How to Share Files, Photos & Links via Gmail on iOS

gmail default for ipad

One of the more popular posts on my blog of late was a post I wrote about how to make Gmail the default mail app on the iPad. It worked great, but it was a workaround and you couldn’t help but feel that there must be a better way. Well, today there is, because Google updated the Gmail app to make it do (almost) everything that you need it to do in order to use Gmail as your default mail app on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Here’s what you need to know.

First, you need to make sure that both your iPad and the Gmail app is up to date. This only works if your iPad in on iOS 8 (or later) and version 4.0 of the Gmail app (or later versions). You can check your iPad software version by going to Settings > General > About and looking for the Version number. For Gmail, navigate your way to the App Store, and tap Updates to see if an update is available. Once you have that under control, we can begin…

1. Open the app that you would like to have Gmail available as your default mail client to share links, files or other information. Examples of apps might include Safari, Chrome, Photos, Flipboard, etc.

2. Tap the Share icon and swipe to the right-hand side of the top row of sharing apps until you see the More option, as in the image below:

share more icon ipad

3. Tap More, and scroll down through the list of apps until you find Gmail.

4. Tap the toggle switch next to the Gmail app to turn it green and activate Gmail as a sharing option on your iOS device.

5. The three horizontal lines to the right of the toggle switch will let you drag the Gmail app further up the list so that it is more readily accessible when you need it to share. Once you have it where you want it, tap Done.

activate gmail sharing ipad

That’s all there is to it. The next time you find a website you want to share, a photo you need to email, or a file you want to attach to a Gmail message, simply go to the share menu in the app you are working in, and tap Gmail to open a new email.

So, no more workarounds, no more headaches, and no more wishing for things to be different, because Google has made the changes that lots of people wanted to see and updated their app so that you truly can use it as the default email app on your iOS device.

Setting Default Apps on the iPad with Google

If, like me, you are a Google Apps user who loves to use their iPad, you may have longed for the ability to have your favorite Google services set as the default apps on your iPad. Well, you can, to a degree, and here’s how.

DriveGoogle+ on iOSgmailGooglechrome

Today I saw a post on Google+ by Chris Betcher, a Google Certified Teacher and Trainer, that reminded me how to do just that. It’s simple really, and there is no need for workarounds or even jailbreaking your device, because Google has done all the hard work for you.

Whether you realize it or not, Google has updated its iOS apps so that they can talk to each other. For instance, it you click on an email link while inside Chrome, the iPad will automatically open the Gmail instead of Apple’s Mail app. The same applies for links that lead to a file in Drive. Clicking the link inside of Gmail will open the file in the Drive app, instead of Safari. Found an interesting link in Google+?  Tap the share arrow, and you can open it in Chrome.

Setting Default Apps on the iPad

Apple doesn’t allow you to set default apps on the iPad, so how is this possible? Well, it is all down to a bit of clever engineering from Google. If you navigate to the Settings in Gmail or Chrome, you will find a menu option called Google Apps. Clicking that, allows you to choose a Google iOS app to open something that may normally be opened by Safari or the Mail app.

So, all that is left to do is to wean yourself off some of Apple’s default apps. Mobile Safari is a great browser, and the Mail app is very solid too. However, if you find yourself in these apps when you would rather be in Google’s apps, all you need to do is shift your focus to using the Chrome and Gmail apps instead.

Using Google on the iPad can sometimes be a bit of an ordeal, but in case you haven’t tried it, the experience is very much the same on Google’s Android tablets. You can set default apps on Android, but if you use Chrome to access your Google Drive you will still be forced into the mobile view and warned that you are using an incompatible browser when in the Desktop view. Still, progress has been made, and Google’s commitment to mobile devices is clear, even if the support is not coming quite as fast as some of us might like it to! 🙂

For more information on setting Google’s apps as default apps on the iPad, watch Chris Betcher’s video below, and check out this follow-up post on how to set Gmail as the default mail app on iOS.

The Top 10 Gmail Apps and Extensions

Gmail is great. It comes with lots of unique features that put other email clients to shame, and has even more under the hood if you look through the experimental Gmail labs. However, if you spend some time in the Chrome Web Store, you can quickly find a plethora of other apps and extensions for Gmail. What follows are ten of the best.

1. Gmail Offline – If you don’t install any others on this list, try this one. It lets you access your Gmail offline. You can read your Gmail offline, and reply to emails too. Once you get back online, everything will sync up and and emails you wrote when offline will send to your recipients. For the most part it works very well, although the interface is different from the standard Gmail site. So, the next time you get stranded without Wi-Fi or access to the internet, fire up Gmail offline and get productive.

