U-M Google Updates

U-M Google October and November Monthly Summary



Google has added a new filter (“People”) to Google Drive that lets you find which files or folders have been shared with specific people or groups. This feature will give you greater visibility into who has access to files/folders within and outside of the University of Michigan.

Google My Drive view with the new People filter selected at the top, showing example people listed

Google has introduced a new standalone page accessible from the left navigation in Google Drive called “Activity.” This view shows all pending access requests and recent comments to help you find recent activity and take action in one place.

New Google Drive Activity page, user selecting Manage access on one file listed on the page

  • Add ratings using a new smart chip in Google Sheets

You can now insert a new smart chip in Sheets that allows you to add ratings to spreadsheet cells. To add a rating chip, click Insert > Smart chips > Rating > select a number of stars (0-5). Learn more about inserting smart chips in Sheets.

  • Add emoji reactions to comments in Google Sheets and Slides

You can now add emoji reactions to comments in Sheets and Slides. This functionality was previously only available in Google Docs.

To add GIFs to your Slides, create a new presentation or open an existing presentation, click Insert > Image > GIFs and stickers > search for GIFs and/or stickers, and click on one or several to insert on a slide. Learn more about inserting images in Slides.

Google has added the option to display line numbers within Docs that are set to paged mode. The numbers are automatically calculated next to each line in the document and can be configurable for the entire document, a page, or a specific section. Learn more about using line numbers in Docs.

When you create a new Google Doc, you will notice buttons that enable you to insert building blocks for different types of content, such as meeting notes, email drafts, and more. Simply click your preferred button or choose “@ More” for additional options.

  • Timezone support for existing smart chips in Google Docs 

To more accurately represent time across the world, Google introduced timezone support for existing date and time smart chips in Google Docs.

Google has added the following to appointment schedules in Calendar:

  • Customizable five to fourteen-minute appointment slots. (Previously, the minimum duration was fifteen minutes.)
  • The option to hide or show appointment schedules within the calendar view on the web.

Learn more about creating an appointment schedule in Calendar.

Google has updated the way meeting attendees’ names are displayed in Calendar invites and invite updates sent via email. Previously, only email addresses would appear within a calendar invite email. Now you’ll notice more names included in the invite, including the names of those at U-M and guests whom you’ve interacted with in the past.

Google has added additional features for viewers and hosts using view-only mode in Meet:

  • Viewers can send emoji reactions during a meeting.
  • Meeting hosts and co-hosts can promote a viewer to a meeting contributor while the hosts are using picture-in-picture mode.

Learn more about assigning view-only roles in Meet.

You can generate links in Chat using the new “Copy link” option for all messages posted in spaces, group messages, and direct messages. Once the link is sent and clicked by a user, they will be taken to the original message within Chat as long as they have access to the conversation or space. Learn more about linking to messages in Chat.

Previously Communicated:


U-M Google September Monthly Summary



You can now use live pointers in Slides, a new feature that allows you and your collaborators to view each other’s mouse pointers in real time. This feature is OFF by default. To make your pointer visible to collaborators, open a Slides presentation, click View > Live pointers > Show my pointer.

Once pointer visibility is turned on, your pointer will remain visible in all Slides presentations until you turn it off. You can only show your pointer if you’re using Slides on a computer and have edit access to the presentation, but all access levels can view pointers. Learn more about live pointers in Slides.

User in Google Slides turns on live pointers to show the pointers of other collaborators on the presentation

Google has introduced tile pairing for Meet, which will allow you to pair your video tile with another meeting participant's tile. Once you pair your tile, other meeting participants can find both tiles shown next to each other. Both pairing partners will have their borders outlined in blue when speaking. Tile pairing will be indicated in the meeting captions, as well. This can be especially useful in situations where you want to ensure a sign language or other language interpreter is visible during the meeting. Learn more about pairing tiles and accessibility in Meet.

