Google announces Inbox, a brand new way to do email

Today, Sundar Pichai (SVP of Android, Chrome & Apps) announced a huge development for email as we know it on the Official Gmail Blog. The product is called Inbox, and it is a brand new way to approach email “designed to focus on what really matters.” Inbox will be a cross-platform solution (Android, iOS and the browser) and you can actually learn more at the official Inbox website.

Pichai’s blog post covers a few really interesting features that will come with Inbox, which you can check out in the GIF below. Google will begin sending out invitations to try Inbox shortly, or you can request an invitation by emailing inbox@google.com.

Inbox from Google (2)

Here are some of the key features, as explained in the original announcement:

Bundles: stay organized automatically
Inbox expands upon the categories we introduced in Gmail last year, making it easy to deal with similar types of mail all at once. For example, all your purchase receipts or bank statements are neatly grouped together so that you can quickly review and then swipe them out of the way. You can even teach Inbox to adapt to the way you work by choosing which emails you’d like to see grouped together.

 

Highlights: the important info at a glance
Inbox highlights the key information from important messages, such as flight itineraries, event information, and photos and documents emailed to you by friends and family. Inbox will even display useful information from the web that wasn’t in the original email, such as the real-time status of your flights and package deliveries. Highlights and Bundles work together to give you just the information you need at a glance.

 

Reminders, Assists, and Snooze: your to-do’s on your own terms
Inbox makes it easy to focus on your priorities by letting you add your own Reminders, from picking up the dry cleaning to giving your parents a call. No matter what you need to remember, your inbox becomes a centralized place to keep track of the things you need to get back to.

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Manage Revisions in the New Google Drive

If you’re using Google Drive to store and edit Microsoft (or any other non-Google) files, it can get confusing if you’re uploading different versions of the same file. By managing versions in Drive, you can delete a file if it’s no longer relevant and make sure your collaborators are only viewing the correct file.

Manage Revisions was available in the previous version of Google Drive, but it just now made its way to the new Drive. This is great for those of you working with Office files, as well as PDFs, images and much more!

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How to Disable Auto Play Video Ads in Google Chrome

I think we’re all familiar with the annoying ads that automatically play video or audio whenever you visit a website. There are a number of great extensions to get rid of these ads, but there’s actually a really easy setting in Chrome that can get the job done too.

All you need to do is go into the settings section of Google Chrome and change plugins to ‘Click to play’ rather than ‘Run automatically.’ There are a couple of other things you should keep in mind when changing this setting, so check out the video to learn more!

To disable auto play video / audio ads:

  1. Open Settings in Google Chrome
  2. Click ‘Show advanced settings’
  3. Click ‘Content settings’
  4. Switch Plug-ins to ‘Click to play’ from ‘Run Automatically’

Thanks to /r/LifeProTips for this great tip!

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How to Create a Works Cited with Google Docs

If your students are creating research papers in Google Docs, why not show them how to create works cited there too? With the EasyBib Add-on for Google Docs, students can easily create a bibliography and add it directly to their research paper.

EasyBib is one of our favorite Add-ons for GAFE because it makes the citation process so simple, ensuring that all sources are properly referenced. Students can search for books, journal articles and websites inside their Doc and format the citations in MLA, APA or Chicago style.


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Send Bulk Emails Through Gmail With Google Drive

We’ve covered Add-ons for Docs and Sheets in a lot of detail, but I want to go in-depth on one of our absolute favorites. Merge by MailChimp uses the power of Docs, Sheets and Gmail to send custom bulk emails.

Merge actually mirrors the functionality of a Google Apps Script, but brings it into a much more user friendly interface so anyone can use it! You can create your email in Google Docs and personalize it with merge tags from Google Sheets.

You can install Merge (and a bunch of other Add-ons) right inside your Google Doc. From there you can pull in information from a specific Google Sheet so you can send out dynamic emails in bulk.


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3 Ways To Get Support For Google Apps

Google has made a concerted effort to constantly improve support options for Google Apps, and that continues this week with the introduction of chat support. While this is only available for Admins, everyone else can get help inside of Google Apps with a really cool option covered in this video.

In addition to chatting with Google in their help center, Admins will soon have the ability to reach support by phone directly inside of Gmail, Drive, etc. And if you’re an end user just trying to figure out how to use Gmail, you can actually access popular support articles directly inside of your inbox.


