Millions of people use the Google service every day to find information on virtually any topic. In an average month, there are more than 3 billion searches. Having found its way increasingly into everyday language, the verb “google” was added to the Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary in 2006, meaning “to use the Google search engine to obtain information on the Internet.”
Although you may regularly use the Google search engine, you may not be as familiar with a number of free applications that can help association managers stay organized and work more efficiently. Consider a few possibilities:
- Google’s Web-based Calendar service makes it easier to keep all the calendar information important to you in one place, including calendars shared by colleagues, friends and groups such as your Board of Directors. Adding your own events is easy, and you can also import them from other applications you use. Handy event reminders, including text messages sent to your phone, help you keep track of everything that is on your agenda. Google Calendar also enables you share your calendar information with others, whether you want to send invitations to property owners, or publicize events from your Web site. And Google Calendar uses open standards like iCal and XML, so it plays nicely with many other calendar formats.
- Google Docs & Spreadsheets is a Web-based word processing and spreadsheet program that allows you to create and edit documents from anywhere and collaborate with multiple people at the same time. For example, you can take advantage of Google Docs & Spreadsheets to coordinate your work with remote Board of Director members on a new community association budget. You are able to import existing documents and spreadsheets, or create new ones from scratch. To invite people to view or edit a document, simply add their e-mail address to the list of viewers or collaborators. Take a peak at how a document is shaping up, or contribute your thoughts to a draft in progress. Keep track of multiple versions in one place–with an easy drop-down menu that shows who changed what, and when. If you would like to keep a copy on your hard drive, you can export to a number of popular formats (DOC, XLS, ODT, ODS, HTML, PDF, etc.), or easily publish your work to a Web page or blog for the world to see.
- Picasa helps you instantly find, edit and share all the pictures on your PC. Each time you open Picasa, it automatically locates all your pictures (even ones you forgot you had) and sorts them into visually organized albums. You can drag and drop to arrange your albums and make labels to create new groups of photos. Picasa makes sure your pictures are always organized, and advanced editing is simple with easy to use one-click fixes and powerful effects. It’s easy to share your pictures of community-wide events, allowing you to print, e-mail, or upload photos to Picasa Web Albums with just a click.
- Pack is a free collection of essential software to help users browse the Web faster, remove spyware and viruses, organize photos, and more with useful programs from Google and other companies like Adobe and Symantec. You can download and install the entire Google Pack in just a few clicks, and the included Google Updater helps you discover new programs and keep your current software up to date.
- Google Mobile products are built specifically for mobile devices, placing the information you need in the palm of your hand. Find what you need at any time, and from anywhere, using an array of Google mobile products. For instance, you can use Google Maps to get draggable maps, directions, local listings, satellite imagery, and live traffic info, all on your mobile device. It’s available on hundreds of devices, in a wide variety of countries.