User in Google Meet selecting the new setting to pair their video tile to another participant's

Google has introduced “message bubbles” in Chat to help you differentiate incoming versus outgoing messages in the message stream. Previously, all messages in Chat were aligned the same regardless of the sender and displayed without any visual containers to separate messages into clear groups. With this update: 

  • Each incoming message has a gray message bubble aligned to the left.
  • Each outgoing message has a blue message bubble aligned to the right.

Google Chat group conversation showing new message stream alignments

A more detailed view of how many members have viewed messages in Chat spaces can be seen by hovering over the message, clicking the three-dot menu icon, and selecting See message views.

  • Copy member email addresses in Google Chat spaces

Space Managers and members can now copy the email addresses of members in a Google Chat space. This option is on by default for spaces with 100 members or less and off for spaces with 100+ members.

Google has brought smart chips to Chat on the web. When composing a message in Chat, typing “@” will now display a list of suggestions for files to include as smart chips. You can search files by typing the name of the file, and the results will be based on files you’ve used most recently. Once a file is selected, you can insert it directly into your message. Learn more about sending and sharing files in Chat.

Google has added the option to lock Drive files by right-clicking the file, hovering over File information, and clicking Lock. Edits, comments, and suggestions can't be added to locked documents. In order to lock or unlock a file, you must have edit access to it.

  • Expanded autocorrect to Google Chat on the web 

Google Chat on the web will now automatically correct misspelled words. Similar to functionality in Gmail and Google Docs, the corrected words are shown with a gray underline so you know when the auto-correction has occurred.

  • Expanded file organization with new location picker across Google Workspace

Earlier this year, Google introduced streamlined file organization with the new Google Drive location picker. As a follow-up, they have expanded this updated visual experience to Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Sites, and Gmail.

  • Updated zoom-in/out capabilities across Google Docs and Slides

There are new keyboard shortcuts in Google Docs and Slides on the web to help you zoom in, zoom out, or scale to 100%. Additionally, you can now zoom in or out in Slides using the trackpad or mouse wheel with a modifier key (Cmd/Ctrl). Learn more about keyboard shortcuts for Docs and Slides.

  • Expanded language support for captions in Google Meet 

You can now use captions in more languages, such as Arabic, Hindi, and Swedish. For a full list of available languages, visit the Google Help Center.

Previously Communicated:

Final Reminder: Upgrades to threading in Google Chat spaces to begin September 30

U-M Google August Monthly Summary



  • Reorganized file and folder menu in Google Drive

Earlier this year, Google introduced an updated interface for Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Building upon this, you will now notice a new menu format when right-clicking a file or folder in Drive. While the menu functionality remains the same, menu items have been reordered, renamed, and placed in new sub-menus. 

Google Drive file menu opened to show the new organization and subsections.

  • Bulk empty the trash folder of Google shared drives

Google has added the ability to empty the entire trash folder of a Google shared drive to help eliminate the manual effort of permanently deleting items in the trash one by one. From your shared drive’s trash folder, click Empty shared drive trash in the top right corner of the page. As a reminder, files and folders in the trash are automatically deleted after 30 days.

  • Linkable headings now available in Google Docs

Google has added the ability to copy links to headings in Google Docs. From a Google Doc on the web, right-click a heading in the document and select Copy heading link from the drop-down menu.

Google has added a feature that lets you annotate content while you present in Slides. With the new pen tool, you can circle, underline, draw connections, or make quick notes directly on your presentation. The annotations are not saved after ending the presentation, and they will only remain visible for as long as you are presenting.

To annotate your Slides presentation, click the Slideshow button in the top right of your slides, move your mouse over the bottom left of the screen, click the three-dot menu icon, and select Turn on the pen.

Google has released an enhanced tool finder at the top of Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides to help you discover commonly used tools and features. When you open a new file, the tool finder will suggest common actions that you can take when preparing a new document, spreadsheet, or presentation. For example, in Sheets, the tool finder might suggest "freeze rows" or "create a pivot table." Once you start editing, you can find recent actions in the tool finder for easy access to previously used features. Learn more about the tool finder for Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

User clicking into the new search bar on the far left of the toolbar in Sheets and typing Freeze to find the setting they want

You can now hyperlink text when composing or editing a message in Google Chat on the web. This update also includes the ability to copy hyperlinks from other places like Gmail, Docs, Sheets, and Slides. To hyperlink your text, click the link icon in the formatting toolbar or press CTRL/CMD + K and enter the URL. 

