Differences Between Google Slides and Microsoft PowerPoint

Slideshow presentations are always great ways to show information at your own pace, and unlike paper demonstrations, they transport very easily and can be shared with others easily too.

When you’re making presentations, however, be sure you’re using the best application for the job at hand. Google Slides and Microsoft PowerPoint both can solve the issue… but which one is best for the job and what are the key differences? If you’re making the transition to Google Apps for Work, you need to know what those key differences are.

One of the most brilliant things about Slides is that the company designed it for use online, and you always have full access to its features. PowerPoint has two separate versions, and most people are equipped with the desktop edition that is included in Office.

While PowerPoint is more familiar to some people, there are significantly fewer features accompanying it, meaning users may be missing out on some useful options that Google offers. With Slides, that is never an issue.

Power Across the Board

Real-time collaboration is one of Google Apps for Work’s most powerful features offered in Slides; Microsoft’s desktop version of PowerPoint has no equivalent version. And even in PowerPoint’s online version, it’s not true real-time collaboration, with many users getting frustrated while trying to work on a project at the same time as others on a team if it takes minutes to update their changes — sometimes nullifying the work you’ve been doing.

Google allows you to take advantage of four key functions within your project:

  • Add collaborators. Invite the people you need to collaborate for every job. It doesn’t matter how many people become collaborators, Slides will flex to suit the job.
  • Watch changes in real time. Your document is live, and any time users make changes, you can see them.
  • Add and reply to comments. Whether they’re editing notes or simply encouraging words, you’re able to slide in annotations for your slideshow.
  • Chat live. Even better than leaving comments is the built-in chat, specific to each Slides document. You’re able to brainstorm and discuss endlessly for a meeting that is twice as productive.

Slides offers more ways to share presentations, too. If you’re using PowerPoint for desktop, your only option is to email the document as an attachment or save it to a USB drive. Google Slides allow it to be emailed as an attachment, shared as a link, published on the web, shared in Slides, inserted into email (not as an attachment), and embedded in Google Sites.

That’s five times more options than Microsoft offers with PowerPoint.  

Slides outshines PowerPoint again when you consider access levels. The desktop edition offers none at all and the online edition only provides two. Users can only view or edit, with no further options. Google, on the other hand, has four separate levels you can use: can view, can edit, can comment, and is owner (which transfers ownership completely).

That sort of flexibility is a great advantage, especially for businesses.

There are no options for sharing visibility when using the Microsoft PowerPoint for desktop. Slides offers five ways to share a presentation with others, whether they are collaborating or not.

Specific people or Google Groups, anyone with the link, public on the web, anyone in your domain with the link, and your domain all are conditions that you can set regarding sharing and collaboration.

You can change them at any time, so your visibility needs are always addressed.

There’s also an instant connection when using Slides or other Google Apps for Work, thanks to the access to the cloud. Any time you change, delete, or upload a presentation from your device, it’ll be automatically visible on any computer, smartphone, or tablet that you log into.

Few things can help keep your team working faster on documents than this sort of seamless updating.

Do More with Google Slides

Many similar types of software aren’t accessible unless you’re connected to the internet. For Slides, this isn’t the case. You can access your content offline and continue working on it to prevent interruptions.  

Google Drawings makes it easier than ever to insert flowcharts and diagrams into your work. These, in turn, can make your slideshows more engaging and easier to understand.

You can also backup any of your information in just a few seconds. The Research Tool makes it easy to insert citations, quotes, images, and scholarly sources – and it’s another built-in feature straight from Google.

Make the Most with Tips for Google Slides

Slides is a very powerful application, and it’s great for business or personal use. There are a few hints, however, that can help you make the experience even more powerful. Some of the ways you can utilize Slides are:

  • Change the shape of pictures with image masking. You can round corners or add dynamic styles for an interesting and useful presentation.
  • Add translucent text bars and shapes to make text stand out. Filling a shape with a low-opacity color dilutes the image beneath it but still allows it to be seen. It’s a subtle way to create contrast and improve your slideshow.
  • Insert drop shadows for bold and easy-to-read words. By duplicating a text layer and changing the color and opacity, you can create “shadows” that add dimension to every page.
  • Present Slides with AirPlay and Chromecast for instant connectivity. Use your TV to show your presentation directly from your phone. Such capability means less equipment to haul and faster setup.

Conclusion

Google Slides is a powerful tool, and it shows the future of slideshow software. If you’re ready to experience a whole new world of features and compatibility, make the transition to Google Apps for Work.

You’ll have all the software you need right at your fingertips – without paying extra money or constantly switching between applications. When you want business done right, do it the Google way.

The Differences Between Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel

The function of spreadsheets is to make businesses’ processes run smoothly with little effort from the user.

Many businesses have relied on Microsoft Excel as their go-to application for spreadsheets. Though it’s not intuitive, it was, for a time, the best the market offered. However, Google’s innovative spreadsheet software gives companies an option when it comes to figuring out budgets, client contacts, and more.

