This entry is part 1 of 20 in the series Gmail Master

Yes, you heard right. This episode is about the Google Calendar. I’m not running out of Gmail information, on the contrary, I’m having a hard time keeping up with all the cool new stuff coming out. Recently I found a new feature that ties Gmail with the Google Calendar.

To begin, I’d like to give you a wonderful use of the Google Calendar that my co-worker Kevin in Raleigh North Carolina told me about. He said that he keeps all his appointments outside normal work hours in his Google Calendar. This way he can share it with his wife and maintain it from anywhere. I started thinking about our family calendar that hangs on the refrigerator at home. There are some drawbacks to this simple, and somewhat effective means of family communication. First, there isn’t always room to write what you want so you have to make shorthand notations, which can be difficult for your spouse to decipher. Second, you cannot check the piece of paper at home if someone at work asks “Are you available next Tuesday evening?”

This past weekend, I took the three sheets of paper from the refrigerator and entered them in to Google Calendar. I will spare you all the details of setting up and managing a calendar. However, I will let you know that I discovered quite a number of nice features such as notifications via email and SMS, as well as sending a daily agenda to my email box each day just before I wake up – saving me a step of reading my email and reviewing my calendar each morning before we get going.

Next, I shared the calendar with my wife Donna and gave her access to modify it. Finally, to appease Donna, I printed out not only a monthly view, but a weekly view as well to better see conflicts. After all, what good is a new piece of technology if you don’t have a process to drive it. I’ll be out of town and she isn’t quite comfortable with managing the calendar from the web yet.

OK, you may be saying “Chuck, I’ve been doing that with our family calendar for years. What took you so long?” To that I respond “Thanks” and admit I’m not always on the leading edge of all technologies.

OK, here’s the tie in with Gmail. I discovered a Gmail labs feature called “Google Calendar gadget” which displays upcoming events in a window on the left side. There is also one called “Google Docs gadget” to display recently modified Google Docs. The problem is that they appear at the bottom below the chat window and labels so I couldn’t glance and see what is coming up in the calendar. Fortunately, there are also two gadgets called “Right side chat” and “Right side labels” to place those two gadgets on the right side of the screen. This does make the message index a little narrower, and takes a bit of getting used to when looking for the labels or chat – after all they’ve been in the same place for years. However, the calendar and docs gadget now appear right under the Contacts link on the left and offer a quick glance at useful information.

Series NavigationTexting – Part 1


  • Andy says:

    You can drag the calendar up above the labels and things – just drag the bar and the whole widget moves. No need to lose screen estate to the right hand column. As the calendar display is typically pretty small, it doesn’t push that many labels down screen.

  • Whit says:

    Chuck, What is the shortcut for sending email in Gmail. I can’t get any to work for me. Thank you (MacUser)

  • vanwinkle says:

    Chuck, What is the shortcut for sending email in Gmail. I can’t get any to work for me. Thank you (MacUser)

  • Chuck Tomasi says:


    You need to check to make sure shortcut keys are enabled under your general settings. Once that is verified, you should be able to compose a new email using “C”. If you have any doubts about the shortcut keys, try hitting “?” and you will get a help screen with a list of shortcut keys.

  • Whit says:

    I hit the C key. Then I hit the ? (outside of the body) And there was no key that said Send.

  • Chuck Tomasi says:

    My misunderstanding. I thought you were looking for a compose key. Sadly, there is no “Send” key at this time. The best I can offer is to use tab-enter which advances the focus from the text area to the Send button, then enter “clicks” the button for you. I use it all the time, it has become second nature.