How to use Google Jamboard to create and share collaborative whiteboards

If you're looking for a basic, collaborative whiteboard, Google's Jamboard might be just the ticket.

Multiethnic businesspeople develop business strategy on whiteboard

Image: iStockphoto/fizkes

A Jamboard is Google's take on the digital whiteboard, and most people don't even know the handy tool exists. For those who like the idea of a digital whiteboard, Google's take on the tool is as good as it is simple. With a Google Jamboard, you can create and share collaborative whiteboards that include features like:

  • Limited set of board backgrounds

  • Pen for drawing

  • Eraser for erasing

  • Selector for selecting board elements

  • Image upload

  • Circle tool for adding circles

  • Text boxes

  • Sticky notes

  • Laser for point to elements on your board

After creating a Jamboard, you can share it via the built-in Google sharing system and even export a board as a PDF.

Google Jamboard is a great tool for anyone who needs to collaborate on a whiteboard and already has a Google account. Jamboard is free and incredibly user-friendly. As you work with a Jamboard, anyone who has access to the board will see everything happen in real time; the only caveat is that those you've shared the board with must also have a Google account. Let me show you just how easy it is to create and use Google Jamboard.

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What you'll need to use Google Jamboard

The only thing you'll need is a Google account. Jamboard works within any web browser that supports the Google suite of tools, so your platform really doesn't matter. However, if you're using a mobile device, I highly recommend you install the Jamboard mobile app, which happens to work really well on Android tablets.

How to create a new Jamboard

To create a new Jamboard, open the tool with a browser that is already logged in to your Google account. Once you arrive on the Jamboard main page, click the + button to create a new board (Figure A). 

Figure A

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Creating a new Google Jamboard is just a click away.

When the new board opens, you can start creating by adding images, texts, backgrounds, and more (Figure B).  

Figure B

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A new Jamboard about open source.

When you first create your Jamboard, you can select a background (Figure C). The selection of backgrounds is limited and, once you set one, you cannot remove it or change it, so choose wisely.

Figure C

jamboardbackground.jpg

Selecting a background for your Jamboard.

For the most part, everything is really intuitive. Adding images, texts, circles, sticky notes--nothing of that sort should trip you up. The only thing you might have trouble with at first is using the pen tool to draw straight lines. If you're like me, freehanding a straight line is an impossible task, but if you've ever worked with just about any image editing software, you know the trick. Here's how:

  1. Click on the pen tool, select from Pen, Highlighter, Marker, or Brush.
  2. Select the color you want to use. 
  3. With your pen configured, hold down the Shift key on your keyboard, place the pen at point A, and left-click your mouse.
  4. Drag the pen to point B and release the mouse button. 

That's all there is to drawing straight lines within your Jamboard. 

It's the little things. It's also the most challenging thing you'll have to do in this tool.

How to share your Jamboard

Once you're ready (either after your Jamboard is complete or even before you've started), you can share your Jamboard with other users so they can either view it or collaborate with you on it. To share it, click the Share button in the upper-right corner of the window. This will open the usual Google Share menu, where you can copy the share link or share it with specific Google users (Figure D).

Figure D

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The Google Share menu.

If you want to allow other users to collaborate on your Jamboard, you'll need to click Change To Anyone With The Link, click permissions drop-down, and select Editor (Figure E).

Figure E

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By clicking the Editor option, anyone with the link will be able to edit your Jamboard.

If you don't want to give edit permissions to everyone, you'll need to specify in the Share with people and groups section in the top portion of the share window. Say, for instance, you want specific people to be able to edit the board and everyone else to only be able to view it. First share the board out to the specific users who will have edit permissions by clicking the Share With People And Groups area. Type the users who will be given edit permissions and then make sure Editor is selected (Figure F).

Figure F

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Giving specific users editor permissions for a Jamboard.

Once you've taken care of giving those users editor permissions, you can then share the link to those who will only have View permissions. 

And that's pretty much the gist of using Google Jamboard. If you've been looking for an easy-to-use, cloud-based whiteboard tool, Google has you covered. You might find Jamboard's simplistic feature set might be a bit limiting, but for creating basic, collaborative whiteboards, you can't beat this free service.

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