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Useful Tools

Below the surface of Google Apps there are a wealth of useful tools with interesting and novel uses. There are far too many of these features to list but here are a few favorites which have been chosen by different members of the IT Team.

Labs Features in Google Mail     

In the settings of your Google Mail account there is tab labeled “Labs”. This tab contains a list of more than 60 additional features which cover all areas of your mail account and you can activate any of these as and when you like. However, but be sure to read the explanation of what the feature does before activating it as some labs features don’t work well together. Some examples of these features are:
  • Inserting Images
    This is a simple Labs feature which allows you to paste images straight into emails instead of having to add them as attachments. It sounds simple but you’d be amazed how useful it can be.

  • Superstars
    Superstars is a Labs feature which gives you additional icons when marking pending emails to work on. Superstars gives you exclamation marks, questions marks and many others icons to help assign priority to your work and help you stay on top of your mail.

  • Custom Labels
    Custom Labels is a Labs feature which allows you to create customized colors coordinated labels for filing mail. This is very useful when adding multiple labels to an email.

Mobile access to your Apps account

With the continued surge in the uptake of smart phones, another useful feature is the ability to get access to your mail, calendar, contacts and documents on the Blackberry, Android, Windows Mobile and iPhone (including iPod Touch) platforms. This mobile version of Google Apps is designed to work on a smaller screen and includes a simpler interface and all the original functionality, so now with the right equipment in your pocket you never need to be out of touch again. For more information and setup instructions to get Google Apps on your mobile device visit the following URL.

Google Talk

Google Mail comes with an instant messaging (IM) feature built into it and this allows you to hold text conversations with people in your contact list. These conversations can then be recorded and filed just like emails or made off the record. Google also has an add on for this called Google Talk which expands the IM tool so you can hold voice and video conversations. There are two versions of Google Talk, one which sits inside your mail and allows you to centralize all of your communication, and a second which is a desktop application like Skype that can run in the background.

Google talk also contains an interesting language translation feature.  While talking to someone you can add 'translation bots’ to your conversation and these bots translate the text you type in real time. For more information on Google Talk and auto translation please see the follow articles and

To see how Google Talk works take a look at this video:


Offline Mode

At the top of the list of Labs options in Google Mail is a very special option called “Offline Mode”. Activating this and setting it up properly allows you to access your Mail, Calendar and Documents as you see them in a web browser but without an internet connection. This means that you can view all of the information you need and update emails, events and documents from anywhere in the world. Then, once you have managed to find a new internet connection, all of your updates and alterations will be sent automatically.

Offline mode works in Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox and uses a browser plugin called Google Gears which you need to download (Google plans to scrap Google Gears in the near future and instead use new web standards like HTML 5 to do the same job). Once you have installed the Google Gears browser plugin, simply activate it and follow the steps using the information provided. However if you run into any problems navigate to the Google gears website which can be found at