5 Google Drive Add-ons You Need to Use

Ryan Dube 08-07-2014

Long ago, productivity enthusiasts were relegated to using desktop software for writing documents or organizing with spreadsheets. Thanks to the advance of the Internet and cloud computing, there are now wonderful products like Google Drive to enhance daily productivity.


What makes services like Google Drive so great? Mostly it’s just the sheer number of purposes the products found there can have. You can develop some really impressive money management tools 7 Money Management Tools in Google Drive You Should Start Using Keeping track of your finances on paper can get messy. Use these expense trackers and templates to manage your finances instead. Read More , collect your research and ideas How To Use Google Drive To Capture Your Great Ideas & Never Lose Them Move over Evernote -- here's how you can use Google Drive to keep and grow your ideas. With the Google tools at your fingertips, put them all to good use for nurturing your ideas. Read More , and also automate with your other services like Gmail 7 Different Uses of Integrating Google Drive With Gmail Gmail and Google Drive power many of our productivity needs. Let's see some common sense ways and some clever hacks which allow us to seamlessly bring these two services together. Read More .

They key here is to put things like Google Spreadsheet and Google Docs to good use in your life, and the best way to do that is to enhance those services with some of the best add-ons available Google Docs Adds-Ons For Students: These 5 Will Help You Write A Paper Word-processing for students has long been the domain of Microsoft Word, but the recent release of add-ons is making Google Docs an appealing free option. Read More .

Google Docs and Google Spreadsheet are both amazing free services as-is, but when you include some of the add-ons listed below, it can really breathe new life into those tools. To get to any of these, all you have to do is go into Google Spreadsheet or Docs, click on the “Add-ons” menu, and then choose “Get Add-ons”.

AbleBits Suite

AbleBits is a company that actually offers paid professional add-ons for Microsoft Excel. They provide timesaving features like merging sheets based on only matching data, easily merging multiple workbooks into one, and much more.

Lucky for Google Drive users, Ablebits offers a whole list of highly useful Add-ons for Google Drive apps. Six of them, to be exact.



You may have a use for some of the more specialized ones like splitting people’s names into several columns (Split Names), or randomly generating passwords into any range (Random Generator), but one of the most useful add-ons available is definitely the Advanced Find and Replace tool.


Ablebits Find and Replace lets you do some really advanced find and replace sort of manipulation in your spreadsheet. It allows you to search not only values, but also search inside notes or formulas in a sheet. You can also select specific sheet names, or you can search just the active sheet, or all of the sheets in your workbook.


Another really useful Ablebits add-on is the Merge Values tool, which lets you do some really creative manipulation with data inside different columns, and places the final results in whatever results column you tell it to.


In Excel, or any other spreadsheet, that kind of manipulation can require some more advanced string formulas, but with this add-on, even less advanced users can start easily mixing and combining data from different columns with minimal effort.

There’s also the Ablebits Remove Duplicates add-on, which lets you either find duplicate or unique values inside the active sheet, or it lets you do a comparison between two sheets for any duplicates.



If you choose to find duplicates, the add-on takes you through a wizard to select the range and data that you want to search through.


Then, it lets you define exactly what sort of data you’re looking to identify. This could be all duplicates inside a sheet, or it could be finding which values inside the sheet actually don’t match other values, or are unique.



Obviously, finding duplicates is the more common use, but there are times when you have a sheet filled with identical values and you may be looking for a typo or a unique value within the columns of matching data.

If you are more interested in checking to see whether there are any differences between two sheets — for instance, if you’ve made a copy of a sheet and are concerned someone made some changes to it — you can use this feature to find any new values or changes between those two sheets using the “Unique values” option.


As you can imagine, being able to quickly identify the differences between two sheets, or finding duplicate and unique values inside of a specific sheet, are really features that any good spreadsheet should have. Ablebits brings that functionality to Google Spreadsheet How To Import Data From Other Google Spreadsheets Most users only use a small fraction of Google Spreadsheet's potential. Do you know how to get information from one Google Spreadsheet into another? Here's a cell function to do the job. Read More .

Mapping Sheets

Another favorite Google Drive add-on of mine is definitely Mapping Sheets. With this add-on, you can make better use of any geographical data you may have in your spreadsheet. If you’ve ever wanted an easy way to quickly plot locations from your data onto a Google Map 7 Ways To Make A Google Map Using Google Spreadsheet Data If you maintain a lot of data in Google spreadsheets, you've probably considered plotting them in a Google Map. Well, you can, but doing this is not quite as obvious as you might expect. Read More , this is it.


Using it is ridiculously easy. Just make sure you’ve got a list of addresses and other related data in your sheet, and then trigger this add-on. You’ll see a form where you tell it what columns in your sheet to use for creating the map.


Once you submit it, the add-on creates the map right in the sheet for you so that you have a useful visualization of all of that data.

EasyBib Bibliography Creator

Whether you’re a student, a journalist, or just a freelance writer, you would want to make use of the Easybib Bibliography Creator add-on for Google Docs.  The name isn’t a misnomer. This add-on makes creating a bibliography CiteThisForMe: Quickly Generate Bibliography Based On Harvard Referencing Style Read More really simple.

It includes a built-in search engine for books, journals or websites.


