G Suite Pro Tips: How to organize your emails using Gmail labels

A few years ago, I realized that I sucked at email. I was missing important emails or simply forgetting to reply because I got distracted. I was surrounded by many amazing coworkers who seemed to have their email act together, so I started asking them to share their best practices with me.

Today, I’m sharing a couple tips I learned early on: using Gmail’s advanced search and labelling. In this post, I’ll do the following:

  1. Use advanced search to find an email. 
  2. Create a label, give it a color, and set up a filter to apply that label.
In this episode, learn how to create labels for your important contacts so you don’t miss any important emails again.

Using Gmail’s advanced search to find that email from your boss

The average person receives around 120 emails a day. Finding important emails—for example, messages from your boss—can be challenging. Fortunately, Gmail has a simple way to do advanced searches, and it’s easy as 1-2-3.

Let’s say you’re trying to find an email from your boss that was about budgets.

Here’s how to do it. 

  1. Inside the Gmail search box, click the Down arrow. This opens up a window with more ways to filter your search results.
  2. Fill in the form. Enter the manager’s email address and “Budget” in the subject.
  3. Click the Search button to see the results.

Using labels, colors, and filters to help you manage the important emails

Sometimes we can get overwhelmed by the amount of emails coming into our inboxes and miss the important ones. Gmail has features to help you manage your inbox with labels, colors, and filters. 

Let’s say you want to make sure you never miss an email from your manager. You might want to create a label and a filter that makes it easy to identify and find these emails.

Step 1: Create a label.

  1. Go to Settings (hint: the gear icon on the top right).  

  2. Click the Labels menu item (hint: it’s next to General).

  3. Scroll down the page and click on the Create new label button.

  4. Name your new label; for emails from my boss, I use the label “Management.”

  5. Click Create.

Step 2: Give your new label a color.

  1. Find your label’s name on the left hand side of your Gmail inbox, and click the three dots.

  2. Select Label color.

  3. Select the color you’d like for the label; I picked red to make it super visible.

Step 3: Setup a filter to apply the label.

  1. Inside the Gmail search box, click the Down arrow, which opens a window to create a filter.

  2. In the “From” section of the form, enter the email address of your manager.

  3. Select Create filter.

  4. The form will now show actions the filter can take; in this case, we select Apply the label and choose the label “Management.”

  5. Select Create filter and you’re done!

Voilà! You now have a red label named “Management” that is filtering emails from your boss.

I hope these tips about Gmail’s advanced search and labelling help you save time and improve your productivity. For more on becoming a master of Gmail, check out this post from Google Productivity Advisor, Laura Mae Martin.

Making Gmail’s tabbed inbox work better for you

In 2013 we introduced tabbed inboxes in Gmail, which sorts your email into helpful categories in a simple, organized way. Over the years, we’ve heard from many Gmail users that these categories help keep their inboxes free of clutter so they can focus on getting things done. Recently, there have been some discussions around how Gmail classifies and sorts messages. We wanted to provide an overview of how classification works and share some best practices for both senders and receivers to make sure their emails land in the right tabs.

Gmail tabs use a classification system that applies machine learning to determine where to put email based on a variety of signals. Signals include (but aren’t limited to) who the email comes from, what type of content is in the message and how Gmail users have interacted with similar content. 

Based on these signals, Gmail sorts messages into the following categories: 

  • Primary: Emails from people you know (and messages that don’t appear in other tabs)

  • Social: Messages from social networks and media-sharing sites

  • Promotions: Deals, offers, newsletters and other “call to action” emails

  • Updates: Notifications, confirmations, receipts, bills and statements

  • Forums: Messages from online groups, discussion boards and mailing lists

As a user, you’re free to select one, a few or all of these categories. Gmail automatically adjusts to match your preferences and actions. 

While Gmail takes all of these signals into account, the most important one is your direct input. Your actions teach Gmail how best to sort your email based on your preferences. Here are four things you can do to teach Gmail to sort email from certain senders into specific tabs, so you stay in control of where your email goes.

  • Move a message from one tab to another: Just drag and drop it, or use the right click menu. Gmail will prompt you to remember this preference in the future from email from this sender. 

  • Create a filter: Use this option to create a filter that marks email from specific senders as important and/or directs it to a category of your choice.

  • Add senders to your contact list: This option tells Gmail you’re getting mail from a person you know.

  • Reply to the email: This is another way to indicate you and the sender are familiar with each other. 

And if you don’t find tabs helpful, you can remove them altogether

Sending large amounts of email? Take a look at our sender guidelines for tips on how to ensure that your mail gets delivered to the right place.

4 tips for managing information overload at work

Modern workplaces use many different communication tools to drive work forward—email, instant messaging, face-to-face video conferencing, and more. While multiple channels can make it easier to communicate with coworkers, they can also increase the amount of noise we experience every day. According to research from the University of California, Irvine, it can take up to 23 minutes to get back to a task once you’ve been interrupted. 

