5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Gmail, Maps, Calendar, Docs

Think Big Tech, and I bet Google comes to mind. They control our inboxes, calendars, document storage, cloud storage, routes, etc. Most of their products are free, meaning you are the product they are selling.

You have options. Tap or click here for my list of search engines that better protect your privacy.

We accept Google tracking because these services are free and incredibly easy to use. Hey, if you’re in Google’s ecosystem, you might as well make the most of it. Here are five ways to do it:

1. A solution for your overflowing inbox

One of the best privacy features built into Gmail is spam protection. I’m not talking about a junk folder. This trick is even better.

You can create a new e-mail address, called an alias, without any particular configuration. All you have to do is add a plus sign and a word after your username to your email address, like this: “username + alias [email protected]”.

A practical use is to link your recurring subscription services to an alias, like this: “username + [email protected]”. You can use this trick for email newsletters, correspondence with friends, neighborhood association information, or anything else you can imagine.

Pro tip: It’s also a great way to see if a business is selling or renting your email address. If you notice a message that you didn’t sign up to receive, see which email address it went to.

Go further: To make aliases really useful, you need to filter them into their own designated places in your inbox. Tap or click here and scroll to #2 for directions.

2. Share your emails without giving the password

Do not share your email password with anyone. Period. But you can share an inbox with someone. In some situations, this works very well.

Say you run a small business and you want multiple people to have access to the customer service email. Or maybe someone in your family is sick or aging and needs help managing their emails. They can share their inbox with you.

To add a delegate:

• Open gmail on your computer and click Settings > See all parameters > Accounts and import Where Account > Add another account.

• Enter your delegate’s email address and press The next step > Send email to grant access.

When you grant someone access to your Gmail account, they can sort emails with filters, archive emails, and use labels to organize emails. They can also send, read and delete emails.

Pro tip: Another good use for sharing an inbox is if you have a home email address where you send all your bills. Share this with your spouse. Tap or click for why every home should have its own email address.

Go further: Checking multiple different email accounts can be a pain. Tap or click here for steps to forward all your emails to one place.

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3. This Google shortcut saves a lot of time

Creating a new Google Calendar invitation takes time. You need to open your calendar and then click a few buttons. There is a much simpler way: “cal.new”. Seriously, try typing this into your browser’s URL bar without the quotes. Just make sure you’re signed in to your Google account.

Like magic, a new calendar invite will appear, ready to be filled.

It also works with many other Google services. You can open a Google Doc by typing “doc.new” or a Google Keep reminder by typing “note.new.”

You can use one of the following shortcuts for each application:

• Google Docs: document.new, docs.new, doc.new

• Google Sheets: spreadsheet.new, sheets.new, sheet.new

• Google Slides: presentation.new, slides.new, slide.new

• Google Forms: forms.new, form.new

• Google Keep: keep.new, notes.new, note.new

• Google Calendar: meeting.new, cal.new

• Google meeting: meet.new

Pro Tip: One of the easiest ways to organize your Google Drive folders is to color-code them, which is surprisingly simple. Open your Google Drive and right-click on the folder you want to edit. Click Change Color and choose the color you want to use. Do.

Go further: Keyboard shortcuts are a huge time saver. Tap or click for seven of my favorites, including Ctrl+Shift+V.

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4. See everywhere you’ve been with Google Maps

Google Maps makes getting around easy, but you might not like the harsh reality of seeing every place you’ve been featured on a map. To check your location history, follow these steps:

• When signed in to your Google Account on a computer, open maps.google.com.

• Click on the hamburger menu in the upper left corner.

• When the full side menu is open, click Your calendar. This will bring up a full map of where you’ve been.

• The data of the places you have visited can also be recalled by opening the side menu, clicking on Your placesthen clicking on Visited.

Pro tip: You can exclude certain trips from your search history by turning on incognito mode. Google Maps will not retain your search history or update your location history to include this location. Tap or click here for simple steps to enable it.

Go further: You can completely turn off location history if you don’t like it. Tap or click here to do so. It only takes a minute.

5. Work offline (but you need to configure it in advance)

There’s nothing like setting up to do some work on the road, then realizing you don’t have the internet. The good news is that you can read, reply to, and search your Gmail inbox even when you don’t have an internet connection.

To note: Emails will not be sent until you have a connection again, and you will not receive new emails until you are connected to the Internet. Think of it as queuing up all your responses.

• Open gmailthen click on the Settings cog. Picking out See all parameters.

• Click the Offline tab and check the box to enable offline mail.

Pro Tip: You can schedule emails to be sent exactly when you want. Tap or click here and scroll down to #8 for programming steps. It’s easy. I use it all the time.

Go further: You can also work in Google Drive offline. Get the steps here. Be sure to set it up before you need it.

Keep your technological know-how

My popular podcast is called “Kim Komando Today”. It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from across the country. Look for it wherever you get your podcasts. For your convenience, click the link below for a recent episode.

PODCAST CHOICE:GPS survival advice, digital document signing, Google Photos update

In this episode, Google updates Photos with revamped memories and a new collage editor, use your photos for a virtual clothing fitting at Walmart, Keurig’s new smart brewer makes a mind-blowing amount of coffee, and how to get your real signature on digital documents. Additionally, a rescue helicopter nearly abandoned a stranded man by mistaking his distress call.

Check out my “Kim Komando Today” podcast on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando”.

Discover all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For his daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit his website at Komando.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.

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