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YouTube Makes Its Homepage Easier to Use

YouTube is rolling out a new homepage. This is designed for desktop users, plus tablet users on both Android and iOS. The homepage has been redesigned so that it’s cleaner, clearer, and easier to find the videos you actually want to watch.

Exploring the YouTube Homepage

While most of us open YouTube specifically to watch a particular video, the YouTube homepage is well worth exploring. If you’re signed into your Google account you’ll find recommended videos YouTube thinks you’ll enjoy watching.

Unfortunately, the YouTube homepage isn’t perfect. The size of the thumbnails and lack of descriptions make it hard to know what to watch. And controls to help you customize YouTube are hidden from view. Which is why YouTube has redesigned its homepage.

How to Use the New YouTube Homepage

YouTube introduced the new-look homepage in a post on The Official YouTube Blog. YouTube explains that the new-look homepage, which is rolling out now, is designed to “help you find the next great video to watch.” Which is becoming increasingly difficult.

The most obvious change to the YouTube homepage is the new look. Rather than rows of five videos with small thumbnails, you’ll now see rows of four videos with larger thumbnails. High-resolution previews and channel icons will help you find videos.

Once you’ve found the videos you want to watch, you can now add them to your queue on desktop right from the homepage. Just hover your cursor over a video thumbnail and tap the Add to Queue icon. These will then play in the order you added them to your queue.

On the other hand, if you find that YouTube keeps recommending a channel you have no interest in watching, you can now remove those suggestions. Just click the three-dot menu next to a video on the homepage, and tap Don’t Recommend Channel.

Our YouTube Starter Kit for Beginners

These changes should make it easier to use the YouTube homepage. Which should, in turn, keep you watching YouTube videos for longer. And YouTube is promising more features to come. In the meantime, here’s our YouTube starter kit


The YouTube Starter Kit: 20 YouTubers Worth Watching




The YouTube Starter Kit: 20 YouTubers Worth Watching

There’s a treasure trove of original content on YouTube. However, it’s difficult to know where to begin. Let us help you with our list of 20 YouTubers that form the perfect YouTube starter kit.
Read More

full of entertaining channels.

Image Credit: Rego Korosi/Flickr





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It’s Getting Easier (and Smarter) to Put Off That Big Phone Purchase – Review Geek

THe camera module of the iPhone 11 Pro.
Apple

I’ve had my Galaxy Note 8 for more than two years now, and though I’ve been tempted by new Pixels and OnePlus phones, I don’t think I’ll be updating any time soon. And according to market research, I’m not alone.

People are waiting longer and longer between big phone purchases, driven mostly by huge price increases at the top of the market. It’s having some interesting effects, as consumers themselves and the market in general start to feel the strain of purse strings. The takeaway is that it’s easier than ever to hang on to that phone for longer and longer.

Prices Are Soaring. . .

If you’ve shopped for any flagship phone in the last few years, you’ve noticed a rapid jump up in retail prices. Carriers and even manufacturers themselves have tried to disguise this, hiding behind easy-to-find financing options, but the jump is undeniable. The iPhone 7 started at $650 in 2016, with a fully-loaded 7 Plus version going for $950. Today the “budget” iPhone 11 starts at $700, with the top-of-the-line 11 Pro Max going for an astonishing $1,449.

A comparison of flagship phone prices.

Samsung and Google have made similar leaps at the top of the flagship space, with most other manufacturers trying to compete for those lucrative, high-margin sales following. Budget brands have been holdouts, with OnePlus, Blu, and Motorola offering more affordable options at predictably lower prices. But those phones don’t get the spots right by the door in Best Buy.

There haven’t been any massive increases in manufacturing costs: The phones are just getting more expensive because manufacturers want to charge more, and for the most part, customers are willing to pay more. At least enough of them are that it offsets any loss in sales those high prices might create.

. . . Value Isn’t

The thing is, with the notable exception of cameras, these fantastically-priced phones aren’t actually offering much more than they used to. Phone screens have gotten bigger, processors have gotten faster, storage has become more generous in general, but most of us are using the same old apps, browsers, and communication tools that we were before prices started to inflate.

The back of the Pixel 4
The latest smartphone cameras are their most innovative feature. Justin Duino

Go into a carrier store and ask, “What will this new phone do better than my old one?” The first response you’ll hear is that the camera is better—and it is, undeniably. Camera upgrades, both in terms of the sensors and lenses of the hardware and the phenomenal image processing in the software, appears to be driving plenty of high-end phone sales. Apple and Google both ended their latest phone reveals talking almost exclusively about how wonderful their cameras are, and not unjustifiably so.

But if you don’t need a camera that blows your old phone out of the water, and you’re not looking for some specific and esoteric feature like Google’s questionably useful radar tech or OnePlus’s eye-catching pop-up selfie cam, it’s easy enough to just sit on the phone you have. Especially when you look at retail prices. It helps that, especially for phones from Android manufacturers like Google and Samsung, waiting a few months past launch means you can find triple-digit savings in sales.

Folding phones are a novelty at the moment, but 5G seems like it might be the next truly notable upgrade in smartphone tech. Even that has extremely limited availability at the moment, and it’s not as if LTE networks are dog-slow in most areas. For anyone on a budget, there’s no rush to get the latest and greatest.

