Ultimate Google toolbox: 20 tips, tricks, and hacks

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Download YouTube videos to your computer: Although many apps and websites claim to help you do this, they can be hit and miss at best, especially since Google is trying to block various services from downloading copyrighted videos. One simple and effective option is the Download YouTube Videos add-on for Firefox, which inserts a download button underneath videos on YouTube and allows you to select the quality level at which to save the file.

Edit photos and videos directly from Google Drive: The Pixlr Express app spares you from having to download photos, make basic edits in a separate program, and then reupload them. Once you install the app, simply right-click an image on your Google Drive to see an option to open it in Pixlrs, where you can crop and adjust the image, as well as add effects overlays, borders, text, and stickers. Once your edit is done, you can save and replace your Google Drive file, or save the new version as a copy, without leaving your browser. You can also try Pixlr Editor for a more Photoshop-like interface with tools for red-eye reduction and drawing. If you’d like to apply the same concept to video, check out WeVideo.

Send and receive faxes from Google Drive for free: Fax machines are almost extinct, but on the odd occasion you need to send a fax or sign a document, turn to HelloFax, a nifty extension that does both. The service lets you send a fax straight from your Google Drive to a fax machine just by entering the number; inbound faxes come to you by email in the form of a PDF, and reside in a special Google Drive folder.

Sign documents and fill in forms from Google Drive: With HelloSign, you can store your signature to sign documents or fill out forms, which you can send via email. The app also lets you assign signature fields in documents and send signature requests straight from a folder on your Google Drive.

Automate mundane Google Drive tasks: Wappwolf connects to your Google Drive (or Dropbox account) and seeks out certain types of files for which you have specified actions. For example, you can ask Wappwolf to convert to PDF any document you drop into a particular folder on your drive. In addition, you can have the tool convert audio files to a new format, send files to your Kindle, or upload photos to multiple social networks at once, as well as resize images or add effects.

Encrypt and safeguard your Google Drive files: A good tool for this job is BoxCryptor, which encrypts files on the fly and syncs them with Google Drive immediately after you save them. Since the encrypting and decrypting happen locally, your password never transmits to third parties, making your file unreadable even if someone breaches your Google Drive. For more, see this tutorial on using BoxCryptor.

Turn Google Maps into a game: Map Cube is an experimental Google Chrome browser-based game made by Google Maps that turns New York, Tokyo, and many other cities into a 3D tilt-labyrinth game (see video below). To play, you tilt a ball through city streets and across bridges to reach landmarks of historic and cultural note.

Undelete events, including the details, in Google Calendar: Whenever you delete an event, that data sticks around for a while before it’s permanently gone. The tool Spanning Undelete fetches a list of recently deleted events and lets you choose which ones to bring back from a list of recoverable items.

Record calls with Google Voice: Although Google doesn’t allow you to record outgoing calls, you can record calls you receive. Once you enable the option under Settings > Calls > Call Options, you simply press the 4 key at any time to record incoming calls. A voice will note on the line that the call is being recorded, and it will issue another alert when you stop the process. You can access your recorded calls by clicking Recorded on the left side of the page. Different laws apply to call recording depending on location, so check your state's current laws as well as federal regulations before using this feature.

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