Seriously. Everybody uses Google, to the point that the verb “Google” has entered the lexicon as modern slang for performing an online search. But, there are far more Google Tools available than just the search website.
If you only use Google for search, you’ll be stunned, amazed and impressed (too over-the-top a description?–well, you may be the judge) over the amount of the robust Google tools available to you. Not only are most of these tools free, and generally useful, but it is not hard to make the imaginative leap as to how many of these resources can be made applicable to your practice life.
If you have a short attention span, some of the highlights (as well as some additions), are as follows:
GMail. GMail is Google email. There are a ton of helpful features on GMail that allow you to use the program as a primary or secondary email account. GMail has tons of storage space: unless you’re scanning and attaching to emails the collections of the Library of Congress, you should be good. Conversation aggregation allows you to more easily track email threads. GMail also offers a robust search feature for finding lost or mislaid emails and email topics. GMail can also be integrated with the Google calendaring system, which comes complete with reminder options.
iGoogle. iGoogle allows you to create, in no time flat, your own Google homepage. You can send to this page, for your easy access, your GMail account, your Calendar and your favorite blog feeds. iGoogle is a great way (and an alternative to another Google product, the Google Reader) to organize your favorite blawgs, and to read new posts on your time, and at your leisure.
Google Maps. Google Maps is the website for accessing driving directions. Never visited a certain Registry of Deeds and need to find the quickest route from your office? All you need is a beginning and ending address to check Google Maps. It also works great on the run as an iPhone or as a Blackberry app. Never be lost . . . or be lost less.
GOOG-411. Don’t waste money dialing 411 anymore. Instead, dial GOOG-411. Google’s by-phone information service is free, and saves the nickel-and-diming expense of calling traditional 411. Google’s system is “manned” entirely by automated operators; and, if the automated operators just can’t make out what you’re saying (it’s only happened to me once, in a crowded and loud restaurant), you can still call the old school 411, and you’re still saving, based on all those other calls to GOOG-411 that are picked up.
Google Groups. Google Groups allow you to create private or open access points for sharing ideas and information, and for generating discussion. You can modify your page, add pages, tweak the settings and invite or add new group members. Document upload is also available.
YouTube. Lest ye forget, Google owns YouTube, as well. YouTube is where I get most of my sweet music links. But, it’s also a great marketing opportunity for savvy attorneys who are seeking a direct client impression. Check out what Massachusetts attorney Gabriel Cheong does with YouTube: InfinityLawTV.
Postini. Google even offers web and email security through its paid service, Postini. Postini offers hosted security and archiving services for business. Like YouTube, this is another Google product purchase, that has made some company founder ridiculously, fabulously wealthy.
Google Earth. Download Google Earth for a free trip to anywhere on the globe. It’ll be the cheapest vacation you ever take. And, if you’re ever looking for lost relatives from Atlantis, Google Earth is available with Google Ocean. Don’t forget, either, about Google’s space options . . . if you wish to boldy go . . .
The Google universe is vast, and, apparently, ever-expanding. So, if anyone wishes to add any nifty Google tools I have left out (perhaps on purpose . . . perhaps), please feel free to use the comment space. You may also feel free to add, through the comments, some other good and useful, free or cheap online tools.
As Boston’s endlessly entertaining Mayor Menino famously (well, in a provincial sort of way) said, in paraphrasing Winston Churchill, “Give us the tools, and we will do the job.” Well, Google is your whole dang toolbox.