Get More From Google Drive

If you’re a virtual worker, it’s likely you’ve had to try out a variety of file storage and sharing systems. There’s many different offerings such as Dropbox and Hightail, but most Gmail users have rallied around Google Drive. Google Drive does what any file sharing tool does – store, synchronize and share, but it does a lot of other things, too.

Chances are you’ve been using a fraction of the capabilities of Google Drive, and may be missing out on some time saving tips and tricks. You may know that Google Drive incorporates Docs and Sheets, but have you ever tried Maps, Drawing, Forms or Sites? These are a few of the apps that you can access with Google Drive.

Let’s review the basics of these lesser known tools by creating a scenario where we would use all of them together.

For example, a team is going to meet in St. Louis for a convention. The team members want to go to different restaurants for Japanese, Italian and Ethiopian food. Let’s start with Google Maps to find the locations.

screenshotofgoogletools

Google Maps

Not only is Google Maps good for sharing locations, it’s also storing layers of information about the different restaurants. As you can see in this example, team members can click on each layer to get information on different restaurants.

They can also add a layer with more information. This is an efficient way to share maps, locations and directions without having to refer to multiple emails, documents or other information. Simply share the Google Maps information across team for reference.

gdrivemapsharing-1024x443

Google Sites

Need a quick and easy way to post a website on the conference and its information. Google Sites is one of the most painless website creators out there. Simply follow the template and publish to the Google server with your own custom URL prefix. Here we’ve created a basic website to add conference times, itinerary and other details. Now team members can click here for updates and other details right on the spot.

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Here is the page before it’s published

sitelive

Google Drawing

Need to add graphics or text to photos or create images? Google Drawing is capable of the same functions as programs like Paint. Here we’ve added some graphics and text to a map image of the conference area to detail where everybody at the conference will meet up.

The image can be shared across the drive and has the handy comment field like google Docs, so people can add information or questions.

drawing_map

Google Forms

Remember when the thought of creating a form caused the average person to groan and call a programmer to fidget with Visual Basic or Perl? Form creation has come a long way since then, and Forms is an example of this. You don’t need any programming or coding experience to create a Google form that collects and manages the data for you. Do you hear angels singing? Yes, it’s that great!

Let’s say we wanted to get feedback on the St. Louis conference. Here’s an example of a form that can be used to submit feedback.

  • Here is the form template. I’ve named the form St. Louis Conference Feedback. You can collect email addresses that can be integrated into a Google Sheet.

form1

  • Here I’ve changed the color scheme from blue to pink and red (they’re the colors of carnations and roses, my favorite flowers). This is the preview of how the form will appear to the recipient.

previewforms

  • The settings panel also allows you to create quizzes, which come in handy for online courses and webinars.

settings

  • Responses can be sorted by summary or individual. See? No coding, no hard stuff. Just the dirt on what people really thought about the keynote speaker.

responses

Summary

So, in using Google Drive tools, we’ve provided team members who are attending the St. Louis Conference the following information:

  • A shared map of the area with restaurants and their locations
  • A website with pertinent information on the conference, and updates.
  • A detailed image map with information on the meeting place with comments.
  • A form to solicit feedback on the conference.

No external programs and no compatibility issues because the team has access to all the information through the shared drive. This seamless exchange and transfer of information makes Google Drive so efficient for covering the different information required by the team members.

This is just one example of how these Google drive tools can be effective for various projects or scenarios that come across your desk. I used the conference example because planning travel and group events usually means lots of different people needing lots of different types of information. Sharing information also means there’s less chance of miscommunication or redundant questions.

As with any new program or app, the only way to see what works is to test, test and test. Make up scenarios of your own and test them out on coworkers and friends. That way, when the next big conference gets tossed your way, you’ll already have the knowledge and the tools to make organizing your team’s information a breeze.

What are your favorite apps in Google Drive? Share your tips and tricks with us below!

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Cynda Pike is a content creator for Virtual Gurus. Her likes are literature, neo-classical art, screenwriting and cats.

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