When it comes to quick and informal online research, the Google Keep Chrome extension might be the ticket. Just save a link, along with a tag and a note, then export your Keep notes to Google Docs.
Informal web research, whether for business or personal use, often involves a small set of repeated tasks: a web search followed by a review of the results, recording relevant links (often accompanied by notes), then sharing your findings and thoughts. As a technology consultant, I repeat this process every time a customer asks for advice on what hardware or software to buy. The sequence is similar for students putting together web resources for academic reports or travelers looking for places to visit and places to stay or eat: find, review, save and share.
Three Google tools (Chrome, Google Keep, and Google Docs) simplify the web search process. The Google Keep Chrome extension, in particular, allows you to save, annotate, and categorize web links, then export a selected set of saved Google Keep notes to a Google document. In my experience, the Keep extension eliminates the need to select a site’s URL, copy it, paste it into a document, add a note, and then come back to browse for additional search results. .
To streamline the whole process, make sure you have Chrome installed and that you’re signed in with your Google Account. The steps below explain how to install the Keep extension (a single process) as well as the routine search sequence.
SEE: How to quickly add to Google Keep from Chrome (TechRepublic)
How to install the Google Keep Chrome extension
First, go to the Google Keep Chrome extension page and then select Add to Chrome (Figure A, High). When prompted, select Add Extension (Figure A, bottom). This adds the extension to Chrome.
Next, I recommend that you pin the Google Keep extension, so that you can access it without having to go through the list of all installed extensions. To do this, select the Chrome extension icon (the puzzle piece icon at the top right), then select the pushpin icon to the right of the Google Keep extension (Number B, left). The Keep icon should now display in the area to the left of the extension icon (Figure B, right).
Search the web: find, review, annotate, tag and save
When you search and browse the web, whenever you want to save a web link, select the Keep extension. This automatically captures the URL of the page, creates a Keep note with the link, and places the cursor in the Keep Note field (Figure C). Add any relevant text in the note (for example, why this link is relevant, important elements on the page, or any comments on the content). You can optionally add a title to your note.
You can use labels to categorize Keep notes. Select the label icon, then enter text to create a new label or select a previously added label from the list that appears. You can apply multiple labels to a Keep note (for example, for finding printers, I can apply not only a “printers” label, but also an “all-in-one” label for devices with a scanner).
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On each web page that you want to save, repeat the process: select the Keep icon and add text and labels.
Go to keep.google.com to view your saved links and notes. Select from the list of labels (displayed on the left) to filter your Keep notes and display only those with the selected label (Number D).
You can export a set of Keep Notes into a single Google Document. There are several ways to filter and select notes. Select a tag (left) to view all notes with that tag. Press Ctrl + A to select all displayed notes. Or, move the cursor over a note, then click near the circle with a check mark (at the top left of each note) to select or deselect it.
Once you’ve selected the set of Keep notes to export, select the More menu (the three vertical dots menu at the top right) and choose Copy to Google Docs (Encrypted). Choose Open Doc (bottom left, as shown in Figure F) to view the Google document created from your selected Keep notes. At this point, your Google document contains the links, notes, and titles of your selected Google Keep notes (Number G). You can now edit your Google document and publish it (File | Publish) to the web or share it (File | Share) with others.
What is your experience with Google Keep Notes for web search?
Are you using the Google Keep Chrome extension to save web links? If you’ve used other methods to save, annotate, and export links, how does the combination of Keep Notes exported to Google Docs compare? Do you have any tips for creating and using labels to organize Keep Notes? Let me know your tips for conducting and organizing informal web searches, either in the comments below or on Twitter (@awolber).