Google Apps: 5 Ways To Be More Productive

Google's latest updates to Gmail, Docs and more help you organize and collaborate better.

Kristin Burnham, Senior Editor,

October 9, 2013

4 Min Read

10 Epic iOS 7 Tips

10 Epic iOS 7 Tips

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Everyone wants to work with fewer hassles, and a handful of Google updates help you do just that. Here's a look at how you can use Gmail more efficiently, collaborate better with people who aren't Google Apps users, set location-based mobile reminders and more.

1. Send And View Documents Without Signing In

If someone emailed you a Google document, slide or drawing, you'd usually have to sign into your Google account to view it. If you didn't own a Google account you were out of luck: You either had to create one or you couldn't access the file. Google changed this process on Monday, making it easier for users to view documents even if they're not signed in or have a Google account.

Because no sign in is required, Google now generates a sharing link that lets anyone view the content. If that person then creates a Google account, two things happen: First, the sharing link will no longer work for new users to access the file and the sharing dialog box will say the invitation has been used. Then, any user who accessed the file using the sharing link while it was open and signed into their Google account will be added to the sharing list for that file and will continue to have access.

[Is Google Calendar frustrating you at reschedule time? Read more: 5 Google Calendar Headaches, Cured. ]

Users without a Google account will only be able to view the file; a Google account is required to edit it. Google Apps admins can prevent this feature in the Admin console by disabling sharing outside the domain.

2. Get Quickoffice For Free

google apps3

google apps3

Google announced last month that it was making Quickoffice accessible to everyone for free. Quickoffice is an app that lets you edit Microsoft Office documents on all your devices. It also works with Google Drive so you can access files from anywhere.

Quickoffice comes with a couple of new features, too: You can create .ZIP folders and view charts in Excel and PowerPoint files. Because the app works across devices, you don't have to worry about installing separate versions when you move from editing on your phone to your tablet. You can download the Quickoffice app for Android and iOS on Google Play and in the App Store.

3. Compose An Email In Full-Screen Mode

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google apps2

Gmail's latest redesign features a smaller, pop-up compose window that not everyone loves. If you miss the full-screen compose mode for your emails, Google recently issued an update that enables this feature. To access it, click the Compose button, then click the double-arrow icon at the top-right of the compose window. To make this option your default view, go to the options menu at the bottom-right corner of compose and choose "Default to full-screen." Both types of compose screens can be minimized by clicking the black bar at the top.

4. Respond To Emails Without Opening Them

google apps1

google apps1

Gmail Quick Buttons let you take action on an email from your inbox without having to open the individual message. For example, you can RSVP to a friend's party invitation, rate a restaurant you went to, follow Twitter users back and even view tweets without having to open the message. These buttons appear next to certain types of messages in your inbox and are still rolling out to users.

5. Use Google Keep Reminders

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google apps4

Google Keep is a note-taking service that lets you set reminders, insert images and add new lists. Google announced this feature earlier this year for Android, Web and Chrome. Its latest update, however, works with Google Now, a mobile location service, to remind you of tasks and errands while you're at the right time and place.

For example, you can create a shopping list in Google Keep, then set a reminder for time and place. When the time comes -- or when you're near the supermarket -- Google will remind you. To start, select the "Remind me" button from the bottom of any note and choose the type of reminder you want to add: You can add time-based reminders for a specific date and time or a more general time of day, like "tomorrow afternoon". You can add locations, too. If your plans change and you're not ready to complete a task, you can snooze it and choose a better time or place.

Get the Google Keep update in Google Play or on the Web.

About the Author(s)

Kristin Burnham

Senior Editor,

Kristin Burnham currently serves as's Senior Editor, covering social media, social business, IT leadership and IT careers. Prior to joining InformationWeek in July 2013, she served in a number of roles at CIO magazine and, most recently as senior writer. Kristin's writing has earned an ASBPE Gold Award in 2010 for her Facebook coverage and a Min Editorial and Design Award in 2011 for "Single Online Article." She is a graduate of Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

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