Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cut Down on Gmail Clutter with MinimalistGmail

If you are looking to make your gmail inbox a bit more zen, check out this Firefox add-on.

What it is: MinimalistGmail, a Firefox add-on

What it does: Allows you to configure what you see on your screen, such as chat, header/footer, specific buttons, etc.

Looks like:

2009-10-29_103522 2009-10-29_103535

Interested? You can always test it out and then disable the add-on if you decide you don’t like it. (Not sure about add-ons? This might help.)

To install this add-on, you must be using Firefox as your browser. You can find more information and download it here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

11 Years of Google in 2 Minutes {Video}

This video shows a Google timeline. (Side note: Ever wonder why Google is called “Google”? This shows why.)

Monday, October 26, 2009

PureText Allows You to Paste Text Without Formatting

If you often want to paste simple text (without formatting such as font, color, etc), try using this small application that creates a keyboard shortcut and allows you to do so.

It’s called PureText.

Read more about it and download it here.

Export Your Google Docs to a ZIP File

Google Docs has released a new feature that allows you to backup documents.

For those of you that worry about security or access to your files stored ‘in the cloud’, this is a neat feature.

Read more about it on this lifehacker post.

Friday, October 23, 2009

New Google Calendar Features: Hide, Snooze


For those of you who are fans of snoozing and hiding events, Google Calendar now has a few new features.

Read this post from lifehacker for more details.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Shortcut: Duplicate a Google Chrome Tab


For those of you using Google Chrome (a browser alternative to Explorer and Firefox that is made by Google), this tip from a lifehacker post may be helpful.

Duplicate a Google Chrome Tab with a Shortcut Key

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Formatting Your Email Address – Did You Know?

Gmail account names (anything to the left of the are pretty forgiving.

It doesn’t matter if you include a period in your email address. Gmail handles the same as, and the same as

For standardizing purposes, you should keep your email address the same (especially in a corporate setting). But, it’s good to know the capabilities and flexibilities of gmail.

Monday, October 19, 2009

PhraseExpress Video Intro

The music in this video is cheesy, but it gives a brief overview of a few useful PhraseExpress features.

I’ll have some more advice soon about how I’m using this free software to type less and get more done.

Here’s a list of features.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Google Docs Previews: New in Google Labs

You can now preview google docs that are attached to an email.

Enable the lab named “Google Docs previews in mail.”


Then, you can preview the google doc while viewing the email. Pretty handy.


Forgot how to enable a lab?

Find out more here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why Gmail is Great {Video}

Here is a short video overview of some practical and helpful standard features in gmail.

Firefox Add-On: Snap Links

If you often open multiple links (for example, when performing a Google search and viewing multiple results), you can open several links at the same time in separate tabs using a Firefox Add-on called Snap Links.

What it does:

Allows you to drag your cursor to ‘draw a box’ around links (using your right mouse button, for example) and open them all in new tabs.


It also features configurable settings that you modify by going to Firefox > Tools > Add-ons > Snap Links > Options.

Pretty handy if you often open multiple links from a search window, such as Google. In my case, I often search the community and this allows me to view multiple posts related to my search criteria at once, rather than clicking on each of them one at a time.

Note: At this time, Snap Links is an ‘FF3 Unsupported’ Add-on (which means that it is essentially in beta for the newest version of FF). But, I installed it and it seems to work just fine.

Click here to view and install the add-on.

Not using Firefox yet? Read more about it here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Shared Folders: New in Google Docs

Now Google Docs allows shared folders instead of just shared documents. Great for collaboration!

More information can be found on this lifehacker post:
Google Adds Shared Folders to Docs

New Gmail Lab Feature – “Got the Wrong Bob”?

Gmail now has a lab feature that inconspicuously warns you when you address an email to a first name that occurs more than once in your often-used contacts.

More information can be found on the official Gmail Blog.

New in Labs: Got the wrong Bob?

Note: I had to test this out a few times before it would work. The key to testing it is to create a new email addressed to 3 people that you often email together. For one of them, choose the wrong name (same first name but different last name). Then, you should see the message.


Forgot how to enable a lab?

Enabling a Lab

Labs are nifty add-ons to google mail and calendar. They add functionality that you can enable, test out and then continue using or disable (if you decide you don’t like it).

