Thursday, December 10, 2015

Google Drawings: More Useful Than You Think

You've probably heard of Google Drawings, but have you taken a few moments to play with it?  If you haven't taken the time to explore it, try it out.  I promise you'll be impressed.

To start a new drawing, open up your Google Drive and click on the red "New" button.  Then choose "More" and click on "Google Drawings" in the list.  You can also just browse to

When it first opens, you will be presented with a blank drawing canvas.  Here is what it looks like.  I've given you some notes about what you see.

A few tips:
  • Resize your canvas - If you want to do a more specific resize of your canvas, click on "File" and choose "Page setup" from the menu.  It will pop up a box for you to choose your setting. 

  • Make hyperlinks - When you insert shapes and text, you can hyperlink those items so that they become clickable links.  Simply select the item and you will see more options pop into the toolbar.  Click on the chain link icon and you can paste in the URL you wish to link to.  Keep in mind these items won't be hyperlinks if you download as an image, but they will if you download as a .pdf or leave it as a drawings file.

  • Use the grey workspace - The whole grey area around your canvas is usable space.  You can put text, shapes, images, and lines in the grey space to clear out your canvas while you work.  Just drag items over and leave them there until you need them.  If you download your drawing as an image, only the items on the canvas will be shown.  When you save and share as a Google drawing file, everything in the grey space saves, too.  The neat thing about this is that you can create a drawing with items on the side and share it with your students.  Then they can use the items you provided to complete an assignment without cluttering up the canvas.  

  • Download your image - You can download your creation for use in many different ways.  Click "File" and choose "Download as" from the menu.  You can choose to download as a .pdf, .svg, .png, or a .jpg.   

  • Keep proportions - If you hold down the shift key while you are making a shape, it will keep the shape proportional.  A square will stay a square instead of stretching into a rectangle.  A circle will stay a circle and not change to an oval.  A line will snap to certain angles.  It is handy to use with lines when you want them to stay straight horizontal or vertical.  It will also take a shape you already made and keep it's proportions if you need to resize it.  Comes in very handy if you ask me.  

Go ahead, try it out.  You won't regret it.  Google Drawings is perfect for using in the classroom and the possibilities are endless.

Thank you for stopping by!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Gmail: Using the Star

That little star next to your emails in the inbox can be a useful tool.  It can remind you of things to follow up on.  It can also help you mark emails you don't want to lose track of.  With a little tweak to your settings, it can help you do a whole lot more.

The basic way to use the star to mark an email is to just click on the star.  That will make it turn yellow.

 Now when you click on the "Starred" section in the navigation down the left of your inbox screen, you will see all of the emails you have starred.  ​

To remove a star from an email, simply click the star icon again.  There are a few more options available for stars if you go into your settings.  Click on the gear icon at the top right of your inbox and choose "Settings".

​Now scroll down until you see the section for "Stars".

You can see that you have quite a few more options.  Chances are you have just one star in use.  If you click on the "4 stars" preset, it will look like this:

​You can also choose to use "all stars" or simply click on the ones you'd like to use and drag them into the "in use" section.

Once you decide what you'd like, you can scroll to the bottom of the page and click "Save changes".  If you chose to have more than one star, you can now click the little star icon for an email and it will be the yellow star, but if you click it again it will change and each click allows you to "scroll" through the star icons you have in play.  Once you set the icon and click away to something else, when you click the icon again it will remove the star from the email.

Stars can be a great way to add a layer of organization to your inbox.

Thanks for stopping by.  Come back again soon for more handy tech tips!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Gmail Inbox: Change The Spacing

Did you know you could change the spacing on your Gmail inbox?

You have three choices:

Comfortable - a good amount of space between emails
Cozy - in the middle
Compact - emails are tight together so you can see more on the page

You can change it with one easy step.

Click on the little gear icon on the upper right hand corner of your inbox and you will see all three options.  Click on the one you want.  I put all three options below so you can see the difference.  The default is comfortable, so you are probably already set to that one.




You can pick whatever works best for your vision and your productivity.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Some Favorite Keyboard Shortcuts

I love keyboard shortcuts.  I wanted to share some of my favorites with you.  Some you might know, some you may not.  There are so many more, but these are the ones I use the most.  They are all listed for PC.  Unless otherwise noted, for a Mac - just replace Ctrl with Command.  (Select all would be Command-A instead of Ctrl-A)

Word Processing
Ctrl-A = select all
Ctrl-L = left align (ctrl-shift-L in Google Docs)
Ctrl-R = right align (ctrl-shift-R in Google Docs)
Ctrl-E = center (ctrl-shift-E in Google Docs)
Ctrl-C = copy
Ctrl-V = paste
Ctrl-Shift-V = paste using destination formatting - see post to explain.
Ctrl-X = cut
Ctrl-B = bold
Ctrl-I = italics
Ctrl-U = underline

