Extending Google Apps Mail With Gadgets

Gadgets within the Google Apps Gmail area allow for further customizing your workspace.  Typically, knowledge workers will work within email.  The less you have to move from this area, the better.  You can structure your interface as a central dashboard to other data as well using gadgets.

Adding Gadgets By URL

Gadgets are a Labs feature.  Thus, the feature must be enabled by simply going to the Settings -> Labs area and enabling:

This will provide a new submenu within the Settings area.  You can now add gadgets which are provided by third parties or Google by the respective url.  This will place them on the left side of your Gmail area:


Suggestions To Extend Gmail

You can search quickly to find developers that have provided tools to extend your setup.  ReadWriteWeb.com has five recommendations here.

I have a few which are great everyday tools:

  1. Bit.ly url shortener is great for posting to social media.
  2. Monitor Twitter feeds here to help you stay in tune with the feeds for Twitter as you are working.
  3. The SMS in Chat gadget within Google Labs can be enabled.  It is great for sending text messages to mobile phones from your desktop.

Search the web and you can find a variety of others.  If it is not useful, it can be discarded.  The goal is to keep your workspace streamlined and eliminate mouse-clicks and wasteful movements.

Each gadget can be typically tested for a week to see if it is worthwhile and integrates into your daily workflow.  Replace it if you find that you do not go to it often for content or using the tool for its purpose.

Keep productive by extending your central productivity area, your email in Google Apps.  As you structure your interface by moving things around, you will have a dashboard to operate from efficiently.

Google Apps As A Platform

Email is the center of our workflow.  We communicate quickly and efficiently with the killer app.  Google Apps makes this both an increase in personal productivity and a strategic hub for group collaboration.  Even more so, after organizations experience the immediate benefits, they soon see how Google Apps is a strategic platform which can be extended.

Understanding the Platform Benefits of Google Apps

Google’s suite of applications is continually changing.  This software-as-a-service allows you to focus on getting things done while Google’s engineers continually improve the system for your benefit.  New features and add-ons are tested and added for use within your discretionary workflow.

Google Mail Labs

The Gmail Labs area has an array of additional features which you can activate to augment your Gmail experience.  Canned Responses, Right-side Chat, and SMS Text are among the many features.  This is continually updated as new development features are brought forth.  Simply look inside your Settings>Labs tab to see which ones might be of interest.

Google Apps Marketplace

The Google Apps Marketplace is filled with third-party applications developed by independent software companies and developers.  This allows you to extend the functionality of your system and integrate any of the core Google Apps products with relevant applications.

While many businesses dream of having one application to run their entire operations, this is both elusive and unrealistic.  Like the mechanic who has a toolbox full of specialty tools to do specific jobs, knowledge workers and teams require various specialty tools and systems to manage business processes.  Google Apps can be integrated with your other core applications via a custom software development project or by implementing one of the apps in the marketplace.  Thus, Google Apps becomes an integral building block for a continuous business process.

Growing Your Business

Google Apps is pervasive in the workflow of businesses that apply it strategically.  It is a platform for supporting the movement of data across various systems.  Growing your business comes from the advantages of its extensibility and feature-rich, yet usable interface.  Think through how it can drive deeper into your business processes by thinking of it as a platform.

Google Apps Mail Client

When you click a “mailto:” email link in your web browser, your default email software will launch.  For some who have transitioned from Outlook or Thunderbird, you will have your former email client launch undesirably.

You can have an email composed from your Gmail program as the default email program by using a tool called Gmail Notifier.  Click here to download this tool for your Windows or Mac OS.

In Windows, the Notifier icon will be in your system tray in the bottom right.  Right-click it and select Options.  Then check the box next to ‘Use Gmail for internet mailto: links’ and click ‘OK.’

For a Mac, in Gmail Notifier Preferences, go to ‘Settings,’ and select Gmail from the ‘Default Email Program:’ drop-down menu.

Note you will also have notifications when you receive new emails into your Gmail account as well.


Google Mail Labs Options

Your Google Apps mail can be customized with additional features to enrich your productivity and collaboration.  In addition to the setup our AscendWorks team customizes, you have the option to enable other features in your Google mail.  Here are some additional ones which you may want to enable.  To get to the Labs section, simply do the following:

  1. Go to the Settings menu.
  2. Select the Labs tab.
  3. Enable the various Labs features you would like as part of your Google Apps mail setup.

Here are some of our recommendations and how they will help you:

  1. Insert Images will help you to insert images in the body of an email in addition to the default attachment option.
  2. Green Robot allows you to see the source of the device your Google Chat people are using.
  3. Navbar Drag and Drop will allow you to drag your left-side navbar items around for reordering.
  4. Nested Labels allows you to have your labels appear in a nested layering fashion similar to what you might see in a folder structure in Outlook.
  5. Pictures in Chat allows you to see the picture of the person you are chatting with.
  6. Signature Tweaks allows for your responses to have your signature at the top of the message.
  7. Text Messaging In Chat allows you to use your Chat as an SMS texting tool to mobile phones.

Your system can continually be upgraded with enhancements.  Use these to help you in your communications and workflow for speed and productivity.

Virtual Cloud PBX System With Online Fax

Being able to work from any computer anywhere is strategic and relieves headaches from downtime and accessibility.  Google Apps works in the cloud.  Email, calendaring, contacts, tasks, chat and intranet sites are securely accessed and collaborated on within the context of your business team.

Two other solutions for communication can further augment your collaboration strategy:

  1. PBX Phone System
  2. Fax

Traditionally, organizations would spend thousands for the hardware and software to run phone extensions.  This is no longer the case.  You can run this in the cloud and administer it with ease. This will allow you to scale your business cost-effectively with ease.

Furthermore, incoming and outgoing faxes can be managed easily with a cloud system as well.

Our team at AscendWorks can implement this solution with our recommendation of RingCentral.  Click the button below to learn more.

If you would like to have this implemented as part of your Google Apps implementation, let us know.




Canned Responses

Canned responses are a Google Apps Lab feature which allows you to save and use templated email responses from within your email client.

Here is how to use it:

  1. In the Settings menu, enable canned responses and save. 
  2. Compose a new message.  Type in the content of your canned response. 
  3. When creating a new email, you can now Insert the canned response.

You can delete and insert new canned responses with the same steps.

Keep a set of canned responses which you can edit for outgoing emails or responses to save time in standard responses.  Ensure the language is personalized.

Also as an added note, be sure to not include your auto signature.  Otherwise, this will be duplicated when using a canned response as part of a new composed email.


GMinder Calendar Reminders

Google Calendar currently does not have a sound reminder.  There is a pop-up based on the reminder set in the calendar.

GMinder is a program which can manage multiple calendars and triggers a sound alert before an appointment as a reminder.  This program sits quietly in your system tray and prompts you for an appointment based on the settings you create in the program.  It syncs with your Google Calendar and keeps you up to date.  Try it to see how it works in your workflow.