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Get more out of your free Google account

So you have a Google account? While the search engine and the free Gmail account by now are common, the Internet giant also offers picture sharing through Picasa, blogging through Blogger, videos through YouTube and social networking through Orkut. But that is not what I want to focus on today.

india Updated: Jul 04, 2010 21:29 IST
N Madhavan

So you have a Google account? While the search engine and the free Gmail account by now are common, the Internet giant also offers picture sharing through Picasa, blogging through Blogger, videos through YouTube and social networking through Orkut. But that is not what I want to focus on today.

The company has been either acquiring or building Web-based software so fast that many nice little features that you can use get overlooked. I illustrate a few here.

In search, a small link on the side of the Google search box talks of “advanced search” that needs to be leveraged better. Rather than a random search, this can help you define the exact terms or phrases that you are looking for, and more important, you can even specify domains, file format or language. For instance, if it is news you are looking for, you can just list news sites like CNN or hindustantimes.com and hope to get a refined reply.

While Google offers its Microsoft Office-like productivity software for word processing, presentations and spreadsheets at its documents site (http://docs.google.com) the site also offers you software under which you can create survey forms and even do a drawing. These can be additional to the usual applications.

My real favourite is the Google Calendar (http://calendar.google.com). Though you can now set you calendar and diary items on your commonplace mobile phones, where Google Calendar scores is that it is integrated with telecom service providers.

Typing a calendar entry is much easier on a desktop. You can fill in your appointments, and choose your own options in getting reminders by email and/or on your mobile phone.

I have used it so that I get the full address of my appointment venue (which I simply cut and paste from email to calendar) messaged to me on my mobile phone on the morning of a meeting.

Such little features can dramatically enhance the comfort of a Web-based lifestyle.