Just for Google Docs
Ctrl-Alt-M = Make a comment (see post)  (Command-Option-M on Mac)

Just for Microsoft Word
Ctrl-1 = single space
Ctrl-2 = double space
Ctrl-5 = 1.5 space

Google Chrome
Ctrl-F = opens a search bar to find words on a webpage or Google Doc (see post)
Ctrl-Shift-D = save all your open tabs in a bookmark folder (see post)
Ctrl-Shift-B = toggles your bookmarks bar on and off

To Navigate - (see post about all of these)
Ctrl-Shift-T = opens the last tab you closed
Ctrl-T = open a new tab
Ctrl-W = close the active tab (the one you actively looking at)
Ctrl-Tab = switch to next tab to the right (same on Mac)
Ctrl-Shift-Tab = switch to the next tab to the left (same on Mac)
Ctrl-1 through Ctrl-8 = switch to that number tab
Ctrl-9 = takes you to the last tab you have open
Press Ctrl while you click on a link = open the link in a new tab
Press Ctrl-Shift while you click on a link = open the link in a new tab and take you to that tab

Enjoy!  Stop in again soon for more handy tips!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Google Drive Template Gallery

As busy educators, we have learn to work smarter.  When we can use something that is already made and tweak it to be what we need, it saves valuable time.  You probably know that Microsoft Office has pre-made templates for nearly anything you can imagine - calendars, flyers, newsletters, business letters, fax cover sheets, PowerPoint presentations, etc.  Did you know Google has a template gallery also?

To connect this handy gallery to your Google Drive, follow these easy steps: 

1. From your Drive, click on the red "New" button, go down to "More" and choose "Connect more apps".

2.  Search for "Drive Template Gallery" and you will see it come up in the results.  Click the blue "Connect" button.

3.  It will connect to your Drive and then give you a little confirmation window.  You can leave that checkbox marked and then click "ok". 

Done!  Now you can go back to your Drive and click the red "New" button, go to "More" and then choose "From template".  The first time you do this it will probably ask permission for the template gallery to know who you are on Google. 

Now you can browse the template gallery using the navigation on the left.  If you are part of an organization, you will land in your organization's template gallery, which may be blank.  To access all the templates, click on "Public Templates".

When you find one you like, you click "Use this template" and it will make a copy of the document that you can rename and edit to your heart's content.  If you need a closer look before you make a choice, you can click "Preview" and the document will open larger.  

Have fun browsing templates!

Stop in again soon for more handy tech tips!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Show YouTube Videos Without the Clutter

When I need to show a YouTube video, the ads, recommended videos, and comments can really clutter up the page.  I don't necessarily want my students to see those other items because they are distracting or just not...appropriate.  Easy fix!  Use ViewPure.

ViewPure will clear that ads, recommended videos, comments, etc. off of the video.  It will also allow you to create a custom URL (explained later in the post) so you can easily tell students where to go.  With a custom URL you can even set a video to only play a certain segment of the video.  When you, or your students, go to the custom URL, it will start and end where you specify - every time.

To set this up, browse to   Once you get there, you can get your cleaned up YouTube video two different ways.

1.  Copy the URL from the YouTube video that you want to show and paste it into the white box on the page and click the dark blue "Purify" button.  You will then see your purified video.

2.  Go to this page and drag the red "Purify" button into your bookmark bar (for Chrome users).  If your bookmark bar is not showing, press ctrl-shift-B (⌘-shift-B for Mac) to make it appear.  Now, anytime you are watching a YouTube video that you'd like to have purified, you can simply press the Purify button in your bookmark bar and it will purify the video.

You can keep the URL for the purified video to use again, send to a colleague, or post for your students so that when they click on the link it will show them a purified video and not take them to YouTube.  Just copy and paste the URL in the address bar after it purifies your video.

To make a custom URL, you'll want to browse to and paste the YouTube URL into the white box and then click on the little gear icon.

This will allow you to enter your desired URL.  Your URL must be alphanumeric (numbers and/or letters) with no special characters.  It cannot be exactly 11 characters and it must be available, meaning someone else hasn't already chosen to use that exact URL with ViewPure.

You have the option of making a password for your video - this is nice if you want to post something you made and put on YouTube on a public website, but don't really want anyone but your students to be able to access it.

This is also where you can set the start and end time.  You must choose a custom URL in order to set the start and end time.

When you are done with your settings, click the blue purify button and you will be all set.  You can give that custom URL to your students and if you wanted it to have a password or a certain start/end time, it will do just that.

Stop by again soon for more Ed Tech goodness!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Google Forms: Changing Response Location

Unless you have specified otherwise, Google Forms will create a new responses spreadsheet for each of your forms.  Did you know you can change this location?  One reason why you might want to change this location is to have responses from multiple forms in the same document.

