helpful hint

googlebadgeWe hope you’re enjoying the power and mobility that Google Mail, Google Calendar and Google drive bring to your working lives. Every day, we’re hearing great stories from people who are finding new features in the Google products and applying them to the way that they work.

As the Google products are very new to the University, we want to pro-actively reach out and trial holding ‘Google Clinics’ at regular intervals over the next few weeks.  The idea of a Google Clinic is you can come along and ask anything you want – about any of the Google products or the way you use them. They won’t be formal training sessions, just simple drop in sessions designed to give you quick fixes or new ideas.

You can find the Google Clinics at the following times/locations:

  • Tuesday 30th April, 12-2pm (Senate House reception)
  • Wednesday 8th May, 12-2pm (Chemistry cafe area)
  • Wednesday 15th May, 12-2pm (Langford Cafe)


We’ll be wearing our blue Google tshirts so will be easy to spot and we look forward to meeting you!


Mally Mclane
Communication and Collaboration Services Manager
University of Bristol

This Thursday evening all new emails for staff (including honorary staff) and postgraduate research students will go to Gmail.

At this time you will still be able to access your legacy email in Mulberry etc, to view and respond to old emails.  Please note that the legacy account will become read only and any replies you send from that account will not be saved.

  • We ask staff to refrain from using Gmail until Wednesday 3 April when all your emails will have been migrated. You can login to Gmail via the button in your start menu or the login at

  • If you do need to access you emails between the evening of Thursday 28 March and Wednesday 3 April you can do so via the login at (you’ll also find information on using Gmail at this address).  However, please note that not all emails will have migrated and until you receive confirmation by email that this has happened please do not set up any redirects or forwarding of messages as migrated emails are seen as new emails by Gmail.

  • Please note that we  are recommending that staff access Gmail, and other Google services, online using the Google Chrome web browser.
  • Please note that for those moving to Gmail this weekend, enabled Out of Office messages will be disabled in Gmail during the migration of email messages.  Active Out of Office messages set before the  migration on Thursday evening will be activated in Gmail on the completion of the email migration by Wednesday 3 April.

A range of support  information is available to staff and PGR students, a list can be found at:


We like to compare the new look to a chat window on steroids (it’s bigger).  You’ll notice that when you hit the compose button, a new compose window will appear at the bottom of your screen where your chat windows are typically located. Now you can minimize your compose window and have multiple compose windows open at once!  This will help you work more efficiently in your inbox. Since the compose screen no longer takes up the majority of your inbox, you can easily search your inbox and reference another email without having to close or ‘pop-out’ your compose window:

New Compose Features

Now that you have the new compose experience enabled, let’s discuss the changes that have been made and some of the new features. We’ll start at the top, where you enter the recipients of the email message. You will notice that the ‘To’, ‘Cc’, and ‘Bcc’ lines have been combined in the new compose experience.  If you are interested in adding an email address to be Cc’d or Bcc’d, simply click on the Cc and/or Bcc fields to the right of ‘To’ and those fields will expand as seen below.

One watch point here is that when you click on ‘Subject’, the email addresses will be compressed into one line.  If you have added a Bcc, it will be noted that that person is Bcc’d. While you are composing your email, you will always have the ability to click in the recipient field to add or remove people.

Below the subject line (and above your signature, if applicable) is where you can begin to compose your email message.  If you need to minimize, pop-out, or close your email window, you can do so by clicking on one of the three options located in the upper right hand corner of the compose window.


Formatting Options

The formatting options are located at the bottom of the new compose window.  To access these options, click on the A‘ and a series of options will appear.  These include:  Font, Text Size, Bold, Italic, Underline, Font Color, Numbered List, Bulleted List, Align, and Remove Formatting.


Inserting Extras

Another new enhancement of the new compose experience is the ability to insert a number of different ‘extras’ directly into your email.  These extras include:

  • Insert files using Drive:  We really like this feature because the majority of Google Apps users use Google Drive to create and store documents.  By clicking on the ‘Drive’ icon, you can now insert items directly from your My Drive, Shared with Me, Starred, Recently Selected, and All Items folders. A very valuable function to note here is that if you have not shared the Google Drive Document with the recipients of the email message, you will receive a prompt to share the document with the appropriate parties before sending the email (thus, cutting out the back and forth requests to access Drive items).
  • Insert Photos:  When clicking on the camera icon, you’ll see a prompt to add images that are stored on your computer or via URL.  This new addition replaces the Inserting Images lab.
  • Insert Link:  The chain link image allows you to, after highlighting the word or phrase, insert a URL directly into your email content.
  • Insert Emoticon:  Who doesn’t like to add a little ‘flair’ to their emails?  Nothing says ‘I’m joking’ better than a silly smiley face. 🙂  Click on the happy face icon to view the available emoticons (there are a TON).Insert Invitation:  After you have properly addressed your email message, you have the option to insert an invitation directly into the message.  This can be done by clicking on the calendar icon.  After clicking on that icon, you will be asked to add the information for the invitation.  A great feature here is that the invitation prompt will show the recipients’ availability so you can see if everyone set to receive the email is available.  If they are not available, you can always adjust the meeting time!
    • Tip:  Hold down the ‘Shift‘ key when you need to select multiple emoticons for the message.