Switching to Google Sheets gives you access to a whole family of innovative software and features that you can’t find anywhere else.

Sleek Functionality

Like all its applications and products, Google offers impeccable design. Google Sheets is no exception, providing an easy interface that doesn’t sacrifice features.

Google Sheets is simpler to use for beginners, keeping the most frequently used options and functions close at hand. Excel reveals many possible selections; such information can actually be confusing to a new user – particularly if they’re using only the basic functionality of the spreadsheets.

You can see much more of your information when you’re using Sheets, too. On default settings, the first 21 rows are fully visible when using the Google version of the software. There are only 18 rows, however, on the Excel interface. Being able to see more of your work is crucial when dealing with large amounts of information.

The Benefits of Born-in-the-Cloud Technology

There are collaboration options for the online version of Excel, but they’re standard in Google Sheets. With Google, you can add collaborators, track live changes, reply to or add comments, and chat within the spreadsheet in real-time, which is not an option in Excel.

You can also share and control your files with a greater degree of flexibly with Google Apps for Work. Excel Online allows you to email copies as attachments, share links in email or chats, and publish on the web. You can also share directly in Sheets, insert the complete file in an email, and publish it online using Google Sites.

Once your content is shared to your collaborators, Sheets provides double the permissions options as well. Both platforms allow recipients to either view or edit, but Google’s option also gives users the opportunity to comment and receive full ownership. Having extra choices is especially advantageous when you’re working with large groups of people and giving them separate jobs.

Because data can be breached so easily, keeping your content safe is crucial. Google Sheets offers more protection for your valuable data, in addition to disabling download, copy, printing, and sharing functions.

Being able to select specific levels of visibility ensures the people who need to see your document will – without the intrusion of anyone else. Desktop Excel provides no control over visibility, and the online version offers only three selections. Any time you use Google Sheets, you have the following five ways to collaborate:

  • Anyone with the link
  • Specific people or Google groups
  • Public on the web (content is searchable)
  • Anyone in your domain with the link
  • Anyone in your domain

Version control is vital when you have teams working on the same project. Excel, when used on your desktop, can only rename or replace different editions of a document. It’s wildly inconvenient, but it can also lead to confusion, overlaps, and missing information entirely.

Sheets always shows a chronological history for each document. You can also see who made which changes to get the best picture of the workload.

How Sheets Does More

Google has redefined the way spreadsheet software works, in many ways. In addition to these built-in features for streamlined performance, this program has the power and intelligence to do more, and with a more intuitive interface.

Polls and surveys, for example, show you responses from your team in real-time. When you use Google Forms to create them, you can create a Sheet for immediate responses. You’ll also easily be able to filter responses, just like any other data you use in the application.

If you make the switch to Google Apps for Work, you’ll never have to pay the hefty price for Microsoft software or subscriptions again. Google has unbeatable cross-compatibility for all of its document services, from Docs to Slides and beyond. In addition to saving you money, a switch to Google shaves downtime, too. When all your apps are online and at your fingertips, you’ll spend less time moving back and forth between software applications and Windows.

Top Tips for Using Sheets

There are all sorts of incredible ways to use the Apps for Work, but some tips are handier than others are. Some of the most useful hints include:

  • Inserting images. Using the formula “=image(“url”)” places pictures right into your Sheets. You can also scale the image to fit the Sheet, stretch it to fill it, show in its original size, and show in a custom size.
  • Using templates. Google offers a wide array of premade pages, ready for you to fill. They cut downtime for your work, making effective finished pages in a snap. Create New > From Template, and you’ve got the blueprint at hand.
  • Using conditional formatting. Color coding cells is super useful and makes it easier to read while working and after it’s finished. All you need to do is select a cell or group of cells, click the arrow to the right of the header, and then “Conditional Formatting.” From there, simply insert your rules and save them.
  • Inserting Sheets into Docs. Instead of having to create new graphs, use Charts to drop Sheets data in. It will load and place the data instantly through Charts > Load Data > Insert.

Conclusion

With the power and functionality of the Google Apps for Work, it’s easy to see why more people than ever are making the switch.
Sheets offers more features and tools than Word, but without the high operating costs of the Microsoft suite. When you’re ready to improve performance, take the dive and work with Google.

What Are the Differences Between IBM Notes and Gmail?

Are you or your business considering a switch from IBM Notes to Gmail? Wondering what the differences between IBM Notes and Gmail are?

These two workplace managers have similarities as well as some key differences, both in terms of layout and overall user experience. Understanding these features and their many applications will help your business make an informed decision.

See how a switch to Gmail will affect—and improve—your daily business tasks.