2. Send from Gmail – I use my iPad a lot. One of the things I love about it, is the ability to quickly share a link with others right from inside the browser. On my laptop, I could do that in Safari, but as a Chrome user, I used to have to copy the link, go back to Gmail, compose a new email, and paste the link in. You can avoid all that with Send from Gmail. Simply click the extension button and a new Gmail email will open with the subject line filled in, and the link of the site added to the body of the email. It works great. My only small criticism of it is that for some reason it does not add my default signature to the email. If anyone has found a way to fix that, please let me know!

3. Checker Plus – I love this extension, because it does a multitude of things. Ever clicked on an email link and had it open Outlook or some other desktop email client? This fixes that. It also notifies you of incoming mail with a chime of your choice, and a desktop notification if you want it. You can even have a voice notification read your incoming mail to you! Clicking the extension’s button in your toolbar lets you quickly preview your mail without changing tabs, and allows you to delete or archive mail too. So, it is very handy, and something I could not soon live without.

4. Add to Wunderlist – I am a big Wunderlist user, and I have written about that in the past. The Add to Wunderlist extension is great for me because it integrates seamlessly with Gmail. I used to use my inbox as a secondary to do list, but no more. This extension allows you to turn emails into tasks so that you can have all your important things to do on one master list. Simply click the Add to Winderlist button and you can choose which list you want to add that important email to. Next, delete, or archive the email as you work your way towards inbox zero.

5. Rapportive – This is a relatively recent addition to my Gmail, but one that grew on me quickly. When you use the rapportive Gmail extension, you get a customized bio of the sender of every email you get right next to the email when you open it. Ever wondered who this person is that emailed you, and how they know you? This can help. It pulls from LinkedIn and other social networks to give you a social profile of senders, so it is great for reminding you about who is sending you those important emails. It also has a notes section that lets you add your own private comments about each person in case you need to add some additional information about previous contact you have had with them.

6. Screenleap – Need a quick and easy way to share your screen with others? Well you could start a Google Hangout, and share your screen, but this is arguably quicker and gives you the ability to share with others who dont even have a Google account. Simply click the Screenleap icon in your Gmail, and it will generate a link for your sender to click on. Once they click it, you can instantly share your screen. This could be great for demonstrating how to do something on a computer or for troubleshooting someone else.

7. Cloudy – Gmail has a great attachment tool. It even  lets you browse through your Drive to find the files you want. However, Cloudy takes this one step further. It links with Dropbox, Box, and Skydrive. You can browse your Picasa and Flickr accounts, or take a picture or video with your webcam and add that straight to your email. You can search the web for an image or look through your Facebook and Evernote accounts for the file you need. You can even search through your Gmail to grab an attachment from another email. I love the flexibility it gives me for attachments.

8. Smartr – If Cloudy is the ultimate attachment tool, then Smartr might be the ultimate contacts app. It does all kinds of clever things like keeping a track of all the email conversations you have had with the person you are emailing. They sit there in a sidebar as you type the email so you can have them for reference. You can view your contacts Facebook and Twitter activity, even if you don’t follow them. The common contacts tab is a useful way to find people you have in common with others, and the search tool will quickly search through all your contacts from a number of services.

9. KeyRocket – Ok. Time to get your geek on. Gmail has a ton of keyboard shortcuts, but remembering what they are, is another matter altogether. That’s where KeyRocket comes in. It helps you learn what they are. Everytime you perform an action in Gmail that has a keyboard shortcut, (say composing a new email), a popup tells you what the keyboard shortcut is for that action. For some, this may get annoying pretty quickly, but for me there is no better way to train your brain for the multitude of keyboard shortcuts that there are. Just remember to turn on keyboard shortcuts in Gmail’s settings if you want to try some our for yourself.

10. Gmelius – If the stock Gmail user interface is not to your liking, Gmelius may be just what you have been looking for. It lets you tweak a number of different things to make your Gmail experience more aesthetically pleasing. For instance, it will block ads from public Gmail accounts. You can also replace the paperclip attachment icon in your inbox with Google or Microsoft equivalents so that you know at a glance what type of attachment is in that email. You can auto-hide or toggle the header (including the search bar) to get more room, and lose the footer too. You can even lose scroll bars if your mouse and trackpad is all you need. So, check it out if this sounds like the kind of tweaking you like to do. It is a popular app with those who like to tinker.

Do you have a favorite Gmail app or extension? Feel free to share it in the comments below.

New iOS Updates for Pages, Keynote, Numbers, Zite, Gmail & YouTube!

PagesThere were some fairly major updates to some popular iOS apps today, so I thought I would take a few minutes to give you the lowdown on what’s new for Pages, Keynote, Numbers, Zite, YouTube and Gmail, if you have not already updated them to the latest versions.

The iWork updates include some nice tweaks and greater compatibility. For instance, tracking changes will no doubt be useful for a lot of students and teachers using Pages to edit documents,especially when working between devices. Keynote has a couple of new transitions and the ability to preserve the master slides and preset styles during import and export. Numbers now allows you to hide and unhide rows/columns and work with filters.

