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5 tips for navigating the settings in the Google Apps Admin console

Andy Wolber offers five tips for finding the settings you need in the Google Apps Admin console.

Admin console

According to Google, more than "5 million business have gone Google" with Google Apps.

Each of these organizations has at least one Google Apps administrator, with the ability to customize hundreds of settings in the Admin console. Login at http://admin.google.com with your admin account and explore.

But the Admin console can be confusing to navigate, especially for novice administrators. Follow these five tips to master Google Apps Admin console navigation (as of March 2014).

1. Look at all the options

Seemingly related settings may be accessed in different places. For example, Calendar sharing settings appear in different sections:

  • Primary calendar settings are in Google Apps | Calendar | Sharing settings
  • Secondary calendar settings are in Google Apps | Calendar | General settings

A person's primary calendar is their default calendar; calendars the person creates (or manages) are secondary calendars (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A

Explore all the options, because related settings may appear in different areas.

2. Different links aren't always different options

In some cases, two different settings links lead to the same place. For example, Contact settings display two choices:

  • Google Apps | Contacts | Sharing settings
  • Google Apps | Contacts | Advanced settings

Both options take you to the same settings menu (Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B

In some cases, different settings links lead to the same set of options.

3. Read settings carefully

Google sometimes offers a feature first on Android, then later on iOS. The settings will show this, but it may require reading the details.

In this example (Figure C), the setting's title may only partially describe the setting's function. The Android options setting to enable Google Now applies to both Android and iOS devices.

Figure C

Figure C

Read settings carefully to discover recently added capabilities.

4. Switch between core Google Apps settings quickly

When you first login to the Admin console and select Google Apps, you'll see a list of the core Google Apps. If you click through to configure settings for one of these core apps, you may not immediately see an easy way to view settings for another core app.

The secret is the tiny drop-down arrow to the right of the app name. Select the arrow to bring up the list of other core apps, then select one to switch (Figure D).

Figure D

Figure D

Quickly switch to another core Google App's settings.

5. Explore More controls | Other Google Services settings

Administrators can control settings for additional Google Apps. Select More controls from the bottom of the Admin console, then choose Other Google Services (Figure E). A variety of other services, such as Blogger, Google Adwords, Google Analytics, and more may appear.

The number of configurable settings for each of these services may surprise you. However, most of these services only have one administrative setting: you can either enable or disable the service.

If you've enabled Google+ for your domain, you'll see at least four customizable settings. And the Chrome Management service offers several screens worth of settings -- more settings than many of the core apps.

Figure E

Figure E

Most Other Google services are either ON or OFF. Chrome Management and Google+ are exceptions.

Review regularly

The Admin console settings and menus reflect the rapid pace of change in Google Apps.

If you're a Google Apps administrator, I suggest you review your organization's settings in detail every 90 days or so. You might be pleasantly surprised to discover new features, functions, and/or settings available for your organization.

What other recommendations do you have for navigating the Google Apps Admin console? Share your tips in the discussion thread below.

About

Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Ann Arbor, MI with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.

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