In early 2021, I decided to work my hardest at removing myself from the iron grip of Google and Facebook. I succeeded for a time. But the nature of my business is connecting with people, and therefore I returned to them briefly.
The biggest step I could take personally as a user was to remove my content from Google’s servers. Easier said than done. There’s a ton of options for a comparable office suite (that isn’t Microsoft).
I went with Zoho because I liked what they had to offer. Cloud access is important to me because I move in between computers so often. I needed to edit and write on the road, so to speak.
Google Docs is proprietary software, meaning you can’t edit files in another program easily. It’s true they offer a way to download your content into another format for use in the programs that accept that file type. Me, I wanted to get away from all of that.
So I copy/pasted over 100+ docs into Zoho Docs. Content I had accumulated over the years, such as story ideas, unfinished novels, and essays from undergrad.
Zoho does have a warning that once you begin syncing your docs, you cannot touch the folder that it’s syncing to. I had to move some files around to better suit my needs, and it meant touching the Zoho folder. I thought, no problem, I’ll follow their “moving the Zoho Docs sync folder” tutorial to the letter, and nothing will blow up.
Boy, was I wrong!
After I confidently moved everything over to the new syncing location, I went to edit one of the files in a browser.
It gave me this gobbledegook instead:
No big deal, I said to myself, from what I can see, that’s a proper URL.
So I copy/pasted the URL into another browser window, and poof, there was my content.
I breathed a sigh of relief.
When I went into the body of the document, a cold feeling of horror washed over me.
The file was read-only; I had no way of editing it.
No big deal, I said again, I’ll simply download it into a .docx file and go back to using Office (shudder).
Then, I got hit with this:
What do you mean, “contact the document author?” I AM the document author!!
I fired off a support ticket to Zoho.
Several, in fact.
I ended up switching email providers towards the end of this saga so I don’t actually have ALL my receipts. I Tweeted at them for help. They would respond to my emails, and then when I responded that their solution didn’t work/already tried/wasn’t applicable, they went radio silent. Then I’d start the process again, as evidenced in the screenshot.
All to no avail.
Real life got the best of me, so I put this on the backburner. The content was the last thing on my mind, only because there was a great upheaval in my professional career and I had to focus on that. My files were safe, and I paid for a year in advance, so I said, I’ll worry about this later.
It was boring a hole into my brain meats while I got settled. There HAD to be a way to get the content from Zoho Docs. This was my original plan:
- Select the document that actually has readable text
- Screenshot all relevant pages
- Paste screenshots into Paint, save as PNG
- Import PNGs into FoxIt Editor individually, combine
- Edit PDF
- Copy editable text into iCloud Notes / LibreOffice
Even as I attempted it, I knew it was a time-consuming mess. Turns out, clicking around is a good way to find out that you have the skills to fix it all on your own.
Here’s my solution. Earlier in this article, I posted a screenshot of gobbledegook. What you do is access the URL that gives you the content. You’ll come up with your uneditable file again.
What you’re going to want to do is click the Reader View button, which activates a pop-up window as you can see below here:
You lose all of your formatting like double spaced, right or left text alignment, and such but you do keep your italics, bold, and underlining.
Highlight everything (manually, or by using CTRL + A on a Windows keyboard), and then ta-da! Copy/paste into your preferred word processor.
Me, I’m sticking with LibreOffice. The second option is Apple’s iCloud Notes but I don’t suspect I’ll be writing anything full-length there. I mostly use it to capture ideas, which I will then copy/paste into a LibreOffice Document for further fleshing out.
What held this process up significantly for me is that I have multiple files with the same name. And they’re all connected, so I can’t delete any duplicates until I’m completely done with the file. It didn’t matter what gobbledegook file I chose; I was able to get to the Reader View button just fine. Frustrating doesn’t begin to cover it.
It took me a couple of weeks, due to lack of time. But I managed to get everything into the .docx format via LibreOffice. Now begins the fun of reformatting everything and filing everything back the way I had it!
Thankfully, it’s easy to delete your account with Zoho once you’re done, even if you have a subscription as I did. They don’t do refunds but it’s a small price to pay for my ignorance at blindly trusting them. Never again!
Good riddance, Zoho, you will NOT be missed. Deuces.
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