Friday, June 6, 2014

Keeping Track of Tasks with Google Apps

Most teachers have a to do list a mile long.  In my case, I used to have about 30 sticky notes scattered all across my desk with all the little things I need to remember to deal with.  Then when I got home and actually had 5 minutes to do something, that list did me no good scattered all over my desk at school.  Google has a cool feature that helped me with this very problem.  Tasks!

Accessing the "Tasks" Window

When you have your Gmail inbox in front of you, you will see the word "Mail" in red just under the colored Google logo in the top left corner of your browser window.  You'll notice that there is a small red triangle next to it pointing downward.  This indicates that there is a drop down of some sort.  If you click on the word "Mail", a menu will show.  It will give you three options - Mail, Contacts, and Tasks.

When you click on "Tasks", a little Tasks window will pop up in the bottom right hand corner of your browser window.

Adding a Task

You can click on the yellow bar next to the small square to type in your first task.  Once you finish typing, just hit enter to save the task.  It will automatically pop up a new little square so you can add the next task when you are ready.

Checking Off a Task

Once you complete a task, you can simply check the box to show that it is completed.  

Adding Another List

One cool feature is that you can have more than one list.  By default it will say "<Insert your name>'s List".  You can rename this list, and even create other lists, by clicking on the little button in the bottom right that looks like three bullet points.  

When you click on the "New list" option it will pop up a small window asking you to name your list.  I named mine Veteran's Day to show one reason why you may want a separate list.  Our school does a big Veteran's Day celebration for the community every year and there are many things to do to prepare.  I can use a separate task list to manage the tasks associated with this event.  

Once you hit ok after naming your list, the new list is opened.  To switch back and forth between lists, click the little button with the three bullets again and it will allow you to choose which list you would like to see.  

Clear Completed Tasks

If you click the "Actions" menu at the bottom of the window, you can do a number of things, one of which is to clear away the completed tasks.  

Adding Details to a Task

Something else you can do from this menu is edit the details of your task.  If you choose "Edit details" from the menu you will be able to add a due date, add notes, or even move this task to a different list.  You can get to the same add details screen by mousing over the task and clicking on the little black arrow that shows up on the right side of the task.

When you add a due date, the little date will appear under the task title on your list.

Changing the Order of Tasks

To change the order of a task, you could use the actions menu, but the easiest way is to mouse over the task and click on the little dotted area that appears at the left side of the task.  You will get a gripping glove icon when you mouse over that area.  Just click and drag that task into the position you want it to be in.  Note:  Due dates do not seem to affect the order of your tasks.  

Deleting a Task

To delete a task, you can simply check it off and then clear completed tasks, or you can select the task and click on the little trash can icon at the bottom of the window.  

Managing the Tasks Window

You can minimize the window within the gmail screen by clicking on the minus sign in the upper right corner of the Tasks window.  You can also pop the tasks window out so it becomes its own window instead of living inside your gmail window.  You can do this by clicking on the little arrow icon next to the minus sign.  You can also close the window by clicking on the X.  

If you do pop the window out, you can pop it back in by choosing the "Pop-in" option at the bottom right corner of your new tasks window.

I hope the task list will come in handy for you.  It sure has made a big difference for me.  

To read my post about using tasks to make daily reminder lists - click here.  

Thank you for stopping by TeachingTechNix!  Stop by soon for another handy tech tip.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Google Drive Organization Tips

Do you use Google Drive?  I know when I first started using it, my files were just all in the drive and I hadn't given much thought to organizing them.  Once I started using it often, it became necessary to be more organized.  Yes, Google Drive has an awesome search feature and you can find most any file with just a few keystrokes, but for my sanity I need some order.  I have three tips for you today:  creating folders, coloring the folders, and using those little stars in a handy way.

Creating Folders

Did you know you can create folders within your drive?  You can create them the same way you create everything else, by clicking on the red "New" button at the top left of the page.  Then choose "Folder".  This will create a folder in whatever location you happen to be in when you click the "New" button.  So if you want to create a folder within a folder, you just go into that folder and then hit the "New" button.


After you click "Folder", it will bring up a little window and prompt you to name your folder.  Type in whatever you want the name to be and click the blue "Create" button.

To add files or folders inside the folder, you can do a few things.  If you go into your folder, and then click "New", the new item will be stored in that folder.  To move an existing item or items into the new folder, select the item you wish to move by clicking on it once.  Then you have three options.  The easiest is to click on one of the items and drag it/them into the folder you created in the navigation bar on the left.  Note:  If your folders don't show in the navigation bar, click on the tiny gray arrow next to "My Drive" so that it is pointing down instead of to the right.  This will show the list of folders you have created within your drive.  If you have a folder inside a folder, you may have to click the tiny gray arrow next to other folders to see the folders within.

If you like things simple, that is all you need to know about moving files and folders.  If you like to know all your options - check out the rest of this section.  

Another option is to right click on your file and choose "Move to...".  It will pop up a window for you to choose which folder you want to move the file into.  (You may have to click the tiny gray arrows to expand your folders just like I explained above.)  Once you have selected the folder you want to move your file into, you can click the blue "Move" button at the bottom of the window.  You can also create a new folder from this window.  


The last way is to click on the file and then click the "three dots" button on the upper right hand corner of your screen.  Then choose "Move to...".  This will bring up the Move to window just like before.  

Folder Color

Another great organization tip is to change the color of your folders.  I tend to choose a color for each subject.  For example, all my Language Arts folders are orange, tech stuff is green, and Math is blue.  It just helps me find things faster.  You can use whatever classification you like.

To change the color of a folder, right click on the folder and mouse over the "Change color" option to get a list of colors.  Click on the color you want your folder to become.  Your folder will then change colors.  Fun!


Every file and folder in Drive can be starred.  This is supposed to be so you can select the "Starred" option in the navigation bar on the left and see all the files you have starred.  I don't have much use for this, so I use the star in a different way.  When I have a folder full of student projects, either to grade or to print, I use the star as a way to check off that I've graded and/or printed that file already.  To star a file, simply right click on the file and choose "Add star".  You can right click on an item that is starred and click "Remove star" if needed.  This has helped me not to have to filter through all of my printed documents to see which ones I still need to do, or search my desk for the sticky note I wrote the list on.

Well, I hope you found at least one of these tips to be helpful!  Check back soon for more handy tech tips.  Thanks for visiting TeachingTechNix!

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