The aluminum used in Apple products ranging from iPhones to MacBooks could be more sustainably manufactured in as early as six years.
The first aluminum manufactured with the new process
Apple today announced it has helped facilitate a collaboration between two of the world’s largest aluminum producers, Alcoa and Rio Tinto, on a new carbon-free aluminum smelting process. Together, the companies have formed a joint venture called Elysis, which will work to develop the patented technology further.
Alcoa and Rio Tinto aim to achieve larger-scale production and commercialization of the process, with plans to license the technologies beginning in 2024. If fully developed and implemented, it will eliminate direct greenhouse gas emissions from the traditional aluminum smelting process developed over 130 years ago.
Instead of carbon dioxide, the new process releases oxygen, per Apple’s press release:
Aluminum has been mass produced the same way since 1886, when it was pioneered by Alcoa’s founder, Charles Hall. The process involves applying a strong electrical current to alumina, which removes oxygen. Both Hall’s original experiments and today’s largest smelters use a carbon material that burns during the process, producing greenhouse gases. […]
Alcoa has designed a completely new process that replaces that carbon with an advanced conductive material, and instead of carbon dioxide, it releases oxygen.
Alcoa said it has been producing aluminum at its facility near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with the new process, to varying degrees, since 2009. The process resulted from decades of research and is described as the most significant innovation in the aluminum industry in more than a century.
In Canada, for example, Alcoa and Rio Tinto said the new process could eliminate the equivalent of 6.5 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, if fully implemented at existing smelters in the country. That is supposedly roughly equal to taking nearly 1.8 million light-duty vehicles off the road.
Apple said its involvement started in 2015, when three of its engineers went in search of a better way of mass producing aluminum. Apple ultimately helped bring Alcoa and Rio Tinto together, and has now pledged an investment of $13 million CAD to the joint venture, along with continued technical support.
Apple CEO Tim Cook:
Apple is committed to advancing technologies that are good for the planet and help protect it for generations to come. We are proud to be part of this ambitious new project, and look forward to one day being able to use aluminum produced without direct greenhouse gas emissions in the manufacturing of our products.
Elysis will be headquartered in Montréal, Québec, with the Governments of Canada and Québec each investing $60 million CAD. Alcoa and Rio Tinto will invest $55 million CAD cash over the next three years.
Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, and Premier of Québec, Philippe Couillard, were on hand for today’s announcement.
Today’s announcement will create and maintain thousands of jobs for Canadians, significantly reduce Canada’s carbon footprint, and further strengthen the aluminum industry in North America. It is a truly historic day for the aluminum industry – and for all Canadian aluminum workers – who play such an important role in our economy and our country’s future.
Today’s news follows Apple’s announcement last month that all of its facilities are now powered with 100 percent clean energy and 23 of its suppliers have committed to do the same. Apple also introduced Daisy, a robot that can more efficiently disassemble iPhones to recover valuable parts for recycling.
This initiative is a testament to Apple’s commitment to reducing the environmental impact of its products through continued innovation.
Tag: Environmental Responsibility
Discuss this article in our forums
Apple today released an updated version of Xcode, Xcode 9.3.1. The new version of Xcode comes over a month after the release of Xcode 9.3, which was launched alongside iOS 11.3 back in late March.
Xcode 9.3.1 is a minor bug fix update. According to Apple’s release notes, it addresses an issue that could cause a user to have to log in with their Apple ID repeatedly and it fixes a bug that could cause Xcode to hang when using Playgrounds.
Xcode 9.3, the previous update, introduced a new Energy organizer designed to help developers detect when an app or app extension is using too much battery life on a user’s device.
The software also brought a new 64-bit testing mode for macOS 10.13.4, which is designed to let developers test software for 64-bit compatibility as Apple prepares to start phasing out 32-bit Mac apps. As of Xcode 9.3, Xcode support for macOS 32-bit support has been depreciated.