Scenario:  I'm doing a review activity in all of my 6 periods of Science.  I'd like to have all the responses in the same document to be more organized and save me some time while I'm looking over the results. 


Step 1 - Create your form for the first period as usual.  Forms will automatically set up your responses document.  

Step 2 - Copy and rename your form for the second period.  Forms will automatically set up your responses document, but you are going to change that.  Click on the "Responses" menu and choose "Change response destination".  

This will open a window.  Mark the option for it to be on a new sheet in an existing spreadsheet and then click "Choose".

It will open another window where you can choose the spreadsheet where you would like your responses to go.  In this case, I'm going to select Science Review Period 1.  Choose your spreadsheet and then click "Select".

Now, if you go to the spreadsheet you chose, you will see both form responses tabs are there.  You can rename the tabs so you know which period is which.  It puts the new form in front, so the "Form Responses 2" tab will be my Period 2 class.   

Step 3: Repeat Step 2 for all the other Science periods.  

Step 4: Delete the extra response sheets that were created when you made the forms since you won't be using them.

All done!  Handy, right?  

If you are new to Google Forms - check out my Google Forms 101 post.

Stop in again soon for more helpful tech tips!

Google Forms: Deleting Responses

Sometimes you need to delete responses from a Google Form.  Maybe it is a new year or a new class period and you don't need to save the previous responses.  It might also be because you tested your form a few times and now you want to delete those test attempts.  I want to give you a few tips about deleting form responses.

Something to keep in mind is that Google Forms essentially inserts a new row into the spreadsheet when it puts in a new response.  If you have any extra text populating any of the cells of a clean row, it will be pushed down and the new responses will be above it.  This means that in the background, Forms is keeping track of where the next response should go.  If you simply delete the text of the responses you want to get rid of, you will end up with a bunch of blank rows at the top of your sheet.  Forms will continue inserting responses where it left off.  If you want to truly delete the responses, you need to select the whole row by clicking on the far left cell that has the row number in it.  Then you can right click and delete the whole row.  This will remove the row entirely and Forms will now put new responses at the very top (assuming you deleted all the existing responses).

Now, before you delete anything, think about if there is a chance you might want these responses at any point in the future.  If the answer could be yes, you have a few options.  You can go to the bottom left corner of your spreadsheet and duplicate the sheet and save those answers in another tab across the bottom of the page.  Then you can delete the answers from the first sheet and you will be ready to go.

You can also choose to hide the rows with the responses in them.  This way you don't have to see them, but they will still be there.  To do this, select the entire row(s) and right click.  Choose the option for hiding the rows.

Keep in mind that hidden responses will still show up when you run a summary of responses from the form menu.

If you are new to Google Forms - check out my Google Forms 101 post.

Stop by again soon for more handy tech tips!

Customize the Look of Your Google Form

Google Forms has some pretty nice looking themes for you to choose from when you go to create your form.  I was happy with the standard themes.  I was even happier when I realized you can customize them!

When you are editing your form, you will see the "Change theme" button across the top.  

When you click "Change theme", you will get a theme chooser window that opens on the right side of your form.  You can scroll through and choose the theme you like best.  Once you click on your desired theme, you can use it as is, or you can click on the "Customize" option that comes up.

Once you click "Customize", you will see all the options that you have control over.  

Click on "Header image" at the top and click "Choose image".  You can then scroll through all the fun header images they supply or upload your own image.

You also have options for font style, color, and size for titles, descriptions, questions, help text, and options.  They give you the chance to change your form background color and the page background image as well.

To get back to editing your form once you have made all your choices, click on "Edit questions" across the top of your screen.

Have fun customizing your forms!

If you are new to Google Forms - check out my Google Forms 101 post.

Stop in again soon for more handy tech tips!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Google Drive Search Tip

When you are hunting for a file in Google Drive and you type into the search bar, it searches your entire Google Drive - including files that have been shared with you.  This often creates a very long list and makes it more difficult for you to find your file.  If you are looking for a file you created, type "owner:me" into the search bar (do not include the quotes) and then type your text.  For instance, if you are looking for an English Essay file you made, and you don't want the 120 English Essays your students wrote to show up, type the following into the search bar:

owner:me English Essay

Your results will only include files that you created.  This helps narrow the results significantly and helps you find your files faster.

For more Google Drive tips check out these posts I made:

Google Drive Search Tips
Google Drive Organization Tips

Stop by again soon for more handy tech tips!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Get More Themes for Google Slides - Slides Carnival

When I suggest using Google Slides instead of PowerPoint, one complaint I get is that there aren't as many nice design themes.  Students might feel the same way.  It is true that there aren't many design themes native to Google Slides, but there are people who have created some great ones and they don't mind sharing!

