This article is written for G Suite for Education Administrators.

Google Sheets has a huge database of functions. As you may not notice, some functions cross the line, allowing students to download data from the web. An example is IMAGE, a function working like inserting image by URL.

The IMAGE function allows students to insert web images by URLs
The IMAGE function allows students to insert web images by URLs

Another example is IMPORTFEED. It enables students to load and read online news feeds within their sheets.

The IMPORTFEED function in Google Sheets can load news
The IMPORTFEED function in Google Sheets can load news

This article explains how Safe Doc can make functions inaccessible to students. If you have yet to install Safe Doc, apply for a 30 days trial.

What are the changes by Safe Doc?

Safe Doc allows you to blacklist certain functions that you considered inappropriate for your students, so these functions will no longer display in Google Sheets.

The follow screenshots demonstrate that the IMPORT* functions are removed.

Functions can be found and inserted by going to Insert > Function menu. The menu has a curated list of functions. Safe Doc removes the inappropriate functions so students cannot find them.

Inappropriate functions removed from Insert > Function menu
Inappropriate functions removed from Insert > Function menu

The same function list menu can be triggered by clicking the The function button in Google Sheets button in the toolbar. Safe Doc did the same as above.

Inappropriate functions removed from the Function button in the toolbar
Inappropriate functions removed from the Function button in the toolbar

Inserting functions can be done by clicking Help > Search the menus or shortcut Alt + /, followed by the keywords. Safe Doc removes the inappropriate functions from the search results.

Inappropriate functions removed from the Help > search the menus
Inappropriate functions removed from the Help > search the menus

When you start typing =IMPORT, Google Sheets will pops up an auto completion menu for you. This speeds up finding the correct function. Safe Doc filters the inappropriate functions from the list.

Inappropriate functions removed from auto-completion menu
Inappropriate functions removed from auto-completion menu

In the meantime, Google Sheets will also display an assistive function usage dialog. It includes function examples, a description and the format of each argument. Safe Doc blocks them for the blacklisted functions

Inappropriate functions have no more usage assistance
Inappropriate functions have no more usage assistance

How to Get Started?

Assume you have done Deploy Safe Doc To Your Students’ Chrome browsers and read Safe Doc Configuration.

Feed the policy BlockSheetFunctions with a list of function names to block. The function names are case-insensitive, so "image", "Image" and "IMAGE" are the same. For example, the following configuration blocks the IMPORTFEED and IMAGE functions.

"BlockSheetFunctions": {
  "Value": ["IMPORTFEED", "IMAGE"]
}

Limitation

Although Safe Doc cuts the accessibility as if the inappropriate functions never exist, Safe Doc do not interrupt the functionality of these functions, per se. In another words, if students manually type a formula correctly, these functions behave as normal.


You may also like Disable Comment in Sheets or Remove Image Searching in Sheets.