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YouTube’s gaming platform, available at, primarily focuses on live streaming of video games. It may not have an audience as large as Amazon’s Twitch TV but there exist a few unique features that make the YT Gaming app useful for everyone, not just professional gamers.

One, you don’t need additional hardware or software to live stream your games to YouTube. You can do a quick live stream from your desktop as well as your mobile phone. And the most interesting part, YT Gaming isn’t just for recording gameplay but can be used to record screencasts of any app on your Android phone.

How to Record Screencasts on Android with YouTube

Here’s a step by step guide on how to create screencasts on your Android phone via the YouTube app. Standalone screencasting apps may offer more features but with YT Gaming, the big benefit is that you can even live stream your phone on to YouTube with a tap. The app is free and there are no ads. Let’s get started.

Launch YT Gaming on Android and click the Go Live button. You may choose to live stream your phone directly or record the screencast first, edit the video and then upload it to YouTube.

One the next screen, select an Android App that you’d like to stream. YT Gaming will show a list of apps that fit in the ‘gaming’ category but can you click the ‘All Apps’ link to...

Google Photos is the best service for backing up your digital photos to the cloud. They have no storage restrictions, you can upload images as well as videos, and the built-in visual search engine helps you find photos by faces or objects in the picture. There’s one feature though that’s still missing in Google Photos.

You can easily share your photos with anyone using a simple link but Google Photos offers no option for you to embed an existing image into a website. That is, if you have already uploaded an image onto Google Photos, you can’t directly embed it into your website through Google Photos.

Google Photos as an Image Host

Embed Google Photos is a new web app that, as the name suggests, makes it extremely easy for you to pick any image hosted on Google Photos and place it on a web page using simple HTML code.

Here’re the steps involved:

  • Go to and open any image that you wish to embed in your website.
  • Tap the Share Icon (video tutorial) and then click the Get Link button to generate a shareable link of that image.
  • Go to, paste that link and it will instantly generate the embed code for your selected picture.

That’s it. Open your website template, paste the generated code and save (see...

You are using Google Spreadsheets for budgeting and project management but did you know that the same sheets application can help you create impressive pixel paintings in minutes? The Google blog recently published a story of two illustrators who created a bright and beautiful wall mural using Google Spreadsheets.

Marina and Mallory connected on Google Hangouts to plan and sketch out ideas, and creatively “hack” Sheets in order to make art: resizing cells into thousands of pixel-like squares, merging cells to create color blocks, creating vibrant color gradients with conditional formatting and cell values, and other cool things we had no idea you could do with Sheets.

The idea is simple. Each cell in the spreadsheet corresponds to a pixel in the painting. You compute the color of the pixel and make it the background color of the corresponding cell. Now resize the spreadsheet cells in small perfect squares and your spreadsheet will look exactly like the original artwork.

How to Paint with Google Spreadsheets

If you would like to create your own spreadsheet art but don’t have the time to carefully paint every cell manually, here’s a simple workaround for you. You can take any photograph, vector art, or any other image and use a Google Script to convert that bitmap image into spreadsheet art.

Here are some examples of art created with Google Spreadsheets.

Watch the video tutorial or open this...

How do you connect an FTP server to your Google Drive or Dropbox for transferring files in either direction automatically?

Well, the easiest option would be to use a desktop FTP client like Cyberduck (supports Mac & Windows, free) or Transmit (Mac only, paid). These software applications can connect to all the popular cloud storage services including Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox and Amazon S3. They can perform a remote-to-remote sync allowing you to recursively transfer files and folders from the FTP server to any cloud service and vice versa.

The only issue with using a desktop application is that it needs to be run manually on your computer. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could set up a task that continuously monitors your Google Drive (or Dropbox or OneDrive) for new files and automatically copies them to a specified FTP server?

Transfer Files from FTP Server to Google Drive

Enter Microsoft Flow, an online automation service that lets you create automated workflows similar to Zapier and IFTTT. The free plan lets you create unlimited workflows and each workflow would run every 15 minutes. And it is the only service in town that can simultaneously talk to Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox and FTP /SFTP servers.

Let’s create a connector that will upload a copy of the file to Google Drive whenever a file is added to Google Drive. You can similarly setup workflows to sync files from a folder in Dropbox to folder on FTP server. Or connect...

