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sync google docsFor many people, Dropbox is one of their must have apps. Its simple yet innovative concept allows users to be creative How To Trigger the Download of a File Remotely (Mac Only) How To Trigger the Download of a File Remotely (Mac Only) Read More in utilizing 4 Unique and Cool Ways To Use Dropbox 4 Unique and Cool Ways To Use Dropbox Read More the app. But among the things that you can achieve using Dropbox, there are also things that it can’t do. One of them is to easily sync your Google Docs to your desktop.

While I’m not a heavy Google Docs user myself, I think I will use the service more often ever since I found out about Insync. This is a combination of a web service and desktop apps (Windows and Mac) that will help you sync your Google Docs to multiple machines, Dropbox-style.

Setting Up The System

You should check this out if you use Google Docs a lot. This fresh-from-the-oven free service (with 1GB storage of personal use) allows you to easily add, delete and edit Google Docs documents in the comfort of your desktop – either online or offline. The changes that you make will be synchronized to your Google Docs accounts whenever your machine connects to the net.

To start using the service, you have to register and download the desktop app. Go to the website and click the green “Install Insync” button.

sync google docs

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Fill in the field with your Gmail/Google Account address and click “Go“. You’ll have to confirm that you allow Insync to use this address as the login information. Then the app will be downloaded in the background. Install it when the download is done.

01b Insync - Enter Google Account.jpg

There’s another confirmation window in your machine that you have to go through before the app can run.

02 Start Insync.jpg

Insync will use your Google account as login information. Assign a name to your machine before clicking the “Sign In” button.

02b Insync - Sign In.jpg

Then you will land in the “Activities” tab of the web interface where you can see your recent activities.

google docs

There’s also information about your storage usage on the right side of the page, along with links to “Settings“, “Support“, and “Install” (where you can (re)download the desktop clients).

google docs

On the desktop, the app will reside in the notification area of the taskbar (Windows) or menubar (Mac). You can use the icon to access Insync’s preferences.

google docs

Preferences is the place for you to edit the location of the Insync folder and the Proxy Configuration.

synchronize notes with google docs

Share & Collaborate

Insync allows you to share your Google Docs folder with your colleagues. This feature makes it easy for a team to work on projects simultaneously from different locations.

You can share your folder(s) simply by right clicking them from within your Insync folder and choosing “Share“.

synchronize notes with google docs

Or from within the web interface by clicking the small arrow next to the folder name.

synchronize notes with google docs

Then type in a name or email address of the person that you want to share your folder with.

google docs sync

On the other hand, if someone wants to share a folder with you, you will get a notification on your Insync client. To accept, go to the “Action – someone wants to share foldername with you – Accept” menu.

google docs sync

If you don’t have the desktop client, you will get an email with this notification instead. Basically it suggests that you install the client.

google docs sync

If you’ve ever been in a project where many people are collaborating, you will be familiar with the term “revisions“. One document that has been edited by many people will have several revisions. It’s important for the project coordinator to be able to track the revisions.

Insync makes it easy to do so. Just right click on a file within the Insync folder on your desktop, or click the small arrow next to a document name on the web interface, and choose “Revisions“.

sync google docs

Early Notes

After playing around with the service for a while, a few things came to my mind. The first one is the inability to share only a file or two. You’ll have to share the whole folder and everything in it. I think it’s safe to assume that not everybody wants to share everything inside his/her Google Docs folder. So, the workaround is to create folders to share inside the Google Docs folder and only put the files that you want to share inside those shared folders.

The second is the inability to easily change users. Once you login with one, you have to go through lots of hoops to use different Google Accounts with the desktop client. It would be cool if people with multiple Google Accounts could just click on the menubar icon and choose “change account“.

Another thing is that you might need to restart your machine before the right click Insync menu works. I tried the desktop client on two machines, the right click menu worked instantly on one machine after installation while the other required a restart.

The last note is a question: why would anyone choose Insync over Dropbox to sync and share their documents? Is the ability to access Google Docs enough to justify the switch? The truth is, you don’t have to choose. You can use both services hand in hand. I curiously tried to move the Insync folder inside Dropbox. It worked (and still works) just fine. So you can have the best of both worlds.

Give Insync a try and tell us what you think about it in the comments below.

  1. Sasha
    November 30, 2010 at 1:43 am

    Can you help get me an account? Thanks!

    Sasha

  2. Lajuene
    October 24, 2010 at 12:08 am

    May I please be invited?

    lajuene(at)gmail(dot)com

    thanks a BUNCH!

