Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Add a note when responding to calendar invitations

When responding to calendar invitations, it can be useful to add a note explaining your response. This might be letting the organiser know why you declined, advising fellow guests you’ll be a few minutes late, or calling in via Hangout.

You need to open the calendar event in Gmail to add your response. Notes from all guests are shown below their name in the guest list. Follow the steps below to learn how to add notes to new and existing events.

For new invitations

1. Open the calendar event in Google Calendar.

2. Select your response at the top of the event. Add your note.


3. Click Save.

For events you have previously responded to

1. Open the calendar event.

2. Click the Add a note or change your response link at the top of the screen.



3. Add your note and click Save.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Get organised with Google Keep

Google Keep is a simple but useful tool for keeping track of notes, lists and reminders. It can easily replace the handwritten to-do lists on your desk, or the sticky notes on your monitor! All Keep notes are stored in Google Drive for safekeeping. If you have an Android mobile device, all notes can be synced to the Keep app.  For those of you with iOS (Apple) devices, simply visit keep.google.com in your mobile browser to view your Notes. Google Keep notes can also be shared with others.

How do I get it?

To access Google Keep, simply visit http://keep.google.com and sign in with your Google account.

How do I use it?

The first time you access Google Keep, you will see some existing notes that share useful tips. Take a look at these to learn more about Keep.

Keep on first open

Navigating Keep

Click the Notes button in the top left corner to access the Keep menu. From here, you can view all notes, those with reminders, archived notes and deleted notes.

Notes button

To add a note

1. Click in the Add note box.

Add note box

2. Give your note a Title.

3. Add text in the body of the note OR click the list button (at the bottom of the note) to turn it into a check-list.

4. Use the Remind me button (finger icon) to set a reminder on the note.

5. Use the Colour button (paint palette icon) to change the background colour of the note.

6. Use the Add image button (image icon) to add an image to your note.

7. Click Done when you are finished.

Sharing notes

You can share individual Google Keep notes with other Google users. This gives them the ability to edit the shared note.
To share a note:

1. Click on the note to open.

2. Click the Share button (person with the + icon).

3. Enter the name or email address of the person you want to share the note with.

Share note

Note: Type a comma after the first name to add more collaborators.

4. Click Save.

The person will receive an email notifying them that you have shared the note. They will be able to open it in their Google Keep and make changes.

Archiving and deleting notes

When you are finished with a note, you can choose to either archive it or delete it. Archived notes are shown in the Archive section of Keep. Deleted notes go into Trash, and are permanently deleted after 7 days.

- To archive a note, click the Archive button (square with down arrow icon).
- To delete a note, click the button with three vertical dots, then select Delete note.

Delete notes menu

Learn more

To learn more about Google Keep, visit the Google Keep Help Centre. This also has information about using Keep on your mobile device.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

5 tips for creating a Google+ profile

Google+ is a great platform for connecting with others. Your profile is essential to your ability to connect on Google+. The more informative and legitimate your profile is, the more likely people are to connect with you. The more people that you connect with, the more meaningful and useful your Google+ experience will be. It is also important to know how to protect your privacy by configuring the appropriate profile settings. Use our top five tips below as a guide for creating or modifying your profile.

Note: If you need help accessing your profile, see our instructions at the bottom of this post.

Tip 1: Upload a profile photo...of you!

Having a real photo of you helps you appear the legitimate person that you are. It also helps people you know offline find the right ‘you’, as there may be many people with the same name on Google+.
To change your profile photo, hover over the existing image (or blue head) and click the camera icon.

Tip 2: Change the cover photo

The cover photo is the large image displayed at the top of your Google+ profile. Adding your own image also adds to the legitimacy of your profile. Pick an image that reflects your passions and interests.
To change your cover photo, hover over the existing image and select Change cover.

Tip 3: Enter a tagline

Your tagline is a short and catchy description of you and your interests. It helps people see at a glance what you’re all about. This is good to have, even if your profile doesn’t contain much else.
To change your tagline, select the Edit link at the bottom of the Story section in your profile.