Repairs Are Getting Easier (Kind of)

Aside from the allure of a hardware upgrade, the other thing that drives new phone purchases is old phones wearing out. And that certainly happens: Broken screens and dying batteries are the things that seem to claim old phones most often.

But those problems are also getting easier to fix, literally. The prevalence of expensive phones has led to a huge swell in electronics repair shops, both authorized and independent, which seemed to have been depressed in the days of more disposable electronics. If you live near any large city, you have innumerable options for replacing a screen or swapping out an internal battery, among other fixes. Even my tiny Texas town has two independent repair shops, both with supplies of screens and batteries ready to swap out in under an hour. $50-150 can make your phone look just as good and last just as long as when you bought it, an easy way to put off that $800-1,400 purchase for another year.

A technician repairing a smartphone screen.
Screen and battery repairs are relatively inexpensive ways to extend the life of a smartphone. Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock

If even repair prices deliver a sticker shock, there are more options for insuring your phone, too. Most manufacturers and carriers offer phone insurance above and beyond the standard one-year warranty for a few dollars a month, delivering peace of mind on that big purchase. If you don’t want to be beholden to the whims of an Apple or Samsung appraiser, third-party insurers like Asurion will offer more or less the same service, often with more flexible options in terms of payments or deductibles.

Repairing a phone on your own isn’t an easy task, and it’s not getting any easier as they become ever tinier and more compact. But you have more options than you used to, thanks to the efforts of the Right to Repair movement and online repair chroniclers at iFixIt and YouTube. If you’re willing to risk permanently breaking your phone—and if it’s already broken and out of warranty, why not?—you can do so.

It’s Good for the Environment

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle are the three Rs of environmentalism, and it’s no coincidence that “reduce” comes first. With consumers more and more aware of their environmental impact, it’s good to know that simply using your device for a longer period of time is the easiest and most effective way of reducing it.

“Electronics recycling” is much more complex and less efficient than putting paper and plastic in the bin, as big, complicated parts of these machines can’t be economically broken down. E-waste is a big problem and only getting bigger. The best thing you can do to curb it is to resist the call of consumerism.

I’m not saying people are hanging on to old phones purely out of concern for the planet. If we had that kind of altruistic self-awareness, we wouldn’t be in the dire situation we are. But it’s certainly a nice feel-good bonus.

Software Is the Downside

Aside from the simple wisdom of saving money, there is one big downside to holding off on the upgrade: Phone software marches to the beat of flagship hardware. iOS and Android tend to eat up more memory and storage as they update, and some apps lose features and performance if you’re not running the latest and greatest. And that’s when manufacturers aren’t intentionally slowing down your older phone.

For software versions at least, phones from Apple and Google have a clear advantage here. Apple keeps iOS updated even on years-old devices, and Google makes sure its Pixel phones are competitive in that regard. Samsung, LG, Motorola, and similar competitors lag behind because there’s little profit in providing speedy updates to people who’ve already paid you. A few exceptions, like OnePlus, seem genuinely interested in keeping software up to date, but those exceptions are few and far between.

The Bold N1 with camera extended.
The Bold N1 offers (mostly) flagship features for under $300. Cameron Summerson

Even if your phone is running the latest OS software, plenty of users will say their phone is just slower and less responsive than it used to be. There’s nothing like the “snappy” performance of a new flagship to give you that little thrill of novelty.

If you can resist the call of the shiniest and newest phone, however, you can save a lot of money by keeping or repairing your old one, or just settling for a “boring” budget model if you have to upgrade. Because even a boring phone is (usually) pretty great.





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Arcadia Power makes supporting clean energy easier

Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to power your home with clean energy, and yet, many Americans don’t know how to make the switch. Luckily, you don’t have to install expensive solar panels or switch utility companies to support a cleaner, sustainable future. If you’re interested in supporting clean energy and saving money on your power bill, consider Arcadia Power.

Arcadia Power is a platform that makes it easy for homeowners and renters to choose clean, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. You can visit Arcadia Power’s website and input your ZIP code to see how clean energy compares to traditional sources in your area. To power your home with clean energy, all you have to do is connect your utility bill, and you can choose between wind and community solar farms in your area, or you can use Arcadia Power’s Smart Rate to find the lowest price available. In fact, you’ll even save money on your power bill if clean energy is cheaper in your area. 

You shouldn’t have to make major strides to switch to clean energy sources. Sign up with Arcadia Power and make the switch today. Learn more here, and get a $20 Amazon gift card or 4 standard LED bulbs just by signing up.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.



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Pay-As-You-Go IT Just Got Easier for Midsize Businesses: Introducing HPE GreenLake for Midmarket

If there’s one thing that midmarket companies pride themselves on – and rightly so – it’s their agility. Many mid-sized organizations remember the excitement of their start-up days and still foster the entrepreneurial spirit of those times. Looking forward, they see very real opportunities for expansion by pushing into new product lines and exploiting market opportunities that the bigger players may have overlooked.

