from your mobile device.
- The function works best when your voice comes across clearly so ensure your work environment is free of unnecessary background noise.
What you’ll need to do to begin using speech-to-text:
- Open the Google Doc inside of the Chrome Browser.
- From the menu at the top, click on Tools and then Voice typing…
- A microphone box will appear if active. You’ll need to click it to enable your microphone to begin dictating speech-to-text.
- Speak clearly and at a normal pace so that the speech is easily picked up and error free.
- When finished with the dictation, click the microphone box again to close it off.
If at any time during your speech you feel that you made a mistake or stumbled over your words, you can use the mouse to correct it. Just move the cursor to where the mistake was made and fix it before turning off the mic.
Once the mistake has been corrected, to continue with the dictation, you can move the cursor back to where you left off.
Voice Commands & Punctuation
The use of voice commands is only available in English. Both the account language and the language for the Google Doc must also be set to English or it will not work. To see a full list of all the commands available, you can check out the official Help Center article  or speak “voice commands help” into your microphone while voice typing.
The commands available to you can assist you in editing and formatting the Google Doc as you use speech-to-text. You can also speak punctuation in order to place it where appropriate. A list of useable punctuation and command cues:
- Exclamation point
- Question mark
- New line
- New paragraph
Unable to Use the Chat Function
You and another user are both within the Google Doc and attempting to communicate, but for some reason, the Chat icon is nowhere to be found. This could be for a few different reasons:
- Beginning with the most unlikely possibility that you may be underage. Yes, you read that right. If you’re currently under thirteen years of age (discoverable through your Google Gmail account profile) the Chat feature is automatically turned off.
- As stated above, anonymous users cannot view or take part in the discussion on Google Docs. It may be that you are not logged into your Gmail account (or the incorrect one) or you’ve been removed from the project. Check the former before going crazy on the Doc owner for booting you without notice.
- An administrator can turn off the Chat feature if you’re currently working with G Suite. Will have to take it up with whoever runs your system’s security at work to get it enabled. It’s also possible to be invited to view a document by someone who currently uses G Suite where their admin has disabled Chat as well.