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Things You Didn't Know Gmail Did

Tips and Tricks for Gmail

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Gmail is really useful. It's free without feeling cheap. It doesn't add ads to the signature line of your email messages, and it gives you a very generous amount of storage space.

Still not convinced? What's So Great About Gmail?

Here's a few things you may not have known you can do with Gmail.

1. Use Gmail Offline

Businesswoman using laptop at work
Jamie Grill/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Gmail can be used offline with the right configuration of Google Chrome. If you send message while you're offline, your message will be sent while you reconnect, and you can browse through the messages you've already received.

2. Get Driving Directions From Gmail

Did someone send you an invitation with an address? Google automatically detects addresses in messages and creates a link to the right of your message asking if you would like to map it. It also asks if you'd like to track packages when you receive messages that contain them.

3. Turn on Experimental Features With Gmail Labs

Gmail Labs is a feature of Gmail that allows you to experiment with features that aren't necessarily ready for wide release. If they're popular, they might eventually be incorporated into the main Gmail interface.

Example tools include Mail Goggles that attempts to give you a sobriety test before you post on the weekend. Another includes a game. Gmail Labs also includes the very useful task list.

4. Add Gmail Themes

Rather than using the same Gmail background, you can use Gmail themes. Some themes even change during the day, similar to iGoogle themes. Some of them make your email harder to read, but most of them are pure fun.

5. Task Lists

This feature took a long time to arrive, but it was worth the wait. You can create a task list that shows you your to-do items and lets you check them off when completed. It also allows you to assign due dates and add details, as you would expect.

Your task list can stay hidden, float above the other items on your page, or open in a new window. Your task can also be viewed in iGoogle or Google Calendar.

6. Get Free IMAP and POP Mail

Many competing Web mail systems either don't offer offline access or charge for them. Gmail supports both POP and IMAP, which are industry standards for desktop email clients. That means you can use Outlook, Thunderbird, or Mac Mail with your Gmail account.

7. Use Google Apps to Send Gmail From Your Own Domain

I've seen plenty of people give out Gmail addresses as their professional contact, but you might still be worried that this might not look professional. There's an easy solution. If you own your own domain, you can use  Google Apps to turn your domain address into your personal Gmail account. (Google used to offer a free version of this service, but now you have to pay.) 

8. Send and Receive Video Hangouts from Your Email

Gmail is integrated with Google Hangouts and lets you send instant messages with your contacts. You can also engage in voice and video chats from both Windows-PCs and Macs.  

9. Check the Gmail Server Status

Gmail is reliable enough that outages make the news. That doesn't mean they don't happen. If you ever wonder if Gmail is down, you can check the Google Apps Status Dashboard. You'll find out if Gmail is running, and if it is down, you should find information about when they expect it to be online again.
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