Whether you’re considering buying G Suite for your business or you’ve used it for years, there are probably some awesome G Suite features you didn’t even know existed. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the most useful—and downright coolest—features G Suite has to offer.
G Suite Business Features
We’ll start with some of the key business products found within G Suite. You should know that G Suite actually has three different plans, in increasingly complex and pricier tiers; the Basic plan is $6 per user per month, the Business plan is $12 per user per month, and the Enterprise plan is $25 per user per month. The majority of G Suite features are the same, regardless of what type of account you get, but as we’ll note, some G Suite features are exclusively available to higher-tier plans. Higher tier plans also come with more storage capacity, across all apps.
These are some of the best G Suite business features you’ll get when you sign up for an account:
You know it. You love it. You know, deep down, it’s better than Outlook. Gmail is the fastest, most comprehensive email platform on the web, and it’s completely included with G Suite. And yes, you can technically sign up for and use Gmail for free with any Google account. However, with G Suite, you’ll enjoy the benefits of creating and managing individual user accounts—as well as higher limits for your storage. If you didn’t know, Gmail also has built-in integrations with dozens of other Google products (not to mention third-party add-ons), so you can continue working efficiently even within your Inbox.
2. Google Drive
G Suite users will also get access to Google Drive, which you’ll use to store all your documents, photos, and other files. With the Basic plan, you’ll get 30 GB of cloud storage, but when you upgrade to the Business plan, you’ll get unlimited cloud storage—as long as you have 5 or more users. If you have fewer users than this, you’ll get 1 TB of storage. The same is true at the Enterprise level. Either way, Google Drive is an incredibly useful G Suite feature for both organization and collaboration, so make use of it.
3. Google Docs
G Suite’s version of Microsoft Word, Google Docs is a cloud-based app you can use to create, share, and work together on documents. It’s super easy to learn, especially if you’re already familiar with Microsoft Word, and you can import or export different file types as you see fit. You can also control who can access which documents and when, and work together on the same document over and over. Unfortunately, it’s only available online (i.e., there’s no offline desktop mode), but it’s available on every conceivable device.
4. Google Sheets
G Suite’s version of Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets will allow you to create, manage, and share spreadsheets. Again, it’s very straightforward if you’re familiar with Microsoft Excel. You can easily manage user permissions, control file types, and share your works in progress with others. It’s also available exclusively online, but you can access it via desktop or mobile device.
5. Google Slides
G Suite’s version of Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Slides will allow you to create, manage, and share slideshow presentations. As with all of G Suite’s core products, it’s available exclusively online, and allows you to manage user permissions easily.
6. Google Forms
Google Forms is a G Suite feature that allows you to create personalized surveys or quizzes. Depending on how you use it, you can integrate the data you collect directly into a spreadsheet—making your data analysis much easier. This is especially useful if you’re teaching classes, if you’re conducting market research, or if you’re evaluating employee satisfaction.
7. Google Calendar
You probably already use a calendar app, but if it’s not Google Calendar, you might consider switching when you sign up for G Suite. Google Calendar has all the features you’d expect from a modern calendar app, including automatic notifications of impending appointments, but it also integrates with Gmail (and a host of other G Suite features). For example, you can automatically convert messages in your inbox into events on your personal calendar.
8. Google Hangouts
One of the most commonly used G Suite features is Google Hangouts, which is designed to make your team’s communications easier. Hangouts is an all-in-one communication app you can use to send messages, create and manage group messages, send photos and videos, make phone calls, and even video chat with people around the world. It’s extremely easy to learn and use, and reliable even for long-distance conversations. If you meet or collaborate frequently, it’s a game-changer.
9. Google Currents
Google+ didn’t quite make the cut when it comes to social media apps, but its successor, Google Currents, is going strong. With Google Currents, your team members will be able to create custom streams of content, create their own sub-communities, and make individual posts and comments. Since it’s designed primarily with internal enterprise communication in mind, it comes with strict privacy controls.
10. Google Keep
Do you take lots of notes? Google Keep can help you keep them organized and accessible. It’s basically a note-taking app, but within G Suite, it’s even more effective, since it integrates with so many other apps. For example, there’s a Google Keep plugin for Gmail, which you can use to automatically convert emails into to-do list items and other types of notes.
11. Google Vault
Your business may or may not have a use for Google Vault, which was meant to make archiving and electronic discovery easier. It has the power to reduce litigation costs and streamline things like regulatory investigations and compliance efforts.
If you conduct lots of brainstorming sessions, you’ll love Jamboard. It’s designed to function like a digital whiteboard, allowing you to create and share information freestyle. If you have multiple participants in a meeting, each one can contribute with their own device-centric Jamboard. You can create graphics, type, doodle, and modify others’ contributions as individuals. The only limits are your own creativity.
