A bug in Google Docs is causing it to crash when a series of words are typed into a document opened with the online word processor. Once crashed, users may not be able to easily re-access the document as doing so would trigger the crash again. Researchers were able to reproduce the issue and reached out to Google. Google stated that it is aware of the bug and working on a fix. Until then, there is a workaround documented in the analyst notes below.
A Google Docs user, Pat Needham, brought up the issue on the Google Docs Editors Help forum. “I’ve only tried in Google Chrome, with documents from three separate Google accounts (personal, G Suite Basic, and work one which might be enterprise). All three experience this same issue” wrote the user. “It’s case-sensitive. So, trying with ‘and. and. And. and. And.’ doesn’t cause it to crash.” While Needham publicly reported the bug, it appears that the issue was discovered by Eliza Callahan who was writing a poem for her novel using Google Docs. In tests by researchers, the behavior could be reproduced successfully on the latest version of Chrome web browser running on macOS Monterey. After creating a new Google Docs document, as soon as the offending string was typed into the document and the page was refreshed, the error appeared. Needham’s findings have also been confirmed by other users running Firefox 99.0.1. Another user, Sergii Dymchenko, said strings like “But. But. But. But. But.” triggered the same response. Some also noticed putting any of the terms like “Also, Therefore, And Anyway, But, Who, Why, Besides, However,” in the same format achieved the outcome. A YCombinator HackerNews reader suspected the cause to be the “Show grammar suggestion” option in Google Docs, which was turned on by default in tests.
Until Google has an answer as to what causes this problem, it might be wise to turn off grammar suggestions by navigating to Tools → Spelling and Grammar and unticking ‘Show grammar suggestions.’ If the bug has already been triggered and you’re locked out of a Google Doc, there might be a workaround. Use the Google Docs mobile app to access the document and remove the offending words. The file should now open gracefully on your Google Docs web version. “It doesn’t crash documents on mobile, for some reason, so if you’ve lost one of your documents to this you can get the Docs app on your phone, delete the offending sentence, and reload,” suggests the user Sauron Gorthaur.