If you design websites, then you’re likely quite familiar with Google as a brand. Most designers consider Google when putting together the site itself and optimizing it, but it is often the tool of choice for graphic designers, too. The Google settings you choose can make a significant difference in productivity and organization.
Google has about 75 percent of the online marketing share worldwide. While most of the traffic is from advertising revenue and searches, you may not realize Google offers many tools for designers to help improve a website or manage your business more effectively. For your convenience, we separated our hacks based on the tool. In this post, we’ll provide 14 tips on improving your Gmail, Google Drive and Google Docs and Sheets settings.
Update Your Gmail Settings
Gmail is arguably one of the best and most popular web-based email services out there. While the standard settings are adjusted for the average employee, designers may want to make a few changes to their Gmail preferences.
1. Send and Archive With a Single Click
Are you tired of sending an email and then having to go back and archive it before moving on to the next email? Backtracking wastes a lot of time and isn’t very efficient. Fortunately, you can change your Google settings to automatically archive an email upon sending.
Click on the gear icon in the upper left corner of your inbox. Choose Settings and scroll down to Send and Archive. Check the box that says “Show Send & Archive button in reply” and save your changes.
Now, when you reply to an email, you can choose just to send, or you can select a button that says “Send and Archive.”
2. Turn on Keyboard Shortcuts in Gmail
Do you want to be a tiny bit more productive and speed up the time it takes to complete various tasks in Gmail? Change your Gmail Google settings for keyboard shortcuts and start using them until they become a habit.
Some of the shortcuts you can use with keyboard shortcuts include hitting the control key plus:
- [: Archive the email and open next one
- R: Reply
- L: Add a label
You can also set custom keyboard shortcuts in Gmail Labs.
3. Rearrange the Order of Your Emails
Are you tired of having to scroll endlessly to find that email from last week? Set your inbox to pull up the oldest message first instead of the newest message. Placing older emails at the top also forces you to go through your emails and get to a zero base. In your inbox, just above where the list appears of emails, you’ll see some numbers — such as 1-1 of 1, or whatever number of emails you have. The numbers are gray. Click on them, and you’ll see an option to choose oldest or newest. Choose oldest to see the oldest emails first.
4. Trigger Attachment Reminders
Do you sometimes forget to attach a document when sending a message to your clients? Train yourself to start emails with the words “I have attached.” These words trigger Gmail to remind you if you do not attach something to the message. You’ll get a pop up when you hit “send” that reminds you to attach the document. Changing your wording also allows you to stay on top of attachments and appear professional.
5. Enable Smart Reply
As you work on various projects, you’ll get emails such as a quick note about a project. Take the time to type out a response eats into the time you could be working, but you want the person to know you saw their message. One option is to go to your Gmail Google settings and enable smart replies. Smart replies give you an opportunity where you can click a button to send a message, such as “Got it!” or “Thanks!”
Improve Your Google Drive Settings
Your Google Drive is likely where you store many files you access on a daily basis — though we hope you have them backed up on a hard drive, too! Either way, here are a few changes you can make to your Drive settings to make it a bit more designer-friendly.
6. Check Which Apps Have Access
One of the most exceptional features of Google Drive is the ability to tie in apps that allow people to sign documents or make edits on the fly. However, you have to change your Drive settings to allow these apps permission to your drive. Over time, you may stop using apps or feel they are no longer secure.
It’s a good idea to check which apps have access to your drive at least once or twice a year. Sign into your Google Drive and go to Settings by clicking on the gear icon in the upper right. Click the options button, then “Remove this app.”
7. Automatically Backup Photos From Phone
You can also use your Drive to back up photos from your phone. Automated backup prevents the loss of essential product photos or something you need for a client or even personal memories.
First, download the Google Drive app for your device. Setup can be a bit complicated, so you may need to play around for a bit to get it working. Try this:
- For iPhone, open the app and go to Menu/Settings>Photos. Then, set Auto Backup to the on position.
- For iOS, you may need to go into your phone’s settings, navigate to the app and setup from there, depending upon your version.
- For Android, open the app, click on the menu icon and go to Settings and set Auto Add to “on.”
8. View Storage
Are you running out of storage space on your Google Drive? You can go in and see what is using up space and figure out if you can move anything to a hard drive and delete it from your Google Drive. Click on the gear icon, Settings and stay in the General Tap. At the top is the word “Storage,” where you can see how much you’re using. You can also upgrade storage here, but before you do, click on “View items taking up storage” and delete anything you don’t need.
9. Edit Offline
Do you do some of your work offline? You can set up your Google Drive so that you can sync Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Drawings to your desktop and edit documents offline. Then, the next time you’re connected, the files will automatically sync to your drive.
10. Get Immediate Notifications
Are you working with a team on a big project? You can set up your Drive to give you a notification if someone else with permission makes an update to your file or uploads something new. Simply go to the gear icon, click on Settings/Notifications and choose “Get updates about Google Drive items in your browser.” A pop-up notice will let you know, so you can pop over to Drive and see what’s new. You can also set notifications to email you about changes.
Adjust Your Google Sheets and Docs Settings
Many of the documents in your Drive are probably Google Docs and Sheets files. You can also update your settings in both of these platforms to improve efficiency.
11. Set Default Document Format
If you have a specific format you prefer to use for new documents, you can set it to default. Open a new file and type some text. Set the font type, size, etc. to your preference. Now, highlight the text you just typed and go to Format/Paragraph Styles/Options/Save As My Default Styles. The selection will now be your default style until you change it again.
12. Translate to a New Language
If you do business globally, there may be occasions where you need to translate content or a message. Docs offers the option to easily translate your document into another language. Write the document in your language and then go to Tools/Translate document, choose the language and hit the Translate button.
13. Enable Speech to Text
If you have an injury or need to complete other tasks while writing, Google offers a speech to text option. To enable, go to Tools/Voice Typing. A box will pop up with a microphone icon. Hit the “Click to Speak” button and begin speaking into a microphone to fill in your doc.
14. Use Macros
Another productivity hack you can use within Sheets is Macros. Simply go to your spreadsheet and choose Tools/Macros/Record Macro. You then go through the steps for a task. Once you’ve recorded the process, play the macro to repeat. Macros save time and make you more productive.
Little Changes Can Be a Big Help
Making small changes to the settings in the various Google tools you use is one way to become more productive and make your life easier. There are numerous Google tools, and they all have settings you can customize. Whether you use Google Analytics, Data Studio or any other Google tool, take the time to study the settings and see if adjusting them saves you time or helps you run your business more efficiently.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.