Launch a web browser go to Google's Cloud Connect download page. When the page loads, click the big blue Download Google Cloud Connect button. At the next screen, read the terms of service and click the Accept and Install button. If the File Download Security Warning dialogue box appears, click Save and then choose a location for the file. Firefox users should select Save File to save the download to Firefox’s default download folder. Now locate and double-click the file to start the installation. No further interaction is required here and, after a moment, Google Cloud Connect will display a thank-you message. Click Close.
A couple of status messages may appear in the Cloud Connect toolbar: this happens occasionally if the connection with Google’s servers is broken and then restored and is nothing to worry about. Just click OK. Next, open an existing document or create a new one. Having linked our version of Microsoft Office with our Google account, we can now share documents whenever we like. We need help with this agenda document, so first we’ll save it to our test PC’s hard disk in the normal way (File menu followed by Save) and then we’ll click Share to continue.
When the Sharing settings dialogue box opens, your Google account name will displayed there as the owner of the document. Above this is a setting that shows this document is currently marked as ‘Private’ – so only the owner can view or edit it. For anyone else to access it, they’ll need to have a Google account and to be invited by the document’s owner. Click in the box below the Add people heading and type in the email address of the person (or persons) with whom you want to share the document.
People can be given permission to edit documents or simply view them. To change this setting click to open the button currently labelled ‘Can edit’. Next, click the Add message link and tell the person that they’ll need to visit Google's Apps page and install the Cloud Connect software. After that, they’ll have to launch Word and then sign in, as per Step 2. Remember that in order to share documents, everyone must have their own Google account. Click the Share & save button to continue.
Cloud Connect displays a summary of who’s been invited to share this document – just click Done to close the window. Meanwhile, when the invitee checks their email account they’ll see a message with instructions for getting Cloud Connect and signing up, as well as a link to the document. If they click the link, their browser will display our agenda document in Google Docs (Google’s online office suite). They should click the Download original button to download a copy to their PC. We’ll now switch roles and pretend we’re sat at the other person’s computer.
Read any Windows security warnings but, assuming they relate to this particular document, ignore them and click the Open button. After a moment, the document will download and appear inside Word. Look carefully at this screenshot and compare it with the one in Step 3 and you’ll see we’re sharing a document using different versions of Word (2003 and 2007). If the original document is created in Word 2003, just save as normal. If it’s created with 2007, choose File followed by Save As and then select the ‘Word 97-2003 Document’ option from the Save as type list; then both versions can open it.
Save the document on the second computer using File, then Save. As soon as you do, Cloud Connect tries to synchronise this copy with the copy stored on Google Docs and the copy stored on the original PC. It’s not a particularly lucid dialogue box, but the upshot is that Google is offering the choice between treating this as an entirely new document or as a new version of the original document. Here we’re choosing the first option.
If we were to edit some text on either computer and then either click the Sync button – or simply save the document – the changes should show up at the other end. Try it. Change a few words of text in either copy and then save the document by clicking the floppy disk button in the toolbar. After a moment, Cloud Connect copies the changes to all the other versions of the document automatically. A Success message appears on the toolbar to confirm everything is synchronised.
If you change your mind about how a document is developing, it’s not a problem because Cloud Connect stores copies of each revision. Just open the dropdown menu to the left of the Sync button and choose See revision history from the menu. It’s possible to view older versions by clicking on any of the links in the right-hand panel and, should you prefer to revert to one of these, click the ‘Make this the latest version’ button. If you decide Cloud Connect isn’t for you, it can be removed via Add/Remove Programs or Uninstall a program in Control Panel, as you would other Windows program.