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How to Supercharge Your Google Apps with the Script Editor

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Google Apps Script Lede

If you use Google Apps, then chances are you’re not using them to their full extent. With Google Apps Script, you can add custom menus and dialogs, write custom functions and macros, and build add-ons to extend Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

What Is Google Apps Script?

Google Apps Script is a cloud-based development platform for creating custom, light-weight web applications. You can build scalable applications directly inside your browser that integrate effortlessly with Google products.

Apps Script uses the JavaScript language and brings together the familiarity of web development and Google products in one place, making it a perfect tool to customize apps for your business, organization, or just to automate mundane tasks.

You can make two types of scrips with Google Apps Script:

  • Standalone: These scripts aren’t bound to any service—like Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides. They can perform system-wide functions, sort of like macros. They’re not ideal for sharing with a broader audience because you need to copy and paste the code to use them. Examples include searching your Drive for files with specific names or seeing who has access to your shared files and folders in Drive.
  • Bound: These are linked to a Google Docs, Sheets, Forms, or Slides file. Bound scripts extend a file’s functionality and perform actions only in that specific file. Examples include adding custom menus, dialogs boxes, and sidebars to a service or a script that emails you notifications any time a particular cell in a Sheet changes.

If you don’t know much JavaScript, or maybe you’ve never heard of it before, don’t let that scare you off from developing a script of your own. It’s super easy to get started using Apps Script, as it provides a wealth of documentation and examples for you to test out on your own. Below are a couple of simple examples to help you gain an understanding of how they work.

How to Create a Standalone Script

Now that you know what they are let’s go ahead and create your first standalone script. We’ll be using a code sample from Google to help us get the ball rolling, and we’ll provide explanations to the lines of code if you’re unfamiliar with GoogleScript or JavaScript.

Head on over to Google Apps Script. In the top left corner, click the hamburger icon, then click “New Script.”

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