Xcode 9.3.1 will be followed by Xcode 9.4, which is currently in beta testing. Apple has seeded two betas of Xcode 9.4 to developers thus far.
Discuss this article in our forums
The Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE connectivity today became available for purchase in Denmark, Sweden, India, and Taiwan. Apple first announced plans to expand availability in those countries in April, and began taking pre-orders for LTE devices on May 4.
Cellular connectivity is available through “3” in Denmark and Sweden, while in India, Reliance Jio and Airtel will be offering support for the LTE Apple Watch. Neither Reliance Jio nor Airtel will charge Indian customers an additional monthly fee for an Apple Watch, with the device able to use the same number, data, and minutes from an existing prepaid cellular plan.
In Taiwan, carriers offering support for the Apple Watch Series 3 include APT3, Chunghwa Telecom3, FarEasTone3, and Taiwan Mobile.
The Apple Watch Series 3 models with LTE connectivity first launched in September of 2017, but availability was initially limited to a handful of countries. As of now, the cellular Apple Watch can be purchased in United States, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Puerto Rico, Switzerland, Singapore, Hong Kong, the UK, Denmark, Sweden, India, and Taiwan.
Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)
Discuss this article in our forums
In this article, we’re going to show you how to create a system-wide service that enables you to get an immediate word count and character count in TextEdit, Safari, Mail, or indeed any app on your Mac that lets you highlight text. It offers a handy home-made solution if you often find yourself pasting into a blank Word or Pages document for no other reason than to find out how many words are in a text selection.
The steps below will guide you through the process of creating your own word count service using the macOS Automator app. It’s a simple procedure to follow and should only take five minutes, but if you’d rather use a third-party solution, then check out WordCounter, a free Mac menu bar utility from Onekerato.
How to Create a Word Count Service in Automator
Launch Automator from the Applications folder.
Click New Document.
Choose Service as the type of your document.
Type “run” into the Library search field at the top of the Automator sidebar, then drag the Run Shell Script action into the empty workflow area.
In the Run Shell Script action window, change the Pass Input: option to as arguments using the dropdown menu.
Clear the text in the shell script box (highlight the text with your mouse cursor and hit Backspace) then copy and paste the following text into the same area:
echo $1 | wc -w
echo Characters including spaces:
echo $1 | wc -c
Clear the Library search field at the top of the Automator sidebar and type “set value”, then drag the Set Value of Variable action into the workflow area.
Click the Variable: dropdown menu and select New Variable….
In the blue dialog that appears, click inside the Name: input field. It may default to “storage”, but you can rename it – we’ll call it “count”. Click Done, and you should now see “count” (or whichever name you used) appear in the variable list below the workflow area.
Clear the Library search field at the top of the Automator sidebar again, and this time type “ask”, then drag the Ask for Confirmation action into the workflow area.
Now, drag your “count” variable from the variable list up to the “Message” title in the Ask for Confirmation action.
In the Automator menu bar, select File -> Save…, call your new service “Word Count”, and click Save.
Next time you want to get a word count and/or character count for some text you’ve highlighted, simply right-click (or Ctrl-click) on the text and select Services -> Word Count from the contextual dropdown menu.
You can assign a key shortcut to it for even faster access. To do so, launch System Preferences, select the Keyboard pane, and click the Shortcuts tab. Select Services from the sidebar and you should find Word Count near the bottom of the list. Just click it, select Add Shortcut, and finally, enter your custom key combination.
Related Roundup: macOS High SierraTag: Automator
Discuss this article in our forums
Snapchat has adjusted its iOS app interface to placate a large number of dedicated users who complained about the recent redesign, reports The Verge.
Snap unveiled its radical redesign in November with the goal of creating a personalized user experience that’s easier to navigate, especially for newcomers. But the change didn’t go down well with many long-time users, so much so that 1.2 million of them signed a petition asking the company to walk back the UI changes.
Snap initially responded to the outcry in February by acknowledging that “the new Snapchat has felt uncomfortable for many”, but went no further than to reassure users that they would eventually adapt to the changes over time.
