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Have I sung the praises of Gmail lately? You should get it


Have I sung the praises of Gmail lately? I don’t think I’ve ever said much about it. I guess it’s such a big part of my online arsenal of writing tools that I’ve never really thought about writing to recommend it.

In case you’ve been living in a small closet somewhere in the deep woods and not heard of it, Gmail (yes, it’s easily found at gmail.com) is the free email and online organization toolbox offered by Google. Sure, I’m aware that Google appears to be dominating the world these days, but it’s still worth looking into if you’ve not tried Gmail.

I love the huge amount of free space with each account (something 7.5 gigabytes of free email storage right now). I really love the options Gmail offers for downloading the mail via a desktop program like Thunderbird or Microsoft Live Mail — while still leaving a copy of the email online on in your storage space. For several years, I would do this, meaning every email I’ve received via Gmail has been kept for me to access if I need it. More than several times, having that feature has saved my sorry behind.

And I really appreciate the way you can have multiple Gmail accounts. That means I can create a separate email account/address for business, for distinct categories and types of writing, for completely personal use, etc.

But most of all, I really love a couple of features I’m only learning to use: feeding several email accounts into one Gmail account and filtering Gmail email.

1. Several accounts into one: I now have the four Gmail accounts I use most coming into one of the four that is my main email account. This is set up so I can send email and email replies from any of the four accounts, and manage them all from one Gmail account.

2. Magical Gmail filtering features: It took me awhile to learn to look at my email differently from the “old fashioned” perspective of “mailboxes.” Gmail has only an Inbox, Trash box, Sent Mail box, and Draft box. I’m not sure, really, whether those are really “mailboxes” in the sense of traditional email software. In fact, they’re just labels the Gmail system attaches to email messages — AND YOU CAN USE THAT FILTERING FEATURE TO SORT YOUR EMAIL JUST ABOUT ANY WAY YOU WANT.

The email you receive in Gmail appears in your Inbox. But you can create labels that will “send” it into a label equivalent to any traditional mailbox you might want to name. For example, I receive several emails a day from Amazon.com. So I created a filter so that any email with “From” showing amazon.com will automatically 1) be archived (i.e., won’t appear in the Inbox), 2) will be labeled “Amazon,” and will never be sent to the “Spam” box. When I want to read Amazon.com email, I simply look down the left-hand side of my Gmail screen, find the label “Amazon and click on it, and I have in newest to oldest order every email that has come to me from Amazon.com.

And the beauty of filtering is that you can set up several conditions to sort and label the email — and any email can have more than one label, i.e., you can find it in any “mailbox” you’ve labeled it to be in.

And did I mention how effective the Gmail spam filters have always been for me? They rarely give any “false positives,” but I glance through the “Spam” box once a day just in case something I wanted to keep got sent into “Spam” by accident.

Anyway, you may already have a Gmail account. If so, perhaps this article will motivate you to look at some of the things you can do to take advantage of Gmail features. If not, you should consider creating one — or two, or three, or four, or … you get the idea.