Google Sheets: Here is a guide for beginners

If you’ve heard of Google Sheets before, don’t hesitate to move on. If you’ve never heard of him, here is an intensive course on what you need to know. We will review the basics and explain what Google Sheets is and how you can start using it immediately.

Google Sheets is a free web-based spreadsheet program offered by Google as part of its complete office package. Google Drive, to compete with Microsoft Office. The other main services included in the cloud-based suite are Docs (Word) and Slides (Powerpoint).

Google Sheets is available on all devices and platforms; All you need is an internet connection and a web browser. In the case of mobile devices, they are the applications that are applied. Google does the rest and handles the worst part of the heavy work while running the software in the cloud.

Sheets supports several different types of files, including XLS, XLSX, XLSM, TXT, ODS and CSV, which makes it easy to view and convert Microsoft Office files directly from Google Drive.

And since Sheets is an online spreadsheet program, you can share and collaborate with several people on the same document, keeping track of revisions, changes and suggestions, all in real time.

How to sign up for an account

The first thing you should do before you can use Google Sheets is to sign up for a Google account; a @gmail account If you already have an account, feel free to move on to the next section. Otherwise, we will see the simple way to create a Google account and set it up with Sheets.

Go to, click “Create account” and then “For me.” Now, on the next page, you must provide certain information to create an account, such as name and surname, username and password. Also, you should verify your phone number to make sure you are a real human and not a bot.

After verifying your phone number, the following pages require that you provide a recovery email address, date of birth and sex, as well as that you accept the privacy statement and terms of service. Finish with that and you will be the proud new owner of a Google account.

How to create a blank spreadsheet

Now that you have a Google account, it’s time to create your first spreadsheet. Go to Google Sheets and place the cursor on the multicolored “+” icon in the lower right corner. The + symbol becomes a green pencil icon; You must click there.

You can also type in the address bar and press Enter. This to automatically create and open a new blank spreadsheet in the current tab.

How to import a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet

Even if you are completely new to Google Sheets, you may already have a reserve of Microsoft Excel files that you would like to use. If that is the case, then all you have to do is load all your Excel documents and Google does the rest.

While it may not be compatible with some of the more advanced functions and effects of some Excel spreadsheets, it works quite well and always adds more functions.

When you import an Excel document, you can use Google Sheets or Drive to upload your files. Both methods allow you to drag and drop a file from your computer directly into the web browser for easy loading.

Your unit hosts all your uploaded files, but for convenience, when you go to the Sheets homepage, it only shows spreadsheet-type files.

You must enter the Google Sheets homepage

From the Google Sheets homepage, click on the folder icon in the upper right corner, then click on the “Upload” tab. Now drag an Excel file from your computer. Once the Excel file is loaded, Sheets converts it and opens it automatically, ready for you to start editing, sharing and collaborating.

To open an Excel file that you want to edit and that is already loaded, click on the file with the green “X” next to the file name from your Google Sheets homepage. Click to view the Excel file or Edit in Sheets from the dialog that appears.

When you finish the document, you can download it in XLSX, ODS, PDF, HTML, CSV or TSV format. Click File and Download as. Then click on the desired format and it will be downloaded directly to where the files are saved from your browser.

How to collaborate on documents with other users

One of the best features of Google Sheets is the ability to generate a link that can be shared. In turn, it allows anyone to view, comment or edit your document. Instead of sending a file back and forth between collaborators, you can make edits and suggestions at the same time.

As if you were working on the same computer in real time. The only difference is that each person has their own text entry cursor to use on their personal computer.

From the document you want to share, click on the green «Share» button to choose how and with whom you want to send a link to your file. You can enter email addresses manually or click on “Get link to share” in the upper corner to deliver the invitation yourself.

You can grant privileges to other users

From the drop down menu, you can edit how much power users have on the file when you select one of these options:

  • Disabled: Sharing is disabled. If you have previously shared a link with others, it will no longer work and revoke the permissions they once had.
  • Anyone with the link can edit: Give shared users full read and write access. However, they still cannot remove it from your Drive, this is only for the content of the file.
  • Anyone with the link can comment: allow shared users to leave comments if they wish. This is ideal for team projects.
  • Anyone with the link can see: shared users can view the file, but cannot edit it in any way. This is the default action when you share a file. And the best option if you are trying to share a file to download.

Protect cells in shared sheets of the edition

The ability to share and collaborate on documents with Google Sheets is one of the best features, without a doubt. However, sometimes you want to maintain the integrity of certain cells and prevent someone from trying to alter them.

Therefore, if you have shared a spreadsheet with a group of people but want to prevent them from editing specific cells in the file. You may want to revoke your access to them.

Highlight all the cells you want to protect, then click on Data and then on Protect sheets and ranges from the toolbar. The Leaves and Protected Ranges panel appears on the right. Here, you can enter a brief description and then click on «Set permissions». To customize cell protection permissions.

By default, anyone who already has permission to edit the document can edit each cell on the page. Click on the “Restrict who can edit this range” drop-down menu and then click on “Custom” to set who has permission to edit the selected cells.

In the list of people who can edit, all the people with whom you have shared edit permissions are already selected by default. Deselect any person you don’t want to edit the selected cells and then click “Done.”

Every time someone tries to alter or edit the cells you just protected, they will see a message informing you that the cells and sheets cannot be edited.

How to use Google sheets offline

What happens if you need to access Google Sheets but don’t have an internet connection? Although Sheets is a web-based product, that doesn’t mean you can’t use it offline.

You must download an extension for Chrome and make sure you enable the file for offline use beforehand. Any changes you make to the file will be updated the next time you connect to the internet.

After downloading the official Chrome extension, go to the Google Sheets homepage and in the upper left corner, click on the menu and then on Settings. Once here, change «Offline» to the On position and then click «OK».

To save storage space on your local machine, Google only downloads and makes the files you have accessed most recently available offline. To manually enable a file, click on the three-dot icon, then activate the “Available offline” option.

Now, click on the three points in the file you want to access offline, then change the option “Available offline” to the On position.

Explore the best Google Sheets add-ons

Now that you’ve learned all the basics of Google Sheets, you can become a true advanced user with the addition of add-ons. The add-ons are very similar to extensions for web browsers, but they are specific to Google Sheets and allow you to obtain additional features from external developers.

You can install tools to search for data and calculate formulas automatically, “Deliver documents” to students, generate business reports and even send emails directly from a document.