Gmail is one of the most popular webmail services available nowadays with 1.5 billion active global users to date.
In this complete guide, you are going to learn how to create a new Gmail account, how the inbox works, and have a look at advanced tips. Besides that, you are going to learn how to improve Gmail with third-party services.
What is Gmail
Basically, Gmail is the free web-based email service provided by Google.
A little bit of history, Google started developing Gmail in 2001. Later it was announced to the public in 2004 when its beta test version was available to a closed circle of people. It was finally launched to the public in 2007.
This long time of development and tests resulted in a great email tool because Gmail is now one of the most used email services in the world. Its popularity is due to many of its features, and its simple interface, which makes learning how to use it easier and quicker.
Why use Gmail?
Gmail has many upsides, which are the main reasons why it is so loved around the world. The main features are storage, layout, integration, personalization, advanced search, labels and filters.
Let’s see how each one of them works in Gmail, and how you can benefit from them.
While its competitors offered 2 to 4 megabytes, Google has increased its storage capacity over time. Now it is of 15 gigabytes of initial storage in Gmail. This amount is available for free, and it’s enough to save all the most important emails you need for future reference.
Just remember that the free 15 GB is shared between Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Photos. You can purchase more space if you want, or if you are part of a company, the better option is to consider one of the G Suite plans.
Gmail was the first webmail service to break with the interface pattern of an inbox, bringing a cleaner visual and organization to its users.
One thing Gmail brought is the vision of emails grouped according to the subject line. When you receive a reply to a message, all previous related messages are displayed in a collapsible vertical thread. This facilitates the visualization of the entire conversation and helps you review previous discussions easily.
You can also choose between three different views of your inbox: Default, Comfortable or Compact.
Security and Anti-Spam
Gmail is constantly updating its anti-malware and anti-virus scanners, so you can be as protected as possible. One example of that is that all the file attachments are saved on Google’s servers. So if a virus or malware is attached in a message, a warning is displayed, then it quarantines this message.
When it comes to spam, Gmail has great filters that avoid potential spam messages of arriving in your main inbox.
Receiving many emails per day can turn any inbox messy. That’s why Gmail offers some resources to help to organize it.
Label: It is similar to an email folder. The difference is that you can apply various labels to one single email.
Filters: Create filters to order and manage all the incoming emails. These filters apply labels, forward messages or delete emails automatically, depending on how you set them.
Stars: When you put a star on a message they go to the top f your inbox, at the same time you mark them as a priority to be answered or checked.
Tabs: You can use Tabs to separate your emails by category. There are some standard tabs that come already set in your inbox: Primary, Social and Promotions.
Gmail Search Box
Whenever you need to find an email message, you can search it on the Gmail search box and find it very quickly. This box has the Google Search engine attached, which allows you to get instant results.
To do a search, just enter the criteria you need in the search bar and hit “enter.” You can also make advanced searches by clicking the arrow located at the right corner of the search box. A dialog box will drop down with more search parameters, so you can find your messages based on “From,”, “To,” “Subject,” message content, attachments, size, and others.
How to create a Gmail account
When you first visit the Gmail homepage, in the middle of the page, and at the upper right you’ll see the blue box “Create An Account”. Click one of these buttons to start creating your account.
On the next page, there is a simple form where you need to enter some information:
- Your first and Last name;
- A valid username, and in case the one you type is not available, some suggestions will appear;
- Your preferred password and confirmation;
Just click Next to confirm this data.
The next step consists of entering your cell phone number for security reasons. You are going to receive a verification code by SMS for confirmation.
Then you need to enter some additional information to secure your account: a recovery email, your birthday and gender.
Then on the following screen, you can agree with adding your phone number to your account, so you can use it across Google services, such as receiving video calls & messages.
You can also skip this part if you are not willing to accept that.
The next step is to read and agree with Gmail Privacy and terms. After agreeing with these terms your account will be created.
How to set your Gmail account
After creating your account you need to configure it, so you can start using it to send and receive emails.
Just follow these steps:
- Click on next on the Welcome popup;
- Then choose a view: Default, Comfortable or Compact;
You will need to do some additional steps since your account is just 10% configured.
- Choosing a theme: click on this button and choose a theme if you want to personalize your Gmail account layout.
- Learn how to use Gmail: click on it to open the “Help” pop up, and get rid of your doubts about how Gmail works.
- Get Gmail for Mobile: you can download the official Gmail mobile app by clicking on this option.