So before you reply to that one email or seemingly important chat message, consider these strategies to manage communication more effectively.

1. Set aside time to read and respond to emails and chats

Alerts and beeps from incoming messages can interrupt your focus, so try to designate time each day to respond to email and chat messages. Doing so can safeguard the time you need for focused work and help keep unread messages from piling up.


Pro tip: Both Gmail and Hangouts Chat offer snooze and mute functions to help you manage time and protect your focus. High-priority notificationsare a handy way to quickly note what needs attention, too. You can also change your notifications in Chat to customize what you see.


2. Categorize communications by the action you need to take

One of my first bosses used to say, “When everything’s important, nothing’s important.” The immediacy of modern communications can make it feel like everything is urgent. When you’re buried under a stack of messages, it can help to categorize them by what they mean to you. 

To get started, try asking yourself these questions: 

  • Am I the best person to respond to this? (If you’re not, add that person to the conversation.)

  • Does this require a response, or is it just an FYI?

  • What’s the deadline for a response or action item?

  • How long will a response take? If it can be done in less than two minutes, do it. If not, set aside time to respond later.

As another boss liked to say, “The best fire drill is NO fire drill.” If something feels urgent but you need time to work on it, say so.


Pro tip: In Gmail, you can use labels and filters to organize your inbox and make it easier to categorize and respond to emails. For tasks you can address right away, try Smart Reply to respond even quicker in Gmail and Hangouts Chat. If the task requires others’ input or will take more than 30 minutes, you can always schedule a meeting instead.


3. Managers: don’t be part of the problem

If you’re a people manager, the way you communicate can have a significant impact on your employees’ emotional wellbeing. Here are a few of the best practices I try to follow:

  • Be clear about why you’re communicating. If you’re just passing on information, spend the 1.5 seconds it takes to add a “just FYI” note at the top of a forwarded email. If you need a response ASAP, clarify exactly what you need and assign a clear owner.

  • Don’t send email over the weekend. In Gmail, you can schedule messages to be sent later, so your employees don’t feel the pressure to respond over the weekend (even if that’s when you’re catching up). 

Give context whenever you add people. For example, when you add people to an email thread or Chat room, explain why they’re there (“+Alexa will schedule this meeting, +Matt will do a first draft of the presentation”) so roles are clear.


Pro tip: It also helps to check in with your team and see what’s working (or not). Google Forms is an easy way to do an informal pulse check, and you can make the survey anonymous so team members feel more comfortable sharing honest feedback.


4. Take advantage of modern technology

One of the advantages of using  modern tools like G Suite is that we’re constantly adding features to help you be more productive—like the ability to search your Chat history or enable nudges in Gmail so you don’t forget to follow up on an important email. (Take a look at our 2019 recap for more of the latest and greatest.) 

Want more tips? Check out these. And for even more email tips, check out this post from Google Productivity Advisor, Laura Mae Martin.

Ultimate guide: use these free G Suite resources

Business gets busier this time of year, which means many of you are smack in the middle of 12-hour days. Whether ramping up for the year’s biggest sales, hiring seasonal employees, or simply doing business as usual, we all could use a little help. Toward that end, here are our gifts to you: several helpful (and free!) G Suite resources to help you stay focused and productive despite the year-end craze. 

To help you get started…

  • Set up G Suite in record time. It’s easy to set up G Suite for your small business with help from G Suite’s Quick Start Guide. Use this self-serve guide to learn how to take care of common tasks on your own, like adding new email accounts, managing shared Google Drive accounts, or turning G Suite features on or off for your employees. Note: Make sure to log into your G Suite admin account when you visit this page—when you do so, you’ll see links that take you to the correct pages in the Admin console so you can complete tasks faster.

  • Get new users up and running quickly. Onboarding new workers? Want to help employees sharpen their G Suite skills? Send them to the G Suite Learning Centerfor easy-to-follow tutorials, like setting up Gmail and Google Calendar. 


Pro tip: organize your inbox when you first set up G Suite. It’s a good idea to make sure you organize your email when you first start using G Suite. It can help you establish healthy work habits and track down information quicker later on. Check out these must-read Gmail tips to achieve “Inbox Zero” (or at least get close to it).


To help you brush up on skills…

  • Use free training resources. We already mentioned our Learning Center, which houses many useful product tidbits. If you need help with something more specific in G Suite, you can also check out the Help Center or visit the G Suite YouTube channel for ongoing tips and tricks. For example, this is a huge timesaver: Did you know that if you type “doc.new” into a Chrome browser URL box, you instantly open up a blank Google Doc? Same goes for “sheet.new” and “slide.new.”