Visit the Slides Carnival website and check out all the beautiful and practical Google Slides design themes they offer free of charge.  When you find one you like, you can click on it to bring up a more detailed page about that theme.  Now, Slides Carnival does have some advertising on their page, which I agree is no fun, however it enables them to offer us free themes, so we just learn to navigate around it.  When you want to download the theme, be sure you are clicking on the orange "Use this presentation template" button and not a download button of any kind.  

When you click that button it will take you to a view only Slides presentation.  You can then go to the File menu and choose "Make a copy".  

It will prompt you to name the copy.  I like to name it something that reminds me of what it looks like, so when I want to use it later, I can find it easily.  I also add the words "presentation theme" to the name.  I organize all of my presentation theme files into a folder in my Google Drive because it makes it easier to find the theme I want later.

Once you have your copy, you can close the window and browse for more themes.  When you are ready to use that theme in a presentation, open a new slide show and click on the "Change theme" button across the top.  At the bottom right hand corner of the panel that opens will be an "Import theme" button.  

Type in the words "presentation theme" and all of the slide shows you have named with "presentation theme" in the filename will pop up.  Choose the one you want and click, "Import theme".

Now you can build your presentation using that theme.  When you click on the "Layout" button across the top of the page, you can choose which layout you'd like to use on your slide.  You can also click on the little plus above the slide list.  A short cut is to click the tiny down arrow instead of the plus because it lets you choose which type of slide you'd like to add.  

Happy slide building!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Gmail - Undo Send

Ever wish you could hit undo after sending an email?  Maybe you sent it to the wrong person, or you accidentally hit send before you were finished?  With Gmail - you can!

To enable the undo send feature, click on the gear icon in the top right hand side of your Gmail inbox and select "Settings" from the menu.

Scroll down until you see "Undo Send" and click the box to enable it.  You can then use the drop down to set your desired time frame for the undo.  You will only have that amount of time to click undo before you lose the option.

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the "Save changes" button.

Now when you send an email, you will get the normal message at the top of your screen that lets you know the message has been sent, but now it will include a link to undo.  After the time frame you selected has passed, the undo link will disappear.

The reason you only have a certain time frame to undo the send, is because it isn't actually sending your email when you hit send.  It waits for the time frame you selected before it sends the email, which is what gives you the chance to undo the send.  

This feature has come in handy for me several times!  I hope you find it helpful as well.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Set Chrome to Open Your Favorite Tabs

There are probably a few websites you visit everyday.  Email, attendance, Google Drive, maybe even Hapara Teacher Dashboard.  Did you know Google Chrome can open all those tabs automatically each time you open the app?  It's really simple to set up.

First, open all the tabs that you want to have up each time you open Chrome and make sure they are in the order you want them to be in.

Then click the hotdog menu (the three little lines) on the upper right hand corner of your browser window and choose settings.  

Look for the "On startup" section.  Select the option for "Open a specific page or set of pages" and then click the little blue link that says "Set pages".

At the bottom of the window that pops up, click the button that says "Use current pages".  Then click "Save".  

That's it!  Now when you open up Chrome, all of your tabs will open just the way you want them to.  

*Note - If you use a Mac, these pages will only be opened each time you re-launch Chrome and not each time you open a new set of windows.

Google Keep

Are you one of those people who have sticky notes and lists littering your desk?  I was - until I found Google Keep.  Access to my sticky notes whenever, where ever, no matter what device I'm using.  You can make to do lists, set reminders, add pictures, and change the color of your notes.

To get started, be sure you are logged in with the Google Account you want to use, and browse to  There will be some notes already there giving you some information about what you can do with Keep.  You can delete them when you are ready and replace them with your own notes.  Here is a picture of what my Keep looks like at the moment:

To add a new note, simply click on "Add note" in the white bar near the top.  If you know you want a list, you can click on the little list icon on the right side of the bar.  If you know you want a picture note, click the picture icon.  

Once you begin editing your note - you will have several different options.  

You can get reminders about your note, share it with others, change the background color, add an image to your note, or archive it (not delete it, but get it off the screen until you need it again).  

If you click on the three little dots to see more options, you can delete the note, add a label (for tracking your notes easier), make a copy of the note, choose to have checkboxes for a little list, or even copy to a Google Doc (the copy to Doc option will only show up once you have typed in some text). 

I love the "Copy to a Google Doc" option because if I start a list or some brainstorming on a note, I can click that and it will create a Google Doc with the text and/or photo that was in my note and it gives the document the same title as the note.  Pretty handy!

On the upper left hand side of your screen, you can click on the little menu to see a few more options. 

You are already on the "Notes" page.  You can click to see your reminders, filter notes by labels, see what you have Archived or even what you have deleted.  Under settings you can enable sharing of notes.  

Take a moment and check it out.  If you like it, you just might be able to get rid of the crazy sticky note parade.

Helping teachers incorporate technology, one tech tip at a time.