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Spell Check in Google Sheets

When the new version of Google Sheets was introduced, many of us noticed that several features from the old version were not available. Several of those features were slowly introduced, but Spell Check has finally been added to the new Google Sheets.

Spell Check with Google Sheets behaves just the same as it does with Docs or Slides. The information is pulled in from the web so it’s always up to date, and you can add words to your dictionary so you don’t repeatedly get asked to change words.

In this video you will learn how to Spell Check with the old Google Spreadsheets, the new Google Sheets and the differences between the two. It’s great to see a missing feature finally be added to Sheets and we hope many more are soon to come!

Here’s a GIF for a quick look at adding Spell Check to Google Sheets!


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Adjust Color and Add Filters to Images in Google Slides

Google gave you the ability to crop and add borders to images in Slides a few months ago, and now they’re bringing even more customizability. The new ‘Image options’ button makes creating beautiful presentations even easier.

This brand-new button give you the ability to adjust the transparency, brightness and contrast of images, while still making it incredibly simple to revert back to the original version. You can also choose between 19 different filters to customize your images!


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5 Tips on Using Google Apps for Meetings

As technology continues to change how we work, one of the main holdovers refuses to go away. While meetings undoubtably serve a very important purpose, many people find themselves wasting time and desperately searching for alternatives. Fortunately for you, Google Apps provides a ton of options for improving the meeting experience from the planning / scheduling faze to the follow-up. Check out 5 of our favorite tips designed to save you time and let us know in the comments what you do to save time in meetings!

1. Turn your scheduling into a breeze

Find a time in Google Calendar

We know how busy your days can be – with daily standups, appointments, conference calls, and other meetings cluttering your schedules at work. Your Google Calendar probably looks like a multi-colored palette of all the day’s happenings, and you’re struggling to find ‘white space’! Have no fear – your savior is here. With the “Find a time” feature on Google Calendar, you can easily schedule a meeting time that accommodates all your co-workers’ schedules, too.

When you make a new event in Google Calendar (or open an existing one), simply click on the “Find a time” tab. All you have to do is enter the email addresses of the meeting’s attendees (you can select up to 20), and their calendars will magically appear on your screen. As a result, you can easily select a time that works for everyone by complying with all their schedules (Your meeting guests will have to share their calendars with you, or make their calendars public, in order for this to work).

2. Have all the relevant files ready to go beforehand

Event Attachments in Google Calendar

How often do you waste time scrambling through your e-mail or hard drive for documents, presentations, spreadsheets, or other files during a meeting? Your time is precious – we know that. So, make it easier for yourself, and everyone else – accumulate all the necessary files for the meeting before you even begin. You can easily attach documents to your Google Calendar invite right as you’re drafting it up with the Event Attachments Lab.

The meeting attendees will see these files in the invitation e-mail they receive to the meeting, under the “More details” section in their invite. As a result, you’ll easily be able to access the files pertaining to that particular meeting not only during the meeting itself, but also in the future if you need to double-check something or track something down. All you need to do is click back to that specific date on your calendar, and you’ll see all the files.

3. Hangout with your co-workers…literally

Google Hangouts for Meetings

Video conferencing has become an increasingly popular medium for holding meetings, conference calls, and other collaborations in the workplace. However, many of the existing tools do not allow multi-person conferencing, and do not offer the ability to collaborate on tasks and/or documents during these calls. Google Hangouts is your best solution to this, and all you need is to set up a Google Apps account. Best of all, it’s free.

Google Hangouts give you the ability to create a Google Doc (or Sheet, Form, Presentation, and / or Drawing) during the Hangout itself! This could be a meeting agenda, action items, or a draft proposal of a piece that’s being discussed on the Hangout. All you have to do is click on ‘Google Drive’ on the left-hand side of your screen, and then simply choose ‘Create Shared Notes.’

4. Follow up, follow up, follow up

Share Follow up notes with Google Docs

A meeting is essentially useless if the attendees leave unaware or unclear of what has been done, and what needs to be done. In order to combat this lack of clarity, be sure to mark every agenda item in your meeting minutes as either a follow-up or an outcome. This simple distinction will increase productivity and efficiency all-around. Share the Google Doc with the rest of the meeting guests, and ensure they are easily able to tell what they need to do.

For even better clarity, you can note on the Doc who exactly needs to do what. In addition, be sure to track changes on the document if your team members will mark off what they’ve done from the follow-ups. You can also choose whether certain team members will only be able to view, comment, or edit the document. An alternative option is to use Do, which allows you to visually mark followups and see all of your meeting takeaways in one place.

