Organize your life with Google’s free resources
As a loyal PC and Android user, I am quite familiar with Google and its free products. Let’s emphasize the FREE part which is a crucial reason WHY I adore Google and its software products. Yes, I tend to be quite frugal and Google has been a go-to software for this reason.
Over the years, we have seen Google transform and innovate its products from a standalone search engine into a diverse company with a number of free and paid-for products. Let’s review my favorites from the point of view of a mother with young children and a beginner blogger.
01 | Gmail
Gmail is the email service that is provided for free through Google. I can remember when you needed an “invitation” to join the email service provider back in 2005 and readily jumped on the bandwagon from my yahoo account. The Gmail account has transformed through the years and it now means you have a “Google Account” that opens the door to many other products.
HOW: To sign up for Gmail, create a Google Account by going here. You can use the username and password to sign in to Gmail and other Google products like YouTube, Google Play, and Google Drive. You will need to remember your username and password to sign in unless you also use the Chrome search browser, in which case, you can choose to let the browser save your information for easier login.
My top tips for Gmail
- Open a free account today! It is easy and opens the door to the following products that are an added bonus to this service.
- Do NOT continue to sign up for all the spammy accounts that will run your email inbox up to 1000 unread emails – again! Allow this new account to be your fresh start.
- Organize your inbox using the Gmail-provided organization system or create your own!
- Create an email signature along with automated responses for vacation time, etc. It is easy and looks cool. (I have a couple created at the bottom of this blog post AND I created them with Google Slides.)
- Use this service on your phone instead of the straight out-of-the-box email app that comes standard. You will need to download the app and connect it to your Gmail account. However, personally speaking, it will provide more usability and user-friendliness.
- Real World Use: I use Gmail for communication with doctors, school administration for my children, with my husband, to schedule appointments within our shared google calendar, receive notifications from our church, and now, as a professional email account via Google Domain by making an official ” @knittingourstory.com” email address.
02 | Google Drive
A Google account via Gmail provides you access to a multitude of other products. The first one you should take advantage of is their cloud service called Drive.
HOW: To sign up for Google Drive, create a Google Account from the previous review item. You can view what Drive is all about by going here. You can use the username and password to sign in to Gmail and other Google products like YouTube, Google Play, and Google Drive. You will need to remember your username and password to sign in unless you also use the Chrome search browser, in which case, you can choose to let the browser save your information for easier login.
My top takeaways for Google Drive
- Use it to store important documents and projects, and make important documents.
- Drive can be used as your default option to download and save items within Gmail! Great way to instantly save important documents from your email.
- Save images here but only ones you will probably use on a regular basis otherwise I would use Google Photos as your photo library which will be discussed below.
- Use Drive to create documents! Google Drive is where you can access Google’s online word processor online software apps that are similar to Microsoft products such as Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.
- Use it on all your devices with the free 15 GB of storage for email and Drive items.
- Real World Use: I use Drive to make cool printables for my kids and church, write blog posts, make images for this site, make shared slideshow presentations for instructional purposes, and save important PDFs that I need to access frequently but DO NOT want to download to my phone’s internal memory.
03 | Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Drawings, My Maps, Sites
Create your own documents, slideshow presentations, financial spreadsheets, and much more with just a click of the “+ New” icon within Google Drive.
HOW: To use the resources within Google Drive such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more. You only have to click on the “+ new” in the left-hand corner section (on Desktop) or the “+” symbol in the lower right-hand corner (mobile). You have access to all of these resources for FREE and they automatically back up on the Drive so need to worry about it crashing or losing all your work. Offline is also available if you want to work on documents without internet. To access these apps on your mobile device you may download the apps individually or use them in a browser window.
My top takeaways for using the processing applications
- If I need to compose a formal email and want some collaboration with others for editing purposes = Docs.
- Track your expenses and make a family budget = Sheets.
- Create a cool printable of Paw Patrol or Fortnite characters for your kids = Slides.
- Create and collaborate with other moms, teachers, and missionaries on a presentation = Slides.
- Gather input via a survey or poll for your new product, classroom idea, or outreach project = Forms.
- Drawings, My Maps, and Sites are for specific uses that I could elaborate on more if you are interested. Leave a comment to let me know if you would like a tutorial on them 🙂
- Real World Use: I use Docs for my blog posts and Bible Journaling in the morning. I use Sheets to track blog posts, and affiliate information, and store information in an ordered manner. I use Slides the most in creating images (as well as Canva) and instructional presentations because I love the ability to keep everything in ONE place.
04 | Google Calendar
A Google account provides access to their calendar that is used across the internet! It is amazing!
HOW: The calendar may be accessed via the right-hand side menu under your account name and picture (on desktop) and download the app for your mobile device.
My top takeaways for Google Calendar
1. Create your work schedule, and home life routines, and share them with your close ones.
2. Save important dates straight from your Gmail.
3. Add tasks and reminders within Gmail or Calendar and it will save at an exact time and place perfect for you.
4. Share it! Or save your kids’ school schedule directly to your calendar! Or your church or whoever else may have their schedule available online.
5. Real World Use: I use it to save important appointments like doctor visits and schedule reminders for tasks or projects along with saving the local school’s calendar. My husband and I also collaborate on dates and times for events without double booking! #winning
05 | Google Keep
An app and desktop application that you can use for quick reminders, saving important images, lists, etc.
HOW: Google Keep is another resource located on the right-hand side corner along with Calendar that is an added bonus but not something you may realize is there from the beginning.
My top takeaways for Google Keep
1. An easy and quick-to-use smartphone application that allows you to jot down things you want to remember. It is very similar to Evernote.
2. I love how visually appealing it is along with how it integrates with all the above applications as well.
3. You may end up with a long note that would be better used as a document that you can easily convert with a click at the bottom of your board.
4. It is a great grocery item list maker.
5. Real World Use: Grocery items, school reminders for the kids that can be scheduled in the calendar, blog post ideas, names and pictures of cards for people I need to remember but will lose in the bottom of my purse.
06 | Google Photos
My favorite for last! Google Photos is the unlimited photo cloud storage service, at certain file sizes, along with videos. It also comes with Google Assistant which means you can create little home videos.
HOW: Google Photos is also available via the right-hand side corner menu that is freely given with your Google account.
My top takeaways for Google Photos
1. BACK UP YOUR PHOTOS AUTOMATICALLY!
2. The cloud service can be downloaded onto your phone and used as a backup for all your everyday photos and videos.
3. The unlimited storage and organization allow you to have peace of mind that your digital memories are safe.
4. The Google assistant puts the creative control in your hands as a total beginner! Let the artificial intelligence create home films or create them yourself.
5. Real World Use: My go-to cloud backup for my everyday digital memories. I share images with those NOT on social media like grandparents who do NOT need a Gmail address to access them. Along with SHARED albums with my husband so both of our phones are backed up. I have also used the movie maker feature that is great for TOTAL beginners.
Today’s technology isn’t going anywhere. We are very blessed to have these tools available and smartphones mean we can carry it with us everywhere. I also always encourage people to be mindful of their screen time – children and adults – but understand that it is a tool used for work and pleasure so use your judgment.
The applications are available on desktops, tablets, and smartphones. Who would benefit? Parents who want to stay connected with each other and with their kids. Tracking changing schedules, updating resumes, writing school essays, or compiling a list of donors for non-profit events. Teachers who need to create things on the go. Missionaries trying to create communication pieces on the frugal. Bloggers or online creators design content to share but do not have the ability to purchase Microsoft Office products.
My hope is to transfer knowledge into YOUR hands. Let me know how I can help.