- Import Contacts and Mail: if you are migrating from another Gmail account you can import the emails you have on this account. It’s also possible to import contacts you had on this previous account.
- Change profile image: It’s always good to set a profile picture, so you can be identified easily by your recipients.
After completing all these steps your account will be 100% set up and you are ready to start using it according to your purposes.
Gmail Tips and tricks
Now that you have your account set up and you are also familiar with the basics of Gmail, how about to level up and start learning tips that are more advanced?
Undo a Sent Email
If you sent an email by mistake, or with spelling errors, or even hit the “Send” button by accident, it’s possible to undo this action. Then right after you click the “Send” button, you have 30 seconds to avoid that the message gets to the recipient.
A small pop up will appear on the bottom-left of the screen. Just click “Undo” and the email won’t be sent. It will appear again on the Compose email window, so you can make the proper alterations before sending it again.
Gmail has a Smart Compose feature, developed to help save your time while writing an email. It predicts what you are going to write before you do it, working as an autocomplete tool. If you need to write your emails faster, this is a great feature.
The Smart Compose is powered by machine learning, so the most you write, the better. This also means that its personalized suggestions are adjusted to the way you usually write, to maintain writing style.
When the prediction matches what you want to complete with, just press the right-arrow button. This feature can surprise you with its precision, but in case it’s not what you want to complete with, it’s easy to simply ignore the suggestions.
To turn the Smart Compose on or off follow these steps:
- In the top right of Gmail, click the gear icon that represents the settings menu, and choose the option “Settings”.
- On the tab “General,” scroll down to “Smart Compose.”
- Select Writing suggestions on or Writing suggestions off.
Right above the option to turn on or off this feature, you can also choose if you want it personalized to your writing style.
Gmail’s offline access
Sometimes we struggle with the internet connection while we are working on important tasks. Gmail offers a feature that allows us to still use Gmail with limited or no connection.
To set feature click on the gear symbol on the upper right corner of the page, and choose the option “Settings”. Then go to the tab “Offline” and mark the box “Enable offline mail”. New configurations will appear and you will be able to choose if you want to store emails from the last 7, 30 or 90 days.
If you send a lot of emails with repetitive answers, Gmail Templates will help to improve your productivity. Instead of typing the same things over and over, you can set up some pre-written emails.
To set these templates, follow these steps:
- Click on the Gear icon, then choose “Settings”.
- Click the tab “Advanced”.
- Mark the box ‘Enable’ on the “Templates” section, then hit “Save Changes”.
- After that, click “Compose on the upper left corner of the screen, and start typing the message you want to save as a template.
- Click the three dots icon located at the bottom of the compose pop up. Choose the option ‘Templates”, then click on “Save draft as template” > “Save as new template”.
- Give a name to your template.
After creating your new template, you can use it either to replies or for composing new emails. Just remember to follow these steps:
- Click the three dots icon on the right-bottom of the compose window
- With the mouse over ‘Templates, click on the template you want to use.
- Your template will be pasted on the composition box, and you can make the required adjustments before sending it.
Each person, or team, has its processes while working inside an inbox. That is the main reason why Google allows you to personalize the experience inside Gmail using Add-ons.
To see the available ones, on the vertical bar on the right side of the screen, click on “Get add-ons” represented by the “+” symbol. A G Suite Marketplace popup will open with a search bar and the featured add-ons that work with Gmail. Choose those that will facilitate your life dealing with emails, and that will make sense with the type of business you have.
With this add-on, you are able to know when the emails you send are opened. This is a great feature to track the performance of your emails, and also to know the next steps you should take with a client, for example.
Some of its features include:
– Real-time notifications
– Full tracking history
– Link Tracking
– Daily email report
It was developed mainly for sales, account managers, business development, and people who deal directly with clients. Also for teams, coordinators and internal communications.
GMass: Mail merge
If your company needs to send mass email marketing, this is an add-on you should have installed. It also offers a mail merge system for Gmail.
- You can send email marketing campaigns to thousands of email addresses.
- Mail merge with data from Google Sheets.
Useful Keyboard Shortcuts
Keyboard shortcuts are ideal to facilitate your daily activities on the internet. It wouldn’t be different when it comes to Docs. Spending more time writing than searching for tools enhances your productivity. That’s why we separated some shortcuts that will be useful to you.
But first, you need to enable them, by clicking the gear symbol, going to “Settings”. On the tab General look for Keyboard Shortcuts and mark “Keyboard shortcuts on”.
