When designing and developing software, one of our aims is to ensure that each of our users is able to make the best use of their time. In our article “20 Tips to save valuable time” we described a number of Windows 10 features that can help make routine tasks less time consuming.
We recommend the use of Google’s Chrome browser when using CompassAir Web software. With this in mind, it’s worth taking a look at some further ways in which life can be made that little bit easier. We will only refer to Chrome for mobiles in section 2 below, namely on transcribing handwritten notes, the reason being that on a phone our CompassAir mobile app will be used instead of a browser.
1 Group Tabs
The chances are that you will always have a number of tabs open in Chrome at the same time. It’s also likely that many of those tabs are ones that you use every day, probably at different times in the day, depending on how you organise your time. Even if you use a couple of screens you will soon find desktop space to be a limited resource, and because you don’t know exactly when you will next need to refer to a tab you won’t want to close any unless you have to.
This is where Chrome Group Tabs come into play. If those regularly used tabs fall into useful categories then they can be grouped together and collapsed until needed again. For example, you might use on a regular basis a number of sites that could be categorised as “Financial”, say your online banking log-in page, online accounts software, forex rates and stock market indices.
Step 1 is to right click on the first tab being added to the new or existing group. From the menu navigate to “Add tab to group” and then either add the tab to an existing group, in this case we already have “CompassAir”, or create a “New group”.
As the name of the group is being typed it starts to appear alongside the existing tabs. For ease of reference it can also be colour coded.
As each tab is added, its edges are colour coded in the group’s chosen colour, in this case we have selected pink for “Financial”.
It’s very important to remember that, in order to ensure these Tab Groups are available the next time you restart your computer, the appropriate choice is selected in Chrome settings. In Settings, accessed from the three dots in the top right hand corner of the browser, under “On startup” select “Continue where you left off”.
When you need more space, collapse the group by clicking on it. A condensed or contracted group can be expanded using the same action. In the example above “CompassAir” is condensed whereas “Financial” is not and displays each tab in the group. Contraction will only work however if there is another tab open that is not included in an existing group.
Tab groups are easily re-ordered: simply click and hold the name of the Tab Group and drag it on the tab bar where required. To close a group if it is no longer required, simply right click the group tab and select “Close group” from the menu.
2 Handwritten notes to your computer via Chrome
Most of us still keep handwritten notes when attending meetings and, being a chore, transferring them to a Word document or calendar is nearly always something left until later. With a phone and Google Lens there is a fast, simple way to overcome this. All you need is to have Google Lens on your phone and up to date Chrome browsers on both your phone and computer.
First, open Google Lens via the Google app (these apps may be in a separate folder on your phone). Then select the camera icon which will open Google Lens, select text and then take the photo.
Google Lens will recognise the text, then you tap “Select all” and after that “Copy to computer”. Those devices which you are currently logged into with Chrome will then be identified, in this example it’s “LENOVO-PC”. Having tapped “Select” a pop-up message will appear on the Lenovo PC with the copied text then being available to paste into another app. In this case we are using Word.
Unfortunately the process doesn’t yet correct errors due to bad handwriting! Any necessary corrections can be made and the resulting transcript of your handwritten notes saved for later reference.
3 Restarting Chrome without losing Tabs
Occasionally it will be necessary to restart your browser. For example you might need to do so to address unresponsive tabs or sites that are taking too long to load. If you have selected the “Continue where you left off” option in section 1 above, then all the tabs will be reloaded.
There is however an alternative feature in Chrome that achieves the same effect:
• Type “chrome://restart” in the address bar and then press Enter
All tabs that are currently open will now be reloaded.
4 Opening Tabs that have been closed by mistake
If you close a tab without meaning to, it can be restored with a single click.
Simply right click on the tab bar and select the option “Reopen closed tab”.
5 Managing Tabs
If you happen to be using two screens, it’s sometimes useful to move selected tabs away from the main screen. To do this, select the tabs you want to move – clicking on them whilst holding down the Ctrl key. The selected tabs can then be dragged where needed after the Ctrl key has been released.
If quick access is required to another tab, this can be achieved by again holding down the Ctrl key. The desired tab is then selected according to its position from the left. In the following example we are currently on the London Stock Exchange page and want to move to Bloomberg using the keyboard only.
If you are making use of Group Tabs, bear in mind that the location of the tab – its number – includes the tabs in the groups, even if they have been condensed. In this example moving to the Bloomberg tab is achieved by holding down the Ctrl key and at the same time pressing the number 5 having noted that the “Financial” group contains three tabs.
6 Customising shortcuts on the Google home screen
Rather than looking up bookmarks when you want to visit your most used sites, the Google home screen can be customised by adding shortcuts.
Clicking on the “Customise” button on the bottom right of the Google home page opens a window that allows the page background and colour/theme to be changed as well as shortcuts to be added.
You have the option to have the shortcuts populated automatically – according to those you visit most often – or selected individually.
These shortcuts can then be edited individually by hovering above then clicking on the three dots – the options then being to either remove or edit.
7 G Suite shortcuts
If you use the apps provided by Google, such as Docs, Sheets, Slides etc., instead of opening a new document by going via the Google Apps menu then selecting blank document, they can be opened quickly from the home page search box by typing the following:
• Docs: doc.new, docs.new, document.new
• Sheets: sheet.new, sheets.new, spreadsheet.new
• Meet: meet.new
• Sites: site.new, sites.new, website.new
• Keep: keep.new
• Slides: slides.new, deck.new, presentation.new
• Forms: form.new, forms.new