Don’t forget to share this post

Google’s Docs Editor suite and Google Workspace are very popular for a good reason. They’re free, web-based, and cover a great deal of functionality. However, you may be wishing there was a way to automate tasks within and among the different apps. Fortunately, you can do this and more through Google’s Apps Script. If you’re familiar with JavaScript or open to learning it, Google Apps Script opens a whole new world of possibilities. You can easily create functions and apps using the many libraries available. These include all the elements of Google Sheets, as well as other Google apps and services.

In this post, you will learn what Google Apps Script is and what you can use it for. We'll show you how to get started with Google Apps Script and how to navigate it. You will also learn how to access helpful resources, like guides, references, code samples, and Quickstarts, to get you to execute code right away.

However, if you don’t have the time or the inclination to learn Apps Script’s version of JavaScript, you can also learn about an alternative that provides the same results without requiring you to read or write any code: Layer.

Layer Google Sheets Add On
Get Started With Layer Today!

Share parts of your Google Sheets, monitor, review and approve changes, and sync data from different sources – all within seconds.

GET STARTED FOR FREE

What is Google Apps Script?

Google Apps Script is a cloud-based JavaScript platform that allows you to integrate Google products and services. You can automate tasks within specific Google products, as well as more complex tasks across multiple products. The platform allows for rapid development and implementation of business applications within Google Workspace.

Why Use Google Apps Script?

If you use Google products regularly, learning to use Google Apps Script can save you a lot of time and greatly increase the functionality of your Google Workspace. Its built-in libraries and intuitive, web-based interface make it a great way to integrate Google products and automate tasks.

The more JavaScript you know or are willing to learn, the more you can do. The following list includes some things you can do with Google Apps Script.

  • Add custom menus, dialogs, and sidebars to Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Forms.
  • Write custom functions and macros for Google Sheets.
  • Interact with Google Services like AdSense, Analytics, Calendar, Drive, Gmail, and Maps.
  • Build and publish web apps.
  • Build and publish add-ons for the Google Workspace Marketplace.

Is Google Apps Scripts Free?

Google Apps Script is completely free to use. All you need to get started is a Google account. If you currently use any Google products - like Sheets, Gmail, or Docs - you can get started right away. You can access the Apps Script editor directly from these products.

Google Apps Script Tutorial

Now that you know what Google Apps Script is, let’s take a look around so you can get started. First, let’s access Apps Script from Google Sheets.

Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets Access Apps Script
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets - Access Apps Script

Google Apps Script Editor

By default, Apps Script opens to the ‘Editor’ tab, so you can start coding right away and add libraries and services directly from this window. You can name your project by clicking on the title, as shown below.

Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets Script Editor
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets - Script Editor
Top Must Have Google Sheets Add ons
10 Must-Have Google Sheets Add-ons

Discover the best free Google Sheets add-ons to have to save time, improve your productivity, and take your spreadsheets to the next level.

READ MORE

Google Apps Script Dashboard

From the dashboard, you can view the project details and statistics on its use. You can also copy, star, and delete the project.

Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets Dashboard
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets - Dashboard

Google Apps Script Triggers

From this tab, you can create and manage triggers.

Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets Triggers
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets - Triggers

The interface is very user-friendly and allows you to select options from various dropdown menus.

Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets Add Trigger
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets - Add Trigger

Google Apps Script Executions

You can view and manage project executions from this tab and search your projects via multiple parameters.

Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets Executions
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets - Executions

Google Apps Script Project Settings

On the last tab, you can modify the settings for this particular project, including your script IDs.

Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets Project Settings
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets - Project Settings

Google Apps Script Home

To access the home page, click on the Apps Script button on the top-left corner of any Apps Script page. From here, you can access and manage all your projects and get some help getting started.

Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets Apps Script Home
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets - Apps Script Home

Google Apps Script Getting Started

This tab features quick links to helpful resources, like Codelabs, Stack Overflow, and reference guides.

Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets Getting Started
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets - Getting Started

If you click on ‘Learn more’ - marked in red above - you’ll access a much larger set of resources and Quickstarts for Apps Script.

Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets Apps Script Resources
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets - Apps Script Resources
Google Sheets Macros Enable Create Use Them
Google Sheets Macros: Enable, Create & Use Them

Google Sheets macros are a great way to automate repetitive tasks. Here’s how to enable, create and use macros in Google Sheets.

READ MORE

Google Sheets Apps Script Example

As you have seen, the platform provides lots of help and support to get you using Google Apps Script. There are many types of resources available to help you learn to use it and its version of JavaScript, including code samples and Quickstarts. Quickstarts are particularly useful if you’re not fluent in JavaScript, as they only need minor adjustments before you can use them. In fact, studying these Quickstarts can help you learn how the Apps Script language works.

