Sometimes, I imagine my life without Google. And then I realize how dependent I am on Google – if it’s going down I’m going down with it. As students, Google really does make our lives easier. Literally everything is at our finger tips and we should know how to maximize usage on their products to improve ourselves. Personally, I have found that Google makes things simple and easy to sync with the rest of your life. I can’t recommend it enough, if you can’t tell.
After creating a Google account here (be sure to use something along the lines of your name, both for credibility and SEO’s sake). Here’s a list of the things Google offers you should be using, both from experience and recommendations:
- iGoogle – This is your home page. You can add different widgets and sync many of the features listed below to this page. It’s a nice first page to look at when you get online.
- Gmail – The Web mail of Google is my favorite Google product. You can fetch mail in other inboxes to use one tool for your multiple accounts, as well as chat, label, and store at your pleasure. I also use Gmail as my to-do list; that is, I keep only the e-mails I need to deal with in my inbox and archive the rest (archiving is not deleting – click on “all mail” to see your archived messages or simply search for it). Oh yeah, your inbox is huge. Like really, really big. Don’t worry about filling it up any time soon.
- Google Reader – Much more than a tool for news junkies, you can use Google Reader to keep on top of the news, your favorite blogs and even the occasional random feed. If you’re new to blogging, I recommend Alltop – it’s a great place to get started and check out topics that interest you.
- Google Alerts – This alerts you, either by e-mail or through your reader, when a phrase you select lands anywhere from a news article to a blog post. I recommend using this in two ways. First, it might seem ego-centric, but put a Google Alert on your name. Have this one e-mailed to you so you can know if something is being said about you. Next, put some Google Alerts on the companies you want to work for. I would recommend subscribing these to your reader so you can peruse these at your own pleasure.
- Google Groups – If you’re in a student organization or you want to keep in touch with friends, Google Groups is where it’s at for you. You can chat, create pages and make your group look fancy.
- Google Calendar – I’ll be honest, I don’t use this application. I have my physical planner that I wouldn’t know how to live my live without it. However, I’ve heard great things about this easy-to-use app. You can also sync it with your mobile phone – it doesn’t get much better than that.
- Google Analytics – This gets to the advanced stuff, but you can put a code on your Web page or blog and Google Analytics will show you various statistics on your site usage. Just so you know, visits measures how many times the Web site was accesses, unique visitors measures how many different computers accesses the Web site, and page views measures the total number of pages served to a visitor. The more page views per visitor, the more useful your site.
- Google Scholar – This is the Google search entire limited to scholarly sources. I’ve used different research tools that MSU has to offer, but honestly, Google Scholar is a lot easier and quicker than anything else. I’m not sure if it yields quite the same content, but this should do the trick for a quick citation on a paper you’re writing.
- Google on your phone – to die for. I got this on my BlackBerry and it’s done everything from saved to ruined my life. Yes, Google Maps has saved me when I have no idea where I am (this happens more often than I like to admit), and yes, I”m addicted to my crackberry. But hey, I’ve got a world of knowledge in the palm of my hand it’s been more helpful than anything.
So, there you have it – how you should be maximizing all of Google’s capabilities. Google offers so much more than what I put on this short post and I recommend trying out a little bit of everything. The best finds are often the ones that get the least coverage.
How else do you use Google? Do you have anything to add to this list?
If you’re looking for more information about all Google’s apps, check out their how to site.