Immediate Impressions: Layout and Formatting

You’ll notice differences in formatting and overall user design from the moment you first open a Gmail. Intuitive navigation systems and information hierarchies make Gmail an incredibly popular email system. Here are some formatting differences you may notice between Gmail and IBM Notes:

  • Messages. In IBM Notes, each message is independent and appears individually in your inbox. On the other hand, Gmail offers grouped conversations, so you can follow messages as a single thread. If you prefer to keep your messages separated, you can change this option in the settings tab.
  • Organization. IBM Notes allows you to store messages in separate subfolders: personal, important, social, and so on. Gmail does the same, but you can add multiple labels to emails and search for them based on any of their tags. So in Gmail an email could be categorized in four tags for example, but in IBM Notes, an email conversation could only be stored in one folder.
  • Keep your inbox clean. IBM Notes offers an option to delete emails. If you’re the type of person who hates the finality of deleting, Gmail offers another option. Archive your emails when you want them out of your inbox but will need to refer to them again later — still able to search for them within the built-in search functionality.
  • Labeling emails. If you want to mark an email as important, there’s a flag for that. When you’re using Gmail, you have two options: either mark as important as a tab, or put a star next to it. You can easily filter all your starred items by clicking that icon under your inbox menu.
  • To-do lists and other tasks. IBM Notes features an option to create independent tasks that sync to your Calendar. Gmail has the same service, linking your to-do items to your Google Calendar, but with an extra option: you can add email messages to your to-do list to avoid retyping your assignments.

Because of its attractive layout and intuitive navigation, Gmail is an efficient way of doing business.

Comparing Email Composition and Accessibility

Compatibility is an important question you should consider when choosing an email service. Gmail and IBM Notes differ in this aspect.

While IBM Notes requires that you use its service on a device on which it’s installed, Gmail allows you to access mail over any device. Even if you want to access your IBM Notes online, you must do it from a device where software is installed.

This is a vital point.

With Gmail, there’s no installation required—access your mail from anywhere with an internet connection (and there’s offline capabilities).

When you log into your Gmail account for the first time, you’ll find that composing and sending email is a piece of cake. Gmail has all the options you love about IBM Notes, with added features. Draft your correspondence with the fonts, headings, and alignment features you want, and sign in your own personal style.

With Gmail, you can add attachments, links, and images for seamless collaboration. For larger files and more effective ways to communicate, take advantage of Google Drive. Drive links allow you to share work tasks with coworkers, managers, and employees. Just insert the link, and everyone can work from the same document.

Thanks to Gmail, effective communication has never been easier.

Do More Business With Gmail

We live in a mobile world that requires constant communication to keep up with the competitive marketplace. Gmail lets you keep with that pace. For mobile networking on the go, download and install the Gmail app.

You’ll never miss another email.

Sometimes, our lives take us off the grid. When you’re offline, you can still keep working. Compose emails, and Gmail will automatically send them when you’re back at an internet connection.

If you’re in the business of sending large files, Gmail has a solution for that too. With Google Drive, you can send files as large as 30 GB—or 30 TB if you have a storage plan.

Today’s business watchword is efficiency. Maximize yours by taking advantage of Gmail’s convenient features:

  • Canned responses. Do you tire of sending the same emails over and over again? Use Gmail’s “canned response” option: simply type a response once, and save the text as a canned response in settings. The next time you need to send the same email, it’s there waiting for you.
  • Auto filters. If you love nothing more than an organized inbox, auto filters are for you. Set recipients as important, or file them by position: employee, vendor, boss, etc.
  • Undo send. We’ve all sent emails we wish we wouldn’t have. The next time you make a typo, forget a recipient, or accidentally reply all, you can undo it using the “undo send” option. Just make sure it’s enabled in your settings.

Tips and Tricks for New Gmail Users

For the novice Gmail user, there are plug-ins and extra add-ons that make your email service experience even better. Try using one of these options to make the most of Gmail:

Boomerang for Gmail is a plug-in that allows you to write emails when you have the time and schedule them to be sent later. For example, you may write an email late at night, but schedule it to send when you know a co-worker is going to be sitting down at a desk for the morning. Your email is the first thing he or she will see.

Gmail Snooze is another handy plug-in that allows you to hit the snooze button on your email, much like your morning alarm clock. If you open an email and don’t tend to it right away, Gmail Snooze will remind you whenever you choose—within minutes, hours, or days. You’ll never miss a follow up again.

Conclusion

Gmail has all the features of IBM Notes with added convenience and efficiency. Nothing beats its user experience and intuitive design.

What Are the Differences Between Gmail and Outlook?

Considering a switch from Microsoft Office to Google Apps for Work? Wondering what the differences between Gmail and Outlook are?

Here’s a brief overview of some of the differences between Gmail and Outlook. These collaboration solutions have their differences, both in organization and overall user experience.