Below, you have an example of how to use an automation Quickstart that imports CSV files to a Google Sheets file.

  1. 1. Select the sample project you want to use.
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets Select Project
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets - Select Project
  1. 2. Scroll down to “Open the project”.
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets Open Project
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets - Open Project
  1. 3. This will open the project in Apps Script. Click on the ‘Overview’ tab.
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets Project In Apps Script Editor
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets - Project In Apps Script Editor
  1. 4. From the project overview, make a copy, and it will launch automatically.
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets Project Overview
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets - Project Overview
  1. 5. You can rename your project, as shown in the previous section.
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets Rename Project
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets - Rename Project
  1. 6. Click on ‘SetupSample.gs’ on the sidebar.
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets Setup Sample
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets - Setup Sample
  1. 7. Select the ‘setupSample’ function from the dropdown menu, then click “Run”.
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets Run Setup Sample
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets - Run SetupSample
How to Import CSV to Google Sheets Automatically
How to Import CSV to Google Sheets Automatically?

If you need to open CSV files in Google Sheets, you can either do it manually or automatically. Here's how to import CSV files into Google Sheets.

READ MORE
  1. 8. You will be prompted to authorize access. Click “Review permissions”.
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets Authorization Required
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets - Authorization Required
  1. 9. Follow the instructions to select your account and allow access.
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets Allow Access
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets - Allow Access
  1. 10. You will see the execution log with all the actions taken.
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets Execution Log
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets - Execution Log
  1. 11. In the ‘Editor’ tab, click on ‘Code.gs’. Select ‘updateApplicationSheet’ from the function dropdown menu and click ‘Run’.
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets Code Editor
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets - Code Editor
  1. 12. You will see the function was executed on three sample CSV files, and the email was sent.
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets Run Update Function
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets - Run Update Function
  1. 13. That’s it. You can check Gmail for details and the link to the spreadsheet.
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets Notification Email
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets - Notification Email
  1. 14. If you don’t want to modify the code to specify a new folder, you can simply add/remove files to the existing folder in Google Drive. Access the folder created by the Apps Script Project shown below.
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets Google Drive Folder
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets - Google Drive Folder
  1. 15. The folder contains the final spreadsheet, as well as the folders for inbound and processed files.
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets All Files
Google Apps Script Tutorial with Google Sheets - All Files

How to Automate Your Google Sheets Processes?

Layer is an add-on that equips you with the tools to increase efficiency and data quality in your processes on top of Google Sheets. Share parts of your Google Sheets, monitor, review and approve changes, and sync data from different sources – all within seconds. See how it works.

Using Layer, you can:

  • Share & Collaborate: Automate your data collection and validation through user controls.
  • Automate & Schedule: Schedule recurring data collection and distribution tasks.
  • Integrate & Sync: Connect to your tech stack and sync all your data in one place.
  • Visualize & Report: Generate and share reports with real-time data and actionable decisions.

Limited Time Offer: Install the Layer Google Sheets Add-On today and Get Free Access to all the paid features, so you can start managing, automating, and scaling your processes on top of Google Sheets!

Conclusion

Google Apps Script allows you to automate tasks by integrating all Google products and services. You can build anything from simple custom functions to complex business apps published on the web or in the Google Workspace Marketplace. Although the platform offers plenty of help and support to get you started, it does require some coding experience and knowledge of Google products and services. Fortunately, you have some alternatives if you can’t or don’t want to spend time learning to use Apps Script. For simple automation in Google Sheets, you can use macros. For more complex automation, you can use Layer to do the work for you.

You now know what Google Sheets Apps Script is and what you can use it for. You know how to access it and how to navigate the interface, as well as how to find helpful resources and support. If you don’t have any experience with Apps Script or JavaScript, you can use Quickstarts to start using it right away and learn more about how it all works. You have step-by-step instructions on how to set up and execute a Quickstart project that imports CSV files to a spreadsheet and notifies you via Gmail.

To learn about macros in Google Sheets, check out our guide on Google Sheets Macros: Enable, Create & Use Them.

Layer Google Sheets Add On
Get Started With Layer Today!

Share parts of your Google Sheets, monitor, review and approve changes, and sync data from different sources – all within seconds.

GET STARTED FOR FREE
Hady ElHady
Hady is Content Lead at Layer.

Hady has a passion for tech, marketing, and spreadsheets. Besides his Computer Science degree, he has vast experience in developing, launching, and scaling content marketing processes at SaaS startups.

Originally published Jan 20 2023, Updated Jan 18 2023