Whether you use Google Apps for work or personal use (or both), you likely know how much more efficient and organized they can make your life. I’ve been using applications like Gmail and Google Docs for personal use and work collaboration for years, but recently I learned some helpful new tips that will save me significant time and improve my user experience. Who says you can’t teach an old Googler new tricks?
In a recent company learning session, our resident Google experts Loren Udwin and Ryan Ellis presented some tips and tricks for getting the most out of your Google Apps for Work. Here are a few of my favorites:
Always use the Chrome browser — even when using multiple Google accounts
This is a tip that I was personally thrilled to get. As someone with separate Google accounts for personal and professional use, I always felt that I had to use Chrome for one account and a different browser for the other. Those dark days are over. I have now learned that you can (and should) use Chrome for all of your Google accounts and can be logged into all of them at the same time. Here’s how:
When logged into your Google account, you have 3 lines in the upper right-hand corner (sometimes referred to as the “hamburger icon”); click on those 3 lines and open “Settings.”
In the Settings tab, there is a section called “People,” and a button that says “Add person.” This is where you can connect and log into your other Google accounts — eliminating the need to work outside of Chrome.
Your accounts will remain separate, but all of your permissions will carry over, and once other accounts are added, you can toggle between your different Google instances by clicking on your name in the upper right-hand corner and selecting “Switch person.”
Save your open tabs for later
Remember back in the day when a storm would knock out your electricity and you would lose hours of work because you hadn’t recently saved a document? Thanks to Google (and computers that run on battery) you no longer need to worry about that, as your working documents save automatically in Drive. But if you’re a regular Google Apps user, you probably already knew that. But did you know that Chrome can save all of the tabs you’ve been working in as well? In Settings, if you check the box for “Continue where you left off,” Chrome will save your open tabs when you close the browser and reopen them when you return — even if you had shut down your computer during that time.
Embed training into every Google app
By visiting the Chrome Web Store you can customize your browser experience with different features and functionality by downloading extensions. One very helpful extension is called Synergyse. By installing this extension, training will be embedded into every Google app for easy accessibility when you need guidance. Once downloaded, the training icon will appear in the upper right-hand corner of all your Google Apps, and when needed, will provide you with a list of specific topics that are relevant to the application you’re using.
Each topic includes a helpful short video (most are under a minute). For example, if you’re in Gmail, videos include topics like “How to change the formatting of email text” and “How to archive an email.” If you find a particular training helpful — or you have that one coworker who can never seem to figure out “reply all” — you can copy the video links and share them with others.
Never miss another ping — download the Hangouts extension
Another great extension to grab while you’re in the Chrome Store is Google Hangouts. When this extension is added to Chrome, you can get Hangouts notifications whether Gmail is open or not. (Just be sure to mute notifications when you’re sharing your screen with others — you don’t want that cat video your coworker sent you to pop up during your budget meeting.)
When you’ve downloaded the Hangouts extension, the Chrome browser will display the green Hangouts icon in the upper right-hand corner of your screen.
How do I open Google Calendar invites from my iPhone?
Although integration has been improving, Google and Apple still don’t always play well together. One of those instances is the inability to open a Google Hangout invite from the native iPhone calendar app. Luckily, our Google experts shared an easy workaround: When creating a Google Hangout invite, after you add a “video call” to your invite, click on the video call link and “Copy link address,” and then paste that link into the “description” field before you save the invite. This will allow people to open the link from their iPhone calendar.
Hint: If you want to avoid this issue completely, you can just use the Google Calendar app instead, and Hangouts invites will open with no workaround needed.
Manage permissions in Google Docs
Hopefully, you already use Google Docs to create and edit documents and collaborate with coworkers. But while collaboration is a great thing, it’s important that you know how to manage who is able to do what on certain documents. When you’re inside a doc and click on “Share,” there is a place to click in the bottom right-hand corner that says “Advanced.” Clicking this will open your sharing settings and allow you to specify the permissions you give to the people with whom you’re sharing a doc.
Once in your sharing settings, you will see 2 checkboxes: one that allows you to select “Prevent editors from changing access and adding new people” and one that will “Disable the options to download, print, and copy for commenters and viewers.” These options can help you better control who has access to your documents and keep them from being shared with unauthorized people.
Another helpful tip for collaborating in Docs is to create folders for new projects and share the folders with your team so they can add relevant project docs to it. This makes searching easier and ensures that projects are contained in one place for archive purposes. Also, when the owner shares the project folder with team members, all docs inside inherit the same sharing permissions.
I hope these tips have been as helpful for you as they were for me, and that you have learned at least one new thing to help you be a more efficient Google Apps user. If you want to learn more, check out our ebook Appirio’s Guide to Going Google.