Layout and Formatting

Some of these differences are noticeable if you’re familiar with both solutions. While some of them might be, here are some notable deviations from the Outlook formula:

  • Conversations. In Outlook, each email appears individually as a separate conversation in your inbox. Gmail features grouped conversations, so you can track all responses with the original document in a single thread.
  • Organization. Outlook allows you to store or categorize information in different folders: Inbox, Junk, Flagged, and so on. Gmail lets you apply several different labels to your message, and easily access it by searching for any of its tags, so for example one email could be stored in multiple tags where in folders, a conversation can only reside in one folder.
  • Clearing up your inbox. Outlook offers a simple delete option to keep your inbox clear, but Gmail goes a step further. If you hate a cluttered inbox but are uncomfortable with deleting emails in case you need them later, you can archive them instead. With archiving, you can come back to messages you need later—they’ll be stored neatly in a separate folder.
  • Marking emails. Outlook and Gmail offer different ways to mark items as important. Outlook uses flags while Gmail offers a couple of options: you may elect to tab items as important or star them for easy access later. To access starred items, simply click the label on your inbox menu.
  • Getting things done. Outlook allows you to create independent tasks synced to your Calendar, but Gmail offers more. Tasks automatically sync to your Google Calendar, but you can also add email messages to your to-do list in lieu of creating new tasks.

At first glance, you’ll see that Gmail is a more efficient way of going about your everyday business.

Accessibility and Composition

If you’re considering a switch from Outlook to Gmail, you’ll find the two are similar in terms of compatibility—but they do have some key differences. 

Outlook and Gmail both offer apps for easy access on your mobile device, and you can access your inbox from any device with an internet connection. One key difference: while you must install a version of Outlook on your computer (it comes as a part of Microsoft Office), Gmail has no physical installation component.

Simply access Gmail from your favorite browser.

Once you log into Gmail, you’ll find that composing and sending email has never been easier.

You’ll find all the features you love about Outlook in Gmail: Compose emails with the text alignment and font you want, and add your own personal signature. Add attachments, links, and images.

Having a Gmail account also gives you access to Google Drive, a feature that enables you to quickly and effectively collaborate over one document. Simply add a Google Drive link to share with coworkers or managers, and they can add tracked changes. Collaboration has never been easier.

How Gmail Lets You Do More

Business moves at the speed of technology.

Gmail lets you keep the pace by adding extra features that allow you to continue working no matter where you are. If you’re offline, simply compose emails and save them as Drafts, then Gmail will send them automatically once you’re back online.

Some email services place caps on the size of your attachments. If you need to send large files, Gmail can send them as a Drive link. Drive documents can send files up to 30 GB—or, if you have a storage plan, 30 TB.

Gmail also ups your efficiency by offering “canned” responses. Create email templates you can send out to multiple recipients with just a few clicks. For example, inform candidates of a hiring decision using a filled out email template so don’t need to retype the same messages over and over. Just compose your reply once, and then save it using the canned responses tab.

Are you an organization fanatic? Keep your inbox clean with auto filters that sort through your mail. Set certain email recipients as important, or filter them by position: manager, co-worker, vendor, and more.

Gmail Tips and Tricks

As the world’s largest email service, Gmail has several extra features and available add-ons to help your computing experience reach its full potential. Here are some of our favorite tricks, add-ons, and plug-ins to make your business more efficient:

  • Undo send. Did you miss a recipient or just regret sending that last email? Enable the “undo send” option in your Gmail account, and you’ll never send an accidental email again.
  • Mass unsubscribe. Despite our best efforts, we’re all destined to receive spam. Declutter your inbox by taking advantage of the “mass unsubscribe” option. If you’re sick of getting newsletters from conferences you attended years ago, there’s an unsubscribe button next to the sender’s email address. You can also banish junk emails for good by mass deleting and typing “unsubscribe” into your search box as a search term.
  • Do you have a time lag between when you compose emails and when you want to send them? Download the Boomerang for Gmail plug-in so you can write emails when you want and automatically send them when you’re ready.
  • Do you hate it when your inbox looks overcrowded? Choose the “comfy” option to add more white space between messages and in the right-side navigation. Your eyes will thank you. Enable comfy mode by clicking the gear icon on your screen.

Conclusion

Gmail and Outlook have similar base features. But when it comes to a true cloud solution, convenience, added features, and plug-in options. From ease of access to an intuitive layout, organizing capabilities, and composition techniques, Gmail offers a comprehensive business communication solution. If you’re looking to switch email services, now is the time. Contact Agosto to learn more. 

With user experience and design in mind, Gmail provides a superior, more intuitive experience than Microsoft Outlook.

Differences Between Google Hangouts and Skype for Business

Plenty of people have experienced the consumer version of Skype in their personal lives. Video chatting is fun, effective, and more intimate than emails or phone calls.

Many businesses use these factors to their advantage as well, but they may not have access to the full potential of these applications. A switch to Google Hangouts unlocks new features while retaining a comfortable familiarity.

Here are a few differences between Google Hangouts and Skype for business.

A Modern and Sophisticated Layout

  • Conversations. Across both applications, it’s fairly easy to navigate between conversations. A list of chats is located on the left side of the screen, and active discussions show on the right side. While Skype only allows for one active window, Google Hangouts gives you the option to pull up several conversations at once. Skype also operates with fixed window widths, and Hangouts provides the ability to rearrange and scale the windows as needed.
  • Minimized menus. The tabs inside Hangouts are sleek and non-intrusive. By moving them to the sidebar versus the general menu in Skype, you have more room to access contacts, phone calls, and conversations.
  • Smooth navigation. The user-friendly toolbar in Google Hangouts is collapsible. You can easily examine or change profile settings in seconds. The menu options are repeated as well, so every selection is always close by.