  • Learn best practices from other G Suite-rs. Don’t struggle alone with a challenge or question about using G Suite. Visit the G Suite Administrator Help Community and type your question into the search box to find posts from business owners like you who’ve asked similar questions. Or, post your own question to the community to get answers and help out others. 

  • Take your skills to the next level.The G Suite certification is an exam you can take to test your aptitude in G Suite productivity tools, like Gmail, Drive, Docs and more. The exam costs $75 and takes about two hours to complete; it’s a great addition to a resume. Learn more.


Pro tip: Before you take the G Suite certification, practice your skills by participating in our Qwiklab, taking this Coursera course, or trying your hand at lessons in applied digital skills.


To help you stay in the know…

  • Double-check that you are using the right edition. As your business grows, so might your collaboration needs. It’s always a good idea to check in on your subscription to make sure you’re making the most of your G Suite account. Learn specifics about pricing plans, ask questions about billing, or upgrade to the latest and greatest on our website.

  • Keep up with new features. Check our website to stay posted on product or feature releases in G Suite so that you’re organization is operating with the most up-to-date tools.

  • Get inspired by others. Whether retail, manufacturing, healthcare or another industry, G Suite is helping many different businesses collaborate and scale efficiently. See how companies are doing big things, like Nubile Skin, or read more stories on our website.

  • Follow G Suite on social. Check out G Suite on Twitter (@gsuite), Facebook and LinkedIn for the latest news, hacks, and tips.


Pro tip: watch out for “Tuesday Tips” on Twitter. Each Tuesday, we release must-know G Suite tips on Twitter. Test your skills each week and wow your colleagues.


Now that you’re on your way to becoming a G Suite whiz, it’s time to do something nice for yourself: Open up Gmail, create an event, call it “R&R,” and give yourself a break. You deserve it.

Made in the shade: How Nubian Skin makes more inclusive fashion with G Suite

“Nude” comes in all shapes, sizes and colors. But for Ade Hassan, finding undergarments to match her skin tone took more effort than necessary. Born in the U.K. to Nigerian parents, Hassan searched unsuccessfully for underwear and swimwear that matched her skin—a problem that continued to frustrate her through college and into her professional life. 

“My nude isn’t the nude I see in shops,” Hassan says. 

Like many other black entrepreneurs, she created her own solution. Hassan founded Nubian Skin, a company that sells lingerie, hosiery, and swimwear for women of color. With shades like “cafe au lait” and “berry,” Nubian Skin products reflect diverse skin tones and are sold in shops located in the U.K., Nigeria and the U.S., as well as online. Beyoncé and her dancers even asked Nubian Skin to outfit them for their  2017 “Formation” tour. 

Since nearly the beginning, Hassan has used G Suite to keep her business humming. From managing meetings with retailers and manufacturers, to coordinating publicity efforts with fashion press, to keeping track of retail invoices, G Suite has helped Hassan scale her business as quickly as people have demanded her products. “There are so many pitfalls and so many things that are hard about business,” Hassan says. “It’s really amazing to have something like G Suite that is easy and intuitive.”

Nubian Skin’s fashion fame arrived seemingly overnight. When Hassan posted the company’s first campaign images, its Instagram followers jumped from 50 people to more than 20,000 in just a few weeks. “People called asking, ‘Can we have the contact for the press department?,” says Hassan. “But at the time, it was just me.” To easily handle media requests, she set up a [email protected] email address through the G Suite Admin console. And because she had used Gmail for several months before launching the company, using the business version of Gmail came naturally.

“Having that nubianskin.com address gave the business an air of professionalism, which we wouldn’t have had otherwise,” Hassan says. “Usually you need a whole IT department to set up new emails and passwords, but the Admin console removes the hassle of that process.”

Because Nubian Skin employees aren’t always in the showroom together, they need to be able to access business documents—like model photos and customer invoices—from anywhere. To help, Hassan securely stores business documents in Google Drive (which can be accessed on mobile, too) and works collaboratively with her finance team to process orders using Google Sheets. “Everyone has access to the spreadsheet so we can fill in what we need at any given point,” says Hassan. “This way, nothing slips through the cracks.” And when she needs to connect with colleagues quickly or face-to-face, she uses Hangouts Chat or Hangouts Meet. Chat makes it so employees are only a message away, and Meet helps her connect with people as if they’re in person at the office.

Five years after launching Nubian Skin, Hassan is a recognized entrepreneur who’s influenced other retailers to create more inclusive designs. “Even if you’re small, you want people to see you as a professional business,” Hassan says. “If you’re still growing, you need the building blocks to get you where you want to be. I can’t imagine working without G Suite.”

Use G Suite to make documents (and other tools) more accessible to people with disabilities

What does “accessibility” mean to businesses? It’s not just about making sure that your office or retail space is accessible to workers and customers who have mobility challenges, it’s also about making sure that your apps, digital tools and content are also accessible to everyone. 

