Gmail is short for Google E-Mail. It’s a free e-mail service from Google that allows up to 15GB of storage, 25MB of attachments and other features. Best of all, it’s free.
I’ve been using Gmail for over nine years now. Since 2 September, 2004. I know because I still have the first email I ever received, from the Gmail Team. Along with (as of this writing) 8990 other emails. I tend to keep everything. It’s good for being able to look back and follow the “paper trail” of communications.
If you are interested in Gmail, you can go to GMail and sign-up in a pretty easy and painless process. When the page opens, you’ll have a screen that says Google and Gmail at the top left. On the right side there will be two fields for Username and Password. Below that is the Sign In button. Above all that on the right top is a big red button that says Create An Account.
After clicking that Big Red Button, you’ll be asked for:
your First and Last name
your username (which can be just about anything, but please do try to avoid anything with your name in it), create a password (12 to 18 characters, longer is better, write it down and keep it safe)
your birthday (good place to shave off a few years)
your mobile phone (which I don’t enter)
your current email address (can be left blank also)
you can uncheck the “Set Google as my Home Page” button if you wish
then type in the letters in the box to prove you aren’t robot
they also want your country
next, click in the box to show that agree to the terms
and finally, I would uncheck the last box about Google being able to use the account information
then click the blue “Next step” button
“But aren’t we done yet?” Nope, just a couple more things. Gmail will ask if you want to use a picture for your Gmail account, you can opt to not do that, and then it should let you into your shiny new Inbox.
The Inbox presents with a column on the left that has the following: Gmail (with a little down pointing arrow), a big red Compose button, and (yours might be different): Inbox, Important, Sent Mail, Drafts, All Mail, Spam, Trash, and then my user created folders. There is a More button, where other things that aren’t commonly used are listed. Mostly, you’ll find more labels/folders there. Below that is the Gmail chat for sending real-time messages to other Gmail users.
In the middle of the window, you’ll find the email list. Normally, this is the Inbox. But it will change if you use the other selections on the left. Above that is how many emails are in the Inbox. You might see something like “1-100 of 8991” and then two buttons with arrows. If you want to change the order of the email by date, just hover your mouse over the numbers and then click on Oldest or Newest. The arrow buttons move you back and forth by 100 emails.
Next to the right is a button with a gear in it. This is where the settings reside.
If you click on Settings, you’ll land on the General tab. Probably won’t need to change much here unless you want a signature. I put in my blog, Voices From The Future, and my Twitter account, @StarFortress. There are also settings for: Language, Phone Numbers, Maximum Page Size, External Content (links to places outside of Gmail), Browser connection (always use https), Default reply behavior, Default text style (can change font and size), Conversation view, Send and archive, Stars, Desktop Notifications (only with the Chrome web browser), Keyboard shortcuts, Button labels, My picture, People Widget, Create contacts for, Importance signals for ads, and Signature.
The next tab is Labels, which allows you to choose what labels you have showing on the left side. Just click Show or Hide, the black text is what is currently selected. And you can create a new labels there too.
After that is Inbox, where you can change the Inbox type (mine is default), Catagories (which show as tabs just above the emails), Importance markers, and Filtered mail.
Accounts is where you can change account settings, Send mail as, Check mail from other accounts, Using Gmail for work, Grant access to you account (not sure that allowing someone lese to have access to your email is a good idea), Add additional storage (15 gigabytes is plenty).
Filters is where rules can be applied to an email for sorting.
Fowarding and POP/IMAP is where more advanced settings are if you wanted to use something like Outlook instead of a web browser for checking your Gmail.
Chat is for settings about turning chat off and on, saving the Chat history, automatically adding contacts, making phone calls directly from Gmail. This accesses the contact list and requires a voice and video chat plugin. You can turn Sounds on and off, and finally there is a setting for using emoticons. Emoticons are the little smiley faces that are created by using text characters. Some are: J smile, :D big smile, :P sticking out your tongue, >: angry, L sad, ;) wink and so on.
Web Clips was removed, though the tab for settings remains.
Labs is for things Google is working on. No promises that anything here works. The Inserting Images item looks interesting. Lets you put images directly in the email text body.
Offline would let you read your email while not connected to the Internet, create replies and then send them once re-connected. You would have to connect to receive and send email.
Themes allows you to customize the look of your Gmail with colors, backgrounds. These might be good for high contrast for sight issues, or just to make Gmail fun. You can also find this directly under the Settings icon. To make it easier to tell where boxes and buttons are, I have changed my theme to High Contrast.
Also under the Gmail gear is Send Feedback for giving suggestions and comments on Gmail to Google.
At the very bottom of the page in the lower right is “Details,” with “Last account activity: X hours ago” right above. If you click on Details, you can see what the Internet Protocol addresses that have accessed your Gmail are from. They should all be from the same IP, unless you have accessed your email from a computer outside your home or the IP address has changed.
This is a good place to remind people that they should change their passwords once in a while. I like to use car license plates. They tend to be pretty easy to remember and hard to guess with lots of numbers and letters and you can use upper and lower cases. I strongly suggest 12-16 characters and personally use a 20 character password for Gmail.
When you click on Compose, the main part of the screen changes to the Compose view. This is where you will find fields to put in an email address (you can add more than one address by separating them by a comma and type in only the first few letters if the address is in your Contacts or Gmail already knows it), use Carbon Copy and Blind Carbon Copy (one shows the addresses of all recipients and the other hides the addresses), type in a Subject.
Right below the Subject line is the Attach a file link. When you click on the link, it brings up a File Upload dialog box. From here you can navigate to where the file you want to attach is located. Use the icon on the left side or in the files bar across the top. Once you find the file or files you want to attach, you can select one or select multiple files by holding down the
and key clicking on the files you want to send. Keep in mind that Gmail has a 25MB limit on
total files that you can attach.
Usually, unless it’s a large photo, you shouldn’t run into that
limit. Then click the Open button (It’s
not really opening the files, but just uses that wordage.) and then watch the
status bar as the file attaches. Once
it’s done, you can make changes to your email, or just hit the Send button and
Gmail will send the email.
You can use the Attach another file link to attach more files if you decide to after the first file is attached.
There’s a row of icons between the Attach a file link and the email text body that allows you to Bold the text, italicize the text, underline the text, select a different font, select a different font size, change the text color, change the highlight color (like a yellow highlighter), insert an emoticon, embedding a link in a word (like this, which goes to Google ), creating numbered and bulleted lists, setting the indentations, making a quote, setting the justifications to left – center – right, and you can remove all formatting. There are two more links to the right, one to switch to plain text and one to check spelling. Gmail also does inline spell checking as you type, underlining those words in red.
One last feature for this document: At the top of the screen is a field that allows you to search your inbox and email. You can type in key words to find emails with people’s names, numbers, addresses, just like you were using Google to search.