Moreover, if you’ve used Gmail, Drive’s layout will be immediately familiar. You’ll intuitively know your way around its interface because you check your email every day. Customizing your tools, layout, and user experience are also easy. If you need to make any tweaks to complement your business or highlight personal preferences, it can be done in a flash.

The interface is familiar enough to use immediately and features a unique and modernized quality.

Accessibility and Composition

The original Skype application can be opened two ways: via desktop and mobile device. These options work well but are limited.

Conversely, Google Hangouts adds several new means to open the software, allowing for more freedom and productivity. Along with the regular functionality of your desktop and mobile, you can also enter the application from:

  • Gmail
  • Google Calendar
  • Chrome browser extensions

Most calls to the United States and Canada are free with Google Hangouts, whereas Skype charges for this function.

Many businesses benefit greatly from the savings and effectively use Hangouts for meetings without worry of additional costs.

Hangouts also allows you to schedule and control such conferences with flexibility and ease. Both Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendars integrate with the software, so you can add appointments easily. You can also choose between guest permissions, such as common use across your domain.

Switching to Hangouts also enables you to engage more people. Skype allows simultaneous connection for up to 10 different devices. Hangouts more than doubles that number, with enough power to link 25 participants at once. This greatly increases the number of people you can reach with each meeting, which is often a requirement for large companies.

Google Hangouts Lets You Do More

Since the software integrates flawlessly with other Google Apps for Work, you experience maximum benefits with a few taps or clicks. Sharing Google Docs with your team (without even leaving the video call) allows all participants to collaborate on notes.

It’s especially useful for following along with a meeting agenda.

You can also provide your remote audience with presentations at the push of a button. Simply load the Google Slides project and turn on screen sharing so everyone can follow along. Participants can easily ask questions and more thoroughly absorb information.

The Hangouts History keeps tabs on previous conversations and allows you to search for keywords and important information. This feature also proves useful for exchanging statistics and other data during virtual meetings, since the information can be retrieved at any time.

Tips and Tricks for Google Hangouts

There’s an abundance of useful features in Google Hangouts, but it also has several options to personalize and improve your experience.

  • Easily mute notifications during important meetings. Under the Settings menu, you can choose a specific time period to disable notifications, such as 1 or 8 hours. You can also pick the notifications you want to receive. Hangouts gives you the option to turn off call ringing and message sounds independently.
  • Adjust call bandwidth. This feature is excellent if you have issues with the quality of your audio or video. Move the slider to the right or left to control the level for that call. It can be readjusted for each conference for total customization.
  • Choose how others see you. Along with statuses that provide a custom message, you can let others know when you were last online, what device you’re using to access Hangouts, and if you’re currently engaged in a video or phone call from the application. Checking these boxes automatically provides feedback and information for those looking to contact you.
  • Take control of your invitations. You can turn notifications on and off by simply checking a box. Plus, you can add personal details so users with your phone number or email can send you a direct invitation. No more searching for usernames and wondering if you contacted the right person.
  • Quickly access the Help menu. Click or tap on the Help and Feedback button at the bottom of the More menu, and type in your questions to easily find solutions or clarification.

Conclusion

Video conferencing has come a long way, but Hangouts makes it even better.

An elegant design and easy-to-use interface offers a revamped experience that’s still comfortable. This sophistication and power is impressive in itself, but the built-in ability to work through other apps makes it truly incredible.

Switching from Skype for Business means access to all these features and benefits as well as the reliability that you expect from Google. When capability and efficiency matter, trust your business to Hangouts.

Giving Back: The Sanneh Foundation Learns Google Apps

Agosto had the opportunity recently to give back to the community through The Sanneh Foundation, a nonprofit that helps youth development and gender equity locally in St. Paul, and in Haiti.

The Foundation sends mentors to schools to meet with the students who are least likely to graduate. They tutor and mentor these kids to improve their grades and help them graduate. The program is growing, but they’re adding more schools in their program every year and seeing a huge improvement in their grades.

“There’s no way we could be that productive without a solution like Google Apps.”

And in Haiti, they have an after school program. The Sanneh Foundation helps develop the kids into leaders by teaching the importance of respect and equality. The kids have to meet minimum grade requirements in order to go to the program, which offers incentive for the kids to stay in school and study hard. About 300 kids come every day for soccer coaching. Soccer is used as a “carrot” to get them there, and then the coaches teach them skills that they will then take off the field and have for life.

The Sanneh Foundation was founded by Tony Sanneh from St. Paul. Coming from a single parent home, life was tough growing up. After years of dedicating himself to school and to his passion, soccer, the Minnesota Thunder signed him. Tony moved to Europe and played for club leagues. Going on to a very successful professional soccer career, he retired in 2011. Throughout his career, he had a desire to help kids from the inner city. That’s how the The Sanneh Foundation was born.