Our product teams work everyday to ensure that tools like G Suite have built-in accessibility features. As a Program Manager, I help create those features and use many of them myself, as I’m blind. With October being Disability Awareness Month, this is a good opportunity to give an overview of product accessibility features that have been available for some time, as well as some new ones. 

Listen to content with help from screen readers. 
A screen reader is a helpful tool for people who are blind or have low vision. It provides methods to interact and control applications and also converts content on screen into spoken text. With a screen reader and keyboard shortcuts, you can read, edit, and comment on files. Getting started is easy: In Google Docs, Slides, or Sheets, go to the Tools menu, and in “Accessibility settings,” check the “Turn on screen reader support” box. Learn how toturn on screen reader support in Docs.

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G Suite supports several screen readers, including ChromeVox, Google’s own screen reader. ChromeVox is automatically built into Chrome devices, like Chromebooks. You just have to enable it. There are many other screen readers you can use with G Suite too; this support guide explains which screen readers work best with which web browsers.

Another way to listen to content is with Select-to-speak, a feature that reads content aloud to you using text-to speech (TTS) to verbalize highlighted content. To try it out, highlight text and activate the select-to-speak button. An example of a select-to-speak tool is the one built into ChromeOS.

See a summary of changes to your documents.
To make it easier for people to keep track of collaborators’ contributions in Google Docs (without having to actively watch every single change), we recently added a feature called Live Edits. Helpful if you use a screen reader or magnification, Live Edits periodically summarizes changes made to a document by collaborators within the sidebar. Learn how to comment and collaborate in Docs using a screen reader.

And for people who are sensitive to visual crowding, we also introduced eight different Lexend font families that have varied widths and spacing to accommodate different reading speeds. Read more details about these font options.

Use voice typing to “write” by speaking. 
Voice typing is a powerful productivity tool for everyone, including those who do not use a keyboard. It’s especially useful for people with low vision or with motor disabilities that may prevent them from using keyboards, mice or trackpads. When you speak into the computer’s microphone, voice typing uses artificial intelligence (AI) to convert your voice into text. In Docs, you can even use voice commands to select and edit text—for example, bolding words or cutting and pasting text.

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Add closed captioning to presentation slides and meetings.
If you’re presenting slides or in a video meeting, you can add closed captioning. You don’t need to write the captions yourself—your computer’s microphone and Google’s machine learning tools automatically create captions as you speak and display them at the bottom of the screen. 

To use captions in Slides, click Present at the top right of your Slides screen, then click “CC” in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. Learn how to present Slides with closed captioning.

An example of closed captions in Google Slides

This year, we also added support for automatic captions in Hangouts Meet so that when you’re in a video meeting, it’s possible to add captions, too. Keep in mind that the steps for adding captions to a video meeting can vary depending on the device you use–find instructions for closed captioning in video meetings for computers, Chrome devices, and Hangouts Meet hardware. 

Get through your inbox faster with accessible features.
Combing through emails can be tedious and time consuming. Previously, people using a screen reader would hear sender, date, subject, a snippet and more when arrowing thru their inbox. Now they have an alternative to reduce the verbosity of what they hear when they go through emails. By first arrowing right to a column such as “sender” or “subject,” people using screen readers can then down arrow and hear only that type of information. This helps people focus on only the information they need, saving time and reducing fatigue. 

We also recently introduceda new spelling and grammar tool in Gmail that’s powered by machine learning. It adds more functionality and a new keyboard interaction model (i.e. Left click and tab) while maintaining concise informative verbalizations and the existing right click keyboard interaction model.

The Blind Institute of Technology customizes G Suite apps for greater accessibility.
The need for accessibility can drive innovation. The Blind Institute of Technology (BIT), a nonprofit that helps businesses find accessibility solutions and hire people with disabilities, is staffed by people who are blind or have low vision. To help workers gather information from clients and job applicants, BIT staffers combined a screen reader, voice typing, and some under-the-hood programming in Apps Script. Workers can use voice typing to capture information, which is then collected in Forms and fed directly into Salesforce, where BIT stores customer records. Watch BIT’s presentation at Google’s recent Cloud Next conference for a deep dive into the custom Forms tools.

Making work more inclusive with G Suite
There are many ways to make documents, spreadsheets, and presentations accessible to more people—for example, adding alternative text to photos and graphics to help people who are blind or have low vision understand the purpose of your images. Check out tips on how to make your work more accessible

To learn more about these accessibility features and others, read this G Suite user guide to accessibility (or this G Suite Admin guide to accessibility if you’re an IT administrator) for a list of features that are built into G Suite tools. Also, watch this video about G Suite and Chrome Accessibility Features that I presented during Cloud Next ‘19.

