About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

March 6, 2012

Alerts from Google

When I do talks and meetings with people who read this column around the area, there is a question I get most every time.  That question is, "Where do you get ideas for the columns?"  That is a great question and there are several answers to it. 

My favorite place is from emails my readers send to me.  You all are full of great ideas which I can often turn into useful columns for everyone else.  So, as always, keep those emails coming to me!  I usually get back to each of you but sometimes it may take a few days so be patient.  Also, if you email me and don’t hear back within a week to ten days shoot me another to wake me up.

I also use RSS feeds which I have written about, but today I would like to talk about another Google feature, "Google Alerts".

I realize that I mention "Google" often, (I even mentioned this particular part of it a couple of years ago) but I consider this to be one of Google’s top 10 features.  Google Alerts ( has been around for over ten years and I have been using it almost since the beginning.  It works very well. 

Let’s say that you have an avid interest in ostriches.  Coinciding with your interest you would like to be updated anytime there is new information on the feeding habits of these big birds.  Go to "" and login with your Gmail account username and password. is another good site I regularly visit but I will just mention it in passing this time.  If you don’t already have one, get a free Gmail account at any Google site to start enjoying the many features of Google.

Check out Google Alerts

At the Create a Google Alert area, first enter your search terms like, "feeding habits of ostriches." Next, the type of item you want to search for; News, Blogs, Web, Comprehensive, Video or Groups.  You can sign up for any or all of these categories.  Now choose how often you want to receive updates; daily, weekly or as it happens.  Daily is the one I use most regularly.  Then last, decide if you want all of the news types you chose or just the "best."  Depending on your set up you could be inundated with site links, but once set up you may always go back and change your original decisions.  

Google will now be on the lookout for those terms and email you a list of them as often as you like.  This is a great way to keep up-to-date with sports, hobbies, politics, medical conditions and the list goes on ad infinitum. 

It has been interesting to me when on occasion I write a column about a particular product or web site and the owner of the product or site will contact me to give me additional information, thanks or condemnations.  I have asked each time if they used Google Alerts to find me and the answer has, so far, always been yes. 

Happy information gathering!

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