Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

Google Tip: Forms Update

Google Forms recently updated to be more consistent with other Google Drive document types. Two helpful new features are auto save and real-time collaboration. The new format is fairly intuitive, but you should be aware of one major change – form responses do not get collected in a spreadsheet by default.

To indicate that you would like to collect responses in a spreadsheet, click the “Choose response destination” button at the top while editing the form.

Choose Response Destination
Next, you will be prompted to name the spreadsheet in which the responses will be collected. You will also see an option to always create new spreadsheets for forms.

Always create a new spreadsheet for forms

More information about response destinations
More information about the recent updates to Google Forms

Google Reader Retiring on July 1st

Google Reader, a tool which enables you to follow blogs and feeds, will no longer be available starting July 1st. Many alternatives exist (though, just like Reader, none are officially supported by CIS). The article below features 5 suggestions – their reader poll winner was Feedly, a Chrome browser extension and smartphone app which can be synced with your Google Reader account to automatically import your feeds. It’s a good idea to find an alternative now so you can import your feeds before Reader is  no longer available.

Suggestions for Google Reader replacements:

Instructions for exporting Reader data:

Google Tip: Improve the New Compose with Shift

Google’s new compose experience is a big change, and some of you may be frustrated with the small compose window docked on the bottom right.

Improve your experience by using the Shift key: holding down Shift when you click Compose will open a new window. If you have keyboard shortcuts enabled in your settings, try Shift C. Replying to an email? Shift R will open your reply in a new window.

More information about Gmail keyboard shortcuts

Google Tip: Finding a Meeting Time

Trying to schedule with a few busy people? Here are a couple of ways to find out when your guests are available.

The “Find a Time” Tab 

After adding your guests to the meeting, click the Find a Time tab above the event location.

You’ll see a side-by-side view of your guests’ calendars and can choose a new date if necessary. How much information you see will depend on how your guests have shared their calendars – you may just see free/busy time, you may see event information, or you may not see anything at all. (The default sharing setting is free/busy for Brown University).

“Suggested Times” Link

Rescheduling a meeting? Look for the “Suggested Times” link below the guest list. Clicking the link will bring up future times that work for all or most participants.

Google Tip: A Minimalist Inbox

Does your inbox look too cluttered? Changing these settings may help.

1. Snippets – Snippets show you the first few words of the email message. If you turn them off, you’ll only see the subject line. Disable them in Settings > General.

2. Personal level indicators – These little arrows show you if an email is addressed to you directly or reaching you via a mailing list. Disable them in Settings > General.

3. Importance markers – Gmail keeps track of what’s important to you so you can leverage features like Priority Inbox or desktop notifications for new important email. But if you don’t use these features, or if you do but want less clutter, you can make the little yellow flags disappear. Disable them in Settings > Inbox.

4. Display Density – Change the amount of space between emails. Click the gear and choose Comfortable, Cozy, or Compact (the images below show a compact inbox). About Display Density.

Here’s how an inbox looks before and after turning off the first three settings.



Google Tip: Better Calendar Search

Need to find an appointment? Try the advanced calendar search. Just like in Mail and Docs, there’s a down arrow on the inside right corner of the Calendar search box. Click it and you’ll be able to search multiple calendars and specify criteria  such as meeting attendees and date.

Calendar Search Tips:

  1. If you don’t specify a date, the search will begin on the date you are viewing on the calendar, which for many people is the current date. If you want to search for past events, include a date range in the advanced search or click a past date on your calendar.
  2. If you have access to a lot of calendars, make sure to choose a specific calendar when using Advanced Search. The All Calendars option – which is the default – will display all calendars after the search is completed, creating a lot of clutter when you return to viewing the calendar.

Google Tip: Search Gmail By Message Size

Now you can search Gmail by size by using the size: search operator.

For example, typing size:10m in the Gmail search box will show you all mail with attachments that total 10 megabytes or larger. The maximum email size is 25 megabytes (though some may appear to be slightly larger), so if you want to clean up large files, we recommend starting with size:20m and working your way down.