*Note* The paperclip image can be clicked to attach any files/folders located on your computer to the email.  The insert extras bar, shown above, will appear immediately when you hover your mouse over the paperclip or ‘+’ icon.


Trash (Bin) & Options

Sometimes, we start an email and then find that the message is unnecessary.  Not to worry, you can easily discard the draft by clicking on the trashcan icon located at the bottom right hand corner of the new compose experience.

Also located in the bottom right hand corner is the ‘Options’ section.  To access these options, click on the upside down triangle ‘More Options’ to the right of the trash can.  Here, you will be able to check spelling, print, access plain text mode, add a label, insert/save/edit a canned response (if the lab is enabled), and…..

Previously, when you clicked send on an email it would go from your computer to our server and then to the Internet. Now we’ve Gone Google, your email takes a different route along the way. To help understand this, Google have produced an easy-to-read animated guide to “what happens when you click send!”. It highlights the journey your email will take, the security measures taken to protect the email, along with the very impressive sustainability measures Google take to keep their carbron footprint down as low as possible.

You find the guide at:


They also have a guide for “how does search work”, showing you everything behind that little white search box, how they make sure their results are accurate and not full of spam, along with some very big numbers!

You can find that guide at:



Mally Mclane
Communication and Collaboration Services Manager
University of Bristol

When delivering a roadshow in Langford last week, a question that came up was “now everything is based in the web, what happens if I lose my network connection?“. The simple answer is, your email is stille there, any documents you were working on are still there and your calendar entries are still accessible.


Gmail Offline

The install of Google Chrome that we are rolling out includes Gmail Offline. You need to enable it first (in your gmail settings), but then it works by syncing your email to your computer – meaning that if you lose a network connection (e.g. you turn your laptop off and go take a train), then you will still be able to send new email and read synced mail. The interface is slightly different, but should be familiar to Gmail users

Gmail offline













Google Docs (now known as Google Drive) Offline

For those who don’t know, Google Drive is a rich, collaborative document editing package that is online. Take the major features of Microsoft Office, add in the ability to have multiple people working one the one document at the same time, and make it accessible through a web browser – that’s Google Drive. Again, if you lose network connection, you don’t lose the ability to edit or read documents, you carry on as normal. As with Gmail, you need to make a concious decision to turn it on (as it syncs data to your local PC, this is stop it syncing data to PCs you don’t normally use), but any changes you make offline will be synced back as soon as your network connection comes back.


Google Calendar Offline

In Chrome, Google Calendar is also available offline for it’s major features. This means you can read your current schedule and RSVP to any invitations – all without a network connection. Any changes you make are then automatically synced back next time you’re online. You again need to consciously turn it on by clicking the ‘cog’ icon and choosing offline, but then it will always be available offline to you.


All of the features and more often require Google Chrome. Google put their newest and best features into Google Chrome first. Along with the strong security and privacy features of Chrome, along with other benefits that you can see at:, the rich feature-set is one of the reasons we are deploying Google Chrome throughout the University.


Mally Mclane
Communication and Collaboration Services Manager
University of Bristol

(this post was originally written and posted by our friends at Ditoweb and is reproduced with their kind permission)

Email is the heartbeat of communication for many organisations. Because email is such an important piece of the average workday, your inbox can rapidly become cluttered if you don’t take a proactive approach to manage your messages. This post will elaborate on three simple steps which will revolutionize the way you view and organise message in Gmail.
  • Step 1 – Choose an inbox option
    • Inbox Options
    • Priority Inbox
  • Step 2 – Structure the way you organise your messages
    • Label Your Messages
    • Use Stars
    • Archive Messages Instead of Deleting
  • Step 3 – Automate the process of organising your messages
    • Filters
    • Boomerang

