Hopefully, by now, you've heard the term "the cloud" when people refer to some internet applications/programs.  You may have wondered what cloud it is that folks are referring to.  Just in case you didn't know, "the cloud" actually refers to "cloud computing" which is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product.  For example, most everyone has heard of Microsoft Office, which is Mocrosoft's very popular business software suite that includes, among other things, a word processing application and spreadsheet application.  MS Office is a software product that sits either on your computer or your company's server for your licensed use.  Many people don't know that Google offers a service that is very similar to MS Office except ists word processing and spreadsheet applications are actually a service and, not a product, that sits on the internet instead of your computer or company's server.

Google's service, called Google Docs, is an example of a cloud based service that anyone with a pc, internet access, and Google account can use.  A couple of reasons why this service has become so popular are that the cloud based services do not require you to download a program onto your computer, which will eat up valuable space on your hard drive, and that the information or files stored on the service are accessible from anywhere there is an internet connection available.  So, if you use a cloud based service such as Google Docs and your listing package is stored there, you will always have access to that listing package wherever you are.

Cloud based computing can have numerous benefits for Realtors beyond the obvious fact that you will never be without your listing package again.  So, this week I'm going to give you a series of some of the coolest tools to use when you are using the cloud to make your life easier.

Today's super cool cloud tool is Gmail Offline.  Gmail Offline is an extension of your Google Chrome browser.  Once you've installed Google Offline on your toolbar, you will have to run the utility to initialize it.  After that you can read messages, manage your inbox and compose new mail without an active internet connection.  The next time you are online, the Google Offline extension will save your changes.  This is a great feature to use that will significantly enhance the abilities of your Gmail account, and you will love using it.

By the way, because I always like to give you a little more than promised, Google now offers offline capabilities for Google Docs and Google Calendar, in addition to Gmail.  Click on the gear icon in the upper right hand corner of your screen when you are logged in to Google and look for the link to setup offline access.

Start using Google Offline today, and let me know what you think about it.  Tomorrow we are going to put your Gmail account on steroids, so you will definitely want to check back for that!

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