This article is written for Google Workspace for Education (GWFE) admins and educators.
The article is a deployment guide of Safe Doc, a chrome extension that helps school administrators manage inappropriate features in Google Workspace for Education that Google Admin Console doesn't provide. Safe Doc can be installed in managed Chrome devices (primarily Chromebooks) and desktop Chrome browsers.
Step 1. Prerequisites
- To change a series of settings in admin console, you need to be a Super Admin role.
- Safe Doc has System Requirements. Please make sure your school's technology environment meet the requirements.
- You need a license key to enable Safe Doc. If you don't have a license key, please apply for a 30-days trial key.
Step 2. Create a test Organization Unit (OU)
For the first time hands-on, we recommend you to experiment and configure Safe Doc in a test OU. This is to avoid screwing up your production students' Chrome browser settings. Once you're more familiar with Safe Doc setup, you can copy the settings to your production students' OU.
If you're an experienced admin and confident with what you are doing, you can skip this and directly work on your production student OU.
If you didn't know create an OU, please follow Google's documentation Add an organizational unit. In this article, we only focus on the setup of Safe Doc extension. We use a test OU xFanatical Edu Demo > Students > SafeDocTest in the rest of article for demonstration.
Step 3. Add mock accounts to the OU
Now you add one or more test accounts to the test OU. The following screenshot is in Directory > Users. See more instructions from Google's doc Move users to an organizational unit.
Step 4. Customize User & Browser policies for the OU
Some security policies are required so that the Safe Doc chrome extension cannot be easily shutdown or tampered by students, e.g. Chrome Developer tools.
- Open Devices > Chrome > Settings > User & browser settings
- Select the OU on the side panel
- Disable Developer Tools for force-installed extensions. Select Never allow use of built-in developer tools
- Disable Incognito mode. Explained: Incognito mode disables all extensions, including force-installed applications, including Safe Doc.
- Whitelist our license server in your Chrome policy settings if you have adopted Google Admin Console's built-in content filter. In the URL blocking section > Blocked URL exceptions, add a new line denali.xfanatical.com. These 2 Google articles documented the usage of URL blocking, Allow or block access to websites and URL Blacklist filter format.
- Whitelist our license server (https://denali.xfanatical.com) in your school firewall. This is beyond the scope of this article. Please contact your network administrator if you are not in charge of the network. You can verify if our license server is reachable by clicking https://denali.xfanatical.com in the test user's Chrome browser. If it tells you Not Found, that indicates no blocking.
Step 5. Install Safe Doc on Students’ Chrome browsers
Installation of a chrome extension can be done remotely in your Google Admin Console, without physical access to your students' devices. You can grab an overview of extension deployment in Google Help Article Automatically install apps and extensions. Follow this instruction for Safe Doc deployment specifically.
- Go to Devices > Chrome > Apps & extensions > Users & browsers.
- Select the OU again on the side panel, so the extension will be installed only under this OU.
- Hover on the button and click the button to find an extension from Chrome Web Store.
- Now type Safe Doc in the search bar, find Safe Doc, and click Select to install.
- After Safe Doc is added into the list, change its Installation policy to Force install.
- Download the initial configuration file attached in your trial license confirmation email.
- In the Policy for extensions, upload the attachment file. It's a JSON formatted content, including the license key for your school as well as policies to configure Safe Doc blocking behaviors. You could configure it later. For now, we just use initial policy configuration for quick setup.
- Click Save.
Step 6. Validate the installation of Safe Doc
Validate if Safe Doc is force-installed on students' Chrome browsers. We assume you have the mock user added in the OU and the account has logged in a Chromebook now.
- Open Chrome browser in the Chromebook.
- In a few seconds, the Safe Doc icon will be displayed in the toolbar, in GREEN. It means the extension functions properly.
- If the icon is colored in GREY, it's not functioning properly for the following reasons.
- The Safe Doc chrome extension is installed directly from Chrome Web Store.
- The Configuration File in Step 4 isn't given.
- The license key in configuration file is invalid (expired, misused etc).
- The student's email domain does not match with the student domain of license key.
- More information can be found in Safe Doc Common Issues.
Now you have Safe Doc working properly (displayed in GREEN). It's time to test and explore Safe Doc features. You can find the list of Safe Doc features in the Support page. The following blocking features shall be sufficient for you to validate if Safe Doc works out-of-the-box.
- Open any Google Doc, Sheet, Slides, Forms or Drawing document. The image search and youtube video search features are no longer accessible to students. Take Google Doc and Slide as the examples.
- The Insert > Image > Search the web is not visible any more. Safe Doc also blocks similar menu entries in different places. As you know, the Search the web menu item can trigger the image searching side panel which allows your students to search not-safe-for-school images. But now it's impossible.
- The Explore widget on the bottom right of Google Docs and Slides will be removed. It also remove other places like in the context menu that trigger the Explore feature. The Explore feature allows students to search wobbly filtered web and images. This extension will stop that.
- Now Open a Google Slide. Find the Youtube video search functionality in Google Slides, which allows your students to search and watch Youtube videos within Google Slides.
- Click the Slides menu Insert > Video...
- A dialog will popup. It used to show Youtube search in a Search tab. However, Safe Doc can remove it for you. Students cannot search Youtube videos but type in managed Youtube URLs, which is safer.
Now verify if ALL of your mock accounts in the OU have Safe Doc enabled in GREEN.
Step 7. Configure Safe Doc
It's recommend to configure Safe Doc to block only some features by your school needs for performance. The initial policy configuration may block many features that your school regards as "safe". To turn off some policies, please learn more about Safe Doc Configuration.
Step 8. Repeat the setup for the production student OU(s)
Once you have tested the features of Safe Doc, repeat the setup for the production student OU(s). Copy the policies text over. You can further set different policies for OUs.
After you purchase the annual license, you will receive a new annual license key by email. Please follow these steps to activate the new license key.
- Sign into your Google Admin Console.
- Go to the Devices > Chrome > Apps & extensions > Users & browsers page.
- Under your production students' OU, select Safe Doc.
- In the Policy for extensions section of right panel, replace the existing trial license key with the new annual license key.
- Click Save.
- The new license key will usually propagate to students' Chrome devices or browsers in a few minutes after when they are online. But the process can also take up to 24 hours according to Google's documentation How changes propagate to Google services.
Uninstall Safe Doc
Uninstalling Safe Doc from your students' Chrome device or browsers follows a similar pattern.
- Sign into your Google Admin Console.
- Go to the Devices > Chrome > Apps & extensions > Users & browsers page
- Under the production students OU, select Safe Doc.
- On the right panel, click the button.
- Click Save.
- The extension will be automatically unloaded remotely from your students' Chrome browsers.
Please take patience to configure enterprise-level applications. It's often more complex and error-prone than individual account setup. So if there are confusions in this article, please email us at [email protected].