Use FYI

FYI: There’s a new tool I’ve been using for the past few weeks and that I have been absolutely loving. It happens to be called FYI.

As someone that has to navigate documents across a few different Google domains (personal ones, side projects, companies) and probably as many Slacks, it’s always been frustrating to find the right document at the right time. It never seems to be there where you are.

I’ve seen coworkers come up with unique solutions, from bookmarking frequently-used ones to saving links on their Desktop, as well as my all-time favorite hack: leaving all the docs open all the time in all the browser tabs.

For all of Google Search’s power searching the web, something big is missing in experience when it comes to searching Google docs and spreadsheets. Nothing is intuitive.

Navigating to docs.google shows you docs – but not sheets. Strangely, the search feature in docs attempts to autocomplete results for sheets too. Of course, it will only show you five randomly-sorted results with no other context within. Navigating to sheets.google shows you sheets, but not docs. And at least it is consistent: you can search and have it autocomplete results for docs in this view. Going to drive.google is cool, sort of, because you finally have the concept of folders, but still have no idea how to look for them or use them. Which ones are private to me alone and which ones are folders that we’re sharing with specific teammates? If a file is shared with me, why do I have to “Add it to My Drive” to find it later?

Add to this that we’re all increasingly sharing Google docs links and PDFs in Slack – yet one more application and interface to search for the thing you wanted.

Enter FYI, a tool designed as a Chrome extension that allows you to search for documents across Drive, Slack, Dropbox, tabs and others.

Looking for a document for one of your weekly 1:1s? Find it from within Chrome, either through the Previous 7 days list or by quickly searching for it. Looking for a document you’re all working on because it has had updates since the last time you saw it? There it is: top of the list view. Sent out a Google Form and people have filled it in since last night? Same: under Today, first in view so you can catch up on all the new data collected.

I particularly love that it is designed as an extension and that it just takes up your ‘New Tab‘ view. When you’re about to open up a new document, you start by opening a new tab anyway, so this is a perfect way for a product to intersect behavior.

It’s the best use of ‘New Tab‘ action since…well, ever. I’ve tried various Chrome extensions over the years, but always seem to uninstall them after a week: they don’t provide enough value, and they take up too much memory and slow things down. FYI was the first one I immediately understood and wanted to keep.

By bundling the first version of the product as a Chrome extension, it plays nicely with where I spend most of my time and where I go first to look for documents. Each new Chrome profile I spin up (I have one for each domain) has the extension loaded locally within the profile. By having authentication at the Chrome-level instead of on a website somewhere, FYI keeps things cleaner and more efficient.

When it comes to document search now, I no longer have to keep switching between different apps to figure out where a thing was. It got me thinking that perhaps this is the start of an interesting trend in unbundling. Take a common feature from apps that hasn’t been doing the job (in this case, the search box and, in this case, for years) and pull it out to make it more useful.

I only occasionally write about new tools that I love, and this is one of those times. I’m not at all surprised it was created by friend Hiten and his colleague Marie at Product Habits. The care taken to understand the user, the problem and the experience that one would want shows immediately. It hooks you in from the first-time experience by clearly laying out what it is solving, and by showing the solution and document search results on first try. It’s a product where your first go-around is likely to be the same as your one-hundredth go-around, so once you see it that first time, you’re hooked forever.