Google Sheets Instead of Excel

So our last post was some Excel tips. Today we're suggesting Google Sheets instead of Excel. Everyone with a rental machine has Microsoft access. Everyone with a Salvation Army email address has access to G-Suite (formerly called Google Apps). 

This is based on an article we found (link at the bottom of this post) that talked about things you can do with Google Sheets that you can't do with Excel. Our top 3 are:

  1. Mobile Access - Google Sheets on your phone (or tablet) is really good. Oh and if you're storing data in Google Drive then everything is accessible on your phone the same way it is at your computer.
  2. Revision History - This lets you go back in time to see what has changed in your spreadsheet and you can get *really* granualar if necessary. This is particularly helpful if you are sharing the sheet with anybody else.
  3. Collaborate in Real Time - You can work on the same spreadsheet as someone else (or multiple someone elses) without any issues with conflicts or versions. This is possible even from your mobile phone!

For more things Google Sheets can do that Excel doesn't (like GOOGLE TRANSLATE) refer to the article here.

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Google Keep

Here's a few notes from Google on how to use Google Keep.

Hope it's useful to you. Just another app readily available for you to use within the TSA environment.

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Skype and HangOuts

Ever find yourself having to call ISG because your Skype messaging software needs an update?

We know this can be frustrating as a lot of people are part of mixed committees or groups that occasionally need to video conference or chat online both inside and outside of The Salvation Army.

Obviously the last thing you want when your meeting is about to start is to find out that your software is out of date and your Skype app will not open!

To prevent this from becoming an issue in the future, ISG has TWO answers ☺

Did you know that if you use ‘Skype for Web’ you will never need a software update again for your chat or video conferencing? This is especially useful for people who need to chat online between different organisations as well as different locations, just go to and log in using your normal Skype username and password. 

Skype was bought by Microsoft a while back and is therefore now a Microsoft product, so in my opinion it’s probably best to try using it with Internet Explorer first, which is also a Microsoft product.


In most cases your Skype access is managed and maintained by you, the user. Any support issues should be directed to Skype’s technical support pages.


Option two is to use Google Hangouts, which is also web browser  based – you can use Chrome or Firefox, just go to and log in with your Salvation Army email address and password.

Many of our TSA apps and resources are designed with Google and Google Chrome in mind, so using a Chrome app like Hangouts is a good way to keep in touch with people the same way you used Sametime messaging. An added advantage of using Hangouts is that you can do more than just type messages to each other, you can make video calls, internet phone calls, and even share your screen with others in training scenarios (think ‘virtual classroom’).

Simply log into Google hangouts from any web browser on any internet connected device!


As always, if you need further assistance with this, feel free to log a ticket through Supportal.

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Google Sheets

Google Sheets is an app that lets you create and manage spreadsheets, even those created in Microsoft Excel. It is available with your account and with Google Drive PLUS there is an app for your phone (or tablet) making it possible to work wherever you are (which *may* be a good thing).

Google Sheets is very similar to Microsoft Excel, but may appear to be missing some features. Most of the time they just are in a different place or have a different name. Sometimes there are features missing because Google Sheets is a lot younger than Microsoft Office.

Google are committed to Google Sheets (and the entire G-Suite platform - a competitor to Microsoft Office) and are constantly updating all of the apps. Google Sheets is no different and not that long ago they added number of features. We think the most helpful of these new features is rotate text.

Check out the updates and all about rotate text here: GoogleSheets/Updates 

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Opening an *.rtf in a chromebook

With the increase of chromebook use within The Salvation Army, there are a number of queries about how to do different things within this new environment. 

If you have such queries, feel free to log a ticket with iSG in Supportal.

One question we have received is with regard opening *.rtf files. An *.rtf file is a Rich Text Format file. It is commonly used for files that have text, and it is compatible on most text viewing/editing programs.

To open an *.rtf attachment from your webmail follow the following steps:

  1. Click on the file that you would like to view. The file will download when you click on it. It should appear on the downloads bar at the bottom of your browser. If it doesn’t appear, it will be in your Downloads folder when you click on the Files icon. Please do not open the file after it has downloaded. You will receive an error.
  2. Next you will want to move the file into your Google Drive. To do this, you can open Google Drive and upload the file, or you can click­ and ­drag on the file to move it into Google Drive.
  3. To Upload:
    1. Go to your Google Drive and look for the upload icon.
    2. When you click on it,
    3. choose Files…
    4. Select the .rtf file
    5. and click Open.
  4. Once the file is in your Google Drive:
    1. Check the box next to it.
    2. Click on the button titled, More.
    3. Click on Open with.
    4. Select Google Docs. Your file should open in a new Google Doc.
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Google Drive Shortcuts

Did you know there are some keyboard shortcuts to help you quickly complete tasks in Google Drive? Just like their Windows counterparts learning these can simplify and speed up file management tasks! Here are some keyboard shortcuts in no particular order:

n – Rename a file/folder

You're probably right-clicking a file/folder then selecting Rename. A single keystroke of n when you have a file selected automatically opens the rename window.

z – Move a file/folder

Moving a file or folder in Drive is an important tool for staying organized. Select the file or folder and hit the z key, and it’ll open up a window where you can decide where you’d like to move it.