No software updates to install. Just click ‘Enable’ and you’ve got it.

Here’s how:

Once in gmail, click on the green beaker in the top right corner of your screen.


Find the lab(s) you want to use and click “Enable.” You can later click “Disable” if you no longer want to use the lab.


Click “Save Changes” at the bottom of the screen.


That’s it!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Want to type faster? Demo of PhraseExpress Coming soon!


I’ll be putting together a demo of PhraseExpress, my newest software love, soon.


  • Html templates for use with web-based email
  • No more typing the same text over and over again
  • Custom variables included in boiler plate templates
  • and more!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

What is Twitter?

You may have heard about Twitter and wondered what it is. (In fact, you might have noticed my tweets on the right side of this blog, above the search.)


Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read other users' updates known as tweets.

Twitter’s fundamental question is “what are you doing?” This can be in its most simplistic a one or two word answer, but when developed, this is a tool that lends itself to developing understanding and potential for starting collaboration.

Here is a simple explanation from commoncraft (my favorite explainers).

This shows how twitter works for personal use, but similar principles apply in business settings. To understand what twitter can do for business, read this.

Organize Your Desktop with ‘Fences’

If you habitually store often-used files and shortcuts on your desktop, the following free software might rock your world.

It’s called “Fences” and it allows you to easily organize your desktop in a way that helps you find what you need more efficiently.

See how it works in this video:

More information can be found here.

You can download fences here.

I am a big fan of this software. It’s neat that I can simply double click on my desktop to show or hide all of my icons. Sometimes, hiding them all can make my brain a little less cluttered. It also makes my desktop look more professional during screen-sharing presentations.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

How do you ‘undo’?

Gmail offers a Lab called “Undo Send.”

Today, I made use of this handy feature at least 3 times; once when I accidentally sent an email to the wrong person; another time when I clicked send before I was really ready to; and then again when I realized my grammar was a bit off.

You can find it by clicking on the green beaker at the top right of your screen, enabling it and then clicking “Save Changes.”

Then, when I click Send, I see a note popup under the thread of the email I just sent. (Assuming I didn’t click “Send and Archive.” If I did, the note would appear at the top of my screen.)


Then, you can customize how long it gives you to realize your mistake. Go to Settings > General > Undo Send. I give myself 10 seconds, just to be safe.


Yet another way to prevent those “d’Oh!” moments.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

More than You Ever Needed to Know about Searching in Gmail



If you are now accustomed to clicking “Archive” for emails that you no longer want to see in your inbox, you are probably aware of how powerful the gmail search is. You may have been overwhelmed by the sheer number of results or wondered how to filter your search results to find that one email about that one thing.

Discover the ins and outs of using gmail search by reading this article:

Why You Should ‘Remember the Milk’

 I Love RTM.

First, what is ‘Remember the Milk’ (RTM)?

RTM is a task- and time-management web application. It allows you to manage tasks from any computer as well as offline.

Here is a visual tour of what you can do with RTM.

You can access RTM via:

  • Blackberry
  • iPhone
  • Gmail
  • Firefox
  • Any web browser

Personal Note: It took me (Jenna B.) about 2 weeks to fully adjust to using RTM to manage my tasks and to stop writing things down on my standard sticky notes. But, I’m glad I took the time. I’m syncing with my BlackBerry and using the Firefox add-on with gmail to manage my tasks. And now, after several months, I must admit that I’m in love. I’m committed to RTM. I’m ready to go dress shopping and hire caterers.

Here is a solid overview of RTM and what you can do with it, provided by lifehacker.

Clean Up Your Sidebar by Hiding Labels

Since I have 55+ labels, they used to take up a lot of room on the left side of my inbox.

If you want to clean up your sidebar and allow more room for other things (like chat and add-ins), you can hide certain or all labels from appearing on the left.

Go to Settings > Labels and choose Hide All or Hide on individual labels.

Now my sidebar looks like this (a little cleaner).

I can still click on one to show all emails with that label by clicking on the little arrow next to the number of labels and selecting a label, like this:

Create a Map Repository For Often Used Locations

Do you use a map site (like google maps or mapquest) to view the same map repeatedly? This tip might save you some time when you need to lookup directions more than once.

