Google Spreadsheets is the new web-based spreadsheet from the folks behind the web’s most popular search engine. Google Spreadsheets offers many of the same features as the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet program, but is run over the web—and is totally free.
Getting to Know Google Spreadsheets
Google Spreadsheets is part of the Google Docs & Spreadsheets online application, which also includes a web-based word processor. You sign up for and access Google Spreadsheets at spreadsheets.google.com. Once you’ve signed up, you see a blank spreadsheet in your web browser, ready for you to use.
At first glance, Google Spreadsheets looks like every other spreadsheet you’ve ever seen, from VisiCalc and Lotus 1-2-3 to Microsoft Excel. The spreadsheet itself is a grid of cells in a row-and-column format. You can enter numbers, words, formulas, functions—you name it—into any cell, and then format each cell as you like. And, as with Excel, you can have multiple sheets in each spreadsheet.
The most unique thing about Google Spreadsheets is that it’s all web-based. The application and all your spreadsheets reside on Google’s server, not on your computer. What’s nice about this is that your spreadsheets can be accessed wherever you are, from any PC; you’ll never discover that the spreadsheet you need is located on your office PC when you’re at home or away. Also useful is that, with web-based spreadsheets, you can share your spreadsheets with others. That makes workgroup collaboration possible, which is something you don’t have with Excel and other spreadsheet programs.
The other thing that’s unique about Google Spreadsheets is that it’s available free of charge, unlike the increasingly expensive Microsoft Excel. Being free makes it easy to take for a test drive, and even easier to add to your bag of applications.