Google Docs for the lazy: Harmony Outlook add-on

Why bother switching between Google Docs and Outlook during the work day when you can hit them both up from your Outlook in-box?

The Google Docs Web-based productivity suite blossomed thanks to its virtue of efficiency. We recently got to know a tool that layers on the convenience by giving you ways to manage Google Docs from a desktop app you already use--your Outlook in-box.  By installing the free Harmony for Google Docs beta Outlook add-on, your Google Docs show up in a sidebar, from which they can be opened and edited right in Outlook's reading pane. Clicking the Harmony button in the navigation ribbon surfaces your Google Docs in new messages as well.

Harmony for Google Docs on Outlook
Harmony ramps up the convenience by bringing Google\'s online document management into Outlook. (Credit: Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET)

Harmony is essentially inserting a browser into Outlook's main window, which will only slow you down if you've got a weak Internet connection or are attempting to work in offline mode. Otherwise, you'll be able to manage Google Docs through Outlook much as you would through a separate browser tab--sharing, editing, renaming, deleting, and creating new documents until you drop. 

There are other benefits, like being able to turn desktop files into new Google Docs by way of Outlook, and dragging and dropping a Google Doc from the Harmony sidebar into an email as either a link (the regular drag) or as a physical attachment (by pressing the Alt key while dragging.) Harmony also adroitly uses the built-in Google Docs conversion engine to save the files you drag from the Harmony sidebar to the desktop in your preferred format.

Harmony still has its moments of discord, however. Creating new documents wasn't instantaneous, and only some but not all of our Google and Microsoft Exchange contacts populated the recipient suggestions box when we went to share a document, even though Harmony uses each service's APIs (it's possible you may have more luck).

We're all for add-ons that simplify our workflow, and Harmony's beta scored high points for keeping our work centered in one location--the Outlook in-box. Anyone who frequently works with Google Docs on a professional and personal basis has lost some time clicking back and forth between the browser tab and e-mail.

Harmony's publisher, Mainsoft, says it's working on a version that's compatible for Office 2010--right now only Office 2007 is supported. Microsoft SharePoint users can also download the free Harmony for SharePoint.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.