Here are some of the main ones you can start using right now:
|Useful Keyboard Shortcuts|
|Mark as spam||!|
|Reply in a new window||Shift + r|
|Forward in a new window||Shift + f|
|Undo last action||z|
|Mark as read||Shift + i|
|Mark as unread||Shift + u|
|Go to Inbox||g + i|
|Go to Sent messages||g + t|
Moreover, it’s possible to create your own custom keyboard shortcuts, too. To customize them go to the tab “Advanced” inside Gmail settings, and enable “Custom keyboard shortcuts”.
A new tab called “Keyboard shortcuts” will appear on Gmail settings. Click on it to start customizing them.
Powering up your Gmail with Drag
Drag is a shared inbox inside Gmail. This means you and your team can collaborate inside a shared mailbox, to improve the process you have to perform together, and also eliminate possible obstacles you may be facing lately.
A shared inbox allows a team to share an email address without the need of everybody using the same password. Each person works from their own accounts, which is more secure and viable.
With Drag’s shared inbox everybody in the team knows exactly what each one of them is working on at the moment. Because of that, it prevents duplicated answers, miscommunication and many other errors that can frequently occur at work.
Besides that, with a shared inbox you can stop using “FWD”, “CC’s, and “BCC’s”, that generate infinite email threads. Everybody receives the emails in real-time on this collaborative inbox, so you don’t need to use any of that.
But Drag is not just a shared inbox, it also offers a bunch of features that can help to improve your workflow.
In Drag you can have the Kanban View, which turns your inbox just like Trello. At Drag, there are “boards”, and inside each board, you can create columns. Rename the columns with stages names that you usually go through while handling emails. By default you have three columns named “To-do”, “Doing” and “Done”, that are the simplest stages for task or email management.
Then inside of these columns, you can create cards containing tasks. Or you can turn your emails into tasks inside a shared inbox. When you create a collaborative inbox with your team, all the emails sent to your team email address will arrive on this board as cards. Easily drag and drop these cards between columns to keep track of your progress, and let your teammates know in what emails you are working on.
For instance, if you work with projects, customer support or sales pipeline, you can automatically turn emails into tasks, opportunities or tickets, and rely on Drag to help you manage your work through different stages.
Integration with Google Calendar
It’s common to have deadlines for certain tasks while working on a team. On native Gmail, you don’t have the option of setting due dates inside an email. But with Drag every time you set a date and time to a task or email it’s automatically added to your Google Calendar.
If you have a lot of repeatable tasks in your daily work, this new feature will take care of them in the best way possible. It’s something that will help you improve your processes even more: automation.
You can preset rules to automate your whole workflow, according to all your necessities, steps you take to accomplish tasks, answer emails and so on.
Since each board and workflow is different it’s possible to create several different automations for each one of them. At the same time, these automations are cross-boards, which means actions in one board can influence another board if you want to.
You can customize three factors in automations: board, conditions, and actions. Besides that you can choose from 5 actions:
- Move to (someone)
- Assign to (someone)
- Change color
- Gmail action
- Apply tag
With Drag you can easily delegate emails and tasks to other team members or your assistant, for instance.
This tool is useful when you need to share some emails with someone, and not your whole inbox. To do that is simple:
- You need to create a custom Shared Board with the person you want to share the emails/tasks with.
- Then you populate this board with the emails and/or tasks you need to share.
Besides that you have two other possibilities while delegating with Drag:
Sharing emails cross-domains: This means you can share boards between both your company domain and @gmail.com domains.
Changing sender alias. In case you are not the person replying to the email, the person that you delegated this task to is able to select if they are going to send the email from your address or their personal address.
Group Live Chat
Drag also offers a chat inside your inbox, so you can communicate seamlessly with your team. In addition, it’s possible to mention people inside the chatbox, so they will receive an email notification with a direct link to the conversation. They will be sent to the specific card you started the chat.
These are some advantages of using Drag’s live chat:
- You can notify specific people to call their attention to a specific thing on an email/card, or just simply assign a certain task to them.
- The chat will be about the card, so all the information exchanged will be about that specific matter. This means no more suffering to find a piece of information inside a unique chatbox or on an email thread.
- You don’t need to use a third-party tool, such as Slack or Skype, to share thoughts, or solve problems about a specific case with your teammates.
We hope that this complete Gmail Guide has helped you to see that your user experience on it can be a lot better. One of the best email services in the world deserves to be used at its full potential.
So now, how about trying new add-ons to improve your experience, or trying a shared inbox like Drag to enhance the collaboration between your team?