Google Hacks

I recently read (or skimmed) my way through Google Apps Hacks by Phillip Lenssen. I got a lot of great tricks out of it and recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about ways you can use or customize Google Tools. Sometime later I’ll have to put together a post about the implications of some of the hacks for teachers and students, but while I was reading I was inspired to use my Google Notebook more. Then I was inspired to create this post using a pretty cool series of “hacks”:

  1. As I went to web sites that described some of the hacks in the book in greater detail (or provided a necessary tool) I sometimes saved and annotated them in my new Google Hacks notebook.
  2. Then, I used the Tool menu in Notebook to export my Google Hacks bookmarks and annotations to a Google Doc… this gets even better.
  3. Next I used the Share menu in Google Docs to select “Publish as web page…” which gave the opportunity for me to “Publish to Blog.” (I also selected the “Automatically republish when changes are made” option, which is a great trick for live blogging.)
  4. Finally, I edited the document to add this introduction with these instructions, which you are now reading on my blog. Cool, eh?

In any case, the following list is not at all exhaustive, but you might find a few gems in here. Some of these didn’t work well for me, so please share if you know of better options, especially for the signature problem I have. ;)

Export the Feeds from a Google Reader Folder
Google Reader lets you export the feeds from a folder:

http://www.google.com/reader/public/subscriptions/user/-/label/FOLDER
(you should replace FOLDER with the actual name of the folder)

I literally wished I could do this just earlier today! Sweet.

Gmail HTML Signatures – Userscripts.org
Automatically inserts HTML signatures into your Gmail messages based on which address you are sending from.

I so wanted this to work! No luck. It would only remember the most recent signature I added. So I tried the new Blank Canvas Gmail Signatures Firefox Add-On, which is newer, but it was a complete no-go. Guess I’ll still be cut and pasting my signatures. :(

25 Incredible Skins, Resources & Tools for the Gmail Power User
These tips, monster resources and tools will change the way you use Gmail.

I plan to try a lot of these!

gdatacopier – Google Code
GDataCopier provides a command line tool called ‘gdoc-cp‘ that allows system administrators to automate bi-directional copy of documents & spreadsheets between local machines and Google document servers.

This was fun to try, but the stable version doesn’t yet support presentations. Using Greasemonkey, DownThemAll, and GoogleDocsDownload in Firefox worked better – in fact, it’s a great solution. I do it weekly now. Give it a try.

Publishing Google docs to your blog at bavatuesdays
Once you have a document you want to post to your blog, click on the Publish tab in the far right-hand side of the Google doc, and you will see the option to Publish to Blog.

I just used this to publish to edtechlife – and might use it from time to time for rich posts in the future.

Developer’s Guide – Google Chart API – Google Code
The Google Chart API lets you dynamically generate charts.

You enter values and labels directly into the url and Google Chart creates the visual. Very cool and easily embedable in blog posts.

4 Responses to “Google Hacks”

  1. Tim Lauer Says:

    Thanks for the write up Mark. This will be very useful…

  2. Brian C. Smith Says:

    Anything in there about using Google Spreadsheets in a Google Earth placemark for live data collecting and sharing? I’ll be looking into this in the near future, any leads will help. Thanks for the post. Google gets better and better and it’s scaring me. :)

  3. Christy Tucker Says:

    You might want to check out Lifehacker’s texter for doing sig lines in Gmail. It doesn’t have the cool auto-detection feature you describe, but at least you can have several different signatures saved. I just started using it myself, and it’s faster than copying and pasting.

  4. Mark Wagner Says:

    Hey, Brian. I’ve actually done this. I just used the instructions Steve Hargadon put together for embedding a Google Spreadsheet form into a wiki – but put it into a Maps place mark instead. It works in Maps, but not in Earth. Perhaps you can get it working. If so, let me know. Here’s Steve’s post: http://www.stevehargadon.com/2008/04/embedding-google-forms-in-wikispaces.html