Tip 4: Enter an introduction

A good introduction enhances your legitimacy, gives an idea of the type of content you look for and share on Google+ and confirms to others that you are the person they were looking for. This, along with the tagline, is a must in your profile. You don’t have to share any personal details, just a little bit about your interests.
To change your introduction, select the Edit link at the bottom of the Story section in your profile.

Tip 5: Change the visibility of profile information

You can control the visibility of individual fields in your profile. For example, you may keep your birthday private (reccomended), but your introduction public. Your name and tagline can only be public, but every other field is customisable. You can choose to share the information with:

Only you: The information is only visible to you.

Your circles: The information is visible to everyone in your circles.

Extended circles: The information is visible to everyone in your circles and to people who are connected to other people in your circles (ie. ‘friends of friends’).

Public: The information can be seen by anyone in your circles and anyone who looks at your profile. Use it for information that will help people identify your or decide to connect with you.

Custom: Select specific people to share the information with.

To change the visibility of profile fields, select the Edit link at the bottom of the appropriate section in your profile.

Accessing your profile

Follow the steps below to access your profile:

1. Hover over the Home button in the top left corner of Google+.

2. Select Profile.

3. Click the About tab (under the cover photo).

Friday, 14 November 2014

Quote selected text when replying to emails in Gmail

When replying to an email, it can be helpful to directly relate your reply to specific parts of the recipients original message. For example, when addressing a particular question or statement. The ‘Quote selected text’ lab in Gmail gives you this functionality. Any text you have highlighted prior to clicking the reply button will be quoted in the message reply.

To enable the Quote selected text lab

1. Click the Settings cog > Settings.

2. Select the Labs tab.

3. Find and enable the Quote selected text lab.


4. Click Save changes.

To use the Quote selected text lab

1. Open the email you want to reply to.

2. Highlight the text you want to quote in your reply.

3. Click the Reply button/link.


The quoted text will be automatically copied into the reply.


4. Compose your message and click Send.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Work offline in Gmail

If you think you might need to access Gmail without an internet connection, it’s a great idea to set up offline mode. This lets you read and compose emails offline, and then sends the drafts the next time you’re online. You can also archive messages, apply labels, move messages to folders and print.

To get started with offline mode, you first need to install the Gmail Offline Chrome app. You can then configure offline mode and it will be ready for the next time you are without an internet connection.


Google Chrome

Gmail Offline is only accessible using the Google Chrome browser. If you are not already using Chrome, download it here.

Access to the Chrome Web Store

Gmail Offline uses a Chrome Web Store app to function. Your Google account needs to have access to the Web Store in order to install the app. This may not be available with your school or work account. To check, visit the Web Store and try to sign-in using the link in the top-right corner. If you’re already signed-in, you’ve definitely got access.

The computer you want to use Offline Gmail on

The Gmail Offline app saves data to the local drive on your computer. Therefore, it needs to be configured on each computer you want to use offline. It also means you should NOT configure offline mode on a public or shared computer, as others could access your data.

Install the Gmail Offline app

1. Visit the Chrome Web Store.

2. Search for Gmail offline in the search box (top right).

3. Locate the Gmail Offline app. Click the + FREE button.


4. Click Add.

Configure the Gmail Offline app

1. Type chrome://apps/ in the address bar. The apps menu will appear.


2. Click the Gmail Offline icon.

3. Select Allow offline mail and click Continue.


4. The Gmail Offline app will open and sync your mail offline.


5. Click the Cog button (top right) to select how much email should be available offline. You can download mail from the last week, 2 weeks or month.

Accessing the app offline

Follow the steps below to open the Gmail Offline app when you’re offline.

1. Open Google Chrome.

2. Type chrome://apps/ in the address bar. The apps menu will appear.
Tip: You can also see this menu by opening a new tab in Chrome and clicking the Apps button in the bookmark toolbar (far left).