Rapportive was one of my favourite Google Chrome extensions of all time. If you are new, Rapportive added a little widget in your Gmail sidebar, you could hover your mouse over any email address and the widget would show details for that contact including their current job title, social profiles, contact details and more.

This came handy in two situations. If you receive an email from an unknown person, you can quickly see their social profiles without leaving Gmail. If you are sending an email to someone but unsure if the address is correct or not, you can open the Gmail compose window, type the email address and hover your mouse to see if that person has an associated profile or not.

LinkedIn acquired Rapportive and rebranded the add-on as Sales Navigator targeted more towards the sales professional. The good part is that the original functionality continues to exist so you can still hover over any email address to view the corresponding Linked Profile right inside your Gmail Message.

Remove the LinkedIn Clutter in Gmail Sidebar

While the basic version of LinkedIn Sales Navigator is free, it is more cluttered and feels like a distracting advertisement for the premium version that is continuously displayed in your Gmail sidebar. See the screenshots below:

If you would like to continue using Rapportive but sans the clutter, there are other CSS injecting Chrome extensions...

How do you verify if a given email address is real or fake? The obvious solution is that you send a test mail to that email address and if your message doesn’t bounce, it is safe to assume* that the address is real.

[*] Some web domains may have configured a catch-all email address meaning that messages addressed to a non-existent mailbox will not be returned to the sender but in most cases, such email messages will bounce.

Ping an Email Address to Validate it!

When you send an email to someone, the message goes to an SMTP server which then looks for the MX (Mail Exchange) records of the email recipient’s domain.

For instance, when you send an email to, the mail server will try to find the MX records for the domain. If the records exist, the next step would be to determine whether that email username (hello in our example) exists or not.

Using a similar logic, we can verify an email address from the computer without actually sending an email message. Here’s how:

Let say that we want to verify if the address exists or not?

Step 1. Enable telnet in Windows or use the PuTTy tool. If you are on a Mac, open the iTerm app.

Step 2. At the command prompt, type the nslookup command:

nslookup  –type=mx

This nslookup command will query name servers for that domain. Since we have specified the type as MX, our command will extract and list the MX...

Google, Microsoft, IBM and Amazon have made it easier for developers to add human cognitive capabilities (also known as artificial intelligence) within their own applications. You need not be a machine learning expert to build a computer program that can recognize objects in photographs, or one that transforms human speech to text or even a chatbot that converses with people in natural language.

The Google Photos app leverages machine learning to identify landmarks and faces in your photos. You can even build and train your own machine learning models by installing Google’s TensorFlow library on your own computer. IBM’s PowerAI lets enterprises deploy TensorFlow like frameworks in the cloud on power systems for training custom machine learning models of any size.

The IBM Code Patterns microsite hosts hundreds of ready-to-use examples around artificial intelligence. For instance, here’s an open source repo that explains how to recognize images of houses that have swimming pools. Another example on Github shows how you can easily build a system that can detect and count products on store shelves using the PowerAI platform.

Train your own Machine Learning Model

If you would like to build your own image recognition engine without the complexity of servers and TensorFlow, try this online demo of the Watson Visual Recognition engine hosted the IBM Cloud (formerly Bluemix) website.

You can create your own classifier and upload a set of images to train the classifier.  It is also essential to...

You are at the check-in counter, there’s a long queue of people and the lady at the other end has just asked you to present a digital copy of some document for verification. You remember saving that file on your phone but don’t exactly remember where you placed it? Maybe the file is in your Gmail inbox, or Google Drive, or is it on the SD card?

Locating files on your mobile phone isn’t always straightforward, especially when you are in a hurry, and this is exactly where Google Drive can help.

Create File Shortcuts on Android Phone

You can upload the file to Google Drive, then open the file inside the Drive app on your Android phone, and tap “Add to Home Screen” to create a shortcut to that file on the home screen. You should also check the “Available Offline” option so that the file shortcut works even when you are outside the coverage are.

If you would like to place shortcuts to multiple documents on your home screen, it is recommended that you create a folder inside Google Drive and then create a shortcut. Unlike files, you cannot make an entire folder offline in Drive.

The Dropbox app for Android also allows you to create shortcuts for folders through widgets. Long tap any blank area on your home screen, drag the Dropbox folder widget and select the folder for which you would like to create the shortcut.

