How to import Microsoft Office files in Google Docs

Web apps don’t really compare to desktop apps when it comes to features. This is because they rely on your browser and its capabilities to work. Even through browsers continue to improve with each version, they still can’t run desktop apps. That said, web apps aren’t useless and are in fact very capable. Google Docs and Google’s entire productivity suite is a good example of this. Google Doc can open most other document file formats for editing. Here’s how you can open Microsoft Office files in Google Docs.

To be clear, you will open a Microsoft Word document in Google Docs, an Excel sheet in Google Sheets, and a PowerPoint presentation in Slides. The formatting, for the most part, will remain as it is though for presentations, you might lose some audio or video files. For Excel files, you may not be able to execute a function if Google Sheets doesn’t support it.

Microsoft Office files in Google Docs

The trick to opening Microsoft office files in Google Docs is in Google Drive. Google Drive allows you to upload any and all types of files. For many files, Google Drive lets you preview them and open them in other web apps, including one of the many Google apps.

Open Google Drive and click the New button on the left. Select File Upload and then select the document, spreadsheet, or presentation that you want to open. Allow it to upload to Google Drive. Once the upload completes, click the file to get a preview.

At the top of the preview window, you will see an Open With option. Click the dropdown next to it and pick the app, in this case Google Docs, to open the file in.

If the file you uploaded was a spreadsheet, you will have to pick Google Sheets from the menu and if it was a presentation, you will have to pick Google Slides.

Once the files import, you will be able to edit them. The files aren’t uploaded as snapshots. The text and images are all directly editable however, they will save as a copy. The original Microsoft Office file will not be changed. Google Docs cannot save the edits to the same file however, once you’ve made all the edits to it that you want, you can save it as a separate DOCX or XLSX or PPTX file from the File menu.

If during the import process, you lose some data, try adding it directly to the document that you have open in Google Docs and then saving it.

Read How to import Microsoft Office files in Google Docs by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to record screencasts with Chrome

Screencasting tools have become quite common. A good tool with advanced recording features is likely to be paid with the exception of OBS which has every feature you can imagine and is still free. If you need a more general solution for recording your screen, you can use Chrome. Out of the box, you cannot record screencasts with Chrome but the feature can be added with an extension called Aperture – Simple Screen Video Recorder.

Screencasts with Chrome

Install Aperture – Simple Screen Video Recorder from the Chrome Web Store. The extension has three recording modes; full screen recording, app window, or a particular tab. Click the extension’s icon next to the URL bar and from the window that opens, select what you want to record. Click the ‘Share’ button to start recording.

The extension will not be sharing your screen anywhere. If you’re worried that it is, turn on Airplane mode and then use it.

Click Stop Sharing to end the recording.

Once the recording completes, the extension needs to finalize it. When it does, it will open a new tab where you can watch the screencast and save it. If you want to watch it right away, click the extension’s icon after completing a recording.

By default, the video is saved in WebM format and this isn’t a commonly supported format in popular video editors. Aperture – Simple Screen Video Recorder also supports saving in MP4 and it lets you choose the quality of the recording. To manage the recording settings, right-click the extension’s icon next to the URL bar and select Options from the context menu.

Aperture – Simple Screen Video Recorder can record in normal, high, or best quality. There’s no ‘low’ quality setting that you can choose. If you decide to record in the best quality that is available, your video’s size will be much larger and it will take longer to finalize.

While Aperture – Simple Screen Video Recorder is a browser based tool and will be less resource hungry than a desktop screencasting tool, it will nevertheless take a toll on your system. It doesn’t help that Chrome has become something of a sponge when it comes to RAM. If you have a particularly old system, you might be better off with a desktop solution instead of one that requires Chrome to work.

The extension works great otherwise. The screencasts do not include any audio so if you need to add it, you will have to do so in post production.

Read How to record screencasts with Chrome by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to get desktop alerts for Gmail messages in your browser

Many people use email with a desktop email client. This is despite the fact that most email services have a more or less functioning web interface that can be used to send and receive email. One major reason for using desktop email clients is that they often have more features. You don’t have to rely on the email service to provide a certain feature e.g. filters, if you use Outlook which provides them by default. Additionally, desktop email clients can also deliver alerts for new messages straight to your desktop. If your primary reason for using a desktop client is alerts, and you use Gmail, you can get desktop alerts for Gmail messages by enabling a little setting.

Desktop alerts for Gmail messages

Open Gmail and click the cog wheel button under your profile picture at the top right. From the menu that opens, select Settings.

Scroll through the settings on the General tab and you will see a section called ‘Desktop Notifications’. Select the ‘New Mail notifications on’ option, and scroll to the end to save the new setting.

This is one part of setting up alerts for Gmail messages. The second is to allow the website to show you notifications via your browser and then to allow your browser to show you desktop notifications via your OS’ built-in notifications system.