3. Click the Gmail Offline icon to launch Offline mail.

To learn more about Offline Gmail, see the Google help topic.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

5 great add-ons for Google Forms

Google recently announced that add-ons are now available in Google Forms. This is exciting news, as it means there will be a growing number of extra features available to make your forms even more powerful. In this blog post, we share five of our favourite new Forms add-ons. You can find them all in the Forms add-ons store (just search for them by name).

1: Form Notifications

In a recent blog post, we explained how to setup notifications of form submissions. This add-on makes it even easier! You can now configure multiple email addresses to be notified when someone submits a form. You can also use this add-on to send an email to the respondent after they have submitted the form.

2: formLimiter

The formLimiter add-on lets you automatically close access to a Google Form after specific limits have been met. This can be when a maximum number of responses have been submitted, at a specific date and time, or when a designated value in a spreadsheet is met. You can also choose to be notified when the form has been closed and customise the message potential respondents see when it has closed.
Learn more

3: g(Math) for Forms

This add-on is great for anyone teaching maths! It let’s you build equations and complex math formulas and insert them into questions in your Google Form.

4: Choice Eliminator

Another simple add-on that is really useful. Choice Eliminator can remove a multiple-choice or checkbox option once it has been selected by one respondent. For example, if you wanted everyone to bring something different to an event, you can drop the choice from the list after one person has picked it.

5: Form Values

The Form Values add-on allows you to store lists of commonly-used question responses in a Google Sheet. You can then insert them as answer choices without having to re-type them every time.

These five add-ons are just the start! Be sure to check out the Forms add-ons store for more that might suit your needs.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

MindMeister add-on - turn bullet points into a mind map

MindMeister is a powerful mind mapping application that also has a simple yet effective add-on for Google Docs. It does one very useful thing - turn bullet point lists into a mind map. This is a quick and easy way to create a visual representation of content.

How do I get it?

Follow the steps below to install the MindMeister add-on into Google Docs.

1. Open a Google Doc.
2. Click the Add-ons menu > Get add-ons.
3. Search for MindMeister (top right corner).
4. Locate MindMeister in the list and click the +FREE button


5. Grant permission for MindMeister to integrate with Drive.
Tip: If you do not see the grant permissions box, the pop-up may have been blocked by your browser. Look for the pop-up blocked message and allow the pop-up.

How do I use it?

1. Create a bullet point list in a Google Doc.

2. Highlight the list.
3. Click the Add-ons menu > MindMeister > Insert as Mind Map.
4. A mind map will be inserted as an image. You can now delete the bullet point list.


Thursday, 23 October 2014

Add a calendar preview to Gmail

The Google Calendar gadget lab gives you a preview of your Google Calendar from the Gmail interface. It can display upcoming events from multiple calendars, and also lets you add new events using the Quick Add feature. You can also choose to show a mini date-picker if desired. The great thing about this lab is that it gives you visibility of your calendar without needing to leave Gmail.

To enable the Google Calendar gadget lab

1. Click the Settings cog > Settings.
2. Select the Labs tab.
3. Find and enable the Google Calendar gadget lab.
4. Click Save changes.

The Calendar gadget should be displayed in the bottom left of the Gmail window. If you do not see it, click the three dots button at the bottom of the screen.

Google Calendar gadget

To configure and use the Google Calendar gadget lab

Click on the Options button to view and configure the different options for the gadget. From here, you can display the mini calendar, decide whether to show past events, and select which calendars to display.

Options button on gadget

If you want to create a new event in your calendar, click the Add button.

Tip: If you want to use this gadget, it is a good idea to also enable the Right-side chat lab. This moves your chat box to the right hand-side, leaving more room on the screen for the calendar gadget.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Check spelling in a Gmail message

In the rush to reply to all the emails we receive, it’s easy to overlook common spelling mistakes or typing errors. Whilst Gmail does not have as-you-type spell-check built-in, it does have another little known spell-check feature that is useful. You can also use your browser’s as-you-type spell checking to show those squiggly lines we’ve all become used to seeing under misspelled words.

Here’s how to use these tools.