However, it appears the company has now decided to roll back at least some of the adjustments it originally made as part of last year’s redesign. For example, Snaps and Chats have gone back to appearing in chronological order, while Stories from friends have reverted to their original location at the right-hand side of the interface.
Similarly, Snapchat now opens in camera mode, as it did prior to the redesign, and users can again swipe left to view the latest friend posts. Elsewhere, a separate subscriptions feed lets users search separately for stories by publishers and popular content creators. The changes come in an update to the iOS app that the company says is currently rolling out to users.
Snap originally made the changes to appeal to a broader demographic and expand its user base, in the hope of fending off the threat of encroaching rivals like Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram.
However, the company’s first quarter earnings suggest the strategy has so far failed to boost earnings, with Snap making less money per user despite having grown its global user base by around four million over the previous quarter.
Tags: Snapchat, Snap
Discuss this article in our forums
Gaston D’Aquino says the Apple Watch saved his life. By sharing his story, he hopes it can help save the lives of others too.
Photo Credit: South China Morning Post
According to the South China Morning Post, the 76-year-old was sitting at church when his Apple Watch alerted him to his elevated heart rate. Having read similar stories before, he went directly to a local hospital.
“I told the doctor I don’t know why I’m here, but my watch tells me I have an elevated heart rate,” said D’Aquino. “He says, ‘Are you feeling anything?’ I said no, I feel fine, I’m feeling all right, nothing’s wrong.”
After an electrocardiograph machine indicated something was wrong, doctors conducted tests and discovered that two out of his three main coronary arteries were completely blocked, with the third 90 percent blocked. Of course, that means he was at risk of suffering a potentially fatal heart attack.
D’Aquino said he had visited a cardiologist before, who had prescribed him daily medication for diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, but there was never any indication that there were any deeper issues.
After the doctors shared the test results with him, D’Aquino quickly agreed to have an angioplasty, a procedure to restore blood flow to the heart by implanting tiny stents in clogged or blocked arteries. He was sent home the following day and said “it went well and I’m feeling much, much better.”
“Having a new lease of life is a good thing,” he said. “You wake up the next morning and you look around you, everything looks more beautiful. It’s a great feeling; you’re on a high for a few days. That feeling is something special.”
As a self-professed Apple fan, D’Aquino sent an email to Apple CEO Tim Cook in early April. In recounting his story, he noted that “this was the first time that my watch alert had ever gone off, but I was not feeling anything, no dizziness or pain” and added that “in short, I was a walking time bomb.”
“Please continue promoting the use of the Apple Watch for anyone with cardiac problems. I lost a cousin two weeks ago to a massive heart attack, and if he had an Apple Watch, he might have had the same opportunity I got – to live.”
Cook said he was “so glad” to hear that D’Aquino is doing well now. “I appreciate you taking the time to share your story. It inspires us to keep pushing.”
D’Aquino’s situation might have been different had it not been for the Apple Watch’s ability to detect an elevated heart rate, introduced in watchOS 4. When enabled, the feature notifies the wearer if their heart rate remains above a chosen beats per minute while they appear to have been inactive for a period of 10 minutes.
On all Apple Watch Series 1 or newer models, users can turn on heart rate notifications when they first open the Heart Rate app, or at any time later:
- Open the Apple Watch app on a paired iPhone.
- Tap the My Watch tab, then tap Heart Rate.
- Tap Elevated Heart Rate, then choose a BPM.
If you have any family, friends, or know of anyone else with an Apple Watch, remind them to enable this potentially life saving feature. For people like D’Aquino and Deanna Recktenwald, it has given them a new lease on life.
Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)
Discuss this article in our forums
For this week’s giveaway, we’ve teamed up with Choetech to offer MacRumors readers a chance to win a 5W or 7.5W Qi-based wireless charger that’s compatible with the iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and future iPhones with wireless charging support.