Step 1 – Choose an Inbox Option

We’re all wired differently — some Gmail users prefer viewing unread messages first, others prefer chronological order, or splitting their inbox view with a preview pane. Google has created a plethora of options for configuring your inbox, so it’s likely you’ll be able to find a setting that works for you. If you’d like to know more, one of our previous posts covers 5 different ways to view your inbox.
There are many different ways you can leverage inbox views to complement your existing techniques for organising messages. It’s also important to have a process and an organisational structure in place for dealing with new messages.
Setup Priority Inbox with these three sections.
  1. Unread Messages
  2. Starred Messages
  3. Everything Else
Next, visit the ‘Gear’ and then ‘Settings.’ Once in the general settings, scroll down to the ‘Stars’ section. You can give your own meaning to Stars and use them to mark your messages that need additional information, follow up, or action.
From the ‘Stars’ section drag the yellow star, red exclamation point, blue information star, and purple question mark to the In Use section. When we discuss best practices we will give potential uses for these stars later int he blog. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save.
Now that you have completed this initial setup, your unread mail will be easy to spot in the Unread section. The next section will be devoted to Starred messages, or messages that need additional information/follow up. The final section will be Everything else. Use the Everything else section for messages that don’t seem to fit into any category.
Step 2 – Structure the way you organise your messages

Priority Inbox will greatly improve the way your messages are sorted, but it’s only one part of the equation. Every time you finish reading a message, you need to take action on it. Many times my mother has said “you wouldn’t have such a mess if you put things away after you were finished using them.” The same holds true for your email; you need to have a structured system for filing messages.
When you take action on a message, this normally means you are continuing the conversation, pausing it, or ending the conversation completely.

Label Your Messages

  • While viewing the message, make sure you add a label before moving on. Labels help you organize your messages into different categories/themes. Labels are similar to folders in Outlook, but with the added advantage of being able to add more than one label to a single message. Labels can also be colour coded (similar to categories), so you can quickly scan your inbox for certain messages. We recommend creating labels for various projects, travel expenses, and important senders (e.g. your manager).

Use Stars to Mark Your Messages for Follow-up

  • Once you read a message, you  may not have time to take action right away. Stars are a great way to add visual distinctiveness to messages you need to circle back to at a later time. Google features a number of different colored stars, and various symbols, so you can develop your own mad science for organizing messaged based on different stars. We recommend the following strategy:
    •  Red Exclamation Point: This Star is best used for messages received that need immediate attention but you’re unable to get to at that moment.
    • Blue Information Button: This Star is best used for important information. Perhaps you received something with an article attached to it. You don’t have time to finish the article so you can Star it for later. You can also use this for quick references. If you receive an email about special instructions for the next day, no need to make a separate Label for one day. Just Star it so you won’t have to go searching for it.
    • Purple Question Mark: The Purple Question Mark is best used for those times you need a little more information or direction. Sometimes we get special requests through emails and we go searching for an answer. If we don’t find what we are looking for, we circle back around for clarification. You can also use this for times you receive special requests that you don’t quite understand. You know you need to follow up with the sender for some clarification but you don’t have the time right now for the follow up that is needed. Just Star is for later so you don’t forget!
    • Yellow Star: Yellow Stars can be used for the miscellaneous category. This can be used for those emails that you would like to take a moment to reflect on or just don’t have the time to follow up with just yet. You could use this for birthday announcements, company posts, etc. You want to wish someone a happy birthday but are very busy at the moment and want to think of something more clever than just “Happy Birthday!”

Archive a Message Instead of Deleting

  • If a conversation contains important or beneficial information that you may need to reference at a later time, Archive it. This removes the message from your inbox, even if you have not added any othe r labels, you can still access the message using the All Mail label, or by conducting a basic search (which scans ‘all mail’ by default). This reduces inbox clutter, and you will be able to find the message later using Gmail’s Search feature.
  • Use the Move To button. ‘Move To’ allows you to add a label of your choice while simultaneously removing the message from your inbox. It’s the functional equivalent of the old “drag and drop” technique you were accustomed to using with folders.
  • If you know you will never need the message again (e.g an old calendar reminder), Delete it. Remember that Gmail purges a message fromt rash automatically after 30 days, so be sure to delete only those messages you are confident you will never need in the future.
Step 3 – Automate the process of organising your messages

If you frequently receive messages from the same senders or distribution list, or messages that contain common subjects or terminology, you can automate much of the organizational process we’ve described above. Filters and Boomerang are two effective ways to automate monotonous tasks.
  • Filters allow you to manage the flow of incoming messages. Using filters, you can automatically Label, Archive, Delete, Star, or Forward your mail, or even keep it out of Span. If you are constantly performing the same action of specific messages, setup a filter to allow Gmail to do it for you automatically.
  • Boomerang can remind you to send an email later. Write an email now, and schedule it to be automatically sent at a later date. Boomerang is also great for setting reminders. Take messages out of your inbox and boomerang them back when you need them. It can even bump the message back if the recipient doesn’t respond within a set amount of time.