New report analyzes the future of workplace productivity

TL;DR: we examined the future of work in a recent report. Download and read the findings

Look at the contemporary business landscape, and it seems like everything has changed in just a short amount of time. 

Today’s mid-career professional may have been in high school when the World Wide Web made the Internet a big commercial proposition. She likely started her career just before the dotcom bust, and, for nearly two decades, has witnessed the advent of big data, mobile, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, robotics, ecommerce, social media and more. Alongside the advent of these shifts in tech, the “office” has also transformed. From closed doors to cubicles to open plan, from typewriters to email to instant messaging, each transformation occurred in search of better information sharing and problem solving. 

Yet while it’s true that the world has changed, our ambitions as workers have not. The same things we’ve always wanted to get out of work remain: 

  • To be able to work fast, with fewer mind-numbing hassles in our day.
  • To be able to work smart, with quick access to the best possible information and the sharpest expertise.
  • To be able to chase the best ideas, and get our work recognized and improved for maximum impact.

While technology has increased the number of people we can connect with and how readily we can access new information, these opportunities can at times look like new challenges, especially if you rely on dated tools in the workplace. Nearly four in 10 U.S.-based business and IT leaders say their current systems make it harder, not easier, for their employees to work quickly. It’s like being asked to make carbon paper copies, when the rest of the world was first on email. 

Google’s latest report on the future of work examines challenges such as this, and how businesses can change their tools, workflows, and cultures to improve productivity and encourage innovation in the modern workplace. 

One of the interesting things about Google is that it was one of the first great companies to grow up assuming the internet as part of life. Consequently, this paved the way for the arrival of web-based email systems like Gmail, and productivity software to drive location-agnostic collaboration, like Google Drive or Docs. If you look at how these tools now incorporate advanced security and artificial intelligence for faster task execution, you’ll see a deep reflection of how work—and the world—has changed. People use these tools, however, because they meet human needs that have not changed.

Click here to download Google’s full report on the future of work, collaboration and productivity.

New solution gallery helps you customize and extend G Suite apps

Imagine how much more you could accomplish throughout your day if you could automate monotonous workflows. With G Suite, you can. Today, we’re introducing a new resource to help you envision how to solve common business problems: the G Suite Solutions Gallery.

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This gallery features real-life examples of custom business workflows that you can build on G Suite, like automatically populating expense reports with a simple script. It includes guidance for G Suite developer tools, and even includes full code samples so you can start building your own today.

Each solution comes with complete demo instructions for examples covering a range of integration types, like using Add-ons to extend your favorite G Suite apps like Gmail, Google Docs or Sheets, creating container-bound scripts, building chatbots and more. 

Use the G Suite Solutions Gallery and developer tools to solve common business problems such as:

If you have a solution idea, please send us your suggestions. You can also browse the full source code of all the solutions on Github. Check back in as the gallery grows to see more solutions built on top of your favorite G Suite products.

6 ways to save time when business keeps you on the go

Those of you managing your own business know all too well that work doesn’t stop when you leave the office—which could be your storefront, a warehouse, a spare desk in your living room, or a laptop at a café. And whether you’re sellingfashion, food or furniture, creating the next killer app orimproving patient care, you don’t want business to slow down when you’re working on the run.

With G Suite, you can save time and shift focus to the most important tasks, like hitting project deadlines or keeping customers happy. Use these six work hacks to stay productive from anywhere.

1. Work offline in Gmail, Google Docs and Drive. 
We’ve come to expect 24/7 Wi-Fi these days, but sometimes that’s not always the case. If you find yourself without Wi-Fi access, you can still work offline in Gmail, Docs and Drive when you’re working in Chrome browser. Whatever emails you write and files you update will get synced with Google once you get back on Wi-Fi.

Setting up offline access in Gmail is easy. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Settings in the top right of your Gmail.

  2. Under the Offline tab in the far right, select the “Enable offline mail” box. Note: you can even choose how many days of emails you want to store. 

  3. Make sure to click Save changes when you’re done.

  4. Now you can access Gmail offline by visiting mail.google.com. Just remember, offline features will only work within the Chrome browser. 

To work offline in Drive, Docs, Sheets or Slides, install the Google Docs Offline Google Docs Offline extension for Chrome. Follow these instructions

2. Write emails in less time.
Emails may only take a few minutes to write, but multiply that time by the number of messages you send in a day, and you’ll see what a big job email is. Gmail has features, Smart Compose and Smart Reply, that are powered by artificial intelligence to help you get through your inbox quicker. Smart Compose can help you write emails faster by suggesting common phrases, or even personalized suggestions, as you type an email. When they appear, simply accept the suggestions and get going by clicking the “Tab” button on the web (or swiping right on mobile). On the other hand, Smart Reply can help you reply to emails quickly with pre-suggested responses in your inbox. A few seconds saved here and there with predictive text can really add up.

