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The Unofficial Gmail FAQ

[The Gmail inbox has a blue color scheme with navigation/ labels to the left and search on top.]


What is Gmail?

Gmail is Google's free web email service (currently in Beta, and not public to sign up) with initially 1 Gigabyte, and now over 2 Gigabyte of storage and growing (the storage keeps on growing dynamically, so it's larger everyday).

How do I sign-up for Gmail?

You can register with a US cell phone number.

My Gmail is down, I can't connect... what to do?

Try deleting your cookies, empty your cache, and go to and login again. If it doesn't work then, give it some more hours and try again.

Is Gmail good?

Yes, it is. It's very good. It's fast, and it has conversation views which you won't miss. Also, the address auto-completion is great. And of course, the storage is very high.

Where can I find pictures of Gmail?

Here is a Gmail review with screenshots.

What's all the fuzz about Gmail privacy?

If you do not like your emails to be automatically handled by Google, you should not sign up for this free service. But if you do, Google will read the email automated (a computer will analyze its content) and pull relevant ads. Then the computer will forget about what's in the email.

Is Gmail completely free?

At the moment, it is. And it will likely always stay free, at least in its basic version.

I have Gmail, how do I invite someone else?

You may not have any Gmail invitations to give away. If you do, they will be shown as links on the left-side.

How much is Gmail worth?

It was sold on eBay for around $100 or more, but then the prices dropped to nearly zero because more and more invites were available.

What does the "G" in "Gmail" mean?

The "G" in Gmail likey stands for "Google". Other suggestions are Googol, Gigabyte, Great, Godly, or just Good.

How can I search Gmail?

You can create various labels (like "xmas" or "holiday" or "friend") to assign to individual emails. You can also search all your past emails using a variety of search filters.

What kind of username can I choose?

Of course, your preferred Gmail username must be available. Added to that Gmail names must be from 6-30 characters. (Why must it be more than 6? Some believe this is so spammers can't easily generate random addresses to target.)

When will Gmail go public?

In weeks or months from now. Nobody knows for sure. Some suspected it would be in August 2004. Some suspected it would be April 1st, 2005. But none of the two dates were correct. However, there are already many, many Gmail invitations being sent around.

Some people get up to five new Gmail invitations from their Gmail account every day. I do not get any new. How does Google determine who can pass on Gmail invitations, and how many can be passed on?

Though nothing is known for sure, the amount of new Gmail invitations Gmailers can hand out seems to depend on how much the Gmail account is being used, and how many invitations are accepted. For example if you get five new invitations, you should send them out quickly that same day so you get five new invitations to pass on the next day. If you do not send out your invitations, you will not get new ones the next day. However it might also be connected to how many of your invitations are actually accepted, and put in use -- so you need to find people who are actually really in need of Gmail.

I sent out mails with the same title to different people, how can I prevent the conversations from getting mixed up?

You need to find a unique subject line per mail sent to different persons, or else you are in permanent trouble sorting it out. Though the unique Gmail conversation approach makes sense, it's also quite flawed at the moment!

I have two different accounts, one for Google Answers and one for Gmail -- they constantly collide, what can I do?

You could complain to Google support, for one thing. I find this annoying too.

I do not have an account yet. How do I check if my Gmail name is taken?

Try this Gmail name availability checker.

How fast is Gmail?

Gmail is very fast. This is due to its underlying DHTML concept, which unfortunately also prevents some browser accessibility features.

On which browsers does Gmail run?

Gmail runs on most popular browsers (Win IE 5.5+, Win/ Mac/ Linux Netscape 7.1+, Win/ Mac/ Linux Mozilla 1.4+, Win/ Mac/ Linux Firefox 0.8+, Mac Safari 1.2.1+), and also has a "basic HTML" version for other browsers.

Do I always have to login to Gmail? How are my settings stored?

You can sign-in to Gmail for two weeks without being asked for your password again. Some things in Gmail are stored on your computer via a cookie, so switching your browser on one computer, or switching to another computer, may make Gmail forget certain settings (like some starred messages).

How long can I keep my account idle until Google deletes it?

If you did not log-in for 9 months, your Gmail account will be deleted.

How can I create a new folder in Gmail?

In Gmail, you can't create new folders. Instead you create labels, which you then attach to individual conversations. The good thing about labels is that multiple labels can be tagged on a mail, something just not possible with the folder concept of Hotmail and others. The labels are shown at the left side; attach them by using the combo box on top. You can also create filters to automatically label incoming mail.

How do I sort my Gmail?

Instead of folders, Gmail features labels. Gmails can thus be put into different categories at one. E.g. you could have a label "job", a label "blog feedback", or a label "girlfriend".

