How the G Suite side panel helps you get work done

In a desktop browser, the side panel gives you access to your Calendar, Keep notes, and Tasks while you work in Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more.

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The G Suite side panel gives you fast access to Google Keep, Google Tasks, and Google Calendar from Gmail, Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drawings. And the Google Calendar side panel also allows access to Keep and Tasks.

Access to the side panel makes it easier for you to capture and organize information about your work as you work. Those two terms—capture and organize—may be familiar to fans of David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology, as they're part of the five-step GTD process. (The Getting Things Done website identifies the five steps as capture, clarify, organize, reflect, and engage.)

Keep, Tasks, and Calendar support the core GTD capture and organize steps. Tasks and Calendar essentially both serve as lists: Google Tasks helps you capture and organize individual list items, while Google Calendar lets you organize activities that you need to do on a specific date and/or time. And Google Keep lets you capture and store information that you may need at a later date, time, or place.

SEE: Google Drive: Tips and tricks for business professionals (Tech Pro Research)

Side panel access expands on features previously added in Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Slides. Gmail added full access to the side panel (Calendar, Keep, and Tasks) as part of an update in 2018. Earlier, Google Docs and Google Slides had added support for a Google Keep notepad option. The side panel replaces the Keep notepad option in both Docs and Slides—although you may still drag-and-drop Keep notes into a document or slide.

Screenshots that show Side Panel closed and then open on Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Calendar, and Drawings.

From a desktop browser, explore the G Suite side panel for quick access to core G Suite apps—Calendar, Keep, and Tasks—that help you organize information about your work as you work.

As of August 2018, if you look at Gmail and Google Calendar in a desktop browser, you'll see that the addition of the side panel gives these apps five major areas in terms of layout:

  • The main area for content, such as a Google Doc or email
  • The top right area, with your Google account and app switcher
  • The top center area, with individual app menus and search
  • The left panel, with content detail
  • The right side panel section

The addition of the side panel also signals the continued importance of the desktop at work and in school. The side panel is a decidedly desktop-centric feature: It reduces the need for people to switch from one tab to another, and eliminates the hassle of opening separate apps or browser windows side-by-side. With no more than two clicks (or taps), you can access your Calendar, Keep notes, or Tasks.

On the desktop, the side panel eliminates the need to open or switch to another browser window when you work in Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Sheets, Slides, or Drawings. Instead, try the side panel the next time you need to make a note or modify a task list. Then continue on with your work.

What do you think?

If you use G Suite, what do you think of the side panel? How does side panel access to Calendar, Keep, and Tasks change your workflow? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter (@awolber).

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Illustration: Andy Wolber / TechRepublic