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3. Set up and join meetings from anywhere—no PIN codes required.
Don’t glue yourself to a desk just because you have a conference call.  When you use Calendar toschedule a meeting in Hangouts Meet, the Hangout link and a dial-in number are added automatically to the invitation, so you can jump right into a meeting from your browser in one click

This means that you won’t need to send complicated PIN codes to attendees, unless they want to dial in from the phone. But don’t worry, you’re covered there too. Dial-in numbers are automatically populated in the calendar invite too, just in case!

Also, if you add the Meet app to tablets and phones, you can jump on Hangouts from just about anywhere (or work offline, like we mentioned).

If you have a larger office and several employees, Calendar’sautomatic room bookingfeature finds and suggests the most convenient rooms for you to book, as well as equipment available in each room like monitors or A/V tools . It’s handy if you’re trying to schedule a meeting quickly. To use this feature, your IT admin first needs to register meeting room details

4. Snap a photo to take notes (instead of typing them).
A picture doesn’t have to be worth a thousand words to save you valuable time on the go. UsingKeep, you can take pictures and add them to notes and lists of to-do’s. Taking a picture is much faster than writing out long notes—and the image can tell you much more than text can.

5. Prioritize files automatically. 
Moving files from paper to online storage can reduce clutter—but you still need some know-how and tools to help you find your files once they’re saved in the cloud. In Drive, there’s an option in the left-hand navigation called “Priority” that uses machine learning to predict and surface important files for you quickly. It can also suggest “workspaces,” which clusters relevant documents together to help you stay focused on certain projects. This way, your most important files appear as soon as you open Drive. 

Another option for finding files quickly is to download the Chrome extension, “Quick Search for Google Drive.” Use this extension to search for Drive files right within your Chrome browser search bar.

6. Create documents faster. 
Still typing out letterheads, headers, and footers within your document? Save time by using Docs templates. Or, usevoice typing, to put “pen to paper” quicker. Go to the “Tools” menu within your Doc (if you’re using Chrome browser), then click on “Voice typing” to speak and see text on-screen. You can even usevoice commands to change font styles, add tables, and insert links.

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It’s worth taking a few minutes to learn about how G Suite can help you power through your work in half the time. With any luck, you’ll save enough precious minutes to relax at the end of a productive workday.

How we scaled our sports apparel company using G Suite

Editor’s note:Today’s post is by Paul Serra, Co-Founder and CEO of the sweatband and sports apparel e-commerce businesses Suddoraand CustomOnIt. Paul and co-founder Adam Topping started the businesses in 2008 in their apartment. Today, they sell to major sports teams, retailers, and colleges, and recently expanded to the United Kingdom. Below, Paul shares his advice on starting a business from nothing but a good idea and help from G Suite.

There were several reasons why Suddora and CustomOnIt shouldn’t have been successes. My friend Adam and I were working in a Michigan video store, and knew next to nothing about running a business. We started with an idea to sell sweatbands, like the ones I used to wear in my band, and over several months managed to launch it legitimately. This led us to bail on the video store and move to Vegas—smack in the middle of the 2008 financial crisis. We lived on ramen noodles and little else for two years while we got the company going. Our friends took bets on how long we’d stay in business. 

But 11 years later, we have not one but several successful sports apparel businesses, I’m running a bunch of other e-commerce companies (including SweatBands.com), and we’re selling in the United Kingdom and soon in Asia Pacific. 

How did two broke-but-determined guys working in a video store get this far? We always believed in moving ahead, no matter what obstacles came our way—and we learned a lot about how technology like G Suite can make a small business look and operate like a bigger one, and how searching Google for business resources can pay off.

Starting with an idea, a domain and…ramen noodles
In my band days in Michigan, we tried to think of ways to get our name out there. Instead of the usual T-shirts or stickers, I pitched the idea of custom sweatbands since I wore sweatbands when I played guitar. I figured other people might like sweatbands with names of their bands.

We knew we needed a web domain and email addresses so we could sell online. We found out about G Suite during a Google search, and it seemed like the most pain-free way to get started by buying the domains Customonit.com and Suddora.com (Adam made up that name. “Sudor” is spanish for “sweat,” which is what the businesses were about, and we added the “d” and the “a” to make the name stand out.).

Even though the company was just me and Adam, we needed to look professional (and also a bit bigger than we actually were). With G Suite, we set up email aliases for various business functions, like [email protected] and [email protected], and arranged to route email from these addresses into our regular Gmail inboxes; that way, customers could easily reach us.

Scaling our business in the Las Vegas heat
Next, we decided to move to Las Vegas because, in the aftermath of the recession, we could live cheaply there. When we got our first big sweatband order from a major NCAA football team,  the momentum started. Now we had to scale up the business so we could handle more orders and deal with suppliers, even though we were still working out of our living room.

