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From Android to YouTube: 20+ pro tips from the Googlers behind them

What better way to use Google products to their full potential than to get tips from the people who made them?

Published onSeptember 25, 2018

A folder, showing Google apps.

Between Search, Gmail, and Android, Google’s products have become indispensable to many of us in the years since they’ve been introduced. Though you may know your way around all of Google’s services, as the company marks its 20th anniversary, the company has revealed a handful of lesser-known tips, direct from the people behind them.


Sagar Kamdar, a director of product management for Android, has several solid tips, starting with finding your device. If you’ve lost your phone, you can check out the Find My Device website to find it again. Simply sign in to the website and you should be able to see it on a map, along with options for locking/erasing it, displaying a message, or playing a ringing sound.

The second major tip is to mark selected contacts as important, so they’ll get through to you if you have Do Not Disturb enabled. To do this, you’ll need to open your contacts app, then tap the star next to their name.

Finally, Kamdar says you can use the Google Assistant to handle system tasks, such as taking a screenshot, enabling the flashlight, or taking a selfie. You’ll need a phone running Android Marshmallow or later to do this, so you should be good if you bought your phone within the last three years or so.


Chrome‘s Ellie Powers and Chris Beckmann have a few pointers to get the most out of the popular web browser. To access your browsing history across devices, you’ll need to visit history > full history > tabs from other devices.

The pair also have a handy tip for quickly hopping between tabs, as you press Ctrl and the corresponding number (1 for the first tab, 2 for the second tab) to switch to that particular tab.

Finally, their last pointer is a quick way to use emojis in Chrome. To do so, you’ll need to right-click > Emoji in any text field. You should then see the emoji menu, allowing you to sift for that perfect reaction.


Gmail offline mode

Kevin Smilak, a senior engineering director for Gmail, delivers a few tips to effectively master the web browser.

For starters, the Googler says you can create a to-do list item from an email. You’ll need to open the “tasks” panel on the right-hand side and then drag the relevant message from your inbox to this panel to make a task out of it.

Google Feed officially called Discover, will appear at on mobile
A Google logo.

Smilak’s second tip is to mute message threads, pushing the email and future responses to a separate “All Mail” label. You won’t be alerted to future responses, but you can search your inbox or visit the aforementioned label to find these messages again. To mute a message/thread on desktop, you’ll need to open or select the message, then click more/three-dot menu > mute. To mute a message on Android, tap the three-dot menu > mute.

Finally, the Googler says you also have a window of between five and 30 seconds to unsend an email. Once you’ve sent a mail, you should get a prompt to “undo” the mail (it’s at the bottom left of your screen on desktop).

Google Drive

The Google Drive logo.

Alexander Vogenthaler, a director of product management at Google Drive, says you can add a star to your most important Google Drive documents (three-dot menu > add star). By doing this, they’ll show up in the “Starred” folder in the main menu, giving you quick access to these items.

Drive also lets you name different versions of the same document, the Googler says. This can be done by opening the file in Docs, Sheets or Slides, then visiting File > Version History > Name current version. From here, you can go to File > Version History > See version history to view the different versions (with the new names).

The final Google Drive tip is searching for a phrase you know is inside a PDF or image. Google can identify text within them, so if you don’t know the actual name of an image but you do know a tagline that appears in it, this might be handy.

Google Play

Google Play Store app Pixel 2 XL AA 3

Kara Bailey, global merchandising director for Google Play, has a couple of pointers for the storefront. For one, she notes that you can pause a Google Play Movie, then tap the circle around a star’s face to learn more about them.

Reading a comic or manga from the Play Store? Bailey says you can tap on a voice bubble and use your volume keys to zoom in on the dialog for easier reading. The Googler says you can create a wishlist of items you want to purchase or install from the Play Store too. Simply visit the item in question, then tap either the icon with the plus sign in it or three-dot menu > add to wishlist.


The Google Maps icon on a smartphone.

Dan Glasgow of Google Maps has a few solid tricks to use Maps to its full potential. Glasgow says you can search for a business in Maps to figure out its most popular times, just in case you’d like to avoid standing in line or hordes of people.

Read: 10 best GPS app and navigation app options for Android

Do you sometimes forget where you parked your car? Maps has a solution for this as well. Once you’ve parked your car, you should tap the blue dot (representing your location) and select save your parking.

Glasgow also has a tip for people traveling to an airport, saying you can search for the terminal name within Google Maps to get a map of the building. This way, you don’t have to wander around aimlessly to find McDonald’s.


Google’s bread and butter is Search, and the division’s Emily Moxley has a few cool uses for the platform. The first tip is to search for a song and then tap other recordings to find covers of said track. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to work for me (or maybe it’s my emo taste in music) but it’s still an interesting idea.

The second neat Search-related tip is the ability to quickly find sunset times for your location by searching for sunset. The final Search pointer is that you can search watch followed by the name of a movie or TV show to see all places that stream this particular bit of content.


Brian Marquardt of YouTube has a couple of neat tips for the ever-popular video platform, starting with the dark theme. The option, available on desktop and iOS but rolling out to Android, gives you a dark UI to cut down on glare in a dark room. To enable the dark theme on desktop, visit your profile photo > dark theme. Android users can enable the feature by tapping profile photo > settings > general > dark theme.

Here are all 5 YouTube apps and what they do
Software lists
featured image for the youtube apps article

The executive notes that you can also speed up or slow down video playback. To do this on desktop, you tap the settings gear > speed, while Android users need to tap the three-dot menu > Playback speed.

The last YouTube tip is that you can use the numbered keys to seek in a video, with each number corresponding to a round figure. So pressing 1 will take you to the ten percent mark, pressing 5 will take you to the halfway mark, and so on.

That’s it for the tips from Google, but if you have any pointers for these products, don’t forget to let us know in the comments.

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