We were so excited to be able to help support the incredible mission of The Sanneh Foundation  locally and internationally. They had been on Google Apps for a couple of years, but had never gone through training. Many of their employees are millennials, and Gmail is what they use for their personal accounts. Most of the employees (locally, and in Haiti) knew how to use Google Apps in some capacity, but there had never been any written documentation to get everyone in the organization on the same page. As a result, many of the more complicated features were not used to their full potential.

We sent in our training expert, Mary, and our technical expert, Shane, to train The Sanneh Foundation to help them learn the full breadth of Google Apps so they can collaborate easier and faster.

The Foundation uses Gmail and Drive the most. They use it to collaborate with remote workers, even in Haiti. Google Apps enables them to help the community and continue to develop inner city kids.

“Mary and Shane were great. Mary was very in-depth. She kept it relevant for what we needed, and walked us through practical examples of the basic features with things we’ve never used before like Sites. We used the admin console very minimally, just to add users and make user groups. But Shane dove deeper into features like provisioning apps, which helped us grasp the product more holistically.”

HELP! Can Google Apps Work Offline?

Hi there, I’m Shane. I’m a sales engineer and car enthusiast, but today I’m a blogger.

One of the most common questions (objections?) I hear when talking to people about Google Apps is, “Does it work offline?” If you’re a Google administrator, you might get asked this question from people in your company.

The simple answer is yes. Yes it can.

But, I always come back with a counter question: When are you ever working offline? I find that people often forget that we are in 2015.

The internet is practically everywhere you ever go

I personally carry with me a laptop, Nexus 9 tablet, and a Samsung S4 phone (I know, it’s old). Between all these devices, being without internet is an incredible rarity. Obviously at home and the office I have WiFi networks available.

Traveling? I haven’t been to an airport in the last two years that doesn’t offer WiFi access. And that includes the municipal airport in Durango, Co.

Go ahead. Look it up. I’ll wait.

Even while airborne, the majority of continental US flights offer onboard WiFi that’s more than enough to get you access to the majority of Google’s services. You can work while enjoying that tomato juice, cruising at 35,000 feet.

If I’m ever at a site without WiFi available, then I use my trusty S4. I can either use Google’s truly impressive mobile app suite to take care of small tasks, or flip on tethering and switch use my laptop for the full experience.

I remember being tied to my desk to hook to a phone line with my 9600bps trying to look at the contents of the Sears christmas catalog, now the sum of all human information is at our fingertips almost anywhere you go. It’s staggering, really.

There are only two legitimate arguments I’ve come across for why offline access is a necessity:

1) I have to work from a truck in the middle of a field, in the middle of nowhere.
2) I have to work on a flight without WiFi.

I’m not only here to tell you that it’s 2015 and we have internet virtually everywhere. I’m also going to tell you exactly how to get work done in these circumstances, service by service.

Gmail

Gmail has multiple options for offline use.

For your laptop or Chromebook, Chrome has an app called Gmail Offline. This app allows you to set a period of time you want your emails to stay in your inbox (30, 60, 90 or days). If you install the Gmail Offline Sync Optimizer plugin for Google Chrome, messages will automatically stay synced as new messages are received.

With this setup, If you find yourself offline and attempt to load Gmail, you’ll automatically be redirected to the offline version installed on your computer. As soon as you reconnect to the internet, any changes you’ve made while offline will automatically be re-synced back to Google and you’ll resume using your familiar Gmail interface.

As for your mobile device, it is already storing content locally for offline access. Everyone understands that while cellular service is really good these days (did you ever try to use a phone in the 90s?) it’s still not perfect. So the Gmail app automatically stores the last 30 days of mail on your phone, and can be set to store more if you’d like. Again, coming back online with your phone or tablet will automatically re-sync the data changed back to Google.

Calendar

On a laptop or Chromebook, simply opening the settings menu in Google Calendar will reveal the “Offline” option. This will install the Calendar plugin, and automatically begin syncing your primary calendar. If you need to manage more calendars, you can add them later through the offline settings option.

Currently, you can view your calendar, and respond to RSVP options while in offline mode, but new entries aren’t supported. That’s why we fall back on recommending you use your mobile device to create calendar entries if needed.

On your mobile device, if you have Google Calendar installed, you’re ready to go. The Google Calendar app automatically keeps all of your appointment data stored locally so that you won’t miss a beat.

 

Drive

Google Drive has full functionality offline, and all you need to do to enable it is to check one little box. Once you’re in drive, go to Settings > Settings. When the window pops up, click the checkbox for “Offline”, and save it. Drive will automatically sync anything in native format that’s in your “My Drive” folder. It’s always a good idea to give that folder a once over before you unplug, to make sure you’ve got your needed files.

On the mobile side of things, Google Drive, Docs, and Sheet applications all have offline functionality, but they recognize that the storage space on your mobile device is more valuable, so you’ll need to specifically select documents you want to make available offline. Once you do that, they will be updated automatically after any changes, and a local copy will be stored.

So again, Can Google Apps Work Offline? Between these three categories, we’ve covered 99% of the offline needs for Google Apps users. If you’ve got different or unique needs, please post them in the comments below! We’d love to hear about interesting cases, and what you’ve done to address those needs.