Choetech is a company that offers a range of affordable iPhone and iPad accessories on Amazon, including several wireless chargers. Today’s giveaway comes just ahead of Mother’s Day, and Choetech is offering MacRumors readers a selection of chargers perfect for moms and everyone else.
The company’s newest charger is a little bit unique because it features a sweet little panda design on the front. Available in black, Choetech’s Panda charger, priced at $19.99, has a silicone panda embossed into the front, which is designed to hold your iPhone in place while it’s charging.
Choetech has designed the Panda charger with 7.5W support, so it is able to charge the iPhone X, 8, and 8 Plus faster than standard 5W chargers. 7.5W is the fast charging option available on iPhones that support wireless charging. For Android devices, 10W quick charging is also available. You do need to pair it with a proper adapter to get quick charging, though.
Choetech says that the charger also includes additional features to prevent overcharging and to keep the iPhone cooler while you’re charging.
I tested Choetech’s Panda charger ahead of the giveaway, and I can confirm that I saw charging speeds that were a bit quicker than 5W charging speeds, so if you’re looking for a charger that’s affordable, fast, and a bit out of the ordinary, the Panda charger is worth checking out.
For those who aren’t fans of pandas, Choetech also offers a few other Qi-based charging options, but these do not support the faster 7.5W charging specification. Wireless charging speeds are based on a wide range of factors, though, and there’s not always much of a difference between 5W and 7.5W charging. Wireless charging is also often used in situations where fast charging is not required, such as overnight, making 5W chargers an adequate choice.
Choetech’s 5W Wireless Charger Pad with Anti-Slip Rubber, priced at $12.99, is available in pink, blue, and black. It’s a standard square-shaped Qi charger that’s affordable, sized right, and that works well thanks to the rubber design in the center that holds the iPhone in place.
Chotech’s Aluminum Alloy Wireless Charging Pad, priced at $12.99, is a circular wireless charger that has a built-in smart lighting sensor. The sensor turns off when the room gets dark so it can be used on a night stand, and it is compact in size, approximately the size of a coffee cup coaster. This is an attractive charger that’s made from aluminum, and the lights add a touch of style.
We have 25 Choetech Qi-based wireless chargers to give away, and MacRumors readers will be able to choose the design of their choice from the three options above. To enter to win, use the Rafflecopter widget below and enter an email address. Email addresses will be used solely for contact purposes to reach the winners and send the prizes. You can earn additional entries by subscribing to our weekly newsletter, subscribing to our YouTube channel, following us on Twitter, or visiting the MacRumors Facebook page.
Due to the complexities of international laws regarding giveaways, only U.S. residents who are 18 years or older and Canadian residents (excluding Quebec) who have reached the age of majority in their province or territory are eligible to enter. To offer feedback or get more information on the giveaway restrictions, please refer to our Site Feedback section, as that is where discussion of the rules will be redirected.
a Rafflecopter giveawayThe contest will run from today (May 11) at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time through 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time on May 18. The winners will be chosen randomly on May 18 and will be contacted by email. The winners will have 48 hours to respond and provide a shipping address before new winners are chosen.
Choetech is also offering MacRumors readers an exclusive 45 percent discount on the 7.5W Panda charger, dropping the standard $19.99 price to $10.99. Just enter the promo code MACRUM31 at checkout on Amazon.com to get the discount.
Discuss this article in our forums
Mother’s Day is coming this Sunday, May 13, and many accessory companies have deals lasting through Sunday — and even Monday — for any last-minute shopping that you might be doing for your mom and other moms. We’ve rounded up a quick list of some of the sales below, as well as offers from the major carriers, and even some discounts happening on Apple’s iTunes Movies store.
Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.
