People use email everyday whether it be for work, school, or our personal lives. Gmail seems to be the preferred choice for many.
And here MakeUseOf proudly presents The MakeUseOf’s Beginner’s Guide To Gmail. Inside this 30+ page eBook you will find everything from Gmail’s history to best ways to manage your emails to best Gmail hacks.
This guide will help you to switch from your current email provider to Gmail and shows you how to make most of it.
Table of Contents
1.1 About Gmail
The year is 2004 and three email services dominate the market. They are Hotmail, AOL and Yahoo mail. After extensive testing, Google decides to branch beyond being only a search engine and launches Gmail (or Google Mail in Germany) on April 1st. Because of the interestingly chosen “April Fools’ Day” launch (Gmail was made live minutes before midnight on March 31st, 2004), Gmail was met with a lot of skepticism, especially because it offered 1 gig of free storage space at a time when other companies offered in average 100mb.
Initially, only a limited group of 1000 opinion leaders were invited into the Beta test version of Gmail, and allowed to invite their friends and family. Then users from Blogger.com were also sent invitations, and within a short time, the invitations had become precious commodities. Some were being sold on Ebay for as much as $150 and websites that swapped invitations started appearing all over the web.
Soon Gmail started allowing its users to invite as many as 50 people, and it started growing exponentially until almost anyone who wanted to join could easily get an invite from someone they knew.
In 2005 it had increased its mailbox size to 2 gigs, a huge amount of storage by 2005 standards and had become available in many languages beyond English. It has since continually added new features and finally, in 2009, it removed the “Beta” status from its name. Gmail is now one of the top email services in the world.
1.2 Why choose Gmail
Gmail has profited from Google’s innovations to become such a popular email service. It has differentiated itself from other services in many ways:
• It has ever increasing amount of storage space instead of a set amount like Hotmail, Yahoo and AOL do
• It has created an interface that they believe works more naturally than the folder system used by the other 3 major services. It consist of stars and labels (more on that later)
• Gmail can be used as an account for a whole plethora of Google services
• Gmail Labs adds many features not commonly found on your average email account (more on that later)
• Certain features such as Google docs, Calendar and Chat work seamlessly among Gmail users and can be an efficient way of collaborating
• It is a powerful, reliable and feature rich email service. And it’s free!
• Gmail can also be used with your own domain name, by using Google Apps
• It’s compatible with most mobile phones
1.3 Creating an account
One question a lot of people seem to have is in relation to the difference between a Google account and a Gmail account. They are not necessarily the same thing. The catch is, you are allowed to create a Google account using your existing email account. That is not a Gmail account, but an account that allows you access to some of Google’s services. One the other hand, if you do create a Gmail account, it automatically becomes your Google account with access to all of Google’s services using that id and password. So basically, Gmail accounts are always Google Accounts, but Google Accounts aren’t Gmail accounts if you are using a different email from email@example.com.
So then, how do you create a Gmail account?
1. Go to http://www.gmail.com
2. Click the button that says “Create an account” on the bottom right box.
3. Carefully fill out all the fields on the form
4. Click “I accept. Create my account”
You will be taken to an introduction page. Click “Show me my account”. You will be taken to your new email account and there will be some emails from the Gmail Team welcoming you, introducing you to some of the features and helping you import your contacts and old mail.
1.4 Gmail as a Google Account
So now that you have created a Gmail account, can you use it for anything besides email? The answer is yes.
As explained above, Gmail accounts are also Google accounts, and though I won’t explain all services associated with them, you should know that you can use your Gmail id and password on many Google services, such as:
• Google Analytics – To track visitors to your website
• Blogger – Blogging site
• Google Calendar – A calendar directly integrated with Gmail
• Google Docs – An online document editor directly integrated with Gmail; a Microsoft Office online substitute.
• YouTube – Online video streaming
• Google Sites – To create websites and wikis
• Google Dashboard – Your portal to all of the Google services that can be accessed with your Gmail or Google account, from one interface.
• And many, many more services and sites.