13. The G Suite Marketplace (and Third-Party Apps)
One of the best features of G Suite is Google’s openness to third-party apps and integrations. Most of its products have several optional plugins and enhancements that can be used to add functionality or streamline existing functions. You can find these in the G Suite Marketplace; some apps and integrations are free, while others are available for a fee. You may also find that several third party platforms and applications offer integration with Gmail and other G Suite products. For example, you can use EmailAnalytics to analyze and visualize your Gmail activity.
G Suite Basic Features
In addition to the products above, these G Suite features make Google’s all-in-one business service even better:
14. G Suite alerts
One unique G Suite feature is the “alert center,” which will allow you to readily view and access notifications about your domain. It’s useful for proactively identifying threats, resolving issues, and keeping tabs on your operations. Most of these alerts will also come with an email to your administrator’s account, but it’s often useful to view them all in one place.
15. Security and privacy
Google maintains strict security and privacy measures, prioritizing the protection of your sensitive corporate information. From its FAQ page, Google states, “we do not collect, scan or use your G Suite data for advertising purposes and do not display ads in G Suite, Education, or Government core services”. In addition, “the data that companies, schools and government agencies put into our G Suite services does not belong to Google. Whether it’s corporate intellectual property, personal information or a homework assignment, Google does not own that data and Google does not sell that data to third parties.” Though you may be skeptical in today’s era of privacy nightmares, Google has thus far stayed true to its word. Keep a close eye on its privacy policies, in case they ever change.
16. Admin-level user controls
If you’re using G Suite for your entire business, one important feature is the ability to manage all other users and accounts as an administrator. If someone loses a password, you can reset it for them. If you’re about to fire an employee and you fear retaliation, you can lock them out of their account. You can also control user permissions, so only the right people can access documents and files with sensitive information. This is an essential feature for most businesses.
17. 24/7 customer support
At all levels, you’ll gain access to Google’s 24/7 customer support. If you need help setting up these products and G Suite features for your team members, or if you’re experiencing trouble connecting users in a specific app, Google’s team will be available to guide you through the process or troubleshoot the issue.
G Suite Enterprise Features
G Suite also offers some features that are handy for enterprises:
18. Universal, cross-app Cloud Search (Business and Enterprise only)
You won’t find this G Suite feature in the Basic version of the plan, but at the Business and Enterprise levels, you’ll have access to a cross-app Cloud Search. Basically, you can use a central search function to scour all accounts and all files (to which you have access) and generate a list of universal matches. It makes sense that Google would have mastered the art of search for businesses. If you ever lose track of a specific document, or if you can’t remember where you stored that important presentation, this can be a lifesaver.
19. A low-code development environment (Business and Enterprise only)
Again at the Business and Enterprise levels, you’ll gain access to a low-code development environment. If you have developers on your team, you can use this to build apps that bridge the gaps that exist in your other G Suite features. It contains templates, drag-and-drop editors, and declarative data modeling to make app development even easier for your team.
20. Data loss prevention (Enterprise only)
Only at the Enterprise level, you’ll gain access to data loss prevention in G Suite. With your administrative account, you’ll be able to set parameters for detecting (and possibly mitigating) the transfer of sensitive data. For example, you can get an automatic alert when someone within your company sends an email containing credit card information, and prevent it from being sent. Data loss prevention controls exist for Gmail and for Drive.
21. User activity tracking (Business and Enterprise only)
At the Business and Enterprise levels, you’ll be able to track user activity, to a degree. With endpoint management, you can get automatic notifications of suspicious activity. With activity tracking, you can see a history of user searches, exports, message views, and a variety of other actions.
Is G Suite right for your business? The short answer is probably. Whether you’re interested in the cloud-based collaborative tools or the high security and data backups, G Suite is an appropriate and beneficial service for any business that relies on tech or communication. And in a comparison of G Suite vs Office 365, we give the nod to G Suite.
If you want to make better use of G Suite, there are two things that can help you. One is taking the time to explore the built-in G Suite features that make it great. The other is to invest more time finding third-party apps that can improve your productivity and efficiency. For help with that, see our post on G Suite tips.
To start, get acquainted with EmailAnalytics. It’s our very own analytics tool that we’ve designed to be integrated with Gmail and G Suite, and with it, you’ll be able to track all your employees’ email habits. Over time, you’ll learn the areas most responsible for time waste, and discover new ways to eliminate or mitigate them. Start your free trial today, and get immediate access to detailed data visuals that explain how you and your team have been using Gmail.
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before exiting it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.