Raise your hand if you remember Writely. A four-person company called Upstartle launched the online-only word processor in August 2005, taking advantage of a then-new browser technology called AJAX. It allowed users to instantly save and retrieve content generated in the browser but stored on the server. And it worked so well that Google bought Upstartle less than a year later.
At the time, a product like Writely was unique (the software didn't come on a CD), but still considered a gamble. Pundit Om Malik said of the purchase, "Convincing the masses that their documents will be safe [online]...may be quite challenging, even if it's FREE!"
Fast forward almost a decade. Google's online office suite of tools has done nothing but grow. Now under the umbrella of Google Drive (formerly Google Docs), you'll find a file management and storage service as well as the various apps, which still get collectively called Google Docs, even by Google. The apps include: a word processor (sometimes simply called Docs: it's Writely, all grown up), spreadsheet (Sheets), presentations (Slides), drawing, and forms.
It's a full suite of tools that now takes on Microsoft's far more mature Office; in fact, Google Drive's very presence in the market arguable drove Microsoft to create its own Office Online versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to work with its OneDrive storage/sync service.
Google Drive has come a long way. Anyone with a Google account—the kind you have for Gmail or any other Google service—gets instant instant access to the tools. Businesses, schools, and non-profits have the option of using Google Apps, a version of Google Drive with all the storage and tools, plus integration of Gmail, Calendar, Sites, and more under their own domain name.
Drive—an Editors' Choice and one of our few five-star products! —is a serious set of tools for serious (or fun) work, all entirely free. But it pays to know more than just the basics. That's why we've put together these 31 tips for you on how to get the most out of Google Drive. Share your own advice for fellow Drive-rs in the comments below.