Google Apps are an incredible tool for collaboration. Here’s some of the things I’ve picked up along the way:
1. Shared Team Folder
To avoid having to share all files in GDrive individually I generally create a single folder with the name of the team to be collaborated with, e.g. Finance, and set them up as email collaborators up front (right click on folder>Share>Email collaborators). A more granular sharing can then be done on a folder by folder basis.
If there is a Google Group set up for the team they can be added en-masse by adding the GGroup email address.
2. Use Individual Google Accounts
Google accounts can be used as de-facto user accounts to track changes, ownership and set file/folder access. Rather than everyone using the login of the shared GDrive administrator, everyone who wants access can use their own Google account or simply set up a new one. The shared GDrive can then be linked to their personal one (click “Add to Drive” in the shared folder notification email) allowing the administrator of the shared drive to see who’s doing what and when it was done! The personal user account will then give access to other Google Apps: GMail, GCalendar, GGroups etc.
3. Multiple Google Accounts – Use Private Browsing
If you are using multiple Google Accounts some GApps can’t cope with you being logged into more than one Google account at the same time – GDrive is the one I keep coming up against – so rather than having to continually login and out again use a “private” (Firefox) or “incognito” (Chrome) window to have a look at another account.
4. InSync/Google Drive Client Backups
If you are thinking about syncing your GDrive with your PC (keeping a copy of the files on your PC as well as on the Google Drive – the drive admin will need to do this to have at least one backup but there is nothing stopping everyone having a local copy) take a look at using InSync rather than the Google client. InSync converts the GDrive files into the local format used on your computer so you have an actual copy/backup of all of the files, whereas the Google client only copies a link to the GDrive – not much good when Google go bust or you loose the Internet. There is a small charge, but only a one-off payment of £6.
5. Creating Docs
One thing to note about storing files on GDrive in their offline format (Word, Excel, etc) is that they are a lot easier to collaborate on when stored as Google Docs. Offline format docs can only be viewed (not edited) online, so will have to be downloaded onto someone’s PC, updated and then uploaded again. Whereas GDocs can be edited in-situ, or locally and automatically synced if you are using InSync.
What I generally do is convert them as and when they are needed (right click on the doc in GDrive, Open With > Google Docs). This will create a new file with the same name but a GDoc. The original one can then be archived or simply deleted.
Also, using InSync, create any new documents online from within GDrive, rather than creating them on your PC and then letting InSync upload them, as they will then get stored online in an un-editable offline format.
6. Storing Emails on GDrive
It is possible to easily store GMail conversations/threads on the GDrive, by “printing them out” to the GDrive:.
- Open an email in Gmail.
- Click on the print icon. A new window with the print dialog will open.
- Under destination, click “Change”. A small window with options will open.
- Near the bottom under Google Cloud Print, click “Save to Google Drive”. The window will close.
- Click “Save”
- Go to your Google Drive and the document should be there, and from here it can be moved into the appropriate folder.
7. GMail Permanent Link
Each GMail has a permanent link that can only be viewed by the owner. So you can bookmark an email and add this to other documentation so you can quickly get to it later. The only way I know of to share the thread with everyone is to save it to the GDrive as above.
8. Having Files in Multiple Folders
GDrive’s folders are actually tags in the same way labels are used in GMail, so a file can be tagged to make it appear in multiple folders:
Display the contents of the folder containing the file to be duplicated in the right hand window – the source folder.
Use the file-tree menu on the left hand-side to display the second folder you want the file to be displayed in – the destination folder.
Drag the file from the source to hover over the destination folder, but before you drop it press and hold the CTRL key (on Windows, CMD on Macs). The “move” message should change to “add”.
9. ‘Getting things done’ with GMail