If you’ve recently made the switch to Gmail, then you’ll be joining another 1.5 billion users. Not only does Gmail have a built-in spam filtering system, but it offers you a generous 15GB of free storage.
On top of this, it offers a wide variety of time-saving features, letting you automate some emailing tasks, integrate your calendar and contacts, and customize your dashboard to suit your own organizational needs.
Here’s an overview of some of its most important features.
1. Registering & Signing In
Registering your free Gmail account takes no time at all. You just need to provide a first name, last name, an email address (which will end in @gmail.com by default), and a password.
However, if you wish to register your business, charity, or educational organization, you’ll need to set up an account in Google Workspace (formerly G-Suite), starting at $5.
Downloading the App and Signing In/Out Remotely
Because Gmail is an online service, you can sign into it from any device anywhere in the world.
There’s also the option to download the Gmail app for your smartphone or tablet. The app operates in a similar way to the Gmail website, with only a few minor differences.
2. Gmail Settings
Gmail’s Settings dashboard gives you a wide variety of options for managing your layout, security, email forwarding, and all sorts of features that facilitate your day-to-day communications.
You’re also given the choice of Quick Settings which lets you choose your inbox Density, Theme, Inbox Type, and where you want your Reading pane.
3. Composing and Sending an Email
Composing an email in Gmail means clicking on the big, red Compose button to bring up your new message. From here you fill in the To, CC/BCC and Subject fields, followed by your email content.
When typing your email, your spelling and grammar mistakes are highlighted, so you’re prompted to edit your content before sending.
You can also insert hyperlinks by highlighting text and clicking the hyperlink icon at the bottom of the screen. To add attachments, click on the paperclip icon at the bottom and upload the file from your computer (alternatively, you can drag and drop the file).
In addition, you can add images by clicking on the photos icon at the bottom of the email and choosing the image you want to upload from your computer.
4. Organizing Your Inbox
There are a number of ways you can customize your Gmail dashboard to bring order to your day-to-day emailing. Folders, labels, and tabs let you manage where your emails are displayed and stored, while stars and inbox formatting can help you to customize your layout to suit your needs and priorities.
Folders, Labels, and Tabs
In Gmail, your inbox, drafts, outbox, sent mail, and trash are all Folders. These cannot be deleted, customized, or added to.
However, Labels –although similar to folders – don’t work in quite the same way. For example, you can assign a label to more than one email or conversation if it can’t be pigeon-holed into one particular category. Labels in Gmail give you much more flexibility over how you organize and locate your emails and conversations within your inbox.
Tabs are the columns of emails, with Primary, Social and Promotions displaying as standard. You can also go into Settings to disable these and/or enable other tabs (choosing from Updates and Forums).
Prioritizing Your Inbox
By default, your Gmail inbox displays incoming mail in chronological order, with your most recent email displaying at the top.
However, if it suits you better to see your most important emails first, you can change your Inbox Type.
You can choose Important first which predicts which emails are most important and shows them at the top of your list; Unread first, displaying your unread emails at the top; Starred first to display all your starred emails at the top (you can manually “star” emails as they come into your inbox), or Priority inbox where Gmail learns which emails you interact with most and displays them at the top.
5. Deleting and Archiving Emails
Gmail allows you to delete emails, where they’ll be stored in the Trash for 30 days until they’re deleted forever.
However, to avoid accidental loss of messages, you can also choose to Archive emails where they will be hidden from your inbox, but retrievable by searching through All mail.
Marking Emails as Spam
When you receive an unwanted email in your inbox, you can mark it as spam to send it to your spam folder. This also ensures that all future emails from that sender, or similar kinds of emails, will be sent to the spam folder, keeping your inbox clutter-free.
6. Setting Up a Signature and Out-of-Office Responder
Your email signature adds a professional tone to your emails, and Gmail lets you customize your own within Settings. You can add images and links, and change colors and fonts to suit your brand style.
Within Settings you can also add an out-of-office responder. This way, you can alert your contacts of your absence while you’re away, and redirect them to a phone number or another contact for important issues.
7. Adding Contacts
By default, Gmail is linked to a separate “App,” Google Contacts, where all your contacts’ details are stored. You can choose to add full profiles to these contacts, including phone numbers, addresses and job titles, to give Gmail more detail about your connections.
8. Automating Filters
If you’re feeling confident with Gmail, you can move onto the more advanced features like email filtering. Gmail lets you set up filters so that incoming mails are automatically sorted, saving you a great deal of admin time.
For example, you can filter your emails by subject, recipient, files size, and other keywords, and instruct Gmail to do certain things with those mails (e.g. label, archive, set priority), saving you from manually sorting through every single email.
Securing Your Account and Backing up Your Gmail Data
Gmail comes with its own measures for keeping your data and communications secure.
From your Google Account Settings you can set up and change your password, choose a password recovery backup email, check your privacy settings and download your Gmail data.
If you’re new to Gmail, then you’ve chosen a solid service to manage your emails. It has decent storage capacity for a free tool, can be accessed anywhere and on any device (with decent security in place to protect your data and privacy), and has some excellent features to compete with any professional communications suite.
On top of Gmail’s already varied features, Right Inbox’s free extension for Gmail provides even more options. From Send later which lets you schedule emails to be sent at a later time, to Templates which lets you pre-compose, store, and select messages with a click of a button, Right Inbox is a useful add-on for a busy Gmailer.