But midmarket companies’ IT departments can’t always provide the flexibility to cash in on those opportunities. Procurement of IT infrastructure is often a drawn-out process, installation is time-consuming, and management may balk at the upfront expense. Capacity planning is tricky. Let’s say you launch a successful sales campaign in a new region, which results in a sudden surge in demand – but then you find that you’re pushing up against your capacity limits for compute and storage and running into performance issues. Or perhaps your workloads have grown over the years to the point where building a data center, or expanding your current one, makes sense. But then you’re likely looking at significant upfront costs, not only for the IT assets, but also for the facilities footprint.

Then there’s the skillset challenge. Finding the right expertise for new technology initiatives is tough for businesses of all sizes, of course. But it’s especially difficult in midmarket businesses, where IT folks tend to be generalists, operating all across the shop. Where a large enterprise might have multiple teams of security specialists, a midsize IT organization may have one or two admins who take care of that in between working on networking, as well as patches and updates and all the rest of the vital keep-the-lights-on tasks.

Click here to read the entire article.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.



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Google Maps Makes It Easier to Use Public Transit

Google Maps is making it easier than ever to plan a route from A to B, whether you’re lost in the wilderness or a commuter looking for a quicker way to get to work. And it’s all thanks to now being able to combine different forms of transport together.

Using Google Maps to Get From A to B

We suspect that everyone reading this will, at some point, have used Google Maps to plan their route. Whether you were completely lost and needed to find your way back to civilization or knew where you were and where you wanted to go, but not the best route.

Either way, Google Maps makes things very easy. Just type in your preferred destination and let Google Maps do the rest. However, until now you’ve had to choose just one form of transport at a time, whether that’s walking, driving, or public transit.

How to Use Google Maps’ Mixed Modes Routes

Now, as explained in a post on The Keyword, Google Maps can combine multiple forms of transport together to get you from A to B. And the forms of transport that can be combined include walking, cycling, buses, trains, trams, and ridesharing.

All you need to do is search for your destination in Google Maps, click Directions, and then click the Transit tab. Under the Recommended Route you’ll see various Mixed Modes routes which employ a variety of different modes of transport to get you there.

As well as the standard forms of transport you’ll see cycling and ridesharing legs included. The routes involving cycling and ridesharing will include helpful information such as the cost, the wait time, and your ETA. Helping you plan for every eventuality.

These Mixed Modes routes are rolling out now to Google Maps on Android and iOS in 30 countries around the world. Google then hopes to roll the option out to more countries over time, and include more local ridesharing options besides Uber and Lyft.

Download: Google Maps on Android | iOS

Take Public Transit to Help Fight Climate Change

Adding the option to combine more modes of transport together in one route should make it even easier to get from A to B. After all, most excursions involve hopping on and off (or in and out of) more than one vehicle. Unless you drive everywhere.

With environmental concerns so high on the news agenda, more people should be choosing public transit. And anything technology can do to assist should be applauded. With that in mind, here are some climate change tools to help you fight global warming


5 Climate Change Tools to Understand and Fight Global Warming




5 Climate Change Tools to Understand and Fight Global Warming

Preventing global warming is the need of the hour today. These apps and websites will tell you how you can make a difference.
Read More

.

Image Credit: Kamil Porembinski/Flickr





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Google Makes It Easier to Find New Podcasts

Google is making it easier to find new podcasts to listen to. While you have always been able to search Google for podcasts, you have previously then had to dig deeper into the results to find the podcasts and listen to them. Until now.

How to Sort Good Podcasts From Bad

Podcasting is coming of age. While many people are only now discovering the medium, podcasts have been around since the early 2000s. The earliest podcasters have released hundreds of podcasts, and there are new podcasts being released all of the time.

The one problem with the already-large and ever-growing number of podcasts available to listen to is sorting the wheat from the chaff. For every good podcast available there are a handful of bad podcasts. And the trick is to find the best podcasts.

How to Find the Best Podcasts on Google

Google is keen to help out by surfacing playable podcasts directly in Google Search results. All you need to do is search for a podcast about a certain topic, and Google will show playable episodes alongside the usual web pages, news items, images, and videos.

As explained on The Keyword, Google will surface podcasts based on what’s being talked about, with the company transcribing episodes it finds to aid with indexing. In the future, podcasts will also show up in results for searches which don’t include the word “podcasts”.

Google is rolling out its efforts to help people discover new podcasts gradually, starting with people using English in the US. This is initially available in Google Search, but Google will be adding it to Google Assistant and Google Podcasts later this year.

You can rest assured that this won’t replace publishers completely. While Google will now surface individual playable podcasts within Search results, these will sit alongside lists compiled by websites such as MakeUseOf. It just gives you extra options.

Podcasting Is a Growing Medium

Anything that makes podcasts easier to find and listen to is a good thing. Podcasting is a wonderful medium that’s only growing in popularity. And with more podcasters jumping on the bandwagon, it’s getting tougher to find the best podcasts for you.

As well as Google’s efforts to simplify the process, we try to recommend the best podcasts about a particular topic or for a particular group of people. So here are our lists of the best podcasts for kids and the best true crime podcasts


8 Fascinating True Crime Podcasts Better Than Serial




8 Fascinating True Crime Podcasts Better Than Serial

If you enjoyed listening to Serial, we have found some similarly well-researched and binge-worthy true crime podcasts to satisfy your craving for good investigative journalism.
Read More

, as examples.