Twelve South – Get a free Inspire New Mac Candle with any purchase of BookBook (iPad, iPhone, MacBook) or Journal for iPhone
Pad & Quill – Save 15 percent on select items, stack promo code PQ16 to add 10 percent off and total 25 percent off regular prices
Seidio – Buy one case, get one 50 percent off (ends 5/14)
Speck – Save 40 percent on select cases
Griffin – Save 25 percent site-wide with code MOMSDAY
Spigen – Buy a smartphone case and get a free car mount and 15 percent off your purchase
Vizio – Save an extra 5 percent on select TVs with code VIZIOMOM
JBL – Save up to 75 percent on select products
Starting today, May 11, T-Mobile has a few BOGO deals: buy one 64GB iPhone 7, 7 Plus, or 8 and get one of equal or lesser value; and buy one 256GB iPhone 8, 8 Plus, or X and get one $700 off. Stipulations include that the iPhones must be purchased on T-Mobile’s Equipment Installment Plan, one line has to be ported in, and a qualifying smartphone has to be traded in to get up to $700 back via mail in rebate. The trade-in value will be received as a one-time credit.
The carrier also has a specific Mother’s Day promotion: when purchasing an iPhone on an EIP, along with either an iPad or Apple Watch on a data plan, T-Mobile offers $215 off the iPad/Apple Watch via 24 monthly bill credits. The offer lasts through Sunday and stacks with the other deals, so you can do a BOGO iPhone deal and double the Mother’s Day offer, totaling $430 off the price of two iPads or Apple Watches. Visit T-Mobile’s deals hub for more information on the offers.
On AT&T’s website, the carrier is offering the 64GB iPhone 8 for 50 percent off with the purchase of a new line and eligible service, with a discount that will be received in monthly bill credits, allowing for a max credit of up to $350. The credit can also be applied to the 256GB iPhone 8, 8 Plus, or X. There’s also a combo 6th generation iPad + iPhone offer, where customers can get the 32GB iPad for $99.99 (requires 2-year agreement and activation on voice/data plan) when purchasing an iPhone on AT&T Next.
On its deals, promotions, and offers landing page, AT&T additionally showcases Apple products like the AirPods and a Lightning to USB cable as ideas for Mother’s Day.
Verizon has its own BOGO sales as well, so its customers can buy one iPhone and get the 64GB iPhone 8 at no extra cost, with no trade-in required. Verizon is also selling the iPhone SE starting at $10/month for the 32GB model, paid over the course of 24 months and a one-time activation fee of $30. Note that most of Verizon’s offers do require activation of a new line of service.
The carrier shared its own page for Mother’s Day ideas as well, pointing customers towards products like the Apple Watch Series 3, 2018 iPad, iPhone cases, and more.
Under $10: Movie Moms
- Lion – $4.99, down from $14.99
- Terminator 2: Judgement Day (4K) – $7.99, down from $14.99
- mother! (4K) – $9.99, down from $14.99 ($0.99 rental)
- Paddington 2 (4K) – $9.99, down from $19.99
- I, Tonya – $9.99, down from $14.99
- Wonder (4K) – $9.99, down from $14.99
- A Bad Moms Christmas (4K) – $9.99, down from $14.99
- Mamma Mia! The Movie (4K) – $9.99, down from $14.99
- Room – $9.99, down from $14.99 ($0.99 rental)
- Baby Boom – $7.99, down from $14.99
- Steel Magnolias – $9.99, down from $14.99
- Where the Heart is – $9.99, down from $14.99
- The Family Stone – $9.99, down from $14.99
- Postcards from the Edge – $9.99, down from $14.99
- The Kids Are All Right – $9.99, down from $14.99
$9.99: Marvel Cinematic Universe
- Iron Man
- Iron Man 2
- Iron Man 3
- The Avengers
- Captain America: The First Avenger
- Spider-Man: Homecoming (4K)
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- Doctor Strange
- Thor: The Dark World
- The Incredible Hulk (4K)
For more sales going on this weekend, be sure to head to our full Deals Roundup.
