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Google Sheets adds automatic charts, Docs & Slides sync, improved shortcuts and more

Google Drive is full of powerful tools, and Sheets is one that many rely on as an alternative to Microsoft Excel. Today, Google is debuting several new features for Sheets that are bound to become incredibly useful to its users.

The first major update Sheets gets today is the ability to automatically create charts based on your various spreadsheets, taking the work off of your back and throwing it on to Google’s powerful machine learning. Simply using the “explore” option, users can ask Google natural language questions based on their spreadsheet, “bar chart for ice cream sales” for example, and Google will present them with a chart that uses that data.

This works a lot like Sheet’s feature that uses natural language questions in place of complex formulas to pull data from complicated spreadsheets. In either case, these features are designed to make using spreadsheets as easy as possible, and it makes a massive difference compared to what you’d need to do in any other spreadsheet program.

Further, Sheets is also adding improved sync between Google Docs and Google Slides today. Last year the company introduced sync for charts in these two areas, and today that expands to tables as well. Simply copy and paste your data to the other service, then tap the “update” button whenever you want to refresh that information from the original spreadsheet.

Along with that, Sheets is getting some enhancements in areas which customers have been asking for. The first is keyboard shortcuts. Since Sheets runs in a browser, some of the commands used in native applications such as Excel won’t work since they are already active in the browser. Starting today, Sheets users will be able to override that to take advantage of the same commands they’re already used to.

Sheets is also getting improvements to printing, including the ability to adjust margins, scale, and alignment options. Editing charts also gets an upgrade with a new sidebar that makes accessing chart tools easier. This feature will even be making its way to Google’s iPhone/iPad Sheets app. Google has also added new functions to Sheets which help users find insights.

Try “SORTN,” a function unique to Sheets, which can show you the top three orders or best-performing months in a sales record spreadsheet. Sheets also supports statistical functions like “GAMMADIST,” “F.TEST” and “CHISQ.INV.RT.”

All of these features are available starting today for all Google Sheets users.

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