Taking Advantage of Google Apps

#Instant Messaging Chat and Video
#Google Calendar
#Google Documents


Instant Messaging Chat and Video

One Google App available to all users is the IM Chat and Video. When logging in to your CatMail account, you will see a list on the left side of the screen of all users you have invited to chat with you.

  • To chat with someone, he/she must also be a CatMail user. Remember, all of your students are required to use CatMail. To invite a user to show up on your chat list, you simply type their name or email in the search box and select “invite to chat.”

Once a user accepts your invitation, you will see his/her name on your chat list each time you log in to CatMail. Next to the name, you will see one of the following:

  • A green light next to the user’s name indicates that he/she is available to chat.
  • An orange light indicates that the user’s computer has been idle for a while; he/she likely stepped away from their computer.
  • A red light indicates that the user is busy and not available for a chat.
  • A gray dot with an X in it indicates that the user is not online, not logged in to their CatMail account, or has chosen to be Invisible.
  • If you see an icon that looks like a square with a triangle on its right, this is the symbol for video chat. This means that the user is available for chatting through typing or through video.



Starting a Chat

To chat with someone on your list, simply hover your mouse over the user’s name. A box will pop up to the right of the user’s name (see above), listing the name and email of the person and offering options to “Email,” or “Chat.” To chat with the person, click on the “Chat” button, and on the bottom, right corner of your screen, a chat box will pop open. Simply type your message and hit enter. Clicking on the “Video” button now opens a Google Hangout window where you can invite others. By clicking the drop down arrow by the green status button you can change chats to use the Google Hangouts interface for chat as well. This may be an attractive option for those who have the Hangouts app on their phones and it is associated with your UofA email address, as you could continue a chat via tablet or phone.


Setting your Chat Status

Above the search bar, you will see a green dot with an arrow by it. Clicking the arrow will offer you a drop down menu to set your status. This is what others will see when they log in to CatMail. You can choose green or red indicators, or you can choose to be invisible. Invisible presents you as being offline, not simply unavailable. You can create a customized message for your availability for either the red or green indicators (e.g. “in class,” “writing,” “office hours,” etc.). In the new Hangouts interface, you can show your last online time, the device you’re on, and when you’re in a video/phone call on those devices. You can also mute notifications of incoming Hangout messages.


Faculty/Staff Advantages of the Chat App

  • When teaching, you can offer some or all of your weekly office hours online. Set a day and time and tell your students that you will be available for chat (and/or video chat) through CatMail during that time.
  • Use chat instead of email to ask colleagues and/or students quick questions.
  • Use the “group chat” feature to chat with several colleagues at once or conduct a group conference with several students at once.


Google calendar offers users an online system for keeping track of appointments, meetings, etc. To access Google calendar, either:


The calendar layout

You should familiarize yourself with the layout of the CatMail calendar by noting the following areas:

  • Left side of screen includes
    • Links to create an event or task
    • A monthly view of your calendar
      • Notice the month and year
      • Use the left and right arrows to move from month to month. Click on the month name and year to display that month to your right.
    • My Calendars list
      • You may choose to only use one calendar, in this case you would only see one calendar listed here.
      • Or, you may choose to create different calendars, such as a professional calendar and a personal calendar, or separate calendars for different classes you teach, etc. You can color-code and name these calendars.
    • Other Calendars list
      • You can subscribe to the calendars of colleagues or students, and their calendars appear in this list.
  • Center of the screen includes
    • A top menu-bar with viewing options
      • Notice the date range, the option to print, and the options for viewing by day, week, month, 4 days, etc.
    • A view of your calendar events
      • In the center, you will see your calendar with events you have scheduled. Notice the times along the left column and the days listed along the top (if you are viewing more than one day).
  • Right side of screen includes
    • A list of your “tasks”
      • Tasks are like your “to do” list. You can assign them a due date/time or not. They appear at the top of the day and you have the option to check them off as they are completed.
      • Note: If you cannot see the Tasks bar, make sure you’ve selected “My Tasks” in the menu on the left.  If you still can’t see your tasks, click the arrow on the right side of the screen.
  • Top of screen includes
    • A search feature for your calendar
    • Links to CatMail, Google Documents, Settings, etc.




Entering events in your calendar

You can enter events a couple of different ways.

Option 1: You can click on the “Create” link in the upper, left area of the screen. After you enter a title for your event, click “add” to be taken to an event information screen. You can enter as much or as little information about the event as you would like, but you must, at the least, title your event and fill in the time and date.  Use the drop down menu to choose the appropriate calendar, if you are using more than one.