To enable notification for the Gmail website, go to the site settings in your browser. Allow Gmail to show notifications. Next, allow your browser, whichever you use, to show notifications.

On Windows 10, you can allow a browser to show notifications from the Settings app. Open the Settings app and go to the System group of settings. Select the Notifications & actions tab. Scroll through the list of installed apps and when you find your browser, allow it to show you notifications.

As far as customizing notifications is concerned, you don’t have a lot of options when you use this method to get them. You’re restricted to using the default notification settings that your OS has to offer and you will find that they pale in comparison to what desktop email clients have to offer.

It’s obvious why users may prefer to use a desktop email client but in a pinch, or when you don’t want to configure your Gmail account to the same email client that you use for work, this is a neat way to get desktop alerts for Gmail messages.

Read How to get desktop alerts for Gmail messages in your browser by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to watch Netflix in Picture-in-picture mode in Chrome

Chrome recently added a new picture-in-picture mode feature that, in theory, allows you to watch any media player in a floating frame on your desktop. The frame can detach itself from a Chrome window and be positioned anywhere on your screen. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work on all websites as Google intended it to. This may have to do with how the media player is implemented on a web page. If you like to watch Netflix in Chrome, and you’d like to use the picture-in-picture mode for it, you’ll find that it simply doesn’t work. Luckily, there’s a simple enough work around to watch Netflix in Picture-in-picture mode in Chrome.

Netflix in Picture-in-picture mode

If you want to watch Netflix in picture-in-picture mode in Chrome, you need to install an extension called Picture-in-Picture Extension (by Google) which, as its name implies, has been developed by Google for stubborn pages and media players like Netflix.

Install the extension and then play something on Netflix. Click the extension’s icon next to the URL bar, and the Netflix player will switch to picture-in-picture mode.

You can drag the player to any part of the screen and it will always be pinned to the top of all other windows.

Chrome isn’t the only browser that supports a Picture-in-picture mode. Safari added it before Chrome did so if you’re on macOS, check if Safari is able to show the player in picture-in-picture mode. Likewise, if you’re on Windows 10, a much easier way to watch Netflix in Picture-in-picture mode is to use the official Netflix app which supports the mini player.

If you do not want to use the official Netflix app, and you don’t want to use Chrome either, you might want to look at an app called PiP tool. If you use a VPN to watch Netflix and the service forces you to use an obscure browser or one that offers better privacy than Chrome, the PiP tool is a reasonably good alternative.

Picture-in-picture mode has always been popular, especially for users who tend to multi-task. With the popularity of services like Netflix, and the average screen size for desktops clearly getting bigger and better, this mode is going to be of more interest to people as a means to binge on a show while doing something else.

Chrome’s inability to support this mode for Netflix out of the box may have to do with the fact that content on Netflix is protected or it might just be how the player is implemented. Regardless, there’s a perfectly practical solution to it.

Read How to watch Netflix in Picture-in-picture mode in Chrome by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to disable add-on suggestions in the URL bar in Firefox

Privacy appears to have become something of a foreign concept to Mozilla in some areas. A while back, Firefox  began showing ads on the new tab page which users weren’t at all happy about. Now, it appears that the browser is giving add-on suggestions in the URL bar. If you navigate to a website and the Firefox add-on market place happens to have a particularly popular add-on built for the website, you will get a suggestion to download it. Here’s how you can disable add-on suggestions in Firefox.

Disable add-on suggestions

Open Firefox and on the new tab page, click the cog wheel button at the top right of the page. This will take you to Firefox’s options. On the Option’s page, the General tab will be selected by default. Scroll down to the ‘Browsing’ section and disable the ‘Recommend extensions as you browse’ option. That should do the trick.

I don’t know if this is a new feature or a somewhat old one since Firefox isn’t my default browser. I use it for certain things that I don’t want to use Chrome (my default browser) for. This was my first time seeing the suggestion and what was particularly off-putting was the fact that I had actually been looking the exact add-on that Firefox suggested, in Chrome. Maybe it was coincidence, or maybe the add-on is just insanely popular, or maybe every single data sharing conspiracy theory ever is correct but seeing the suggestion was unnerving.

Firefox is advertising add-ons and assuming users are okay with it much like it did when it began advertising services on the new tab page. With add-ons, they are mostly developed by third-party developers and not by Mozilla so no matter how you look at it, it is a sort of ad. Perhaps Mozilla isn’t getting money for it like it wasn’t getting money for the ads on the new tab page but that hardly matters.

The suggestion appears as an alert in the URL bar and if you click it, it expands into an alert box that can redirect you to the suggested add-on. Even if Mozilla isn’t getting money for showing these suggestions, it is nevertheless putting developers who have just developed and released new add-ons at a disadvantage. The ‘feature’ puts a spotlight on add-ons that are already popular. Much like Apple’s App Store where most apps struggle to be discovered or seen, this makes it difficult for newer add-ons to be visible.

Read How to disable add-on suggestions in the URL bar in Firefox by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter