- Internet & the Web
Benefits of Gmail
Gmail - a brief history
Gmail came into existence in 2004. It was a project started by Paul Buchheit, and has expanded rapidly since then.
Initially limited to 1000 users, sign up could only happen by invitation from a present Gmail user. Thankfully these days, anyone is able to sign up for a free Gmail account. Gmail has since become a one-stop messaging solution for many businesses and individuals worldwide, incorporating a lot of features that one wouldn't expect to find in a free email client, including a whopping 7.5 GB of storage per account (additional storage can be purchased from Google if needed).
It is one of the most user-friendly free email clients and offers far more than what one would expect from something that is free. From personalized labels, a chat feature, filters to a priority inbox. What more could one ask for?
Gmail account settings explained
Gmail has many customizable settings available, ranging from the amount of mails you wish to display on screen, to keyboard shortcuts, to being able to chat with fellow Gmail users, right down to the Priority Inbox.
Let's take a look at a few of the settings in more detail:
Yes, just like your Microsoft Outlook, or Outlook Express account, Gmail also allows you to create customized labels to suit your needs. There is no limit to the amount of labels you can use. You are also able to set which labels you wish to have permanently displayed on the left side of your screen, and which labels you would like to have hidden.
Accounts And Import:
This option allows you to import contacts from virtually any other email account that you may already have, such as Yahoo, Hotmail or AOL. POP3 access is also available. Here, you are also offered the option to upgrade your storage space, but seriously, who needs more than 7.5GB of storage for emails? Here, you are also able to change account settings, such as user names, passwords etc.
Tired of Viagra ads in your inbox? Mail filters enable you to block email from specific senders or domains. Gmail also makes provision for this.By clicking on 'create filter,' you will be able to set up customized filters for your account.
Forwarding and POP/IMAP:
Gmail allows you to set up a forwarding function, whereby you are able to have mail from your Gmail account forwarded to another of your email accounts and vice versa. For example, if you do not have access to Gmail at your workplace, you are able to use your work email address as a forwarding address for mails sent to your Gmail account. (Note: it is always best to get permission from your IT department or manager before doing things like this).
Chat (Also Known as Google Talk)
The Google Chat function within Gmail allows you to chat with your contacts in real time (provided that they are also online, of course). You are able to choose who sees whether you are online or not, as well as who you wish to add to your chat list. This function comes in handy if there are contacts in your Gmail account that you do not wish to chat in real time with.
Gmail allows you to store web/video clips for viewing at a later stage. Here, you can also share web clips which you have made and uploaded as well. The search function allows you to search for clips that are of interest to you. You can search either by the name of the web clip (if you know it) or by topics of interest.
Gmail has a Priority Inbox feature which allows you to choose which mails you want to be classified as prioroty or important, and which ones to classify as not-so-important. Oce set up(by watching he short tutorial video), the Priority Inbox function will ensure that your most important emails appear right at the top of your inbox. This saves a lot of time filtering through less important mails to find the ones you need in a hurry.
Labs (or Google Labs)
This is the home to all of Googles' experimental additions to Gmail. Here, you can try out new add-ons, change the styling of your email text, have a few canned responses ready for when you don't feel like composing a mail, add extra emoticons to your mails, sneak peek to see what your messages contain before opening them...the list is endless. Please be aware however, that these experimental labs and features may disappear or 'break' at any time. Don't rely on them too heavily until they are made official by Google.
Gmail also has an 'offline' mode. Please be aware however, that not all internet browsers support this offline capability.
Just like other email clients, Gmail also offers customizable themes. You can change the appearance of your inbox quite easily. While some of the options on offer might seem a bit dull and dreary, others are actually quite stunning.
Buzz (or Google Buzz)
The Buzz feature in Gmail works similar to tweets in Twitter. You can follow contacts here and comment on their posts as well. You are able to set up inbox alerts so that you don't miss a buzz from anyone - ever.
Finally - Your Inbox
Your inbox is well laid out and easy to understand and navigate. On the left of the page, you will see your tags/labels. By clicking on those, it will only display mails that have been given that articular label. This is very handy if you are searching for a particular mail.
The inbox will display the date, time and title of your emails. It also shows the sender's name.
Gmail Search Function
Gmail has quite a sophisticated search function, in that it allows you to search for specific emails by title, content within the email, by sender or who it was sent to, by the date it was sent, or even by content that the mail doesn't contain. By simply entering the required info in the relevant lines, Gmail will ensure that you never lose an email among the masses ever again.
What are you waiting for?
That about sums up the basic functions found in Gmail. Once you have worked with it for a while, you'll wonder why you didn't sign up for a free account in the first place. If you're interested, head on over to www.gmail.google.com and sign up for a free Gmail account.