. – Share a file/folder

Again you're probably clicking to do this! Why not just press . when you've selected the file or folder? It will open the share dialog window for you!

s – Put a Star on a file or folder

Putting a star on a file or folder is one way you can organise your files. Files with are star are found by clicking on the “Starred” list on the left-hand side of the screen of Drive. So stop right-clicking on the file to add a Star. Simply hit the s key to add (or remove) a Star!


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Google Docs #7

Do you create documents that are going to be printed and have people fill them in? Maybe they're activity sheets, or you're collecting information from a group of people.

Whatever the reason Google Docs lets you create BOXES so you have really good looking printed documents for people to work with. All you're doing is creating a table and adding borders (so this is both a great tip on adding boxes AND using tables to format your document)!

Learn more here.

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Google Docs #6

Are you using Google Docs to keep track of minutes during a meeting? If not, you may want to consider it. Everyone in the meeting can collaborate on the document and edit it live. This means you get better minutes that are more accurate and you don't need to send them out later to be checked!

Meetings usually result in actions, and sometimes the actions are for people who weren't at the meeting. Google Docs makes that a really simple thing to achieve! Directly in the Google Doc you can assign actions and the person will be notified AND be able to put the information directly into the document!

Learn more here.

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Google Docs #5

Hopefully you knew that in Google Docs you can talk instead of type. If you didn't you can learn a little about it at this blog post: Dictate that Document. However, the great thing about Google products is the keep on improving and getting new features all the time!

Want to highlight that sentence you just spoke? Say highlight yellow! Are you reviewing somebody elses document and want to add a comment, say insert comment then make your comment. You can even align text and add columns, with your voice!  

Learn more by going here.

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Google Docs #4

Another tip that is actually a Chrome tip but is related to writing which is why I'm posting it as part of the Google Docs series. 

Grammarly is a Chrome extension that revises text you type in Chrome. It suggests corrections for you to make to your spelling and your grammar, and it even provides an explanation for you with alternative options to chose from. To learn how to use the extension, watch the video above and follow the steps here.

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Google Docs #3

Copious amounts of our communication are written. While we need to communicate in plain English, some words are superior in their ability to convey a message. Todays tip is actually about Google Chrome (the browser), but we think you'll like it when you need to write!

Callow. Firebrand. Harangue. Excoriate. Schadenfreude. Sangfroid. Do you know what these words mean?

With the Magoosh Chrome extension, you learn a new word in every new Chrome tab you open. The interface is super simple, making learning new words very easy–you’ll learn new words without even thinking about it. Check it out by clicking hither.

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Google Docs #2

Every feel as though you repeat a word repeatedly in a sentence, or document because you can't think of another word for repeat? You probably already know about a thesaurus BUT they struggle with phrases such as "look down on" or plurals like "runners" and are hopeless. 

Computers are supposed to be smart and AI (artificial intelligence) means computers are doing smarter things all the time. Why not use some of those smarts to help you out when you don't really want to "look down on" something?

Add the Google Docs Thesaurus Pro add-on to find different ways of communicating. For instructions go here.

Oh and a bonus tip if you love etymology, in Google type etymology before a word and learn all about the origin of the word:


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Google Docs #1

Google Docs is available to us all using an login. It is a really capable product and continues to get better everyday. The next few posts provide information on some really great things you can do in Google Docs!


Word clouds are a really neat way to capture the essence of a piece of text. Or you can do what I did to create the above example and just type a few words over and over (well I only type each word once then used <CTRL>+<C> and <CTRL>+<V>) to create a simple word cloud.

For instructions on how to make Word Clouds in Google Docs look here.

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Google Docs - there's more

At various times when talking to you, our users, about the features of Google Apps, we have mentioned that there are some features found in the Microsoft Office equivalent that may not be available in Google Apps.

We have also mentioned that the way Google works is that, because its based on the web, updates can happen without you even noticing, and so although today what one asks for may not be available, tomorrow it may.

One of the features people have asked particularly with regards Google Docs is the ability to create Columns, and we are thrilled to let you all know that this now exists!!  You can now easily split your document into multiple columns in Docs. Just choose “Columns” in the “Format” drop-down menu when you need more formatting options to get your point across.

Of course, if there is a feature you can't find within the app, search the "Add-Ons" menu to see if you can find what you need.  Google work with a number of other companies who may have created just what you are looking for and through the Add-Ons menu its there waiting for you to install it.  You don't even need ISG for this!!  Just find the Add-On, add it, and get on with using it.