Related Roundup: Apple Deals
Discuss this article in our forums
Whether you’re a student or a working professional, chances are you’ll need to use a document creation program at some point. Depending on your field, you may need to know one really well, or at least be able to utilize a few of its lesser-known features. Thankfully, unlike Microsoft’s renowned counterpart and some of the other alternatives, Google Drive offers a large buffet of productivity apps and features free of charge. Learning the ins and outs of Google’s answer to Word can take time, however, assuming you have no idea how to navigate the suite.
There’s no need to fret, however! This guide will walk you through the many facets of Google Docs, so you can create a document, collaborate with others, and edit your work in no time. Read on for all the details, or check out our guide on how to use Google Drive if you’re looking to make the most of Google’s entire arsenal.
Step 1: Setting up your Google account
Using Google Docs requires you to sign up for Google account. It’s free to do so, though, and your account also provides you with access to Gmail, Google Maps, and YouTube, as well as the entire Drive suite.
Step 2: Launching Google Docs
There are several ways to access Google Docs, depending on your device. You can download the app from the App Store or Google Play, or click the Apps icon in the upper-right corner of the Google homepage (represented by nine squares). You must then click the Docs button — you may have to click More in the pop-up menu to see it.
Alternatively, you can navigate to Google Drive and select Docs within the My Drive menu at the top, or select Docs after you’ve clicked New on the right-hand side of the page. The last option is to navigate directly to Google Docs. Once you’ve launched the web app, you’ll be ready to create a document.
Step 3: Creating a document
To make a new document, click the blank page with a blue addition sign inside it, which is located the upper-left corner of the main Google Docs page. If you can’t find this menu, scroll up or click the red arrow in the lower-left corner of your screen.
If you are creating a document from Drive, selecting Google Docs after hitting New will automatically create a blank document. If you click the small, right-facing arrow next to Google Docs, you can even choose to create a new document based on a provided template. There are a variety to choose from, including résumés, business letters, and a selection of third-party templates. You can even upload an existing .doc or .docx file to your Drive by clicking New, followed by File Upload.
Step 4: Start working
Once you’ve created a document, you can get to work. Click Untitled document in the upper-left corner to add a title to your document. You can also adjust the font type, text size, and much more via the toolbar at the top of the page. Clicking the three horizontal dots near the right side of the page will bring up some additional formatting options. If you can’t see your title or the menu bar at the top of the page, those options may be hidden. If that’s the case, click the downward-facing arrow in the upper-right corner to display them.
Since you’re working within your browser, any changes made to your document will be saved automatically. If you look to the right of the Help option at the top of the screen, you should either see Saving… or All changes saved in Drive. Wait for the second message to appear before exiting out, just to ensure all your work has been saved. To show the Version History of the doc at hand, click Saving… or All changes saved in Drive, which will allow you to review the changes.
How to share your stuff
To share your documents with other people, click the blue Share button in the upper-right corner of the doc you wish to share. The button will be wedged between your picture — assuming you’ve added one to your Google account — and the comments icon. Afterward, invite other users by entering the appropriate email address in the resulting window.
People you share with can either edit, view, or comment on a document depending on what permissions you grant them. This can be changed by tapping the menu directly to the right of the empty address field. If you want to share the document with people using something other than email, click Get shareable link at the top of the Share window. A link will then appear directly beneath (it will also be copied to your clipboard).
If you click the Advanced button in the lower-right corner of this window, you can also share the file via Gmail, Google+, Facebook, or Twitter, but this will require you to make your document public. Google Docs sets the privacy settings to Private by default, but you can always click the blue Change button in the middle of the Advanced window (under “Who can access”) to adjust your privacy settings.
Use the comment and chat functions
With Google Docs, you can watch in real time as other people make changes to a document. By clicking the Comments button in the upper-right corner of your screen, you or anyone else who is in the document can start a discussion about your project. You can also see which users are currently looking at the document using the series of circles located to the left of the Comment button. If no one besides you is looking at a given page, nothing will appear here.