You can maintain a simple Map Repository within Gmail. It's builds on the concept introduced in the post entitled "Creating Notes in Gmail.”

  1. Create a new Label called "Map."
  2. Create a Filter to add the "Map" Label to any email addressed to Check the "Skip the Inbox (Archive it)" checkbox to bypass the Inbox.
    2009-10-06_105359 2009-10-06_105455 
  3. Whenever you search for directions or view a map that you will visit repeatedly, save the map as a gif image and send it (as an attachment or inline) to Include the name of the location (such as “ABC Engineering – Seattle Office” or “John Smith – Home.”

    As an alternative to using a graphic, you could copy and paste the url of the map into a new email. Then you could just click on the hyperlink to view the map. To do this in google maps, click on Link and copy the “Paste Link in email or IM” link.

Using Gmail's Search, you can later find the map much faster then by using an online map-service.

This can be adapted for many other applications by adjusting the label and filter.

Shortcut for Searching for Multiple Labels

Gmail has some advanced searching capabilities that, if you take the time to learn, enable you drill down to very specific information. In this tip, you'll learn how to search for specific messages based on their Labels including how to search for multiple Labels.

If you want to search for all messages having a specific label, you can click on the "Show search options" link, click the "Search" dropdown, select the desired Label, and click the "Search Mail" button.

But a shortcut is to type the Label prefixed with the "label:" query word in any simple search field at the top of any Gmail page, like this:


If you want to view all messages that have selected multiple Labels, for example messages having both 'Label1' and 'Label2', enter the following into the simple search field at the top of any Gmail page.2009-10-06_103342two

To see all messages with either 'Label1' or 'Label2', you can enter:2009-10-06_103342four

Note: the specific label names are NOT case sensitive, but the "OR" operator is case sensitive, and must be in uppercase. The pipe operator '|' can also be used in the same manner as 'OR'.


Creating Notes in Gmail

Some email providers provide a "Notes" function to let you maintain a list of notes. For example you might keep Web site links, random thoughts, etc. Gmail doesn't offer this feature, but by using some of Gmail's other features, you can set up a very nice, easy to maintain group of notes.

Basically, the concept is to email yourself the notes, but Gmail lets you at least better organize and handle these emails. Here's what you do:

  1. Create a label called "Notes"
  2. Create a filter to add the "Notes" label to any emails addressed to You can also check the "Skip the Inbox (Archive it)" checkbox if you don't want to see these notes as a new email in your inbox.

The effect is this: When the message arrives in your Gmail account, it will automatically be archived into your "Notes" Label view, bypassing the Inbox (if you selected "Skip the Inbox"). Nice and organized.

When you want to email yourself from your own Gmail account, click "Compose Email", and just type "Notes" in the "To" field and hit "Tab" or "Enter". Because you used the name "Notes" in the Contact, Gmail will fill in the email address automatically eliminating the need to enter a long address. Then, when you click send, the email gets sent to yourself, and is auto-archived in the Notes Label, just like above.

You now have a Label containing any notes you want to keep, and they are completely searchable!

Practical Application

I use this to include notes to myself within an email thread. I click reply, remove all other info in the email and send it to jbaze+enote@….com. This way, I can view all notes that I have related to a specific email (such as when I am discussing an email topic with someone over the phone). In this case, using a label is not necessary.

I also send generic notes to myself that aren’t necessarily related to another email. To send those, I have setup a filter for jbaze+Notes@….com. I can then further tag my notes with additional labels such as ‘reference’, ‘education’, etc.

A Fresh Start

It's time for a fresh start.

It’s a good time for a fresh start.

Take, for example, this car that has been in our work parking lot (serving as a loaner on occasion, ‘in between cars’ car and ‘I’ve got to do an errand at lunch’ vehicle for the normally mass-transit folks) since 1982.

Today, it’s being towed.

A weekend break-in hastened the decision to tow the car. It still runs (pretty well), the wipers work (sorta) and the speedometer allows for creative guesses at how fast you are really going.

Goodbye to the Celebrity.Today marks a change in our parking lot landscape.

The point? It’s a good day for change, for starting anew. Why not dedicate yourself to boosting your productivity, re-evaluating your task management methods, opening your mind to a new inbox philosophy?

It’s all on the way.

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