Many of the ProfHacker writers use some Google tools, and over the last few months we’ve written quite a few posts about them. We have a few more coming up later this week, so I thought that this would be a good time to go through the archives and round up some of these earlier posts.
In October, Alex and Amy wrote an An Introduction to All Things Google kicking off the series with personal descriptions of their use of a large number of Google tools. Both of them emphasized the mobility that Google tools offer, especially when combined with an Android phone, which allows for synchronized access to calendars, mail, and task lists from nearly any location. Although Android phones are not necessary to use Google tools, Julie and Alex both have written more extensive posts about their benefits: Using Super Smartphones for Productivity, Update on my Productivity with a Super Smartphone, and All Things Google: The ‘Droid You’re Looking For.
Gmail, Google’s cloud-based mail application, often serves as users’ introduction to the Google application philosophy and interface. Brian and Amy wrote a very useful post All Things Google: 3 Ways to Use Gmail as Your Only Email Destination, which explains how to use Gmail to read your other email accounts and to send mail from other email addresses (like your university account). A little-known GMail feature they highlight is the ability to create multiple email addresses associated with your main account. Many people use Gmail to organize and streamline their information streams and workflow. For instance, Amy has written about Using Filters to Manage Your Inbox and Nels has a much-cited post on his personal blog about using Gmail labels to keep track of GTD next actions. Amy noted that you can sometimes use Gmail to convert a PDF file into HTML in order to copy text out of it; George has recently presented How to Hack Your Inbox, his method for using Google Docs and Gmail to manage student contact information; and I mentioned the Forgotten Attachment Detector.
Julie has provided an important introduction to Google Documents in two posts: Getting Started with Google Docs in the Classroom and Revisiting Google Docs for Classroom Use . Although her focus is the pedagogical applications of “sharing with collaborators, synchronous and asynchronous editing, using the revision history, and sending collaborator notifications” her posts also suggest ways that collaborative research projects could be furthered by using Documents. Of course, there are times when hard copies of a document are required, and Amy explains in Using Google Documents when others need paper how to print a Document to PDF format for archiving or printing purposes.
Some Other Google Apps
In All Things Google: Using Google Reader to Streamline Your Reading Amy clearly explains how a feed reader can simplify your life. In All Things Google: Tasks I described key features of Google’s task-tracking app. Google is, of course, frequently adding new features to its existing apps, sometimes in surprising ways, as outlined in Julie’s explanation of Google Buzz a short time after its rollout. Chrome, Google’s web browsing software, is not a cloud-based app like the others mentioned here, but Julie’s post Using Google Chrome and Chrome Extensions for Speed and Productivity gives a good overview.
This list of posts related to Google is by no means exhaustive, as we here at ProfHacker seem to mention Google apps in passing quite frequently. As always, if you are happy with the email, document-sharing, or reader programs you are currently using, then there’s no need to consider switching. We’re not pushing Google. But certainly quite a few of us have found some of its tools to be helpful for research, teaching, and overall productivity.