We grew to a five-person team, including a customer service person and a designer, and G Suite made it easy to onboard everyone quickly. In addition to giving new employees their own email addresses with the Suddora.com or STbands.com domain names, we routed emails to various people from the “help” and “sales” email aliases we had set up. We also made sure that all of our employees were set up on G Suite, too.

Once orders started to roll in from major fast-food restaurants, football teams, and sports apparel companies, our roles constantly changed. G Suite helped us shave off precious time by helping us manage email less manually—we automatically re-routed emails depending on who’s working on what. If I wanted to take on more sales work, I forwarded emails from [email protected] to my inbox with one click. Same thing with customer service: We never want to lose track of customer service inquiries, which are a high priority.

In 2009, a year after starting the business, Adam and I left our part-time jobs at a local department store to run the business full-time. We promised ourselves that when we hit a revenue target of $15,000 in one month that’d we’d buy a TV for the apartment—and we got that TV!

Going international (without leaving our office)
The business was taking off. We decided to split STbands.com into two websites: Suddora.com for sports sweatbands and CustomOnIt.com for custom apparel and party goods. We recognized that half our customers wanted athletic wear and accessories, while the other half wanted custom items like T-shirts and wristbands. It was a move that would allow each business to thrive.

Creating products and managing suppliers was getting more complicated. Once again, G Suite helped us move our business forward. We used Google search to find suppliers in China, and were able to set up supplier relationships and talk one on one with the people making our products—without extensive and time-consuming travel to China. You can accomplish so much with video meetings and chat.

With more suppliers and more customers, we needed to constantly up our game in terms of product design. When we create new designs it generates a ton of files and iterations, which get shared back and forth between pattern designers, photo editors, writers, and marketing professionals. To help centralize these files, we store everything in Google Drive so they can be shared and accessed anytime, from anywhere. For example, we use Sheets to house updated data on our products across all of our e-commerce platforms. 

Lessons learned
Eleven years on, I’m still learning every day about what it takes to run and grow a business. I think what helps is finding tools like G Suite that are so easy to use, you don’t need much ramp-up time to get started—nor do your employees. That means we’re all productive much faster. 

Also, you might be thinking about a million ideas for starting a business. But the truth is, you only need one—an opportunity that makes you think, “Okay, this is going to be big.” So go for it. You can’t afford not to.

Work hacks from G Suite: how to host more effective meetings

Meetings get a bad rap. Unfortunately, there’s some truth to their reputation—approximately 71% are unproductive, according to a study by the University of North Carolina. We’ve built meeting solutions in G Suite to help people combat ineffective meetings and make the most of their time at work. 

If you’re looking to raise the bar for your meetings, here are five tips that can help.

1. Make it convenient.
How many times are you late to a meeting because you can’t find the conference room? This happens especially at large companies where employees often have to walk to another floor or building to join. 

If you use G Suite, Google Calendar automatically suggests nearby conference rooms to book for each person listed on the invitation. It also lists equipment available in each room, like monitors and A/V tools, so that you can be prepared ahead of time. To use this feature, your IT admin first needs to register all building locations, meeting rooms, and equipment.

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Pro tip: Always add a video conferencing option when you schedule a meeting. This way, if someone needs to join remotely (say they’re running late on public transportation or picking kids up from daycare) they already have the option.


While we’re at it, if a meeting is missing a dial-in number, it can cause unnecessary disruption. To help, Hangouts Meet lets attendees join using telephone numbers that are local in 40 countries.

2. Schedule only the time you need.
It’s human nature to fill time in meetings even when you don’t have to. That’s why it is important to allocate the right amount of time for a conference call. Calendar gives you the option to choose 15-minute, 30-minute or 1-hour long time slots for meetings (as well as add custom times). 

Time is precious—when you book a meeting, be realistic with the time you block. For example, if you think that your meeting can be completed in less than 15 minutes, consider sending a chat or email instead.

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Pro tip: You can change your Calendar settings to shorten the default length of your meetings. You can also choose the “Speedy meetings” option in your Calendar settings. Go to Settings > Event Settings and then click the checkbox for speedy meetings. This shortens whichever preset meeting time that you’ve designated by 5 or 10 minutes (depending on the time). So if you have 45-minute meetings as your default, it will block 40 minutes each time you schedule a call.


4. Respect working hours. 
Work is increasingly distributed across the globe, which means multiple time zones. It’s also flexible—not everyone works a 9 to 5 job.

Although it can be tempting to grab the first available time slot on a calendar, this often leads to rescheduling or poor attendance. In Calendar, you can add custom working hours to automatically warn others that you’re unavailable if they try to book meetings with you outside of your working schedule.