Gmail spell check

1. Click the More options drop-down arrow in the bottom right of the compose window (next to the trash icon).
2. Select Check spelling from the menu.
3. Gmail will highlight the misspelled words. Click the highlighted word to view suggestions or ignore.

Browser spell checking


You can find information on using the Chrome spell check feature here. For those who do not want the US spelling of words, be sure to also install the English language relevant to your country.


You can find information on using the Firefox spell check feature here. Again, you may need to add the dictionary relevant to your country.

Internet Explorer

Only Internet Explorer 10 or later has a built-in spell-check feature. Earlier versions require a third-party add-on (such as or ieSpell ). To access the spell check feature in IE10+, select the Tools icon and Manage add-ons. In the Spelling Correction section you can enable/disable spell check, and install more dictionaries.


The Safari spell check can be enabled from the Edit > Spelling and Grammar menu by selecting the Check Spelling While Typing option.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

5 tips for working with Google Sheets

Google Sheets has heaps of features for making working with your data easy. Here are five of our favourites.

Tip 1: Insert drop-down lists in a cell

You can control the data people enter into a cell by using a drop-down list of options for them to select from. This is achieved using the validation feature. To create a drop-down list of options:

1. Select the cell (or multiple cells) you want to create the text in.

2. Select the Data menu > Validation.

3. In the Criteria section, select List of items.


4. Enter the name of each item in the list, separated by a comma.


5. Select the appropriate handling of invalid data.

6. Ensure Display in-cell button to show list is ticked.

7. Click Save. Your list will now be shown in the cell.


Tip 2: Wrap text in a cell

Wrapping text in a cell makes it break over multiple lines. This allows you to easily see all the contents of the cell. Click on the cell and then click the Wrap Text button in the menu to wrap the text. You can apply this to multiple cells by selecting multiple cells before pressing the button.


Tip 3: Show all formulas

Sometimes you want to quickly see the formulas that are used in your sheet.
Pressing the Ctrl and ~ keys on a PC, or Cmd and ~ on a Mac will show formulas. Simply press the key sequence again to return to the formula output view.

Tip 4: Conditional formatting

Conditional formatting is used to change the appearance of cells when they contain certain types of data. This is great to use in conjunction with data generated by Google Forms. For example, you may want to make red all the cells where respondents have got an answer incorrect (ie. when the form is used as a test), or expressed dissatisfaction (ie. when the form is used as a survey). To set up conditional formatting:

1. Select the cell (or multiple cells) you want to create the text in.

2. Select the Format menu > Conditional formatting.

3. Select a type of criteria from the Text contains box.

4. Enter the value that will trigger the formatting (eg. the incorrect answer or low rating).

5. Select a text and/or background colour to format the cells in.


6. Click Save rules.

Tip 5: Freeze rows and columns

Freezing rows and columns keeps a designated number of rows or columns on the screen at all times, no matter how far you scroll. This is great when you are working with long sheets. A good idea is to freeze heading rows or columns. To freeze rows or columns:

1. Select the View menu > Freeze rows (or Freeze columns).

2. Select the number of rows or columns you want to freeze.


Friday, 19 September 2014

Approval workflows in Google Docs & Sheets

Managing document reviews and approvals can be time consuming, but the Worflows add-on in Google Docs and Sheets makes it quick and easy. Simply enter the email address of the reviewer, along with a message, and they are notified that you want them to review your work. Once they’ve approved it, you’re notified by both email and a message in the Doc or Sheet. This tools is great to use with both students and colleagues. Get students to add you as a reviewer once they’ve finished a draft, or get everyone’s OK on an important document.

How do I get it?

1. Open a Google Doc or Sheet.

2. Select the Add-ons menu and Get add-ons.

3. Locate or search for Workflows.

4. Click the +FREE button to install.

Workflow add-on install

5. Grant the add-on permission to integrate with Google Drive.

How do I use it?

1. Open the Google Doc or Sheet you want to get reviewed and approved.

2. Make sure the people you want to review and approve the document have edit access to it.

3. Select the Add-ons menu > Workflows > Show workflow. The add-on will open in the panel on the right.

4. Enter the email address of the person you want to review and approve the doc. Click Add. Repeat if you require multiple reviewers.

