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Making Microsoft Office & G Suite Play Nicely: AwesomeDrive & Universal File Opener

Books, Apple, Pencils, and Blocks on Desk

As an Instructional Technology Resource Teacher in Fluvanna County, Virginia, my school district thrives on G Suite. Our staff and students use it daily - on desktops, laptops, and Chromebooks. However, this doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. In fact, we still have staff and administration who need to use Microsoft Office programs within their line of work. We have other staff members who still have many Microsoft files stored on their computers from before the district adopted G Suite. Many people hesitate to store their Microsoft Office files in Google Drive because of the hassle of uploading and downloading these files in order to make any changes.

My staff and administration always ask if there is a way to get G Suite and Drive to play well with Microsoft Office. Thanks to both AwesomeDrive and Universal File Opener (UFO) by AODocs, there is most definitely a way! These extensions will up your game, especially if you find yourself working with both Google and Microsoft files on a regular basis.

How to Get Started

First, visit the AwesomeDrive and Universal File Opener Chrome web stores and add them to your Chrome browser. Make sure to allow all permissions. Once Universal File Opener is added, an alert will appear, instructing you to install a sync client to your computer. Don’t worry. This program will allow Word, Excel, or PowerPoint files to sync changes to Google Drive once they’re saved. It’s a quick install but it must be done on any computer that will be using these file types.

AwesomeDrive

AwesomeDrive brings new features to Google Drive. Try clicking the blue “New” button to create a new file. Without AwesomeDrive, only G Suite files (Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc.) can be created. With AwesomeDrive, you have the option to create Word, Excel, and Powerpoint files as well. To create a new Microsoft Office file in Drive using AwesomeDrive, you must give the file a name before opening it with the installed version of Microsoft Office on your device. Edit and change the document in any fashion, remembering to save progress. All of your work will be synced to Google Drive. No more downloading and uploading Microsoft Office files every time a change is needed!

Universal File Opener (UFO)

UFO gives you the ability to open any Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file from Drive. First, locate the file in Drive. Instead of double-clicking on the file name, move the cursor to the right. An icon of a computer with a pencil over it will appear. Hovering over this icon shows the “Open File” text. Clicking it opens the file in your installed version of Microsoft Office on your computer. Make any changes to the file and click Save. A small pop-up will give you a notification saying that the file is syncing. Make sure to save often! After the file has been synced, another notification will pop up on the lower right corner of the screen stating that the file has been saved to Drive.

How They Work in Real-Life

Training teachers and administrators to use both of these tools has been a bit of an eye opener. Teachers who were once hesitant to move their Microsoft Office files into Google Drive now do so with peace of mind. Every time I trained a new teacher on AwesomeDrive, they told me how happy they were to finally be able to store and edit their Microsoft Office documents within Google Drive without extra steps.

Our administrators have to live in both Microsoft and Google worlds, especially when submitting official documents to the Virginia Department of Education or other organizations. Before AwesomeDrive, these administrators had to keep Google documents in the cloud and Microsoft documents on their computers. It was frustrating to have to switch between file types and not be able to open Office documents directly in Google Drive. Then, they upgraded to AwesomeDrive and/or UFO and things got so much easier.

Even our nursing staff has jumped on board! Working with Medicare documents, our district nurses need to share and collaborate on a variety of Excel files. Before, it meant downloading files, making changes, and uploading the new documents. The look of relief on their faces was all that I needed to know that AwesomeDrive (or UFO) had made their workload lighter.

Using both AwesomeDrive and UFO will definitely transform the way you work. Give them a try!

Important Note: This is a guest blog post written by Rachel Moravec. The opinions are based on her own personal experience. For more posts on technology and education, visit Rachel’s website, Ready, Set, Go Tech! or find her on Twitter at @tisinaction.

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