Today marks the start of Google I/O 2015, the annual conference held by Google where they announce new products and features. No matter where you are, keep up with the action and join me as I answer your questions live during the conference. Just use the hashtag #AskTheGooru.
Every application in the Google Apps suite has it’s own deep feature set. Even when you think you have them all mastered, they surprise you with a few more hidden away tricks.
Whether you are trying to ignore a group email thread that keeps popping up in your inbox or want real-time analysis of your Google Form results, there are tools that can help you out. Check out some of my favorite “hidden gem” features that are tucked away in Gmail, Forms, Calendar, Sheets, and Docs.
1. Mute annoying group threads (Gmail)
We’ve all been there. A group email thread quickly deteriorates into lunch discussions and inside jokes, popping up in your inbox each time another irrelevant reply is sent. Did you know Gmail offers the option to mute these threads so they don’t distract you from your real work?
2. Get real-time analytics on Form results (Forms)
Quit wasting your time with countless formulas to try and gain insight from your Form results. This little known feature does all the work for you. Form Result summaries display graphs and charts that break down the results as they come in.
3. Find the perfect time to meet (Calendar)
After creating an event and adding your contacts and/or resources, you can use the ‘Find a time’ feature to bring up everyone’s schedules side-by-side. This makes it really easy to find available time that works for everyone!
4. Keep your cell formats consistent (Sheets)
The paintbrush tool in Google Sheets provides a pain free way to copy the formatting from one cell to another. When you are copy and pasting information into a spreadsheet this tool will help you keep the fonts, colors, and conditionals consistent throughout.
5. Add structure to your Doc with a table of contents (Docs)
You don’t need to use “command + f” to find content in those lengthy Docs anymore. Creating a table of contents in a Google Doc is quick and easy. Make your longer documents quicker to navigate by generating links that take readers directly to specific sections or passages.
I often receive emails asking for an email scheduling solution, and with good reason! Scheduling an email is a great way to get ahead on work and take care of that Father’s Day email before you forget. Since Gmail does not offer a native way to schedule emails, several Chrome Extensions have stepped up to provide this functionality.
Boomerang, Right Inbox, and SndLatr, all allow you to schedule an email to be sent at a later date. But with so many options with varying features, how can you decide which one to use? We took the time to try them out and put together this three-way comparison to make the decision a little easier for you.
Scheduling emails for later
All three of these Chrome Extensions add a button to Gmail’s compose window that allows you to select a date and time for the email to be sent. There is almost zero differentiation between the three options when it comes to basic scheduling functionality but it is in their additional features that they diverge.
Set a reminder so you don’t lose track of sent mail
The reminder feature will pull a sent email back into your inbox after a set amount of time. This will help you keep track of important emails that can often get lost in the shuffle of Gmail’s sent folder.
With Boomerang (website), you simply select the time frame or set a specific date when you want the email to be placed back in your inbox. You can also decide on an action that will cause it to be returned to your inbox, such as if the recipient does not open or reply to the email.
Right Inbox (website) gives you the option to choose when you want to be reminded and also what type of reminder you will receive. The reminder can be anything from bumping the email to the top of your inbox to adding a label to the message and marking it as important.
The reminder function in SndLatr (website) differs slightly in that it is only available when replying to an email but not when you are composing a new email. Click the clock icon in the top right and select when you would like the email to appear back in your inbox.
Send a recurring email
A recurring email will send repeatedly on a regular schedule over a set time frame. This can be useful for reminder emails that need to go out every Monday or on the first day of every month.
To schedule a recurring email, click on the recurring button and select the frequency at which the email will be sent, the time and day the email will be sent, and the date you would like the email to stop sending regularly.
Snippets can save you time composing emails
If you find yourself sending the same email to different people frequently, you may want to save time by creating a snippet. A snippet is a saved response that you can select to quickly populate an email. This can be useful for responding to common support inquiries or sending welcome emails to new employees.
Note: The Gmail Lab “Canned Responses” serves the same purpose as snippets and does not require a Chrome Extension.
Click the snippets button to create a new snippet or populate the email with an existing one.
I chose these three email scheduling solutions to compare because they are great, lightweight options for the casual Gmail user. As you can see from the comparison above, they will all get the job done and differ very little in terms of usability.