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6 Coding Apps That Make Programming Easier

In some ways, programming is like riding a bike. You’re not going to forget how to write code if you don’t do it for a while. On the other hand, it’s a skill that takes plenty of practice to learn and even more to maintain.

Whether you’re a relative newcomer to the world of programming or a seasoned veteran, practice makes perfect. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of coding apps to help you stay on top of your game by coding wherever you are.

1. Enki

You can almost think of Enki the same way you would an exercise app. It provides you with daily workouts, but here you’re leveling up your coding skills instead of burning fat and building muscle. Simply select your language of choice and the app will keep you on track.

The app supports everyone from beginners to more experienced coders. If you’re just starting off, you can use the app to learn web technologies before moving on to JavaScript. It doesn’t just teach you how to program either. Enki also helps you learn subjects related to programming like using the Linux command line and managing version control with Git.

Enki is free to use, but an optional subscription adds premium features like additional workouts. This is fairly standard among programming apps, but with Enki, you’ll learn plenty without paying a dime.

Download: Enki for Android | iOS (Free)

2. Grasshopper

Unlike some of the other coding apps on this list which feature multiple languages, Grasshopper sticks to one: JavaScript. This makes sense as not only is JavaScript relatively easy to learn, but it’s also used for a wide range of applications.

You start off very basic by learning the fundamentals before moving on to more advanced concepts and language features. As you progress you’ll even use the D3 data visualization library to show off your skills with graphics. The Grasshopper team is always adding new courses, so you shouldn’t have to worry about running out of learning material.

To ensure you stick with it, Grasshopper motivates you to log in every day. Other apps like Todoist have used this in the past, and while it won’t motivate everyone, it could be just what you need to keep you going. At least for now, this app is entirely free with no in-app purchases.

Download: Grasshopper for Android | iOS (Free)

3. SoloLearn

SoloLearn main menu

One of the best “learn to code” apps on this list, SoloLearn earns major points for the sheer amount of learning material. Most of the other multi-language coding apps listed offer a few languages at best. SoloLearn, on the other hand, boasts impressive language support, including C, C++, Java, JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby, Swift, and more.

Like some of the other apps on this list, SoloLearn uses gamification to encourage you to stick with it. You’ll earn skill points and achievements while you level up your progress no matter how you learn. If you’re more competitive, you can compete with other learners around the world for a more intense challenge.

Much of SoloLearn is free to use, but not all of it. For $6.99 per month or $47.99 per year, you can subscribe to SoloLearn PRO. This removes advertisements and adds features, like the ability to set learning goals and view personalized insights about your learning.

Download: SoloLearn for Android | iOS (Free)

4. Codeacademy Go

Longtime readers may be surprised to see this app on this list. After all, in the past, we’ve told you why you shouldn’t learn to code with Codecademy


Why You Shouldn’t Learn to Code With Codeacademy




Why You Shouldn’t Learn to Code With Codeacademy

What’s wrong with Codecademy? For those who want to learn coding, the instructional site is one of the best to begin with. But does Codecademy teach you to think like a coder?
Read More

. While our criticism is still valid, it could also be leveled at most of the apps on this list. As long as you keep that in mind, Codecademy Go is a great way to take the service on the go.

This is an especially useful app if you’re already a Codecademy user. This app takes the courses and challenges from the website and presents them in app form. It’s very much a “does what it says on the tin” sort of app, but that’s not a bad thing.

The app is entirely free, with no in-app purchases. That can’t be said for Codecademy’s services as a whole, but it’s nice that you don’t have to worry about paying extra for the app.

Download: Codecademy Go for Android | iOS (Free)

5. Hopscotch

Hopscotch app

Judging by the marketing surrounding the app, you might think Hopscotch is meant just for kids. Its name in the iOS App Store is even “Hopscotch: Coding for Kids.” While it’s certainly kid-friendly, don’t let that chase you away. This is more than an app for children.

Looking at the FAQ on the Hopscotch website, the app is suitable for all ages. The developers say that while it’s designed for people aged 7 to 13, 18 year-olds and even college students are learning with it as well.

While other apps focus on the fundamentals first, Hopscotch aims to have you hit the ground running. The goal is to have you creating apps or games within minutes. This can teach you the basic concepts of coding before you head for the deep end.

Unfortunately, the app is limited for the time being, as right now it’s iOS-only. The wording on the website hints that Android and/or browser support may come in the feature, but there’s no ETA so far. On the upside, there are plenty of other Android programming apps.

The app itself is free, but for continued use of premium features, you’ll need to pay the $7.99 monthly fee.

Download: Hopscotch for iOS (Free)

6. Encode

Encode

Encode offers JavaScript, Python, HTML, and CSS making it a good choice if you’re looking to learn coding for web development.

Whether you’re using Android or iOS, Encode makes coding easier by including a shortcut bar with symbols often used in coding. This saves you from having to search through your keyboard searching for different bracket symbols. The app is a few years old, and while it isn’t as popular as some others, it’s definitely worth a look.