5. Be resourceful

Calendar Resource in Google Apps

A little-known feature of Google Calendar is that it has the ability to not only add guests to a meeting, but resources too. This could be anything from projectors to cables to meeting rooms. When creating a meeting in Google Calendar, the individual sending out the invite can add resources to the meeting with an easy click.

Simply click on the ‘Resources’ button, next to the ‘Guests’ button on the screen which displays the event details. The information on these resources will be included on the invite email, so questions of confusion surrounding meeting locations, rooms, or equipment do not need to be answered. And that means less emails, too! (Note: Calendar Resources must first be set up by Google Apps Administrators in the Admin Console)


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12 Google Apps Updates You Might Have Missed During September

September was one of the busiest months in recent memory in terms of Google Apps updates, with one of our favorite tools (Forms) receiving a huge overhaul. Plenty of other tools in Google Drive also received updates, and new features were added to the Admin Console throughout the month. We’ve picked 12 of our favorite updates from September in the list below, so let us know what your favorite is in the comment section!

1. You can finally customize the appearance of your Google Forms


If you asked any power user of Google Forms what feature they desperately needed, nearly everyone would answer with the ability to edit and customize themes. We’ve had to wait a few years, but you finally have the ability to create beautiful and custom Forms! With this huge update to Forms, Google has added a brand new collection of themes to choose from, which can be customized to fit your specific needs. Alternatively, you can start from scratch and create your own Form theme using your own images. Aside from adding custom images, you can also change the form color, background color, font, font size / color and more!

2. Sharing is now easier with a simplified interface in Google Drive


Google has introduced a much more simplified version of the sharing interface in Google Drive and Drive files. This new look makes it much easier to grab a shareable link and pass it along to your collaborators. While this update doesn’t add any new features, I do like the simplicity it offers. If you’re just trying to grab the shareable link to a file, it’s going to save you a lot of time, while still offering the granular sharing controls that we are used to.

3. Voice calls are now free with Google Hangouts

Hangouts for Android
Specifically, Hangouts users can call other users for free, along with US and Canadian numbers, with low rates for international calls. The great thing about this update is that it is reflected automatically for iOS users and Hangouts through the browser. Android users will need to install the new version of Hangouts as it becomes available over the next few days. If you’re still using Google Voice for the free calling, this seems like a great opportunity to give Hangouts a try. Google is making a big effort to increase the adoption of Hangouts, so you’ll see a constantly updated interface with tons of new features.

4. iOS security is even easier with the new iOS Sync for Google Apps

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
Shortly after Apple announced the brand new iPhone 6 and 6+, the Google for Work team introduced a brand new tool for iOS device management in Google Apps. iOS Sync will support existing devices that run iOS 7, the upcoming iOS 8 and the new versions of the iPhone. Check out the original post to learn more.

5. Now you can save time in Google Docs with Automated Lists


We use Google Docs for all different types of lists, sometimes rushing and not even worrying about formatting. With this update, Google will recognize when you’re putting something into a list and automatically add some additional formatting for you. Automated Lists brings even more automation to Docs, which can be great if you’re in a rush or are just trying to save time. This update will recognize numbers, hyphens, asterisks and more, turning them into neatly formatted lists.

6. Make better looking presentations with new options in Google Slides


Every time Google adds a new feature to Slides it becomes an even more viable replacement for PowerPoint. That continued in September as they added even more customizability with Curved and Elbow Connector lines in Slides and Drawings. If you’re a presentation power-user, you know how valuable every little addition to Slides can be. This update is just another tool to help you put together beautiful and professional presentations.

7. 5 more updates make Forms (even more) customizable


I told you there were a lot of updates to Forms in September and these 5 updates brought even more customizability to Google’s survey tool. A couple of the updates allow you to preserve the integrity of your surveys, by only allowing one responses per user and shuffling the order of questions. You can learn how to access all of the updates in the video, but it’s great to see an improved experience for anyone who wants to collect data.

8. Now users can install products from the Google Apps Marketplace


Administrators have long had access to the Google Apps Marketplace, but now end users can install some amazing third party tools on their own. While these tools can bring vital features to end users, administrators still need to be aware of what can be accessed and how to manage that access. Fortunately, Admins have the ability to enable full access, only allow access to whitelisted applications or restrict access completely to the Marketplace.


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