Please note that...

Wouldn’t it be great if you could check your emails on the phone and also enjoy YouTube videos in the background at the same time? Or, to save battery, you turn off the phone display and YouTube would still continue to stream the audio from the selected YouTube playlist in the background.

Unfortunately, none of this is possible with the YouTube app on Android and iPhone. The app has to be active in the foreground and the phone display should be turned on else YouTube will immediately stop playback. The limitation holds true whether you are playing videos inside the YouTube app or using a web browser like Google Chrome or Firefox.

Play YouTube in the Background on Android

A few years ago, the Google Play Store listed a bunch of apps – uListen and SuperTube to name a few – that would let you use YouTube as a background music player but they’ve all been removed now.

Also see: Most Useful Android Apps

A bunch of open source options exist – MinTube and NewPipe for example – that are very capable and let you do more with YouTube than just play videos in the background.

Both offer a floating video player which essentially means that you can pull out a YouTube video and place it over any other app. It’s like the Picture-In-Picture effect – you can read the New York Times in the browser and watch a movie...

With the Forms Email Notifications add-on, you can automatically send emails to anyone each time a user submits your Google Form. You can choose to notify the form owner, the form respondent, your team members or anyone else and the emails are triggered immediately after a form is submitted.

The Google Forms add-on can also send conditional emails to specific people depending on what a user has selected in your Google Form. The body and subject of the email message can be personalized for each recipient with the form answers.

Before we get into the implementation, here are some real-world examples where conditional email notifications can come handy:

Example A: Send Email to Different Departments

This is a tech support form where the customer fills in the product name and their location. With the Google Forms addon, you can create a conditional email that goes out to the iPhone support team when the selected answer is either iPhone or iPad. Another email could go out to the India team when the customer selects India in the country drop-down.

Example 2: Route Emails to Class Teachers

This is a school form where parents are required to give consent. If a parent says “yes”, the class teacher of the student should be emailed and a confirmation email should also go out to the parent’s email address. If the answer is “No”, the email notifications aren’t sent anywhere.

How to...

One of the most useful features of Evernote and OneNote is Image OCR.  When you clip an image – be it a screenshot, a scanned business card, or a picture of the whiteboard – these tools automatically detect the text inside the image and make the image searchable.

Gmail Gets OCR to Search for Text Within Images

Gmail text search has always been very capable but some might not know that Gmail, like Evernote, also performs OCR on images contained in email messages. When you perform searches inside Gmail or Google Inbox, the results always contain matching images that contain the search keywords.

I tried Gmail OCR search against different types of images and the results were fairly good. Text recognition in Gmail works for both image attachments as well as inline embedded images.

Gmail could successfully find matching text inside product manuals with small fonts, scanned book cover and a handwritten note but failed with logos and some street signs.

Scanned Picture (Pass)

Handwritten Note (Pass)

Product manual with small fonts (Pass)

Street Sign (Fail)

Extract Text from Images from Google Keep

Google Drive and Google Keep are other Google products that offer you the ability to search for text within stored images. In the case of Google Keep, you also have the option to extract the text...

Introducing the all-new Voice Dictation v2.0, a speech recognition app that lets you type with your voice. There’s no software to install, there’s no training required and all you need is Google Chrome on your Windows PC, Mac OS or Linux.

Dictation can recognize spoken words in English, Hindi, Español, Italiano, Deutsch, Français, and all the other popular languages. Another unique feature of Dictation is support for voice commands that let you do more with your voice. For instance, you can say a command like new line or nueva línea for inserting lines. You can add punctuations, special symbols and even smileys using simple commands in most languages.

This YouTube video will walk you through the Dictation app.

Open Dictation

How to use Dictation for Speech Recognition

Dictation stores everything in your browser locally and not a byte of your data is uploaded anywhere.  Speech recognition will be more accurate in a quiet environment and the built-in microphone of your computer should be good enough.

Open in Google Chrome and choose your native language from the drop-down. Then click the microphone icon (or tap the Start button) to activate web speech and start speaking.

The first time you use Dictation, you would need to allow permissions to the website to access your microphone.  Also, make sure that no other browser tab is using Speech Recognition at the same time.