You can also set it so that you receive notifications when people make changes to the document, or when someone mentions your name or interacts with one of your comments. This can be a very useful tool for collaborating with large groups of people or a group that’s not in the same physical space. If for some reason you don’t want users to be given the option to add comments to a given document, you can also change the editing mode (more on that in the next section).
Get to know the various editing modes
Located directly beneath the Share button are options for viewing, suggesting edits, and editing documents. While the Editing option lets you make edits, Suggesting and Viewing allow you to suggest edits and view or print your document, respectively. The Suggesting option is similar to the Track Changes function in Word, and will denote any changes made to the document in green. This gives other users the option to approve or delete these edits before they become a part of the final document. Even if you’re not using the Suggesting mode, you can always view a document’s revision history by going to File > Version history > See revision history.
Try out a different document type
Google Drive has more to offer than just text documents. Slides, for instance, is Google’s version of Microsoft PowerPoint, while Sheets is the company’s take on Microsoft Excel. While not always as extensive as Office 365 in terms of functionality, the G Suite is a useful and convenient way to create content online, and is free to use once you have a Google account.
- How to use Google Drive
- How to go live on Instagram
- How to change your YouTube name
- How to convert M4A files to MP3 format for listening on any device
- How to send webpages from Google Chrome to your Android phone
Of all the cloud storage and file synchronization services available, Google Drive is arguably the best. The idea behind it is simple: Place or create a file in Drive and so long as you have access to the internet (or download the offline Chrome extension), you can view and edit files on any compatible device. Sure, Google isn’t the only company offering this kind of service, but given its seamless integration with other Google services and its simple set of collaboration tools, Drive easily stands out from the pack.
In fact, it’s probably one of the easiest cloud services to start using. So, rather than providing you with every detail under the sun, this guide offers a brief introduction to the Drive interface, allowing you to better navigate and use the suite. We’ve also included a few tips to help you get the most out of Google’s freemium offering.
Accessing Google Drive
Step 1: If you don’t have one already, you’ll need to get a Google account before proceeding with Drive. It’s free to sign up, and doing so will give you easy, synchronized access to all of Google’s services. You’ll need to pay a fee if you want more than 15GB of storage, but whether you choose to do so will not affect your ability to use the service. Downloading Google Chrome doesn’t hurt either, given the popular web browser features a number of extensions and tools that integrate well with Drive.
Step 2: Once you’ve signed up (or logged into your existing account), you can access Drive via your browser or the dedicated mobile app, which is currently available for both Android and iOS.
Once signed into Drive, click the blue New button in the upper-left corner or My Drive, which is located toward the center of the screen. In the mobile app, press the blue circle with the plus sign in the lower-right corner. This opens a menu that will allow you to create or upload a file to Drive. You can make a spreadsheet, word document, slideshow presentation, form, drawing, and a bunch of other things via third-party apps.
We won’t go in-depth on how to use each of these free programs here, but here are a few tips for learning how to use these services quickly:
Tip 1: The buttons across Drive are pretty straightforward, but if you’re ever unsure of what one does, just hover over it with your mouse. A pop-up window should appear explaining the function of the button.
Tip 2: If you’ve ever used Microsoft Office — i.e., Excel, Word, or PowerPoint — then Google’s Sheets, Docs, and Slides software should look familiar. They operate in a similar manner, and are arguably more intuitive. You won’t find as many advanced features as in Microsoft’s software, but Drive is free, so that’s to be expected.
Tip 3: While you can go to the main Docs, Sheets, or Slides page to see all the files of that type in a single place, creating folders might be a better way to keep organized. To create a folder, click the blue New button in the upper-left corner, select Folder, and name the file directory. Then, simply drag your file(s) into the folder of your own choosing from the main Drive page.
You can also star files you’ll want to access later by clicking Add star in that item’s menu, though, keep in mind that they can only be viewed by the person who added them and not by those who you’ve shared a particular item with.