  • Be sure to hit the “Save” button when you are finished.
  • You can use some of the more advanced options to set up repeating events, assign the event to a particular calendar, invite guests who also use Google CatMail Calendar, add a reminder, control privacy, etc.


A second way to enter events is to click and drag (see image below).

  • For this method, you simply find the date and time on your calendar.
  • Then, hold your mouse at the start time and drag to the end time (8am to 1:30pm on the example image below).
  • A bubble should pop open for you to enter “What” the event is, assign it to a calendar, and either complete the action by hitting “Create event” or offer more details about the event by hitting “Edit Event.”
  • This is one of the fastest ways to update your Google CatMail Calendar.


There are a number of more advanced features that you can access through the “Settings” link in the upper, right corner of your calendar screen, including:

  • Changing your time zone and time/date display options
  • Default calendar views
  • Share one or more of your calendars with colleagues (Note: you can choose to display event info from your calendars or simply show yourself as “busy” during scheduled times.)


Faculty/Staff Advantages of the Calendar App

  • Easy way to schedule meetings and appointments, and easy to access from any computer with an Internet connection.
  • Make scheduling meetings and appointments with students easier by using the calendar share feature or by creating events and using the “invite guests” feature.
  • Use the “tasks” feature to keep up with important reminders.
  • Use multiple calendars and color-coding features to help keep your personal and professional lives separate.


Google documents (or Google docs) is now part of “Google Drive.” Google drive offers users an easy way to create and store online documents, either for oneself or to share and collaborate with others. To access Google drive, either:

  • Log-in to CatMail and click the google apps link in the upper right (a picture of 9 little squares) corner, OR
  • Go to http://drive.google.com (make sure you are logged in through your catmail account)



On the left side of the screen, you’ll see a blue “New” button.  Click this to bring up a drop down menu, where you can select the type of document you want to create (more about this below). You can also select “folder” from this menu to create document folders.  To the right of this menu, you’ll see a list of documents you’ve created, along with the name of the document’s “owner,” if you’re sharing, and the date the document was last updated.  You can also change display settings for this page using the drop-down “gear” menu.


To create new products

Click on the “Google Docs” button, and a new window will open. This will operate like an MS Word document.  You can also choose to create a presentation using the Google Slides button (like an MS PowerPoint presentation), and a spreadsheet using the Google Sheets button (like an MS Excel spreadsheet). You can also click on the “more” button within the “New” buttons dropdown to access Google Forms, Drawing, and my maps. Here, we will go over some of the features of Google Docs.



You will notice many of the same buttons and menus as MS Word, such as File, Edit, View, Insert, etc. Use the buttons, such as bold, bullet, center, etc., the same way you would in MS Word.  Click the title “Untitled document” to change the title of your document—this title will appear in the list of documents on your homepage.  Google docs will automatically save any changes you make to the document as you work.


Sharing documents

Use the “Share” button in the upper, right corner of the screen to invite collaborators, email the document as an attachment, etc.  If you’re sharing a document, you can click the “comments” drop-down next to the share button to show comments from your collaborators.



Faculty/Staff Advantages of the Documents App

  • Easy way to collaborate with colleagues or students on co-composing a document, whether it is a presentation, a meeting agenda, a book chapter, etc.
  • Easy access to online documents from any computer with an Internet connection.
  • Opportunities to design assignments where students collaborate on projects or papers.

Please note that Google Groups is not available through the CatMail system. However, University of Arizona users can create a CatGroup listserv with an email.arizona.edu address.  This creates an email discussion group, and can be for course listservs, project groups, and so on.  For example, you might create a group for your course, “English101-23@email.arizona.edu,” or a project group for your students, “Engl101-23-group5@email.arizona.edu.”


How to Access or Request CatGroups

  • Go to http://catgroups.arizona.edu and log in with your UA NetID and password. 
  • Enter the name you want to use for the group (this name will appear before @email.arizona.edu in the email address, so keep it simple). 
  • Create a description of what the group is for, and then choose who may use the group. 
  • Click “Create.” 
  • Choose the group in the “My Groups” menu on the left, and fill in the email addresses of the List Owners (who may make changes to the group), and the List Members (who will receive emails sent to the group email address). 
    • Right-click on the box you want to add to.  Select “Add New Owner” or “Add New Member.” A white box will appear at the top of the purple field. Fill in the email you want to add and click “Add.” 
    • To remove an email address, select it and right-click, and choose “Remove Selected Owner(s)” or “Remove Selected Member(s).”


For more information, see:


November, 2016