Google Essentials

CDLC Google Essentials Workshop – Feb 25, 2016

Notes from the workshop at the Capital District Library Council, Albany NY on Feb 25, 2016

Getting Help

Google services change all the time. So be prepared to use your search skills to find answers to the inevitable “why …… ”


  • Check the settings for various products.
  • Check the Google Help Files. (But remember that they might be out of date.)
  • Google it! And limit your search to the last 6 months or so.



Multiple Accounts

This seems to be a really common problem as many people have multiple accounts. Even though you can switch between accounts using the account switcher menus (top right), apparently it doesn’t always work smoothly.  This blog post has a way to get around this by setting up different users in Chrome, associating each Google account with a different user (call the user accounts something like: work, personal, etc.) Then you switch between chrome users. This could work great for family members who are sharing a browser. There’s a screencast in the blog post that explains it.

Sharing contacts: Again, lots of questions about this. Best answer I could find is to export from one account and import to the other, then merge duplicates.  A bit of a pain. Maybe there’s a 3rd party app of some sort to make this simpler?


  • Tips and notes up to date as of Feb 2016
  • Search just keeps getting better, I think most of us have given up trying to keep track of every little change. But here are some tips and tricks and some recent trends.

Search Tips

  • Always check the search options that appear above your search results. Limiters vary by type of content retrieved. Search Tools → Anytime leads to date limiters. So handy.
  • Word order does matter! Try variations on your search to see what brings up the best results
  • Phrases: use quotes for phrases. eg:  “Polly Farrington” won’t find Polly-Alida Farrington
  • Site Limiter: Searches for content in specific site or type of site. eg:  for academic institutions in Iran.
  • Combine searches: eg:  site:ir “american spy den” Phrases from a different point of view (Alan November shared this example of Iran hostage crisis from an Iranian point of view. using American Spy Den as the phrase.
  • filetype limiter is also very handy.
    • eg: landscaping plans filetype:pdf
    • household budget examples filetype:xls
  • OR  still works, as long as it’s in capitals.
  • Verbatim: Google usually adds in synonyms and related words. This used to be accomplished with the use of a ~. The ~ no longer does anything. Synonyms and related words are included by default. But if you really don’t them, use Verbatim – it forces Google to search for the terms just as you entered them.  Find it under the search limiter drop down menus above your search results.
  • + sign does nothing. To force google to really make sure the word is in the results use intext:keyword
  • – sign still works to eliminate a word. panthers -football -carolina
  • Image search → Type → Animated  to find animated images (gifs)

Search Info

More Search Tips and Related Stuff

  • Knowledge Panel – The section on right that often shows summary of information about your query. Try searching for a fruit or vegetable and you’ll get nutrition info.
  • Question Answering – Answers to search questions sometimes appear in a box at the top of the search results. The information is extracted from other web pages and is an attempt to answer your question without having to leave Google.
  • Google keeps getting better at understanding more complex natural language queries, ones that we would understand immediately.
    • Who was president during world war 2
    • What was the population of Singapore in 1965?
    • What is the largest man made reservoir in the world?
  • Google Trends – shows search trends – lots of info on the election. Search for terms and see how oftent they’ve been searched. Information back to 2004. Compare terms eg: Donald Trump Hillary Clinton

Google Scholar

  • Scholarly articles, often PDFs from author websites and institutional repositories. Also draw on journal databases.
  • Settings: Install the Google Scholar button extension – Highlight text, click button, quick search of scholar. If you’re viewing an article on a web page, the button will provide citations of that article .
  • Connect your library: If you’re affiliated with a library that provides access to scholarly databases, add that affiliation the settings.. Search results will indicate if articles are available through your library or not.
  • Set up “My Citations” page. Handy for anyone with ongoing research interests. Add your citations. get citation links and some data. Page of articles that might interest you based on your research.
  • The “My Library” in the left navigation bar allows you to set up an account and save google scholar references to that account so you have all in one place.

