(Credit: Scyther5/iStockphoto)

After Gmail's August update, users saw a few changes to their inboxes. One of the bigger ones was the addition of Google Sidebar.

The Sidebar is similar to the Samsung Edge's ability to swipe for a drawer of your frequently used apps. The sidebar also shows up other Google productivity apps, including Docs, Sheets, and Calendar.

The new right-side panel houses Google Calendar, Keep, and Tasks and offers the potential to add other apps. Taking advantage of the apps in Sidebar can increase your productivity while saving the time you'd spend leaving the Google app you're using.

Of course, Google has dedicated apps for Calendar, Keep, and Tasks, if you want to track activities that way as well.

SEE: How to turn off Google Maps' invasive location history log

Clicking any of the icons in your Sidebar expands the Sidebar to show the selected app.

Google Calendar

If you click the Calendar icon, you can see any events you've scheduled via Invitation in Gmail. Instead of scrolling through your inbox to remember what time that meeting was, you can just click Calendar.

Clicking the event itself shows any details you need to know like where, when, how many people are attending, and when you'll get an alert for the event. You can also email anyone attending the event, delete it, or open up Calendar in a new tab. And you can quickly create an event by clicking on in the calendar and filling in event details.

Google Keep

Google Keep Notes, formerly just called Google Keep, was redesigned and renamed last month. It's basically a surprisingly useful note-keeping app.

Keep can link to any device you have with the app on it, so if you make a note on your smartphone, it'll show up in Sidebar.

It's a good place to take notes in a meeting because the notes are easily shareable. Think of it as a mini-Google Doc. To share a note or add a collaborator, you have to open Keep in another window.

Notes can be associated with a certain email if you have the message open when you start a new note. You can pin important notes to the top of your list and archive them.


Tasks is your to-do list. This is where your organized spirit can truly run free.

Click the Task icon to open it. If you haven't added anything, the program will ask if you want to. At the top of the Sidebar, you can add what you want to the default list, My Tasks.

Of course, you can make as many lists as you want for various needs. Just be careful when you're switching between them not to get confused.

The option is also available to click "Add a Task" next to the little plus sign and just make a list. The program will populate a new line to write a task for easy adding.

If you click the edit button on a particular item, you can add details, switch between lists, specify a date for completion, and add subtasks.

After you complete one, click the bubble next to your item. The item will move to a viewable Completed List.

(Credit: Shelby Brown/

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  1. Gmail's Google Sidebar can increase your productivity with the Calendar, Keep, and Task apps.
  2. The apps built into Sidebar are usable without leaving the Gmail desktop app.

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Shelby is an Associate Writer for CNET's She served as Editor in Chief for the Louisville Cardinal newspaper at the University of Louisville. She interned as Creative Non-Fiction Editor for Miracle Monocle literary magazine. Her work appears in Glass Mountain Magazine, Bookends Review, Soundings East, and on Her cat, Puck, is the best cat ever.