Track expenses (or anything else) in Google Docs using Gmail
After creating a spreadsheet in Google Docs, you can create a form that you can then access from your Gmail inbox, even on your phone.
Matt ElliottSenior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Quick question: do you use Gmail or Google Docs more frequently?
If you answered the former, this handy trick may be of interest. It allows you to add data to a spreadsheet in Google Docs from a form you can quickly access from your Gmail inbox. This form can even be accessed on your phone (at least in my case, using an iPhone 4S and both the native Mail app and the Gmail app).
Here are the steps needed to set it up:
1. Create a spreadsheet in Google Docs.
2. From the Tools menu, select Create a form.
3. Fill out the form by adding items and question titles and choosing the question type. The question titles will show up in the top row of your spreadsheet.
4. After you have your form squared away, hit Save and then the button for Email this form. Be sure to check the box for "Include form in the email" before hitting Send.
4. The form gets e-mailed to your inbox. You can simply open the e-mail and fill out the form right there. Hit submit and the data you entered gets sent to your spreadsheet. It worked flawlessly for me on both my Mac and my iPhone 4S. On the iPhone, I could fill out the form in the body of the e-mail using the native Mail app. It also worked with the Gmail app but not within the body of the e-mail. I had to first open the form by tapping the link in the e-mail above the form.
You could star this e-mail to be able to find it quickly when it becomes buried in your inbox. An even quicker solution is to enable Quick Links, which places a link to the form in Gmail's left-hand column. To enable Quick Links, go to Settings > Labs. Scroll down the alphabetical list until you find Quick Links. Click the radio dial for Enable and hit the Save Changes button.
Now, when you return to your inbox, a Quick Links box will be in the left-hand column. Open the e-mail with your form and click the Add Quick Link link in the left-hand column. Give it a name and click OK. Now, you can access your form with one click when viewing Gmail on a computer. For mobile access, I suggest starring the e-mail.