For a while, some users avoided Encode since it was Android-only. Now there is an iOS version, so you can use it regardless of your platform of choice. The app is free to download, with a $4.99 in-app purchase for Encode Plus, which unlocks more lessons and challenges.

Download: Encode for Android | iOS (Free)

What About Coding Apps for Kids?

With the exception of one app above, these are aimed at all ages. Some of these may be just fine for kids, but most of them aren’t aimed at younger coders. Some, like CodePen and Pythonista, are explicitly meant for coders with a little more programming experience.

If you’re looking for apps aimed at a younger audience, you’ll be glad to know there are plenty. So many, in fact, that we have a dedicated article on apps for younger learners. Take a look at our list of coding apps to help kids learn to program


7 Best Coding Apps for Kids to Learn Programming




7 Best Coding Apps for Kids to Learn Programming

Coding apps offer ample opportunities to teach children programming. It’s a fun, controlled environment. Rather than send children to a coding boot camp, check out these five coding apps for kids to learn programming.
Read More

.

Explore more about: Android Apps, Coding Tutorials, iOS Apps, Programming.



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Google Makes It Easier to Report Suspicious Sites

Google has launched two new features designed to keep everyone safe while online. The first is a new Chrome extension that allows you to report suspicious sites. The second is a new warning designed to keep Chrome users away from said suspicious sites.

What Is Google Safe Browsing?

Google Safe Browsing is designed to keep web users safe from bad actors. Google maintains a blacklist of websites known to host malware or phishing elements. Anyone using Chrome (and a number of other browsers) are then directed away from these sites.

Google claims Safe Browsing protects more than 4 billion devices every day. However, the company is always looking at ways to improve Safe Browsing, and its latest attempt to do so means asking you to help identify and report suspicious sites Google itself has missed.

Google Launches Suspicious Site Reporter

In a post on the Chromium Blog, Google has launched a new Chrome extension called Suspicious Site Reporter. This extension gives you an easy way to report suspicious sites to Google Safe Browsing. And do your bit in keeping the web safe for everyone to use.

Safe Browsing works by analyzing sites using Google Search web crawlers. It then uses this data to create lists of sites that are “dangerous or deceptive”. The Suspicious Site Reporter adds a human element by asking you to report suspicious sites.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

All you need to do is install the extension and start browsing the web. Then, when you land on a potentially suspicious site, you’ll see an icon. Clicking the icon will report the site to Safe Browsing, allowing Google to further evaluate it.

Alongside Suspicious Site Reporter, Google has also added a new warning designed to direct people away from sites that have confusing URLs. Google cites the example of someone visiting Go0gle.com instead of Google.com. This warning is new to Chrome 75.

Download: Suspicious Site Reporter for Google Chrome

Help Google Help Everyone Stay Safe While Online

Google may have its faults, but the company clearly wants to keep people safe when they’re online. Safe Browsing has been helping achieve this for over 10 years already. And now, with Suspicious Site Reporter, Google is asking us all to do our bit to help.

We shouldn’t be relying on Google—or any technology companies for that matter—to keep us safe online though. The best thing you can do is learn what threats are out there, and then maintain these important habits to stay safe and secure online.

Image Credit: Isaac Bowen/Flickr

Read the full article: Google Makes It Easier to Report Suspicious Sites



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24 Google Docs Templates That Will Make Your Life Easier

It’s all too easy to waste time formatting your Google documents. Others have already put together some excellent templates for your use. If you use Google Docs, here are 24 time-saving templates that’ll let you get on with using the documents, rather than struggling to put them together.

These free Google Docs templates are split into four sections; Work, Health, Home, and Travel. So feel free to scroll to the section that’s most relevant to you.

Work Templates

Resumé

Google Docs Resume Template

Formatting resumes can be a real test of patience (and design skills). That’s where this professional template comes in handy. It includes all the sections needed to help you land that dream job. For instance, career objectives, experience, education, skills and references (these sections can be altered if needed).

For more options, take a look at these additional Google Docs resume templates


6 Google Docs Resume Templates for All Styles and Preferences




6 Google Docs Resume Templates for All Styles and Preferences

Starting your resume with a template can help you get it right. We have compiled the best Google Docs resume templates. They’re free and easy to adjust.
Read More

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Business Letter

Google Docs Business Letter Template

When it comes to any type of business letter, you want the appearance to be professional. You may be writing to a client or customer, contacting a vendor or manufacturer, or creating a cover letter to accompany your resume. This business letter template in Google Docs is formatted perfectly. Just add your contact details, the date, and your message.

Presentation

Google Docs Presentation Template

This template does what it says on the tin and can even be edited offline. To add another slide, right-click the second slide, and select Duplicate slide.  You can choose to show the presentation in a new window, or you can download as a PowerPoint file or PDF (among other formats). Then confidently open your presentation wherever you are.

Meeting Agenda

Google Docs Meeting Agenda Template

Keep your meetings as efficient as possible by having an agenda template ready to roll at a second’s notice. This meeting agenda template in Google Docs includes the agenda (obviously), attendees, scribe name, minutes, action items, and next meeting items. You can also invite other team members to add agenda items directly to the template to streamline the process further.