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Google Docs

Google Docs is similar to Microsoft Word. One of the big advantages of it is that you don't need to install it. You can access it from within a browser (Chrome works best). In addition to this it makes it really simple to review, edit, and create documents on your smartphone (or tablet). It 

If you usually work on a document with someone else, or need to get it reviewed by someone then Google Docs has a live collaboration feature that saves lots of time! Live collaboration works whether you're in the office or at the beach, on your laptop or your smartphone! It works pretty much anywhere! 

Google Docs can also eliminate the need to email attachments to people. You can just let them access the file (with full control over the permissions they have). In short Google Docs is a word processor designed to work with the devices and environment that we have.

To read more check out this blog: or try it out for yourself at using your account. Once logged in click on big blue NEW button (as per the screen shot below):


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Google Apps

With your Google account you get much more than just access to Google Drive. We're able to use Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Hangouts, Keep, Forms, and much much more. Over the next few posts, we want to talk a little about Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. 

Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides and apps designed to achieve similar outcomes to Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, and Powerpoint). Microsoft Office was built in the 1980's to help workplaces go from typewriters and ledger books to electronic records. Microsoft really aimed to reproduce the 1980's manual tools we had on computers (and did very well at this).

Google Apps by contrast, were developed in the mid-2000's and are aimed to harness the technology that is now commonplace. Internet access, mobile phones, access to work outside of the office. This is a big advantage to the Salvation Army as we are more and more mobile and less and less confined to a single office to undertake our jobs.

You can check out the Google Apps at and signing in with your email address (make certain it is, then click on the stack of dots circled in the screenshot below. From here you can launch and try Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides.


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Another Paperless Working Tip

In addition to using Drive to distribute files you can use Google Apps to create the files in the first place. This makes it possible for you to create new documents right in a browser on ANY computer you're in front of WITHOUT Office needing to be installed.

Better than that is once you have created a Doc, spreadsheet or presentation, you can share it with people and they can add comments or even (if you allow them) edit it directly! No more waiting for people to email you edits then you making them yourself. 

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Dictate that Document

Sometimes it is easier to talk than to type. Don't you wish you could do this? Well, Google Docs lets you do that and it is incredibly accurate. How? Login to Google Apps with your account then select Google Docs.

Now click on Tools / Voice Typing.


You may be prompted to allow Google to use your microphone and you will have to agree to this (this only needs to happen once). Then you're ready to tap on the microphone, and dictate that document!


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Corps/Centre Calendar using Google Calendars

With the introduction of Google apps to TSA, one of the apps that may be very useful to Corps and centres is the Google Calendar.

Did you know that within the Calendar you are able to create a publically shared calendar.  This could be useful to Corps who wish to share the upcoming events to their congregation, but also really useful to set up for a team you may manage to share overall events that the team need to be aware of (eg. staff on leave).

To create this "shared" Calendar, simply:

  1. login to Google with your TSA account (ie. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) ;
  2. then in Google Drive, select the b2ap3_thumbnail_GApps1.JPGicon on top right corner of window;
  3. select Google Calendar b2ap3_thumbnail_GApps2.JPG and your calendar will appear;
  4. On the left hand side column you can select the drop down arrow next to "My calendars", then "Create a new calendar".  b2ap3_thumbnail_GApps3.JPG
  5. Fill in the necessary information on screen and then "Create Calendar".  If you are creating this to share with external emails (i.e. not TSA emails) then ensure when you select "Share this calendar with others" that the box marked "Make this calendar public" is ticked and that the selection is to "See all event details".  This allows you to share it withb2ap3_thumbnail_GApps4.JPG
  6. Under "Share with specific people", you can then select who you wish to share the calendar with by typing their email address and selecting the appropriate permission settings.

You can always go back to share the calendar with more people if you wish to, or to manage any required removals etc. 

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Mobile Access to Google Drive

So you're out of the office and you need to see a file but you don't have your laptop and you're not going to be back at the office today. Or maybe something urgent has come up and somebody has shared a file with you but you're travelling and only have your mobile phone.

You CAN access your Google Drive (including the AODocs based centre folder) from your mobile phone (or a tablet)! You don't even need to have set it up before you leave the office, you can install the app anywhere you have an internet connection (so anywhere that your mobile phone has reception)! We do recommend you install apps (and application updates) when connected to WiFi to preserve your mobile data. 

Start by installing the Google Drive app: then sign in with your Salvation Army Google account and see your Google Drive folders.

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Mission Opportunities

Check out our latest job vacancies (we also refer to these as 'mission opportunities') and see if there's a possible place for you.

Digital Connect Update

Please see the "Notification Bar" on the Support portal for any updates related to connection issues Digital Connect are aware of and working on.

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