Librarians Find Themselves Caught Between Journal Pirates and Publishers


  •  – access to archive of scanned newspapers
  • Browse by paper name and dates. Also searchable.
  • Can also search with this structure from regular google search box:
    • “president lincoln”

Google Drive & Docs

  • Google Docs has been around longer and is the service that lets you create word-processed documents, spreadsheets, forms and slide presentation. You create them through a browser and the whole process is online. All the files you create are stored online or “in the cloud”.  I find it helpful to think of Google Docs as the online software equivalent of MS Office.
  • Google Drive came along later and is now the place where all those files you create with Google Docs are stored. In addition to Google Docs files, you can upload any kind of file to Google Drive. If you have a bunch of photos or MS Word Docs or PDFs that you want to store online, you can upload them to Google Drive. Then they’ll be available to you wherever you go. Helpful to think of Google Drive as your hard drive in the cloud.
  • Google Drive gives you 15 GB of free storage. Your Google Docs files don’t count towards that. The other files you upload from do.  Photos synchronized from your phone don’t count either, as long as you opt for something less than the full size original photo.
  • Shared files – used to be hard to sort through the shared files. Now you can organize them within your Drive space. Add them to folders and such. Doesn’t affect the file itself, it’s still shared. All it does is give you a way to make files more findable if you like to organize things.
  • Organizing: Folders and Files. And some people don’t use folders at all. They just use the search function and “recent” to find things.
  • TIPS:
    • Voice Typing: Use a microphone, speak clearly and Google docs will type your text for you. Option is in the TOOLS menu
    • Research: brings up a Google search box to the right. As you add content, it creates footnotes. Handy.
    • Templates to get started. Some appear in the File–>New–> from Template option. Lots more in the old Templates directory:
    • Working Offline: Requires some preparation!! This article has a good step-by-step.,2817,2486399,00.asp

Drive Addons

  • Addons are handy utilities that interact with your google docs.
  • EasyBib, Chart Maker, Panda Docs.
  • Sudoko generator for sheets.
  • Choice Eliminator addon for forms – run it and release your form. Options disappear as people choose them. Great for scheduling time-slots – if one is taken by someone, the next person doesn’t even see that time slot as an option.

Chrome Browser

Google stuff generally works best in Chrome. Available for many devices. Make sure to set up a Chrome user profile for your google account so your search history, addons, etc are synchronized between devices. You can also set up multiple profiles for your multiple google accounts and for users sharing a computer.

Chrome – Apps & Extensions

  • Apps are often simply shortcuts to websites, which isn’t really what apps were intended to be. The original intent was for apps to be standalone tools that would run offline. The apps you install can be found on the multi-colored grid in Chrome or on your computer desktop.
  • Extensions: They add functionality to your browser and can interact with multiple web pages. For example, the Save to Pocket extension adds the ability to clip an article to your to-read list in Pocket. Similarly, the Pinterest extension adds an icon that will help you add a page to your Pinterest account.
  • Find your installed extensions:  Using the Menu option in the top right corner of Chrome, select More Tools, then Extensions. From here you can deactivate, activate, delete and add extensions.
  • Nice list from a school librarian :

Google Maps

  • TIP: San Francisco is a good location to test features.
  • Map view: Streets, not satellite view.
  • Earth View: is what was called satellite view
    • Has 3D view option (settings on left menu)
    • Lite Maps won’t show 3D.
  • Street View: In Earth or Map view – click the little orange pegman at bottom right. Blue streets have street view. Click on the location you want to explore.
  • Street view isn’t just streets! Visit the Akiyoshi-do caves in Japan. Or Machu Picchu
  • To see aerial views over time.
  • Maps also have Terrain, Bike and Transit views
  • Maps provide traffic conditions and turn by turn directions.
  • Google Treks include some wonderful explorations of unusual places.
  • Google Earth info and My Maps Tutorial
  • YOUR TIMELINE:   You might want to turn off location tracking!
  • MY MAPS: Create personal maps for travel. Handy, syncs with mobile.
    • Can also import data from a spreadsheet, label it and categorize it.
    • Create an embeddable maps of member libraries, branches etc.
    • Students – research data in a spreadsheet, pop it into a map. Label data based on categories on on # ranges.

Google Hangouts

Google Photos

  • Photo options have a weird history and are messy. PicasaWeb, Picasa, Google+ photos, Google Photos.
  • Google+ photos option is gone. All the photos you might have posted there are now in your Google Photos app.
  • Don’t need a G+ account to use Photos anymore. It’s now a standalone app.
  • Upload from desktop or setup Android/iOS app to upload your mobile photos.
  • Store in high quality and  you won’t be limited on storage space. Or store original (huge files!) quality and that counts towards 15GB limit in Google Drive.
  • Best in Chrome – Options for editing. Both within Google Photos and options to open in other editors.
  • Create animations with multiple photos, organize into albums, share albums.

Google Calendar

  • Create different calendars for different parts of your life. Share them with others – or not.
  • Embed them in public web pages to share public events
  • Add holidays from 54 countries!
  • Add events from google search bar by typing or speaking: create event Friday at noon lunch with mary

Google Cardboard