  • Add bulk conversion for place chips in Google Sheets

You can now convert links to place chips in bulk from the insert menu or cell menu in Sheets. Learn more about inserting smart chips in your Google Sheets

  • Set up drop-down chips in Google Sheets with pre-fill feature 

You can now select a range of cells in Sheets and turn them into a drop-down chip. Your manually entered cell data will convert to pre-fill the drop-down values. You can then use the drop-down sidebar to easily adjust the options or add styles to the drop-downs before accepting. Learn more about creating a drop-down list with existing data.

User select multiple cells in Google Sheets and using the new pre-fill feature to create drop-downs for each cell

  • Insert emojis into Google Sites 

You can now insert emojis directly into text boxes and headings in Google Sites.

Previously Communicated:

Final Reminder: Upgrades to threading in Google Chat spaces to begin September 30


As a reminder, starting September 30, 2023, Google will begin upgrading the format of all Google Chat spaces organized by conversation topic to in-line threaded spaces in batches over the course of several months. Learn more about in-line threaded Chat spaces.

What to Expect

Before the upgrade

A banner should appear in spaces that are organized by conversation topic, notifying you of the upcoming transition in the weeks leading up to it.

Google Chat space with blue banner at the top stating the space will be upgraded soon.

During the upgrade

  • According to Google, the upgrade should occur during non-peak hours on weekends to ensure minimal disruption.
  • Once the upgrade starts, it will typically take a few minutes to complete but can take up to 12 hours in some cases.
  • You will receive an error stating the space is temporarily unavailable if you attempt to open a space while it’s being upgraded.

After the upgrade

  • You may need to close and reopen Chat in order to access the upgraded spaces.
  • Messages sent before the upgrade will be retained and arranged chronologically instead of by topic. There will also be a separator (“Begin New Topic”) in the message history to indicate every time a new topic was started.
  • In some cases, when individuals have responded to older topics, the new chronological order takes precedence. This means that messages may not appear next to the original topic but rather according to the time that they were sent. When this occurs, the new response will quote the last corresponding message.
  • There will also be a separator (“In-Line Replies Added”) between the last message sent before the upgrade and new messages sent after.
  • Messages sent after will have the same experience as the existing in-line threaded spaces.
  • The upgraded spaces will have conversation history turned ON by default. (This is to match the previous history retention behavior of spaces organized by conversation topic, which always had history on.) In most cases, this setting can be changed by Space Managers after the upgrade.

Google Chat space showing how previous conversation topic spaces will look after the upgrade, with text separators between topics

Negotiate meeting times directly in Gmail


Google has added a feature to Gmail that helps you find and schedule one-to-one meeting times with others without leaving your email conversation. This is especially useful when scheduling time with individuals whose calendars are not visible to you.

Gmail view of someone composing an email reply and using the new negotiate time feature to suggest meeting times in Calendar without leaving Gmail

While composing an email, you will notice a new Calendar icon in the toolbar at the bottom of your draft. The feature offers two options: 

  • Offer times you’re free: This option opens your Google Calendar in the right side panel, where you can select and insert proposed meeting times into the email. The recipient can then review the proposed times, select one via the email, and automatically receive a calendar invite.
    • Time suggestions can only be made using your primary calendar and only work for one-to-one meetings.
    • If multiple people are included in the email’s recipient list, only the first person to book an appointment will be added to the event automatically.
  • Create an event: This option opens your Google Calendar in the right side panel, where you can create an event and automatically share the details in the email. (Previously, this feature was available in the three-dot menu on top of the email conversation view.)
    • You can create events on any of the primary or secondary calendars you have access to manage using this option.

An email reply in Gmail showing the new Calendar icon in the toolbar and the options available for you to choose

This feature should be available and fully visible to everyone using Gmail and Calendar in U-M Google. Learn more about scheduling events in Gmail.