Although Google is best know as a search engine, it’s free features stretch its borders far beyond those of a search engine. Getting to know them is a quick way to save time in your busy workday.
1. Google Docs (and Forms)
Tired of emailing drafts to collaborators and waiting for them to send revisions back? Grouping, polishing, and editing spreadsheets, presentations, and papers has never been easier. Google Docs lets you share in-progress files, so you can collaborate with others in real time. The interface gives you a chat window, too—a far more efficient alternative to email. You can also track revisions in the document history, which highlights each person’s contributions. And there’s more. Instead of compiling results by hand or organizing written responses, use Forms to streamline and organize submissions to a contest or answers to a survey. Users can develop everything from invoices to contracts and customize them to their needs. All responses are immediately organized in a spreadsheet, making manual data collection a relic of the past.
2. Google Scholar
Skip the hard copy. Who wants to plow through a library’s arcane databases and mountains of publications with the hope that you’ll get lucky and find what you need? Google Scholar solves this problem, using Google Search’s efficient engine to dig through those articles, journal publications, legal documents, and anything else academia can muster for you. You can adjust the settings to search for particular authors, subject areas, time frames, journals, courts, or states through the advanced options.
3. Google Timeline
Google Timeline answers the timeless question: which came first? Whether you’re organizing data in an official report or just trying to find out if it was the chicken or the egg, Google Timeline can organize just about any web search chronologically. Building on the basic Google Search, the Timeline view (which you can turn on by clicking “Timeline” on the left sidebar of any Google Search) displays news articles and web pages by relevant dates. You can automatically generate a timeline and then narrow search results by selecting a desired time period.
4. Google Voice
Managing a personal phone, home phone, cell phone, and office line can sometimes be a hassle. Google Voice consolidates your various phone numbers, voicemail accounts, and contact lists into one database, adding the simplicity of Gmail to phone calls. Receive transcribed emails of your voicemails, record and save calls, create different voicemail greetings for each contact group, and more. Plus, calls in the US (and Canada) are free in 2011—a great thing to know if you’re running low on minutes at the end of the month!
5. Google Reader
Like to catch up on news in the morning, but don’t have the time to surf CNN, blogs and news websites every day? Get it all in one place—instantly—with Google Reader. Instead of visiting your favorite sites individually, Google reader brings them to you. It imports updates from the websites, blogs, and RSS feeds you choose, displays them in your reader inbox, and keeps track of which articles you have read.
6. Google Patents
You’ve just come up with the best idea of the century. It’s phenomenal. It’s sensational. It’s amazing. But is it original? Save the expense and effort of chasing a possible dead end with Google Patents, which gives you a quick indication of whether your idea is novel. Plowing through thousands of publically available patent documents, you can search through patented gadgets, devices, and processes to make sure yours is still available.
7. Google Mobile
You have everything organized while sitting at your desk, but what do you do when your computer is three blocks away? Google has a solution for the PYP on the go. Google Mobile keeps contacts, maps, calendars, mail, and documents at your fingertips, so you’re never left in the dark. Never lose your notes, forget the directions to your big interview, or get lost in a new city again.
Google’s functionality extends beyond its reputation as a search engine and email provider. Keeping up with its new tools can help you save time on daily tasks and simplify your busy schedule