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Pro tip: If you have frequent meetings with attendees in another time zone or if you travel to another country often, add a secondary timezone to your Calendar. You’ll then see all of your meetings in both time zones without needing to do math in your head.


5. Set context and follow up.
Now that everyone is invited, it’s important to ensure that the meeting is productive. Setting context beforehand and following up afterward is key. To help stay on track, create an agenda and capture notes and action items in a Google Doc where everyone can collaborate simultaneously.

When you create an agenda in Docs, you can add it to the meeting event in Calendar instead of sending it over email. This gives teammates an opportunity to add additional items to the agenda before you meet.

In Docs, you can also assign action items. Just +mention someone in a comment and Docs will suggest an appropriate team member to assign the action item to and notify them via email. These are great ways to ensure that everyone is prepared and that action items don’t fall through the cracks. You can also record meetings and distribute the recording so that those unable to attend the meeting stay in the loop.

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Pro tip: You can see docs that have unresolved action items you need to address all in one place. In Drive, click the drop-down menu in the search bar. Scroll down to “Follow up,” then select “Action items only.” This shows all of the files where you have unresolved action items.


6. Make it visual.
You can tell a lot about how a meeting is going by “reading the room.” With video meetings, everyone is able to connect face-to-face, even remotely, so you can see firsthand if attendees feel engaged. If you’re hosting a video meeting, try to make it visual for those attending by sharing your screen. With Meet you can share your screen to present agendas, presentations, data, videos and more. When you share, consider sharing only your browser tab instead of your entire browser or screen, so people aren’t distracted by incoming chats or other work.


Pro tip: It’s easy to change the screen layout of your video meeting in Hangouts Meet, like if you want to see a full screen layout with a speaker instead of a tiled layout. Click on the three-dot menu icon on the lower right corner of your Meet screen, and choose between Automatic, Tiled, Spotlight, or Sidebar options.


With good habits and the right tools, we can make meetings less dreadful and more impactful. Learn more about G Suite meeting solutions, or check out more meetings tips and tricks.

5 tips for onboarding your first employees using G Suite

Hiring your business’s first employees is a big step—but it can also be a bit scary. There’s the time you spend on training and orientation, not to mention setting people up to be productive right away. On top of all that, you still need to run your business and keep customers happy. 

If you’re worried about adding “human resources manager” to the many hats you wear, don’t be. From employee 1 to 1,000, G Suite’s easy-to-use tools can help you quickly hire and onboard new employees without adding too many more tasks to your already busy schedule. 

Here’s your to-do list for onboarding new employees—once you’re done, find more onboarding tips here.

1. Create a business email address. 
You’ll want your new hires to start emailing right away—but using their work email accounts, not their personal ones. It’s important to avoid having employees work from their personal accounts since it will be challenging to recover files. It also makes it harder to keep track of who has access to your company’s information.

When you’re ready, create email addresses in Gmail with a custom domain in order to project a professional image and show that you and your new hires are a team. It’s easy to do this using G Suite’s Admin console.

2. Share calendars. 
Of course, you’ll need to coordinate schedules with your employees. Instead of sending emails back and forth to book meetings or to log out-of-office times, add the employees to a shared Google Calendar. In a shared Google Calendar, you can keep track of the entire team’s schedule, not just an individual. Since calendar changes and additions are instantly displayed to all employees, it’s an easy way to make sure that you and your new hires are on the same page right from the start.

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3. Reduce paperwork clutter by creating shared folders online. 
Keeping track of paper forms is a headache. Try moving routine forms and employee handbooks to a template in a digital document and storing those forms in a shared Drive folder for access by your new hires. Also, create online checklists in Google Keep or Docs so that your new team members can get up to speed on their jobs quickly. Your checklists could include orientation meetings for new employees or a list of forms to fill out for health coverage.

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4. Create a training hub. 
Your first hires are hopefully just the initial step in building out a bigger (potentially global) team. To prepare for the future, begin building orientation materials and storing them in your shared Drive. For example, you can use Slides tocreate a slide presentation on policies for handling cash or how to process customer orders.

As you build out your orientation materials, think about creating a mini-onboarding portal in Google Sites to store them. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a coding expert to build a website in Sites—you’ll find tips herefor getting started.

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5. Chat about business even when you’re on the go. 
If you aren’t working in the same space as your new colleagues all day—maybe you both work from home, or you’re on the road a lot—chat and video meetings can help you quickly solve problems.  It’s also a great way to keep your Gmail from filling up with low-priority emails. 

You can set up Hangouts Chat on desktop computers, tablets, and phones so you’re always ready to send and receive messages. It’s also possible to search previous conversations for information, and start video meetings directly from chats.

If you’re considering adding more employees, you may be ready to take your human resources up a notch. Check out this article on the G Suite Learning Center for advice on how to create job descriptions, keep track of candidates, and interview by video.