What Is Google Workspace (Formerly G Suite)?

What you need to know about Google's apps for business

Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) is a powerful set of applications that combines email, cloud storage, productivity software, calendars, and more. Google Workspace is available for free to all Google account holders, and a more feature-rich Google Workspace experience is available via paid subscriptions for businesses, schools, organizations, and individuals.

Google Workspace, formerly G Suite, was also previously called Google Apps for Work and Google Apps for Your Domain.

What Is Google Workspace (Formerly G Suite)?

Google Workspace is Google's office suite of intelligent office and productivity apps. Google Workspace includes all of Google's familiar apps, such as Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Meet, and more. These apps still exist as stand-alone tools, but there's more integration when you use them in the Google Workspace framework.

Google Workspace apps on four different computers
Lifewire / Marina Li 

Google Workspace takes Google's productivity apps, along with the Chat messaging feature, and includes deeper integration between all facets to help foster communication and collaboration for groups, whether you're running a business or planning a family reunion.

Gmail is the hub of Google Workspace, with easily accessible tabs and windows for accessing other apps, such as Calendar, Sheets, and Docs, and Google Chat is the main communication source. For example, multiple users in a Google Chat Room (also referred to as a Space) can be discussing the same spreadsheet that's visible to all.

In other words, in the Workspace framework, you can open Docs, Sheets, and other items right from Gmail when collaborators share them in a Chat Room conversation.

Google Chat is the newer iteration of Google Hangouts; when you enable Chat, you'll immediately gain access to Google Workspace.

Google Workspace Free and Paid Versions

Workspace is available for free to anyone with a Google account, but if you're looking for more business-level Workspace features, such as additional cloud storage, custom email, and advanced security features, there are paid subscription plans available.

There's a Workspace Individual plan for $9.99 per month that's ideal for entrepreneurs and business owners. It adds to the Workspace feature set with smart booking services, professional video meetings, personalized email marketing, and more.

For other businesses, schools, and organizations, there are a variety of paid Workplace subscriptions that range from $6 to $18 per month and offer a variety of features.

Get Started With Google Workspace for Everyone

To get started using the free Google Workspace that's available to everyone with a Google account, you'll need to update your settings to enable Chat. Here's how it works:

  1. Open Gmail and select Settings (gear icon).

    Gmail with the settings gear highlighted
  2. Select See All Settings.

    Gmail with See All Settings highlighted
  3. Select the Chat and Meet tab.

    Gmail Settings with Chat and Meet tab highlighted
  4. In the Chat section, select Google Chat. You'll see a pop-up explaining that you're moving to the Chat collaboration framework. Select Learn More to learn about converting your Hangouts conversations. Select OK to continue.

    Gmail Chat and Meet settings with Google Chat, Learn More, and OK highlighted
  5. Select Save Changes.

    Gmail Chat and Meet settings with Save Changes highlighted
  6. You're now operating in the free Google Workspace framework.

    Google Workspace loading in Gmail

Apps Available in Google Workspace

Google Workspace apps and logo

All Google Workspace plans have the following apps available:

  • Gmail: Gmail is the hub of Google Workspace, whether you're using the free or paid version of Workspace.
  • Google Drive: Save documents, images, spreadsheets, and more to a secure cloud account with Drive. Depending on your Workspace plan, you'll have access to different storage levels.
  • Google Docs/Sheets/Slides: You'll have easy, integrated access to Docs, Sheets, and Slides to create and share files and documents. 
  • Google Calendar: Calendar integrates seamlessly with Gmail to let you respond to events, Drive to attach files easily, and Chat to set up conversations and meetings.
  • Chat: Chat is the Workspace messaging system where you can start and join group conversations in Rooms or Spaces with anyone who has Chat enabled.

While Workspace's basic functionality is the same in the free version as the paid versions, paid subscriptions offer additional business-level features and storage.

How Workspace Is Different From Free Google Apps

Google Workspace is designed for consumers, businesses, organizations, and enterprises to use as an integrated suite of applications. Think of it as similar to Microsoft 365.

While users of any tier can access and use Gmail's apps individually, using them from within Workspace adds a new level of collaboration that you can integrate into your daily Gmail usage.

For example, a consumer using the free Workspace framework may use its integrated apps and features to plan a family gathering, while a business user may access Workspace to easily plan meetings and events.

Paid Workspace versions offer additional business-level features, including more storage, admin and marketing tools, custom email domains, and more.

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