Project Timeline

Google Docs Project Timeline Template

Organize the timeline of your project with this straightforward Gantt chart. With tasks split into different phases, and a weekly timescale, understanding the overall structure of your complex project—at a glance—is a picnic.

Project Tracking

Google Docs Project Tracking Template

This spreadsheet offers a fast way of keeping up with which tasks are still open, complete, when they were started, who’s responsible, and the task difficulty. Using this kind of tracking spreadsheet, alongside the project timeline above, offers a pretty comprehensive toolkit for keeping everyone on track.

Business Plan

Google Docs Business Plan Template

Get straight into the nitty-gritty of fleshing out your business propositions with this template. The major sections are all there, from market analysis to financial projections, along with plenty of export options. Any graphs or charts you need to put together (to add more visual substance to the plan) can easily be handled by Google Sheets.

Invoicing

Google Docs Invoice Template

If invoicing isn’t yet causing a problematic bottleneck in your company, this simple template can save you the hassle of transferring your invoicing to a dedicated, more comprehensive platform. Simply complete the invoice, download as a PDF, and email to your client or customer.

Newsletter

Google Docs Newsletter Template

If you use Google Docs for your business, then you’ll love this newsletter template. In just minutes, you can add your company details, insert photographs, and let your clients or coworkers know what’s new. It’s short and sweet at two pages, which is usually just enough for an informative company newsletter.

Brochure

Google Docs Brochure Template

A brochure may not be something you create daily, but when you need one this attractive template comes in handy. It offers the same appearance as the above newsletter template, for a terrific combo. Add your own photos, include an overview and key features, and wrap up with all the necessary details for your product or service. This template makes it all very simple.

Health Templates

Weight and Measurement Tracking

Google Docs Weight Tracking Template

For those who are looking to bulk up or become leaner, this fantastic spreadsheet allows you to record any changes in overall body composition, from the size of your upper-arms to your body-fat percentage. After each entry, the overall change is calculated automatically.

Weight Training

Google Docs Weight Training Template

This ready-to-go weight training regimen gives you specific instructions to follow throughout the week. Obviously, the overall weight of each set should be adjusted according to your needs, but as far as set workouts go, you can’t go wrong.

Home Templates

Household Chores

Google Docs Chores Template

Prevent any further arguments around the house by keeping track of household chores (and even offering financial incentives!). This nicely designed template keeps things simple, bold, and clear cut, helping you always run a tight ship.

To-Do List

Google Docs To-Do List Template

Get started on your to-do list right away while easily being able to see each task’s due date, priority and status. It’s basic, but does the job, allowing you to get on with crossing things off that list, rather than spending time creating it. If you want a simple Google Docs to-do list template, this is it.

House Moving Calculator

Google Docs House Moving Template

We all know that moving can cause a huge amount of stress. Much of that stress can come from not properly understanding how the move will affect you financially. This home cost evaluation template lets you financially assess your new purchase so you can more effectively weigh your options.

Calendar

Google Docs Calendar Template

If for whatever reason you’d like to have your calendar stored and managed in Google Sheets, this is a great template that’ll get you started in no time. Each month is on a separate worksheet and it’s also designed for print. You can use the same template each year because the calendar will change automatically.

Family Budget Planner

Google Docs Family Budget Template

If you need to keep a much closer eye on your personal/family income and expenses, this template is very much like a corporate sales forecast, edited to be perfect for home use. Overall, you can see how much cash you’ll have available by the end of the period and alter the plan accordingly to help you reach whatever savings or spending goals you have. There’s also a personal version of the spreadsheet (rather than aimed at families) available.

Wedding Checklist

Google Docs Wedding Checklist Template

Weddings; another stressful life event. Help yours go more smoothly with this detailed Google Docs checklist template. This handy wedding checklist will ensure you don’t forget anything imperative, like the all-important cake knife or organizing childcare or transportation, well in advance.

Savings Calculator

Google Docs Savings Calculator Template

This calculator quickly lets you see savings projections in different situations, with the aim being to show you how this can lead to early retirement if you save carefully. Simply change the blue numbers around and see the effect on the graph.

Party Planning

Google Docs Party Planning Template

Keep track of who’s attending your party, what they’ve promised to bring, and whether they’ve confirmed they’ll be attending. The spreadsheet also automatically works out the cost per attendee (if applicable). Remember to only edit the green cells, though it’s easy enough to add any additional columns such as “Dietary Requirements”, if needed.

Car Comparison

Google Docs Car Comparison Template

Struggling to compare a few different car models? Add their stats and pictures to this spreadsheet so you can have them competing head-to-head, without the need to constantly flick through different tabs to find the relevant information.

Travel Templates

Vacation Checklist

Google Docs Vacation Checklist Template

Going on vacation should be a relaxing experience. Use and edit this Google Docs checklist template so that you can keep your packing stress-free, preventing you from arriving at your hotel only to realize you’ve forgotten your phone charger.

Travel Itinerary

Google Docs Travel Itinerary Template

If you’re heading out on an extended trip or visiting multiple places during one vacation, it’s best to get everything out of your head, and written down somewhere reliable. This template allows you to see the important details of any booked transport, plus the dates of your travel, and where you’ll be each day. This will make organizing outings and hotels much less arduous.