If you are interested in a more advanced email scheduling option with CRM functionality I would recommend checking out some some Enterprise options such as YesWare (website), Followup.cc (website), or Streak (website).
Self-driving cars, Google Glass, and virtual reality headsets, it is no secret that Google builds products that seem to be pulled straight from the imaginations of science fiction writers. But did you know there are futuristic Google technologies you can use right now for free?
We’ve put together a list of six free and ready-to-use tools that will make you feel like you just got out of a time machine. From sending links via sound waves to navigating outer space from your desktop, we are truly entering a new era of technological progress. Join us and explore the future now.
1. Send links to your friends via soundwaves
Emailing a link to your office neighbor is so 2014. Google Tone allows you to share links with those nearby through unique sound waves. Just press the speaker button in the top corner of your browser and a series of beeps and buzzes will let you know it’s working. You can even use Google Tone with long-distance friends by playing the beeps to the intended recipient over a Hangouts video call.
2. Google search has gone hands free
Forget about manually typing out your next Google search like some sort of caveman. Start by clicking the little microphone on the right side of the Google search bar to activate voice search, then simply say out loud what you want Google to find for you. Now that your hands are no longer needed, you can use the newfound freedom to knit a sweater… or a space suit.
3. This personal time machine will retrace your steps for you
Where were you at 3:00 pm on February 12th? Using Google Maps’ Location History, you can see a map of everywhere you have been on any particular day. Browse the places you visited and the route you took to get there. Try it out now and rediscover that hidden shortcut you took to the office last month.
4. Explore the universe from your desktop
For those of you that have ever dreamed of becoming an astronaut, now is your chance. Soar through the Milky Way and beyond on Google Sky, a version of Google Maps designed to view what lies beyond Earth’s atmosphere. Use the search bar to find points of interest like constellations and far off planets that are scattered throughout this vast extraterrestrial map. If floating in space is making you queasy there are also surface maps of the moon and Mars to check out. This is one small click for man, but one giant map for mankind.
5. Quantify your browsing habits
Have you ever wondered where you are spending your time on the web? This mystery can now be solved thanks to Chrome Visual History, a Chrome Extension that quantifies your browsing habits and displays them to you in easy to read pie charts. This can be a great tool for analyzing which sites you visit most often and optimizing your online life, or maybe just your bookmark bar.
6. Turn a mobile device into a desktop computer
The line between phone and desktop computer just a got a little more blurry. Access your computer’s desktop from anywhere with the Chrome Remote Desktop extension and mobile app. Navigation is easy when your pointer finger becomes your trackpad/mouse and the clacking of keys is replaced by the gentle tapping of your thumbs. You don’t need to be at your desk to be a part of the future of computing–it’s in your pocket.
Bonus: The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Google Galaxy
Google snuck in a little homage for fans of the sci-fi classic, A Hitchhiker’s Guide To Galaxy. Try entering “What is the answer to life, the universe and everything?” into the Google search bar for a fun referential answer to the age old equation at the top of the results page.
Everyone knows that you can perform a Google search directly from your Chrome browser. What if you know which site has what you’re looking and don’t want to search the entire web?
Site specific search allows you to use the full power of Google’s search functionality to quickly find specific content on a website. If you know where you should be looking you shouldn’t waste time sorting through a long list of unrelated search results pointing you to all different sites. Use site specific search to find what you are looking for where you are looking for it.
Summer is almost here and, along with the enthusiastic sounds of students heading off for summer vacation, you need to prepare your Google Apps domain for the upcoming school year.
This can be a complicated process involving multiple systems and processes. But don’t worry, from adding new teachers to Google Classroom to automatically blocking inappropriate emails, we’ve got you covered.
This is our list of 7 things we believe every school’s IT department should take care of as part of their preparation for the new school year.
1. Add Teachers In Google Classroom
A new school year means new teachers. Rather than teach every new teacher how to register for Google Classroom, Admins can do it for them in the Admin Console, and now Admins can even add multiple teachers to a single class for improved collaboration.
2. Bulk Update Your Org Units To Ensure Proper Class Structure
Changing around class structure for the new school year has never been easier. BetterCloud for Google Apps allows you to update and organize Org Units in bulk and avoid the tedious task of updating them one by one in the Admin Console.