How to Add Additional Domains to Google Apps

Hi there, I’m Shane. I’m a sales engineer, but today I’m blogging about how to add additional domains to Google Apps.

Let’s say you’re running your company Widgets.com on Google Apps. Thanks to unprecedented growth, it’s doing great. So great, in fact, that you’ve decided to launch a new brand, Bobbles.com.

Bobbles.com is going to be huge, and you need to look professional, unifying your new brand with your existing brand. Some existing employees are going to need @Bobbles.com email addresses, and your new Bobbles.com employees will need to be able to easily collaborate with everyone from both brands.

Don’t worry, you won’t need to set up a whole new Google Apps tennant just for these users. You can easily add Bobbles.com to the existing Widgets.com Google Apps tennant.

By adding an additional domain under your Widgets.com Google Apps tennant, you can assign Bobbles.com aliases to your existing Widgets.com users. Then your users can have just one mailbox for both brands, and you only need to use one additional license. In the future, users can be added as @Bobbles.com users from the start. All in all, every user is now part of the same Google Apps tennant, and has the same global address list and collaboration features as the existing users of Widgets.com


How to add additional domains in 5 steps

1.

The first thing you need to do is register your new domain. Providers like enom.com, 1and1.com, and networksolutions.com can all help you with finding an available domain, and registering it for a small fee annually.

2.

Open your Google Apps Admin panel, admin.google.com. In the admin panel, click on “Domains”. Then click on “Add a Domain or Domain Alias” at the top left of the page.

3.

There will be a pop-up window prompting you to insert your domain, and whether you’d like to add it as an “alias domain” or an “additional domain”. Changing options down the road isn’t easy, so it’s important to choose the one that applies best.

Alias Domain vs. Additional Domain 

An alias domain is only used for aliases, and upon creation, automatically adds an alias to all users matching their primary email address. If I created Bobbles.com as an alias domain, bob@Widgets.com would automatically get bob@bobbles.com as well. 

If you select an additional domain, it would allow you to add Bob@bobbles.com to bob’s widgets account, but it would have to be done manually. Additionally though, you would be able to make Bob@bobbles.com his primary login, and not just an alias.

When in doubt, we encourage people to choose additional domain, as it offers more options for control that aliasing doesn’t.

4.

Once you’ve added the domain, you’ll automatically be taken to verify the newly added domain. You need to prove to google that you own the domain before you can act on it’s behalf. You’ll see a dropdown menu with a list of domain registrars. Find yours on the list. Select it, and Google will give you a step-by-step on just how to complete this process, or in some cases, even an automated process.

If your registrar isn’t on the list…

Select “Other” towards the bottom. This will provide you with the contents of a TXT record that you’ll need to to your DNS records. If you’re unfamiliar with this process, check the help documentation available from your registrar or DNS provider. You can also call their support line.

5.

Switch back to the google verification panel, and click “verify”. If you were successful, it will tell you, and return you to your admin panel. If it’s unsuccessful, be patient. DNS updates can sometimes take as long as 24 hours to propagate to where google can see them.


Congratulations! After you add additional domains, you’re ready to start creating aliases, users, and groups all using your new domain name. If you have any questions about this process, ask us in the comments below, or contact Google support.

How to Upgrade Google Apps Password Sync

Hi there, I’m Shane. I’m a Google Apps deployment expert. But today I’m a guest blogger that will be talking about how to upgrade Google Apps Password Sync (GAPS).

Google has the capability to mirror local passwords with Google Apps called Google Apps Password Sync (GAPS). This handy tool works in a Microsoft Active Directory 2003, 2008, or 2012 environment, and gives you the capability to “push” password updates that happen in active directory (AD) to the matching Google Apps account. This eases the burden on users by giving them only one password to keep track of.

All versions of GAPS prior to 1.3 will
stop working on April 20th, 2015.

 

The way GAPS connects to Google Apps changed with version 1.3. They use the Google Apps Provisioning API, which has been deprecated.

What does this mean for you as a domain admin using GAPS? It means that you have to update your current GAPS installs to version 1.3 before April 20th, 2015 or your passwords will stop being pushed to Google Apps. Now, this doesn’t mean everyone will be locked out on the 20th. Since password updates from GAPS only happen when a user changes their password in AD, future password changes any user will make won’t be pushed to Google.

I’m here to help get your GAPS installs up to date. Notice I said “installs”. In a proper GAPS deployment, GAPS will be running on each and every domain controller. Yup, all of them. It’s that way to make sure that it can grab the password change a user makes, before it’s encrypted and written into AD.

The catch: in the process of installing/updating GAPS, you’ll have to restart the machine you’re installing it on in order to complete the process. So I would recommend to plan acceptable times to take down domain controllers in order to minimize user impact.

Here are the steps you’ll need to follow:

Step 1.