Tip 4: Another way to quickly find an item in your Drive is by utilizing the Search Drive function; on the top of every page is a field where you can search for a file using its name or file type. If you press the downward-facing arrow in this field or More search tools, you can specify even further, and search for files based on a specific criteria, such as the date or who you’ve shared the file with.
Getting the most out of Google Drive
Uploading and sharing documents
To upload a document to Drive, click the Upload files button under New or My Drive and select a file from your computer. Drive is great for personal use, but what sets it apart from other cloud services is its powerful collaboration tools. If you need to work remotely with someone on a project, you can share a document with them and make changes together in real time.
To share a document after you’ve created it, look to the upper right-hand corner of the file window and find the Share button.
To share a document after you’ve created it, click the Share button in the upper-right corner, add your collaborators using their email addresses, and click the blue Done button at the bottom of the window. Once they’ve been granted access, the document should show up under the Shared with me tab in their Drive dashboard, and a link to the shared document will also be sent to their email inbox.
You can use the shareable link in the upper-right corner of the Share with others menu to send the file via text or another messaging service.
Whilst inside a shared document, you can see who else is currently editing it by looking in the top-right corner of the window. Collaborator names will be displayed in different colors (or with their account picture), so you can easily tell them apart. Just hover your cursor over any color to see who it represents.
Downloading documents and accessing files offline
Another useful Drive feature is the ability to view and edit files even if you don’t have access to the internet. All you need to do is download the Google Docs Offline extension for Google Chrome. Once downloaded — and enabled in your Drive settings — you can access certain files (Docs, Sheets, and Slides) even when you’re traveling or without internet for a few hours. A gray circle with a lightning bolt through it will appear next to your file name in the file window, letting you know when you are offline.
One of the downsides of this, however, is that you can only access files you’ve created and haven’t shared with anyone. You also must have already opened Google Drive in your browser to do so. Files can be accessed offline via the mobile app as well, assuming you’ve turned on the function in Settings beforehand.
Adding multiple collaborators via a Google Group
If you’d like to share a document with a large group of people, you can avoid entering each email address individually by sharing the document with an entire Google Group. Every person in that group (as well as people added to the group later on) will then have access to whatever you’ve shared.
Sharing multiple files at once
Need to share a bunch of files all at once? Rather than sharing each file individually, you can move them into a folder and share that folder. Everyone you share the folder with will have access to all the files inside of it.
Converting documents created with other programs
Need to share a document with co-workers or friends so they can collaborate on it, but you already have the file in another, similar program? No need to fret. As long as the documents are in the correct format, most files can easily be converted into Google Docs, which can then be shared and edited collaboratively. To do this, just upload the desired file and open it in Drive. Next, click the File menu and choose Open with…. Depending on the file type, Google will suggest the appropriate program to open it with. Below are the file formats that can currently be converted into Google Drive.
plain text (.txt)
Reverting to an older version of a document
A major problem with collaboration is that it’s generally a pain to fix something that someone else screwed up. Thankfully, you don’t have to worry if you find yourself in one of these situations — Google has your back. Drive is programmed to save every updated version of your documents for 30 days or 100 revisions, whichever comes first. This makes it simple to revert back to an older version of a document, if necessary.
To retrieve an older revision of a document, open the document you want to change, click File, and select See revision history at the bottom. After you select this, a bar should appear on the right side of the document that lists the previous revisions in chronological order. Click on any one of them to get a preview of that specific revision. If it’s the one you’re after, click the blue Restore this version link and everything will return to its former state.
Utilizing Google Drive Apps
Drive is more than just a file synchronization service or a suite of office software. Google clearly has bigger plans for it. In addition to its proprietary software, Google offers dozens of third-party applications through Drive — apps that let you make diagrams, edit photos, build 3D models, make sketches, and more that we haven’t discovered yet. Files created within these apps will be saved and synced to your Drive account just like any Google app. Check them out here.
- How to use Google Docs
- How to take a screenshot on a Chromebook
- Google Drive vs. Dropbox
- 100 awesome Android apps that will transform your tired tablet
- The best free video converters