Recently in Google Category

Google has cycled through a number of attempts to make search results more relevant when you are signed in with a Google account. They tried stars similar to the ones used to designate an email message as important in Gmail. Eliminating a specific result from the results you see on the page was another path to personalizing results. They even tried a search wiki concept where you could add notes about a specific result. While I tested all of these features, none of them really made sense. I don't know about your search habits, but when I go to Google to search for something, my goal is to find what I'm looking for and get the heck out of there.

Search behavior like mine doesn't lend itself to spending lots of time annotating search results. My gesture of interest in an article typically extends no further than the fact I actually clicked on the result. When Google first announced their new Google +1 effort, I was equally dubious, because it encouraged clicking a button (like the one pictured below) in order to vote for the quality of a particular result.

Google +1 in search results

In concept this is great, but you can't reallly know an article is worthwhile until you've read it. So here again, Google is trying to get you to interact with a page on Google.com you'd rather leave to arrive at your final destination. Fortunately, Google wised up and made +1 something you can easily use.

Google Chrome offers a fairly ambiguous warning when you arrive at what's supposed to be a secure site. For instance, if you think you are typing in the secure URL for Bank of America, but don't get the URL quite right, you will see a red window with a big box that says: This is probably not the site you are looking for! In most cases, the site is the one you are looking for, you just need to change your approach slightly because the security certificate assigned to the site doesn't recognize the URL path you used to get there.

Google secure search is an HTTPS alternative to the standard Google.com search box. Instead of performing a search on an unencrypted page, Google gives you an encrypted HTTPS version of the Google search. Using Google secure search makes the connection to Google secure so that no one between your computer and Google search results servers will see your search query. This prevents your ISP or anyone using the WiFi hotspot where you surf from identifying the search terms you use. Google secure search also turns off the browser referrer, so if you search for something like "Add Google Secure Search to Chrome" and you end up at JakeLudington.com, my Web server statistics software won't be able to record your visit to the site as being a result of that search. The search stops being secure as soon as you click on a result and go to the web page behind the link, but it keeps your search secure up to that point. There are currently three ways to use the encrypted Google search in Chrome

"When I do a search for restaurants on Google, they usually come up with a little Google Map and information about the business. My business doesn't show up on Google Maps. Is there a way to add my business to Google Maps so that it shows up when people search?"

Google makes it fairly easy to get your business listed in Google Maps, which also makes it easier for people to find your business when they search from an iPhone or anywhere else. The actual service for creating your business listing is called Google Places, which Google uses in Google Maps and most of their other search offerings as well. You need to follow a few simple steps and then your business will be automatically included.

"I share my computer with other people in my family and I don't want them to see my browsing history. I use Google Chrome, which doesn't have the same icons as Firefox. How can I delete all my history on Google Chrome?"

Google did a great job giving you control over how much history you want to delete in Google Chrome, but you have to know where to look for it first. You might notice a couple of buttons off to the right of the address bar in Chrome. One of those buttons looks like a wrench and contains most of the options for Chrome. Click that button and choose Options from the menu to get started clearing your history.

"How do I edit Google Docs on my iPad? I know I can view Google docs in Safari and there are a bunch of apps that read Google Docs, but I can't find a Google Docs editor for iPad. Any ideas?"

Safari for iPad currently lacks some necessary features for editing Google Docs on an iPad, although reading them looks pretty great. My favorite PDF editor for iPad, ReaddleDocs, also works great as a Google Docs reader, but doesn't support editing. In fact, to date, I can only find one app that actually works acceptably for editing Google Docs on my iPad.

One of the big disadvantages of having all the best mapping tools stored online is that you can't access them when you are offline. I have more access to Internet connectivity than the average person and I still find myself disconnected at the most inconvenient of times. The solution - download the maps you need so that you have them when you can't connect. GMapCatcher is a free app for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux that does just that. You can download Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, and a couple other maps I've never heard of, making them all accessible offline. Zooming in on the map works, as does re-centering. GPS support is built-in. When you save a map you can re-sync it later so that the map on your hard drive doesn't get out dated. A variety of languages are supported, making this a fairly global offline mapping solution.

"I want my Google Calendar email reminders to a different email account than my Gmail address. There doesn't seem to be an option in Google Calendar for adding another email address."

Google Calendar reminders are designed to be sent to the Gmail address associated with the same Google account. Currently Google Calendar doesn't support adding additional email addresses. There is a workaround to get your calendar reminders to another address, but you need to add a filter to Gmail to make it work.

"How can I keep my Outlook contacts in sync with Gmail contacts?"

If you want to sync Outlook contacts with Gmail contacts, there are two ways you can do it. You can do it the hard way, where you export your contacts from Outlook and then import them into Gmail. This becomes a hassle if you maintain contacts in both places, because you will invariably end up with duplicates. The easy was is to sync Outlook contacts by using software to keep the two contact lists automatically up-to-date. Contact sync makes more sense because you won't run into the problem of needing to constantly de-dupe your contact list in one or both locations.

"I recently switched from Outlook Express to Gmail. Is there any way to sort my Gmail so that I can view unread messages only? It's confusing to see a mix a read and unread messages in my Gmail inbox."

Gmail offers many mail sorting options you can't get with a traditional email client, but sometimes that comes at the expense of things we are used to. You can filter by unread messages in your inbox, but it takes a little advanced search technique.

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