Gmail, however, has arguably seen the biggest update. The much maligned official Google email app may well have finally benefitted from Google’s earlier acquisition of the Sparrow Mail app for Mac. It has a completely new interface, the ability to switch between up to 5 Gmail accounts, a much better search capability, and the ability to reply to calendar invites from within the email you are reading. Gmail 2.0 is a HUGE improvement, and so far I really like it. Google’s other big news today was an update for their YouTube app, which now has iPad support.

Zite is not just one of my favorite PLN apps for the iPad, it is one of my favorite apps in any category. Today it got a big update to Zite 2.0. A new logo, a new user interface, and an expansion to 40,000 categories you can subscribe to – up from 2,500. iPad users can use gestures to rate their favorite stories, and even find related topics suggested at the bottom of an article. An update for Zite has been a long time coming, but this looks like it has been worth the wait.

Full details on all the updates, as well as links to the apps concerned, are listed below:

1. Pages

In this release Pages for iOS is updated for improved compatibility with Microsoft Word and Pages for Mac.

• Use Change Tracking to track changes to body text in a document
• Accept and reject individual changes as you review a document
• Import Pages and Microsoft Word documents with change tracking and continue to track changes to body text
• Preserve tracked changes in documents exported in Microsoft Word or Pages format
• Preserve calculations in tables when importing from and exporting to Pages for Mac
• Add reflections to shapes
• Lock and unlock objects

2. Keynote

In this release Keynote for iOS is updated for improved compatibility with Microsoft PowerPoint and Keynote for Mac.

• Import and export all Microsoft PowerPoint and Keynote for Mac slide sizes
• Import and export presentation themes, complete with master slides and preset styles
• Play back all Keynote action builds including Move, Rotate, Scale, and Opacity
• Add new slide transitions including Shimmer and Sparkle
• Preserve calculations in tables when importing from and exporting to Keynote for Mac
• Add reflections to shapes
• New print layouts include options to print with presenter notes, with builds, and without backgrounds
• Lock and unlock objects

3. Numbers

In this release Numbers for iOS is updated for improved compatibility with Microsoft Excel and Numbers for Mac.

• Hide and unhide rows and columns
• Import & export Numbers for Mac spreadsheets with filters, & turn filters on and off
• Preserve rich text in tables when importing and exporting
• Add reflections to shapes
• Lock and unlock objects

4. Gmail

– Multiple account support
– App redesigned with a new, cleaner look
– Search predictions as you type
– Infinite scrolling inbox
– Respond to Google Calendar invites inline
– Interactive Google+ posts support
– New welcome experience

5. YouTube

* Optimized for iPad and iPhone 5
* Stream videos with AirPlay
* Tap logo to open your Guide of channels
* Add and remove videos from your playlists
* Clickable links in video descriptions
* Improved accessibility with VoiceOver

6. Zite

Welcome to Zite 2.0. We’ve completely reimagined Zite to be faster, smarter and more beautiful:

· New Explore page helps you find interesting topics
· Jump to topics from anywhere in Zite to find great related content
· Expanded “Your Top Stories,” including Headline News, Featured Topics and Popular Stories in Zite
· Rate stories by simply swiping them up or down (iPad only)
· Link Facebook to get automatic topic suggestions and improve your personalization
· Expansion from 2,500 to over 40,000 categories to explore

The Goodreader iPad Workflow Solution

GoodfraderAt a workshop today, I got talking to a High School teacher (@MrsMoses227) who uses the Goodreader app for her iPad workflow solution. It wasn’t a method I was previously familiar with, but it worked very well for her, so I thought I would share it here for anyone else that might be interested in following a similar path.

Goodreader, if you don’t already know, is a powerful PDF reader, but that is only half the story. It allows you to view almost any file type you can think of, watch movies from a variety of formats, and even unzip compressed folders. You can connect with numerous cloud accounts, copy, move, rename or transfer files, and send them to other apps. Finally, there is an intuitive number of annotation tools for marking up PDFs, and tabbed file viewing. So, you can see why it is often referred to as the Swiss Army knife of productivity apps on the iPad!

So, what did this teacher use it for? Well, she asks her students to email their assignments as a PDF. These emails go to her Google Apps Gmail account, which she can access through Goodreader, because Goodreader can also connect to a variety of email servers through POP or IMAP. The app doesn’t show all your emails, just those with attachments that Goodreader can view. She opens the students’ PDFs in Goodreader, annotates them accordingly to grade the paper, and emails them back to the students as a flattened copy, right from the Goodreader app.

As a workflow option, it is not necessarily all that new, because you can do very much the same thing with Notability and a shared Google Drive or Dropbox folder, but being able to collect the assignments right from her email, grade it, and return it all from the one app, is still a very efficient solution. You can even streamline it further by using Gmail filters to send each class’s assignments to a specific folder so you don’t have to worry about cleaning out your inbox afterwards.

Do you have a preferred iPad workflow for your students? What have you had the most success with and why?