5. Enter a message.

Create workflow request

6. Click Request approval.

7. The list of reviewers and the approval status will be shown.

Workflow request status

What does the reviewer see and do?

1. The reviewer gets an email with content similar to that shown below.

Workflow approval request emaiil

2. After clicking Review document, the reviewer needs to install the Workflows add-on if they do not have it already. They will be prompted to do this when the document opens.
Tip: You may also like to include a note in your review request advising reviewers that they will need to do this.

3. Once the add-on is installed, the reviewer sees the review request in the right-side panel.

Approve or reject request

4. The reviewer can add a return comment and click Approve or Reject.

5. You will receive an email notifying you of the approval status. The workflows panel within your Doc or Sheet will also show the status.

Workflow status email

Workflow approval status in doc

Friday, 12 September 2014

Automatically decline calendar invitations during specific times

The Automatically declining events Google Calendar lab gives you the ability to automatically decline calendar invitations during specific time periods. This is great for those times when you will definitely not be attending meetings (think annual leave or professional development).

This lab works its magic by giving you an additional availability option when creating an event , called Busy (decline invitations). To put it to use, just create an event in your calendar to block out the time you’re unavailable, and select this new option. Here’s how to do it step-by-step:

To enable Automatically declining events

1. Click the Settings cog > Settings.

2. Select the Labs tab.

3. Find and enable the Automatically declining events lab.

Automatically declining events lab setting

4. Click Save.

To use Automatically declining events

1.Create a new calendar event at the time you are unavailable.

2. At the bottom of the event, select the Busy (decline invitations) option.

Busy - decline invitations option

3. Save the event.

Any calendar invitations for events during this time slot will now be declined automatically.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Merge or re-use slides from other presentations

The import slides feature in Google Slides is a great way to use existing slides from others presentations to build a completely new one. This is useful if you want to merge slides from several presenters into one presentation, or if you have created slides previously that you want to re-use. You can choose to import all the slides from another presentation, or just pick the specific ones you need.
This feature works with both Google and Microsoft PowerPoint presentations. You can choose to keep the imported slide in its original formatting (ie. maintain the original colour scheme, fonts etc.) or update it to match the style used in the current presentation.

Follow the steps below to use the import slides feature:
1. Create a new presentation in Google Slides.
2. Click File > Import slides.
3. Select the presentation that has the slides you want to import.

- If it is a Google presentation: search for it in the Presentations section.
- If it is a PowerPoint presentation: upload it using the Upload section.

Import slide dialogue box

4. Click to select the slides you want to import. Click Select all if you want to use all the slides.
5. Choose if you want to keep the original theme.

Select slides to import

6. Click Import slides.

That’s it! The slides you have selected will now be part of your presentation.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Hide night timeslots in Google Calendar

Google Calendar displays one hour timeslots for every hour of the day. Many people never use some of those timeslots - particularly those in the middle of the night! The Hide morning and night calendar lab lets you hide those timeslots you rarely use. This means you only see the times where you usually have events, resulting in a much cleaner calendar. For those people who do have the occasional event during the night, you can still easily see when events are scheduled in hidden timeslots, and expand them with a click.

To enable Morning and night 

1. Click the Settings cog button > Settings.

2. Select the Labs tab.

3. Find and enable the Hide morning and night lab.

4. Click Save.

To configure Morning and night

1. Open your calendar. Notice that a horizontal grey line will appear before the 8am time slot, and before the 5pm time slot.

Hide morning and night grey bars

2. Drag the line up or down to set the area you want to hide.

3. Click the time slots above (AM) or below (PM) the horizontal line to hide the selected time slots.

Hide morning and night click to hide

4. To un-hide the timeslot, click on the collapsed timeslot to expand it.

Expand morning and night

Tip: If you have an event scheduled during a hidden timeslot, a summary of the event will be shown in the collapsed timeslot.

Hidden event

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