Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Sign In   |   Register
News & Press: 2016 News Items

Google Tips & Tricks

22 November 2016  
Posted by: Bert vd Heever
Share |

Over the past months we were telling you about some nifty tools built into your favourite search engine and also some other stand-alone tools provided by Google...

We collected the "Tips and Tricks" from previous weeks on this page and conclude the series with how to use Google Drive offline.

Google Drive Offline

Over the past months we have shown you some useful tips and tricks and tools that can be used with Google.

In Africa we do not always have the luxury of 24/7 Internet access, so what do you do if you use MindMup or Gantter and want to work offline? Google Drive may be a cloud solution, but that doesn’t mean you can’t access all your files when you’re not online.

Google provides an "Offline" feature if you’re a Chrome user, this syncs the data in your Google Drive account to your computer. To activate the feature, log into your Google Drive account, click on "Settings" and under "General ", make sure that the "Offline" option is selected.

This allows you to make changes to any of those files while you’re offline, and all changes sync to the online copy once you’re reconnected to the Internet.



Gantter is a FREE web-based project management tool. You can think of it as a web-based Microsoft Project.

Ryan Dube says: "Gantter is another add-on that you can add to your Google Drive account for free. Anyone who is familiar with Gantter knows that it’s one of the most functional (and free) cloudbased project management tools out there. When you bring it into Google Drive, it allows you to create a new Gantter chart for any project that you may need to plan out and manage.

You can even import or export projects to or from MS Project, making it easy to collaborate with folks who only use Microsoft Project, without having to buy the software.

The beauty of having the add-on in your Google Drive account is that there’s no worry about losing your project management files as they’re all conveniently stored in the cloud."


Mind mapping is one of the most popular brainstorming techniques for productivity experts. Activating MindMup puts mind mapping right inside your Google Drive account. You can add MindMup to Google Drive by clicking on Create, and then Connect more apps.

It’s a flexible tool that lets you create full mind maps that are easy to build, with an interface that isn’t complicated or cumbersome. Once you add it to Google Drive, it becomes yet another tool you can use as part of your entire Google Drive productivity toolbox.

Omit words from a search phrase

You are about to put your green fingers to the test and want some decorative pots to plant seedlings in. You decide to look on the internet to see what is available.

If you search for the word "pot" your search results will include a wide variety of items, ranging from garden pots, cooking pots, the type of pot some people smoke and even people with the surname "Pot"!

To filter out items you do not want to appear in the search results try using the minus sign i.e. "-". Searching for "pot -marijuana -cannabis -cooking" delivers very different search results.

Also take note of the suggestions that Google gives at the bottom of your search results. In this case Google suggests you also try searching for "ceramic flower pots, indoor flower pots, ceramic planters, planter pots", etc.

Search for specific files

Battling to set up an intricate spreadsheet and wish you had a template or an example to follow? Did you know that you can search Google for files with that Excel’s file extension? For example, if you want to see what Excel files are available across the web for download, you can use the "filename" code word to ask Google to give you results of only XLSX files. The command for this is "filename:xlsx".

Searching for a file extension normally results in hundreds of thousands of results which is not that useful. Rather search for something more specific such as: "filename:xslx Cash Flow and Project Scheduling"

This will greatly reduce the number of files that Google finds and make your search much more targeted.

Track your favourite musician

Have no fear, band tracking is here. Just type in the name of your favourite band or musician followed by "schedule" and you can see all their upcoming shows and locations.

Click on any of the show dates, and you will see some more details about the show, as well as the venue and a map of the location. If you think that is cool, scroll to the right and you’ll see a Wikipedia-like biography filled with lots of information about the artist and a listing of their most popular songs with YouTube videos!

How cool is that?!

Track package

Has someone sent you a package that still hasn't arrived?

Google to the rescue!

Just type "track package" into the Google search bar and you suddenly have a whole armoury of package tackers available to hunt down that lost item.

Find Recipes

Do you love the prospect of trying some new recipe you’ve never cooked before? Did you know that Google has access to thousands of recipes — anything that you could possibly need? Imagine having instant access to a giant library of recipes and nutritional food information. All you have to do is type in something like "chocolate cake" into the search field. The results not only show the nutritional information about the dish, alongside search listings.

Google Calculator:

Say you want to do a quick calculation while you are busy browsing... you can simply type the formula right into the Google search area and a calculator will pop up displaying the result.

You can also access the Google calculator by typing the word "calculator" into Google Search and the calculator will pop up ready for use.

The calculator can even be accessed directly from within your Chrome Browser. Just type "calculator" instead of a URL into the address field of the browser to access it.

Searching a specific site:

You know that on the ASAQS website you saw an article on what a QS does but can't remember where to find it.

The simple solution is to use a site specific search.

Type into Google Search: what is a quantity surveyor (refer to the image below)

All the items on the ASAQS website that may answer your question are now listed.

Next week we will tell you how to access the timer built into Google Search.

Convert Time Zones

Wish to call or Skype someone in Paris and you are not sure what time zone they’re
in? Not a problem, once again Google is at the rescue. The easiest way to do this is to just type, "What
time is it in Paris"

A quicker way to check the right remote meeting time is to ask Google to do the conversion for you
by typing (without quotes) — "convert 5:30am to Paris".

Google timer:

Busy on your computer and wish to set a reminder?

Just type "timer" into Google Search to launch the embedded timer. Or, save yourself some time by typing the time you’d like right in the timer command itself. To set the timer for say 2 hours and 20 minutes, just type "timer 2 hours 20 minutes".

The timer emits a beeping sound when it hits zero, so remember to turn your computer
speakers on. Press the square symbol to the right of the speaker in the Google Timer to fill the whole screen on your computer or mobile device with the reminder.