Once you find what you’re looking for in the results, just click the select button and then the “Add Bibliography to Doc”  button.


This inserts your citation utilizing the correct MLA, APA and Chicago styles as needed. If you’ve struggled to get bibliography formatting done right, or you just struggle with the formatting, then this is the add-on for you.


Do you work on a team where everyone is located remotely, or maybe a corporation where there are offices all around the world? A frequent need in many projects is document approvals. This is usually as simple as a boss assigning someone to write up a guide, a specification or some other important document, and then turn it in on a certain date for review and approval. In Google Drive there’s a really easy to use add-on for Google Docs called Workflows that greatly simplifies the document approval process.


It’s called Workflow, because it essentially lets you run the document through a workflow of recipients, who will each have a turn to edit the draft and approve the document. Once each stage of the approval workflow completes, the recipient for the next stage receives an email, prompting them to go in, review, and approve.


The approval process can be as simple as writing in a few notes (if desired), and then clicking either the “Approve” or “Reject” button.


Once it’s approved, the originator receives notification that the approval took place.


In the Google Doc itself, Workflow displays the approval status. If there are multiple people who need to approve it, it’ll show you how many of those people have approved the document so far.


In the old days, documents had to be physically run around the office building (or through the mail) so that people could sign off on the final version. Now with Google Docs and the Workflow add-on, it’s all digitized and can take place in the blink of an eye.

Messenger — Group Messaging for Documents

Speaking of remote collaboration, the last add-on covered here also helps you keep in touch with team members from around the globe. The Messenger add-on is an instant messaging tool 5 Online Instant Messaging Services to Chat with Friends If you were an AOL Instant Messenger fan, don’t worry. There are still some worthwhile services available. Here are five to check out. Read More that gets integrated directly into Google Docs. You can use it as a really easy way to have a live, real-time conversation with someone while you’re both editing a document.


The benefit of this is obvious if you’ve ever tried to edit a document with someone when you don’t have some kind of instant chat available. You end up overwriting each other’s work accidentally, or both typing the same thing at the same time. Collaborative writing can be a very productive activity, but without an IM feature it can be difficult. Most people resort to using Google Hangouts How to Use Google Hangouts: Tips and Tricks You Should Know How do you use Google Hangouts? Learn how this app works, plus tips for making the most of it, in this beginner's tutorial. Read More or Skype How To Make Skype Calls Via Your Browser If you hate opening up apps you've probably realised that Skype is one of those things you generally forget to open. Well, you can get Skype in your browser. Read More for that feature.  However, if you install the Messenger add-on, you don’t need to run a third party application. The whole conversation can take place in your browser, inside Google Drive.

So what do you think — do any of these Google Drive add-ons look especially useful to you? Do you use any others that you think other people would find helpful? Share your thoughts and insights in the comments section below!

Related topics: Google Docs, Google Drive, Spreadsheet.

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  1. Bártfay Meszike I
    July 19, 2014 at 7:42 am

    Very good, thank you! :)

  2. Chad
    July 10, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    Is there an add-on for the Excel command of Trace Precedents and Dependents? That is missing from Google Spreadsheets now. It is one of the very few features of Excel that is both very valuable (at least to me) and not incorporated in Google's app.

  3. Shawn D
    July 10, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    @Adrian beat me to it, but yes, you need to share the document for it show up. No fun chatting to just yourself ;-)

  4. Adrian
    July 10, 2014 at 3:46 am

    Why use an add-on for chat when you can just use google's chat?

    Am I missing something?

    • Ryan D
      July 10, 2014 at 4:02 am

      The add-on integrates chat right inside of Google Drive - inside the browser at the one URL, no other application to launch or outside browser plugin to use. Nor do both people need to have an account with an outside IM system.

      However, I'm curious, since I think Shawn might be talking about this as well. Can you describe how you would use Google Chat for this purpose and how you currently have it set up?

    • Adrian
      July 10, 2014 at 4:12 am

      I didn't do anything special.

      Whenever I have a shared document, there is a chat icon next to the list of the other users (right top). Clicking that icon opens a side chat window.

    • Ryan D
      July 10, 2014 at 4:25 am

      Oh right - Google Group chats. Probably a better option if chat is the only need. However the Letter Feed add-on is more about Workflow management, and the chat feature of it is only one component. The screenshots above that one show the other features in the "Letter Feed" add-on for managing editor approvals, etc...

  5. Shawn D
    July 9, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    FYI, you can also import a Google Drive spreadsheet with address info into Google Maps Engine Lite and plot it that way. No extension needed. It's pretty powerful in figuring out addresses even if they are partial.

    Am I missing something on the chat extension because chat is built into Google docs? Click the chat icon to the left of the comments button - at least that is until the new interface rolls out any day now.

    • Ryan D
      July 10, 2014 at 4:00 am

      Great resource - thanks! Going to have to play with that maps engine.

      Re the chat icon - I don't see one next to the comments button. You must have something else installed that you didn't realize? Or maybe the new interface already rolled out. :-)

  6. Saikat B
    July 9, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    Cool ones!

    Charts and UberConference are also pretty handy for business needs.

    • Ryan D
      July 10, 2014 at 3:56 am

      Good ones! Thanks Saikat.