Distance Calculator

Google Docs Distance Calculator Template

Road trips have never been particularly easy to plan in detail, which makes this distance calculator awesome. To calculate the distance, you can use zip codes, full addresses, or Google Maps/MapQuest driving directions. You can also add the distances to a trip log, change the mode of transportation, and even calculate the shortest route to a destination.

Tackle Your Tasks with Google Docs Templates

Hopefully one or more of these free Google Docs templates have your task covered. But if you need a template that falls outside of one of these categories, browse through the convenient Google Docs template gallery.

Want to do more with Google Docs? Take a look at how you can spruce up Google Docs with custom background colors


How to Spice Up Google Docs With Custom Background Colors




How to Spice Up Google Docs With Custom Background Colors

A vanilla background can get boring, and Google Docs is terribly bland as it is. Why not change the background to better match the theme of your content?
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or use Google Keep with Google Docs in just a click


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Bring the Power of Google Keep to Google Docs With a Single Click

With this latest feature in Google Docs, you can now incorporate Google Keep notes into your documents with a single click.
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Explore more about: Calendar, Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Sheets, Productivity Tricks, Resume, Spreadsheet, Writing Tips.



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10 Hidden Features of Microsoft Word That’ll Make Your Life Easier

Everyone knows Clippy. But are you friends with Pilcrow? If you are, then you know more about Microsoft Word than most people do. Do you know about “widow lines”? The extended clipboard?

There are plenty of lesser-known features that you should know about if you want to be truly proficient with Microsoft Word. Here are several important Microsoft Word features


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that are slightly “hidden” but can make your work easier.

1. Be Distraction Free

Writers want peace. The visual clutter of MS Word features gave rise to a legion of distraction-free editors and undisturbed peace. But if you love Word, you can use a quick shortcut to hide the visual clutter of the Ribbon. Press Ctrl + F1 to toggle the Ribbon from view.

Hide the Microsoft Word Ribbon with a shortcut key

Tweak it by clicking on Ribbon Display Option and selecting Auto-hide Ribbon. That’s the little arrow next to the minimize button on top.

Microsoft Word's Ribbon Display Option

Distraction free reading is a more specialized feature in Word from version 2013 onwards. Though, it was there in Word 2010, too. Designed for touch-enabled tablets, the Read Mode works well on an everyday laptop as well. Access it just as quickly with an ALT + W-F (Press W & F simultaneously).

Use Microsoft Word's Read Mode for distraction free reading

Optionally, use the default buttons:

  • (On the Ribbon menu) View > Read Mode.
  • (On the Status Bar)  The Read Mode button on the right.

Double-tap with your finger or double-click with your mouse to zoom in and make graphics like tables, charts and images fill the screen.

2. Reorganize with the Outline View

Outlining your main ideas and completing that first draft quickly is the surefire tip for writing productivity. If used well, the Outline View can increase your productivity with large documents by 50%.

Go to View > click the Outline button on the Ribbon.

Outline View helps you fine-tune the organization of complex documents by reordering text blocks and nine levels of headings. Outline View brings up a special toolbar called Outlining with controls for promoting or demoting selected text. Use the controls to hide or display selected text.

The Outlining toolbar in Microsoft Word

  • Want to get to a specific point in a long document? Switch to Outline View and jump to a specific heading level.
  • Want to draft quickly? Plan out the main sections on Outline View and then switch to the other layouts to write the body.
  • Want to reorganize a report by moving huge blocks of text? Drag and drop a heading to move not only that heading but all the sub-levels under it and the body text. Use the upward-downward arrows to work them.
  • Want to quickly format headings? Use Headlines 1, 2, and 3 instead of changing the size and using uppercase.

3. Use Word as a Quick Brainstorming Tool

Double-click anywhere and begin typing. You don’t need to bother with positioning a cursor if you don’t want to. This is the closest MS Word comes to freestyle writing. Click and Type has existed since Word 2002. The feature works only in the Print Layout view or in Web Layout view.

Word 2013 - Click and Type

Though this is very useful for inserting text and graphics, you can also use it for impromptu brainstorming as a freeform mindmapping tool


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Free Word templates are not just about beautiful documents, perfect resumes, and cover pages. They can be vital for brainstorming and mind maps too. Here are eight Word templates for your ideation needs.
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4. Convert Tables to Graphs in 3-Steps

Take your pick—a neatly formatted table with lots of data OR a nicely done chart visualizing that data for you?

Being visual creatures, it is often a no-brainer to opt for the latter. Word makes it easy to convert tabular information into a chart. When you don’t have too much of tabular data, create a chart in Word instead of over-killing with Excel. Select the table with the data and follow three steps…

1. Click on the Insert tab on the Ribbon.

2. Click the Object tool within the Text group and open the Object dialog box.

Insert Object

3. From the list of Object Types, choose Microsoft Graph Chart. Click OK.

Insert a graph chart in Microsoft Word

Word displays the tabular data as a neat column chart. Modify the datasheet that appears.

You can also format this graph with a different chart type. Double-click your chart. Right-click in the white space that’s within the bounding box of the graphic and select Chart Type.

