Thursday, December 04, 2008

iGoogle, Do you?

Posted by Katie Noonan

Yesterday I attended an informative seminar hosted by the Bucks County Women’s Business Forum on utilizing Google’s many free services to make day-to-day office tasks easier.

Though Google is known most for its search engine- which now allows you to edit search results, (if a hit on the search results page isn’t relevant, simply “x” it out and continue scrolling) it also offers over 40 free services to its users, including: G-Mail, Google Earth, Google Calendar, and Picasa for uploading photos and creating albums to share with friends and family, to name a few.

It would take a series of blog posts to cover all of Google’s offerings, so instead I’ve decided to focus on just a few that I feel are helpful in the office, and direct readers to Google’s blog for more on its features.

Google in the Office

  • Google Notebook. If you have pages of meeting notes scattered across your desk, consider using Google Notebook. It allows you to create notes and label them in individual notebooks. So for example, for each client or project, you could have a separate notebook and keep track of every meeting’s business. Google Notebook also has a search feature so if you can’t remember on which day you discussed “issuing the holiday calendar listing,” you can search that phrase and pull up that day’s meeting notes. You can also share your notebooks with colleagues and export them to Microsoft Office.
  • Google Docs. With Google Doc, you can upload a Word document (such as a press release)and then invite colleagues to view the document and make edits. All of the edits take place in real time, so as soon as one person makes a change, another can view it and continue working. There’s also a chat sidebar that allows you to comment about changes as you make them.
  • Google Calendar. It’s a pretty user-friendly calendar that allows you to create an event, set the time and place, add notes, set reminders, create a rule to repeat the event weekly, monthly, yearly, etc., invite others to attend by entering their E-mail address, and probably even more that I haven’t discovered yet. You can also share your calendar with colleagues, so say I’m trying to schedule a meeting with Gina and Leah and one of our clients, I can see both of their calendars simultaneously and find a time when both are available. You can also sync the calendar with your blackberry, iPhone and Apple iCal, and export it to your computer.

I would also encourage everyone (either for personal or work use) to set iGoogle as their homepage. iGoogle lets you personalize your homepage with thousands of different gadgets including various news sources, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Fandango,, etc. It’s a great way to organize the Internet sites you use most on one convenient page.

Check here for the full list of Google's features.

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