Audio can bring your presentations to life especially in a kiosk setting where slideshows play unattended in a continuous loop. If you have recently made the switch from Microsoft PowerPoint or Keynote to Google Slides, the one important feature that you might be missing inside Google Slides is audio.

Both Keynote and PowerPoint make it extremely easy for you to add audio to a presentation. You can embed MP3 music files that play in the background for the entire presentation or you can record your own voiceover narration that is synchronized with the timing of each slide.

How to Add Audio to Google Slides

Google Slides do not support audio files but you do have the option to embed videos inside the individual slides. The workaround, therefore, is simple – place the video file on a slide, make it invisible and turn on the auto-play mode.

Demo: Google Slides with Audio

Step 1: Prepare the Audio File

You can use free tools like FFmpeg or Audacity to convert your audio files into video. Then upload the converted file to either Google Drive or YouTube. I would prefer Drive since the playback won’t include any pre-roll advertising.

Step 2: Put audio inside Google Slides

Open Google Slides, go to the Insert menu and choose Video. Here you can either select the file from your Google Drive or switch to the...

Audio hosting websites like SoundCloud or make it easy for you to embed audio files in your web pages and blogs. Just upload your file – like an MP3 song or an audio podcast – to any of these sites and they’ll provide the HTML embed code that you can copy-paste in your web template. Simple!

If you have been storing your MP3 files inside Google Drive, you can embed the files directly from Drive without having to upload them to another website. The Drive MP3 player can be embedded on any website that supports IFRAME and the list includes Blogger, WordPress, Medium or even the new Google Sites.

Also see: Embed YouTube as Audio Player

Step 1: Upload the MP3 to Google Drive

Open and upload the MP3 to your Google Drive. After the file is uploaded, right-click to share and set the sharing permission to “Anyone on the Internet can find and view”.

Step 2: Generate the Player Embed Code

The Google Drive URL will have the following structure:

Now all you have to do is replace /view with /preview and wrap the modified URL in an IFRAME tag as shown below:


Here’s a live example. The embedded MP3 player has volume controls, play/pause buttons, seek bar, no Google branding, it works on mobile and the play also...

TallTweets was created in 2010 to get around the 140-character limit of Twitter. You could write a note of any length and TallTweets would squeeze it into a single tweet by posting your text as an image. Now that Twitter offers a native solution in the form of threaded tweets, it is time to pivot.

Introducing the all-new Tall Tweets app for Google Slides. It will help you convert your presentations into high-quality animated GIFs that you attach in an email, embed on a web page or share on Twitter right within the Tall Tweets app.

Watch the video tutorial to get started.

Tweet Google Slides with TallTweets

To get started, open, sign-in with your Google account and select any existing deck from Google Drive. The TallTweets app can convert an entire deck into an infinitely looped GIF or you can choose to convert individual slides of the presentation into PNG images.

You have several options to customize the generated GIF images. You can specify the width of GIF images (the height will be calculated automatically to preserve the original aspect ratio) and you can also speed up or slow down the GIF slideshow by changing the time interval between slides.

Skip or Re-order Slides in GIF

One unique feature of the GIF maker is that it gives you an option to change the sequence of slides in the generated...

Here are our picks for the best Android apps from the Google Play Store that we use every day. Whether you are looking for a perfect app to scan your documents, take notes or edit videos, we have a recommendation for you.

All Android apps mentioned the list can be downloaded from the Play Store for free though some do offer inexpensive in-app purchases for unlocking premium features. Also, the list of essential apps skips commons apps like Google Drive, Google Photos, WhatsApp, Google Maps or Gmail since they are factory-installed on most newer phones.

Also see: Alternatives to Top Android Apps

The Best Android Apps of all Time!

Authy Authy generates 2-Step Verification codes on your phone. If someone manages to know the password of your online account, they still can't get in without the generated code. Cast Box A free podcast app with a super clean layout and a better discovery engine for finding new podcasts. It includes in-audio search and your podcast subscriptions get synced to the desktop. Connections Quickly add notes and to-dos against your contacts and these notes will pop up on your screen the next time you receive or make a phone call to that person. Quickly Put...

Looking for a simple and free alternative to popular live chat software like Intercom or Zendesk chat? Well, the new customer chat widget from Facebook Messenger is here and anyone can embed these widgets on their website to engage with visitors in real time.

