Working from the idea that an email can sometimes contain the information you need to start a new document, Google has made the link between the two that much easier. Instead of having to copy and paste (or go through more complex acrobatics), the lazy ones around us just need to click on one link in Gmail: “Create a document”.
Activating the Create a Doc function
As with all Google Labs features, you have to go into your Gmail settings to activate it first, before you will see a link next to your email messages like in the picture above. Once you are in settings, click on the ‘Labs’ tab, and scroll down until you find “Create a Document”. Enable the feature and save changes.
Why Create a Doc from Gmail?
- It’s hard to change habits, and the same goes for the way I use my computer. I’m still far more likely to just copy and paste into a document file, rather than hit the ‘create a document’ link in Gmail. However, there are some creative uses for this new feature that I had not thought of yet. For example; you can use it to easily make a backup of your own newsletters or Blog.
- Another reason to love this new feature is the fact that you avoid the messed up formatting after copying and pasting an email into a document. By directly importing the message into Google Docs you save time by not having to clean up the new (unformatted) doc.
What is still missing
Although sometimes an email is a starting point for a document, there are other times (where a feature like this is even more needed) when several emails need to be in a document. Sometimes, they are not even in the same email conversation. How handy would it be if Google would allow us to select several messages from our inbox, and then convert all of those into one Google Document.
Even though I’m pretty set in my ways, and hard-pressed to use new shortcuts, I have to admit this is an extremely useful feature. Blogjer.com brought up one very realistic concern in their post about the new Create a Doc feature: might it encourage plagiarism?
I think this is an interesting observation that deserves some thought. Particularly when making it easier to copy and adapt material you have not written yourself, it might definitely encourage some plagiarism. However, it might also encourage original thought: if I receive an interesting article, this feature may encourage me to start a document and use the original as a reference to express my own views.
However, that doesn’t mean others may not find this an even easier way to copy Blogs and other information. What do you think?