You can also use Microsoft Word to create stunning flowcharts


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How to Create Flowcharts With Microsoft Word The Easy Way

Want to learn how to make a flowchart in Word? It’s easy with the right technique. This introductory article explains how.
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with the shapes feature.

5. Write Equations in Word

And you think that only Excel formulas are amazing


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3 Crazy Excel Formulas That Do Amazing Things

Excel formulas have a powerful tool in conditional formatting. This article covers three ways to boost productivity with MS Excel.
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. The Equation Editor has always been an important feature of MS Word. In the latest versions of Word, it is simply known as Equation (available from Insert > Symbols Group > Equation).

Choose Insert > Equation > Insert New Equation.

Insert a new equation in Microsoft Word

Use the Equation Toolbar to design your own advanced equations for mathematics, physics, or chemistry. Word gives you many well-known equations to insert with just a click.

Microsoft Word's Equation Toolbar

6. Hold 24 Items in the Clipboard

The Office clipboard can hold 24 items and it inter-operable between all Office files. In the Home tab, click the little drop-down arrow next to Clipboard to reveal the panel on the left. For the shortcut, press Ctrl+C twice to open the Clipboard Panel.

This holding capacity enables you to cut and copy multiple elements and move them anywhere within the document or between open Office programs.

Office Clipboard in Microsoft Word

Use the clipboard’s Options to control its functions. For instance, you can disable the Show Status Near Taskbar When Copying that displays the number of items you’ve copied in the bottom-right corner of the Word window. It is on by default.

7. Translate Languages on the Go

Microsoft Office uses Microsoft Translator to handle all translations. Use the Translate feature from the Review tab. Translate a word or a sentence. Or, translate the entire document and display it in a separate Word document.

The Translator tab appears on the right and you can choose and change languages. Use this sidebar to highlight each word and explore their meaning in full.

Microsoft Translate in Word

8. Beautify Fonts with Kerning

Kerning adjusts the space between two individual letters for a better visual look. When designing a document, each typeface requires its own specific kerning. Kerning becomes important when you are designing with large fonts on Word, e.g. an ebook cover.

Word has kerning switched off by default, and normally you don’t need to bother with it. But let’s say you need to submit a five-page homework. Save effort by increasing the width between the letters instead of writing fluff!

Click the little pop-out arrow on Font (on the Home tab). Alternatively: click Ctrl+D.  Go to the Advanced tab. Select the checkbox for Kerning for fonts. Experiment by entering a small point size in the box. Remember some typefaces and font sizes don’t look good with kerning.

Use kerning in Microsoft Word

If you really want to get better with kerning and fonts, try out the Kern Type game we mentioned in a previous article on Font Games.

9. Inspect Your Document

Today, an important MS Word feature is collaboration but you have to pay attention to security too. The Document Inspector in Word helps you check your document for any information you want to keep private.

Whenever you create or even edit a document, some user information gets added to the file automatically. The Document Inspector helps you erase this kind of information before sharing a document.

To access the Document Inspector:

Go to File > Info > Inspect Document > Check for Issues > Inspect Document.

Check for issues with the Inspect Document feature in Microsoft Word

Inspect hidden content by selecting the checkboxes. After the inspection, any categories with sensitive data gets an exclamation mark. A Remove All button for each category removes the data and finalizes the document.

Document Inspector report in Microsoft Word

Office Support takes you step by step on how to use the Document Inspector.

10. Take the Benefits of Hidden Text

Oh yes. This feature is truly hidden. Hidden Text is a non-printing character attribute that has its usefulness. Hiding text can be useful in many situations:

  • Create a simple quiz by hiding the answers.
  • Control the layout for some specific printing job by inserting hidden text.
  • Print two versions of a document. In one, hide portions of text. You don’t need to create two copies or delete any part of the document.
  • Temporarily hide confidential information that you don’t want others to see.

Hide or Unhide Text

Enable Hidden Text in Microsoft Word

  1. Select the text you want to hide or the hidden text.
  2. Click Home > Font Dialog box > Font > Select or clear the Hidden check box.
  3. Print Hidden Text: Go to the File tab > Options > Display > Select the Hidden text check box > Select the Print hidden text check box > Click Ok.

Non-printing characters are “formatting marks” which enables the user to troubleshoot and finetune the layout of a document.

For instance, words need to be single-spaced; your paragraphs have to be spaced with correct line breaks; all tabs should be lined up; table cells have to be formatted neatly; pagination has to flow, etc.

Pilcrows, tab-markers, spaces, line breaks, page breaks, object anchors, and hidden text are just some of the non-printing elements that are handy for controlling the layout of a Word document. Display the non-printing characters by clicking the Pilcrow button on the Home tab. Alternatively, press Ctrl + *.

Note: In Word 2013 and onwards you can also expand or collapse parts of a document to selectively display information.

Use These Productivity Secrets in Word

Did you know about the annual Microsoft Office Championship? The participants are the experts at using the suite—and you can bet they have found faster or more efficient ways to use tools like Word for their day to day jobs. Probably, there’s a champion inside you.

To go deeper, why not check out the hidden Developer tab on the Word ribbon


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which will open up more ways to use Word.

Explore more about: Microsoft Office 2016, Microsoft Office 2019, Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Word.



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