  3. Sp Freelancer
    October 20, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    There is a new software that has a free version for consumers (not free for business use) which automatically synchronizes with Google Docs and documents can be edited offline with MS Office or Open Office.You can search and organize files on your computer Apply labels, browse folders, move documents.It is also a complete document management tool for the PC.
    Take a look at http://www.busydocs.com

  4. Sp Freelancer
    October 20, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    There is a new software that has a free version for consumers (not free for business use) which automatically synchronizes with Google Docs and documents can be edited offline with MS Office or Open Office.You can search and organize files on your computer Apply labels, browse folders, move documents.It is also a complete document management tool for the PC.
    Take a look at http://www.busydocs.com

  5. Pali Madra
    October 5, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Seems link Syncplicity is better as it offers more space - 2GB. It is specially useful for individuals as for businesses with multiple users would prefer Insync.

    What are your thoughts please share.

  6. Pali Madra
    October 5, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    Seems link Syncplicity is better as it offers more space - 2GB. It is specially useful for individuals as for businesses with multiple users would prefer Insync.

    What are your thoughts please share.

    • Anonymous
      October 7, 2010 at 2:26 am

      If storage space is the issue, I personally prefer Dropbox. That's why I combine Insync with Dropbox - Insync for documents while Dropbox is for everything else.

  7. Terence Pua
    September 22, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Google Docs syncing is actually one of many features we offer. You can also sync and share folders outside of the Google Docs folder (ala Dropbox). In addition, you can take advantage of Google's cheap storage if you only want to use the Google Docs folder ($20/year for 80GB, etc.).

    In terms of format, the Gdocs API is generally ok for office conversion for not-so complex docs, which probably covers 95% of our use cases.

    If you have any more questions, email me directly at t@insynchq.com :)

  8. Anonymous
    September 21, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    What is the point? Google docs are already on the cloud, so unless you are looking for offline access, you don't really need to sync (which at this point is more or less dropbox). Do you also edit the same document online as well as using an offline tool? What offline format do you get for the docs? Which offline tool do you use?

    • pigpen
      September 22, 2010 at 12:31 pm

      i guess if you find editing your Google documents in microsoft office/openoffice/iWork easier and more convenient, plus if you just need to collaborate with other people who use Google Docs, it's a big plus. Also, it's just better to have a local copy of your google documents, so you can edit them at your leisure and let Insync do the updating in Google whenever internet's available.

    • Anonymous
      September 22, 2010 at 3:46 pm

      So, InSync does the grudge work of the actual collaboration, or would google docs figure it out as part of upload? What I am specifically asking is InSync does something special to prevent overwriting the changes done by others, or is it still google docs taking care of it.

    • Terence Pua
      September 22, 2010 at 12:48 pm

      Google Docs syncing is actually one of many features we offer. You can also sync and share folders outside of the Google Docs folder (ala Dropbox). In addition, you can take advantage of Google's cheap storage if you only want to use the Google Docs folder ($20/year for 80GB, etc.).

      In terms of format, the Gdocs API is generally ok for office conversion for not-so complex docs, which probably covers 95% of our use cases.

      If you have any more questions, email me directly at t@insynchq.com :)

  9. Anonymous
    September 21, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    can you send me an invite? the insync page says currently the only way to get an account is to have a current user share a folder with you.

    • Terence Pua
      September 22, 2010 at 12:44 pm

      Send me an email t@insynchq.com and will put you on our priority list :)

    • Sasha
      November 30, 2010 at 12:43 am

      Can you help get me an account? Thanks!

      Sasha

    • Anonymous
      September 22, 2010 at 4:06 pm

      I've just found out that Insync currently not accepting new sign-ups. You could leave your email in their website to be notified of future availability. But if you'd like to try the share folder method, just DM me with your email address.

    • Anonymous
      September 24, 2010 at 7:39 pm

      thanks! my email is kad271(at)gmail(dot)com

    • Kenneth Jordan
      September 27, 2010 at 12:02 am

      Awesome! kenkellie(at)gmail(punto)com

    • Barryvanbakel
      September 27, 2010 at 3:00 pm

      barryvanbakel(at)gmail(dot)com thanks in advance!

    • Anonymous
      September 29, 2010 at 4:58 am

      stuartklein (at)gmail(dot)com Thanks in advance!

    • Lajuene
      October 23, 2010 at 10:08 pm

      May I please be invited?

      lajuene(at)gmail(dot)com

      thanks a BUNCH!

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