Facebook Customer Chat widget, if you are new, lets people chat with businesses without leaving the website. The widget works on both desktop computers and mobile phones. The business owner needs a Facebook Page and all the visitor needs is a regular Facebook account.

There’s no learning curve or complex installation. The visitor clicks the Facebook icon on your web page, type their message and you (the business owner) get an instant notification on your Facebook Page. If you are online, you can carry on the conversation with the visitor on the Facebook website or inside the Facebook Pages Manager app on your phone.

If you would like to give Facebook Customer Chat a try, go to Digital Inspiration, wait for the page to load and click the Facebook messenger icon in the lower right corner to start a conversation.

How to Embed Facebook Customer Chat

Step 1: To get started, go to and click the “Add a new app” button to create a new Facebook app.

Step 2: Give your app a name and click the Create button to get your own App ID. It is simple sequence of digits like 1839871239373637.

Step 3: Go to your Facebook Page,...

Introducing Document Studio, a powerful Google add-on that lets you effortlessly generate documents and reports using merge data stored inside Google Sheets. It can also create documents with live data from Google Forms submissions. The generated documents can be automatically sent inside personalized email messages using built-in Mail Merge.

There’s zero learning curve and you can work inside the familiar Google Docs environment. The documents can be produced in PDF, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and several other formats. The generated files are uploaded to your Google Drive, they can be instantly shared and there’s also an option to send files directly to the printer via Google Cloud Print.

The uses cases are endless. Businesses can streamline workflows and send professional looking invoices to customers. A school teacher can print individual exam certificates of every student in her classs. An instructor can generate personalized training handouts for attendees.

Getting Started with Document Studio

It takes 3 easy steps to get started.

  1. Create a template inside Google Docs, Google Sheets or Google Slides and add placeholders, such as {{Name}} or {{Address}}, for merge fields.
  2. Create a Google Sheet with the source data. The column headings will correspond to the placeholders in the template while the rows represent the records.
  3. Install the document merge add-on and follow the wizard to produce the documents. Document Studio will create one document per row in the sheet.

Document Studio includes a WYSIWYG email editor to help you send the merged documents to...

You have been invited to a meeting that would last really long. You cannot say “no” but secretly wish that someone calls your phone in the middle of that never-ending meeting and rescue you from the boring situation.

Well, you can take the help of a human friend or use IFTTT, the versatile automation app available for both iPhone and Android. With IFTTT, you can easily create a workflow (applet) that would simulate a fake phone call to yourself at the scheduled time and help you smoothly exit that meeting.

What’s new then? The phone calling service has been part of IFTTT for some time now but it was earlier limited to the U.S. region only. The latest version of the IFTTT app brings phone calling to everyone outside the U.S. as well. Let’s get started.

Schedule an Automated Phone Call to Yourself

Create a free account at IFTTT and enable the Date Time service and the VoIP Call service.

Next, create a new applet and choose Date Time for the “this” condition. The trigger should be set to “Every day” and then choose the time when you want your phone to ring. If you wish to receive multiple calls, you’ll need to setup multiple applets, one per call.

For the “that” action, choose the VoIP call service and specify any text message. The calling service will speak the message when you receive the call. That’s it. Make sure your phone is connected to the...

Google Domains, if you are new, is a domain registration service where you can buy new domain names or transfer your existing domains from another registrar into the Google service. There’s no official announcement yet but Google Domains are now available in India without you having to use any hacks or proxy servers.

I own about a dozen-odd domains and they have been mostly purchased through Gandi, GoDaddy, Dreamhost, and BigRock. Last week, I purchased a new domain through Google Domains and, like most other Google products, loved the overall experience.

Everything is tied to your main Google account so there’s one less set of credentials to remember and the account is already secured with 2-factor authentication.

Google Domain includes intelligent and powerful search that will not only suggest domain names based on exact keyword matches but related words too. So a search for “blue widgets” will check the availability of “blue widgets” as well as “color widgets”, “white widgets” and “blueplugins”.

Google Domains aren’t cheap (see pricing). The average 1-year domain registration fee is certainly higher than what other companies offer but a big advantage is that they do not charge you extra money for making your postal address and phone number private in the public WHOIS database.

There’s no transfer fee if you decide to move your web domain from another registrar to Google Domains but, as per ICANN rules, you’ll have to extend the registration period of your domain for an additional year. This additional year...