3. Audit Chromebooks in Use Throughout Your Domain
With multiple Chromebooks deployed across your domain, it is important to account for each device before they are in use in the classroom. What do you do if you find some devices are unaccounted for? Google allows you to put a stolen or lost Chromebook into a disabled state as a security measure. Once disabled, the device will display a lock screen until re-enabled by the admin.
4. Scan Your Domain’s Drive For Sensitive Information
Are you doing all you can to ensure your school’s Drive is secure? You don’t want to start a new year with improperly shared files. Using BetterCloud for Google Apps, Administrators can run a scan that will search your domain’s documents for content deemed sensitive or inappropriate and will notify you how they are shared. You can then adjust the sharing settings of the documents to comply with your school’s policies using their Google Drive Compliance tool.
5. Create an Email Quarantine To Block Inappropriate Emails Being Sent/Received In Your Domain
As a school administrator, ensuring emails sent in the domain are appropriate is a must. Luckily, catching unsuitable emails before they are delivered can be automated. Email Quarantine allows Admins to define inappropriate terms that may be contained in an email in advance, then screen emails that violate that policy, and finally decide if those emails should be delivered to their intended recipient.
6. Audit Your Groups And Delete Any That Are Not In Use
Summer is the best time to figure out which Google Groups are still being used and which can be removed. A great way to do this is by analyzing each Group’s member count. While the Admin Console only displays each group’s members individually, this tool provides a comprehensive report as well as the ability to edit group membership in bulk.
7. Create Online Dynamic Syllabi Using Google Docs
The modern student does everything online, and this coming school year, their syllabus should follow suit. By adding a table of contents, page numbers and headers to your online syllabi you can create a dynamic and easier to use standard for both teachers and students. Since it is hosted on Drive rather than printed on paper, you can change or update the syllabus at any time.
Collaboration is central to the Google Apps platform and Google Classroom is no exception. Last month, Google made it even easier for teachers to collaborate in Classroom by adding the ability to add multiple teachers to one class.
Prior to this update, additional teachers had to be added as students in the class with no added permissions and no easy way to share the workload. Teachers can now work together seamlessly on creating assignments and answering questions that are asked in the class stream.
gCON, the world’s largest online event series for Google Apps customers, hosted gCON 360 April 27-29, bringing together thousands of Google Apps users from around the world through Google’s Hangouts on Air platform.
Googlers, certified Google Apps experts, and ecosystem partners such as Spanning, Virtru, Switch.co, Smartsheet, and AODocs (add links) presented interactive sessions on topics ranging from security, to IT management best practices, and strategies for encouraging end user adoption of the Google Apps suite, while answering hundreds of questions from the audience.
Take a look at the impressive stats below, and be sure to subscribe to our daily newsletter to be notified of the next gCON event.
The Chrome Web Store is filled with Extensions that are intended to improve your browsing experience in Google Chrome. We recently covered 10 of our favorite Chrome Extensions that can make a huge difference in your day-to-day life. If you have ideas for how Google can improve their Chrome browser you’re in luck because there is now a Chrome Extension that does just that!
Two days ago Google released the Chrome User Experience Extension, which is designed to gain feedback from Chrome users so Google can improve the product. It works by prompting you to complete short surveys a few times a day about your experience using Chrome which they then take and use to make Google Chrome better. This Extension is a great way to take part in the Google product cycle and directly impact the direction of your favorite web browser.
Here is how you can get in on the action:
1. Navigate to the Chrome User Experience Extension in the Chrome Web Store and click “Add To Chrome”
2. Read through the permissions it uses and then click “Add”
3. Acknowledge and accept the terms of service
4. Fill out the form to join the Chrome Survey Program
5. You will now receive pop ups in Chrome (up to 4 times a day) prompting you to fill out short surveys about the Chrome browser. Click “Take Survey” to be taken to the survey.
6. The surveys will focus on different aspects of the Chrome browser and your answers will help the Google Chrome team make improvements to the browser.
The more surveys you complete the more say you have in the direction of Google Chrome!
What impression does your YouTube channel make to first time visitors? First impressions can often be your only impression and any confusion or uncertainty can drastically affect the return rate of visitors. By customizing your YouTube channel page, you can control that first impression as well as every impression after that.
YouTube channels allow you to choose a trailer video that will display for first time visitors. We recommend an introductory video that gives a bit of explanation of what can be found on the rest of your channel. In addition to this, you can also create a trailer video that displays for return visitors in order to make the ultimate second impression and beyond!