On a domain controller, start by checking your existing GAPS install. You’ll find the Google Apps Password Sync application in your start menu > programs. Opening it will give you a page describing the process of setup, and what version you’re running. Remember that you only need to upgrade if you’re running something older than 1.3.

Step 2.

If you are running an older install than 1.3, you’ll need to start by downloading the new software. Head over to https://support.Google.com/a/answer/2611859 and download the version appropriate for your machine (x86 or x64).

Step 3.

Launch the downloaded installer, and start the installation. Once it completes the process, it will prompt you to restart the machine. You may want to schedule the reboot or be sure you’re doing this after hours.

Step 4.

Once the machine has rebooted, launch the new Google Apps Password Sync application to configure the application. Verify that the installed version is now 1.3 or greater, and hit next.

Step 5.

This will prompt you to the first of 3 steps. On this page, you need to perform your authorization with Google. You will need to use a user account with admin level permissions. I highly recommend using a separate account for this, as all actions performed by the GAPS application will appear to be actions taken by this user. You may have already setup a user specifically for this purpose. Fill in your Google Apps primary domain, and the Email ID of the admin account you wish to use, then click authorize.

Step 6.

You will be prompted to sign in with your Google account. Again, make sure this is the user you wish to be updating passwords. Check “Remember me” and continue.

Step 7.

You will be taken to a Google login page. You will be prompted to accept permissions for Apps Sync. Click “Accept”.

Step 8.

Once that’s complete, you’ll be directed back to the GAPS program, and you should now see a nice green “Authorized”. You can click “Next”.

Step 9.

You will need to fill in your AD credential information. You will need: the authorized user (administrator), the password, the base DN that GAPS should be looking for users in, and you’ll need to define the attribute in AD that contains the user’s full email address. By default, this attribute is “mail”.

Step 10.

Once you click next, you’ll see the status of the connection and the process running. If you’ve got green for both of these items, you’re ready to go. Click finish to save.

Step 11.

I recommend testing the connector before moving on. Open Active Directory Users and Computers (ADUC) on this domain controller, and change the password of a test user. It should only take a few seconds to sync to Google. Now try to log-in as that user with the new password. If it was successful, you’ve confirmed that GAPS is running correctly. If not, start this process over again.


You have to repeat this process on each of your domain controllers. If you miss any domain controllers, it is possible for users to complete a domain password update without it being pushed to Google.

If you have any questions or comments, leave them in the comments section below. Happy upgrading!

Work Change Management with Google Apps

Work Change management (CM) can ultimately allow teams to collaborate and work more effectively through organizational transitions. It provides context and training to be more effective in everyday work using a new tool. Too often companies skip change management, leaving employees in fear of the very resource provided to help them.

Understanding the tools you’re using

I once saw someone driving an Audi R8 a full 15 mph under the speed limit. I was almost angry as I passed it on the freeway. That car tops out around 195 mph and can reach 60 in under 4 seconds.

You don’t have to be a car lover to appreciate the concept that they were not using the car the way it was designed. If they wanted to drive carefully, remaining under the speed limit, they wasted their money. They bought a car that was designed for pushing the limits.

CM makes sure that once you upgrade to a supercar, you don’t continue driving like you did with your old Buick LeSabre (no offense to any Buick aficionados – I know a heckuva guy who swears by his LeSabre.)

Of course CM is much more than this. Agosto has a specialized CM team based out of our Minneapolis headquarters that offers planning and implementation to companies across Canada and the U.S. We help organizations reduce transitional risks across the enterprise.

“70% of organizational changes fail due to inadequate change support.”

— John Kotter, as featured in the Harvard Business Review

Our CM specialists specifically help companies to understand the benefits of using Google Apps (or Google Drive) for Work. These specialists enable teams and/or designated end users to gain the knowledge and skills to quickly use Google Apps the way it was designed. This also ensures users truly adopt Google Apps as a tool that helps them to do their jobs better.

Ensure organizational readiness

There are two typical paths that employees take after an organizational change that can indicate the future success or failure of the change.

(1) With change management, employees are empowered to go down a path of:

  • Adoption
  • Internalization
  • Ownership
  • Increased skills
  • Expertise

(2) Without change management, employees are more likely to go down a path toward:

  • Confusion
  • Discomfort
  • Fear
  • Reversion to previous habits/tools
  • Self/group sabotage

Further, if employees are not willing or able to use the tool after the implementation, then there is no return on investment. It’s likely too expensive to overlook change management during a transition that affects a large number of (or all) employees.

Ensure your ROI with a cost/benefit analysis

For many companies, it costs more to not use change management.

Using CM

Hard benefits include reduced expenses with licenses, infrastructure, and maintenance.

Soft benefits include year-over-year increased productivity, reduced rework, and less redundancy due to increased collaboration.

Not using CM

Hard costs include licenses, additional deployment teams, and increased internal team hours.

Soft costs include project rework, project delays, lost productivity, and morale dip.

If you need a hand getting started with the organizational change management toward adopting Google Apps for Work or Google Drive for Work, give us a shout.

What’s one time you found yourself using tools more like an aging Buick than a new Audi?