How do I automatically convert my Hotmail, Yahoo Mail or Outlook Express address book to a Gmail address book?

You can import your contact list as CSV text file. CSV means Comma-Separated Values and is a often-used text format storing data. Detailed explanations on how to export CSV data from your old account into Gmail can be found in the Gmail help entry on importing.

Does Gmail support Rich text formatting/ HTML emails?

Yes, since March/ April 2005, Gmail does support Rich text formatting to make for bold or colored fonts, bullet lists and so on. If it's not turned on for you, simply click on "Rich formatting" when composing an email.

How do I send new mails arriving in my Hotmail/ Yahoo Mail account to Gmail?

You need to check your web mailer for an option to do this. As far as I know this is not an option though in popular systems like Hotmail or Yahoo, and Gmail can not automatically grab those mails.

How do I move my emails from Hotmail to Gmail?

See this detailed help page on transferring your Hotmails.

How can I transfer my Netscape mail to Gmail?

Here's Mbox & Maildir to Gmail Loader (GML) to import your Mbox or Maildir files into Gmail (works with Mac OS X too).

How well does Gmail prevent spam?

Gmail is quite successful at preventing spam, with a typical ratio of 95% filtered spam, and 1% spam-filtered normal mail. What's more important, you get the time to delete spam before your account is full (because of the 1 GB account size).

What are Gmail's keyboard shortcuts?

Keyboard shortcuts come with a predefined set of functions (like "c" for compose, "/" for search and so on) which can be either turned off or on.

I like it simple. Can I have a print view, or show the emails raw text?

You can both switch to a print view (by clicking on "Print conversation" in the upper right), as well as click on "More options" -> "Show original" to see the mail's raw content.

What is "Cc", what is "Bcc"?

When you reply, Gmail offers you to "Add Cc" or "Add Bcc". Cc means "carbon copy" and will send a copy of the email to someone, even though that someone is not addressed in the mail. A Bcc goes a step further by not even listing the recipient of the Bcc in the address field; it's a "Blind Carbon Copy".

Is there a Gmail category in (the Open Directoy Project, ODP)?

Yes, the Gmail category in DMOZ is Computers/ Internet/ E-mail/ Free/ Web-Based/ G/ Gmail/.

What are Gmail snippets?

Gmail snippets will show the first part of the message right in the title bar, similar to how Google shows snippets of web pages in their result pages. Snippets can be disabled in the options.

What are Gmail conversations?

Google groups emails and their replies in your inbox within single "conversations", a sort of thread known from newsgroups. Clicking on a single conversation will open up the history. Actually, Gmail just sorts by the email subject. Note this can at times cause confusion when different conversations to different people are merged into one.

Why should I want to "star" my message?

Starring your mail equals putting a little red flag on it in Outlook. This means: watch this mail, it's of importance to you somehow and acts as reminder. Of course you might use stars in any way you seem fit. In a way, it's just another label, but one that comes with an icon.

How is Gmail spelled and pronounced?

Gmail is spelled without a dash, as in G-Mail, even though some use that as well. You can also write gMail, or Gmail, or GMail, though those are not common. As for pronounciation, I suggest either "Gee-Mail", or "Kmale".

Is Gmail available in German, Italian, Spanish, ...?

Currently the Gmail interface is restricted to English. Emails can be sent in any language, naturally.

When was Gmail started?

Gmail's Beta test officialy started on April 1st, but the web application was tested internally for around a year.

Does Gmail now offer 1 Terabyte of storage?

No. Only Google employees get 1 Terabyte. However there was a bug which had many more people seeing the 1 Terabyte. Apparently the bug has been fixed by now.

I don't see any Gmail ads. What's wrong?

If you are new to Gmail you may wonder where all the ads are. In fact ads are rather rare and don't show up all the time. Neither can you easily trigger them by sending some commercial phrases to yourself.

Are Gmail ads annoying?

Gmail advertisement is very unobtrusive. It is only present in about 25% of your emails. Often, you will also find a related links section (no advertisement) to the right-hand side. AdWords making it into the Gmail program will be tested "in the wild first", so you get more relevant ads than on typical AdSense sites.

Where can I talk about Gmail?

I suggest Orkut's Gmail community, or the moderated Gmail users community, or

Where can I find the latest Gmail news?

I keep myself updated via my Google and Gmail news headlines.

Wasn't Gmail an April Fool's joke?

Some people thought so because it was released on April 1st, 2005, but it's not (the lunar research center was Google's April's Fool for that day).

Where can I stay updated on Gmail and hear the latest news?

You will find out about the latest important Gmail news at my Google Blogoscoped.

My question isn't answered here, where do I go?

You can look for more answers in the forum, and post your questions there as well.


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