Google has been busy adding new features to some of its biggest products, including its Chrome browser, Search and Google Docs. The additions are small improvements, but familiarizing yourself with the changes and putting them to use could save you quite a bit of time.
Google added tab syncing to Chrome, which means that you can log off one computer and start on another with the same open tabs. Once you sign into Chrome, you'll have all of your settings and tabs no matter where you log on. Both Internet Explorer and Firefox offer syncing, but the set-up process is far more complicated.
If you don't want to sync everything by default, you can make your selections by going to "Settings," then "Advanced sync settings" under "Sign in" and uncheck the ones you don't want.
If you haven't started using Chrome, it's time to give it a try. Earlier this month, Chrome inched past Microsoft's Internet Explorer to become the world's most popular browser, according to Web analytics firm StatCounter. Chrome still trails IE in the U.S., but it is the only major browser that has steadily climbed in usage over the past four years.
Chrome won followers for its speed, security and simplified interface -- most notably, the omnibar that allows you to type either a search term or a URL in the same box. And here are three more ways to get the most out of Chrome:
1. In-browser apps. Chrome is the only browser that can run actual applications, as a smartphone or tablet can, reducing the number of programs on your desktop. Currently, the most popular apps are YouTube, Gmail and Angry Birds. To see the Web store, and the apps you already have, simply open a new window or tab and click the "Apps" link at the bottom center of the page.
2. Setting start-up pages. With Chrome, you can specify multiple pages to open each time you launch the browser. Maybe you want to start your day with Gmail, Pinterest and Facebook. Click the wrench icon on the upper right of the window, select "Settings" and then choose "Open a specific page or set of pages." You can add as many pages as you want -- each will open on a new tab.
3. Trick-out Google search with a Chrome extension. Google is rolling out more-detailed search results called Knowledge Graph that provide facts as well as links. But the DuckDuckGo extension for Chrome is better. Add the free DuckDuckGo Zero-Click Info plugin from the Chrome Web Store. Now when you search in Google, you'll see a brief sentence or two with key facts about the term at the top of your search results.
Google Docs tool
Google Docs, the company's online answer to Microsoft Word, also got a big boost with a new research tool. (It also got a partial name change. Whenever you're signed into Google, you have a black navigation bar at the top of the page to quickly move between Google+, Calendar and others. The "Documents" heading has been replaced with "Drive," Google's cloud storage service. Once you click on "Drive," the familiar Docs page will appear.)
Simply called "Research," the new tool lets you conduct searches for terms related to your document without leaving your document page. Searching for a location automatically brings up a Google map that you can insert as is or edit by zooming in or out. Photos can be filtered to include only those that are licensed for free use -- a good idea to avoid copyright problems. For Web page results, hover over the link to see a preview of the page. Like what you see? Click "insert link" to add it to your text. You can also search for just quotes.
Further, the research tool lets you insert a citation, automatically formatted, into your document. Here's how it works: After you've inserted a link, click "cite." Google will add a superscript footnote number to the link in your text and generate a properly constructed footnote at the bottom of the page.
There are three ways to activate the research panel. Within an open document, go to the "Tools" menu at the top of the page and select "Research." You can also use a keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+Alt+R on a PC and Command+Option+R on a Mac. To jump-start the process, you can right-click on a word or highlight a phrase to launch a search for your term.
Ogden-based TopTenREVIEWS.com guides consumers by comparing products in the world of technology, including electronics, software and Web services. Have a question for TopTenREVIEWS? Email Leslie Meredith at firstname.lastname@example.org.