Gmail – Overview

Gmail from Google is a free, web-based, email service that I have been using for quite a while now, primarily for backup of important documentation, rather than a normal email service.

In this posting, I want to give an overview of my impressions and usage of Gmail, and later posts will deal with more specifics of how I have Gmail work for me.

All posts related to Gmail will be labeled Gmail for your convenience in locating them.

There are a lot of features in Gmail, but here are the ones most important to the way I use the service, in no particular order:

  • Storage – Currently 2,768+ megabytes, and increasing all the time.
  • Labels – Labels are used instead of folders, unlike most other email applications.
  • Attachment Size – Up to 10 megabytes of attachments are supported.
  • Searching – Very easy to find the specific email you are looking for.

Earlier in this posting, I said that I use Gmail more for backup of important documentation; I have several regular email accounts and use the Thunderbird email client for those.

The Gmail account, is what I use to send myself a compressed folder containing all data from work each day, as well as backups of newsletters, handouts, etc. from the BPCA and BRCS computer user groups.

This enables me to get the most current information I need, when I need it, from anywhere I can access the internet.

Gmail is by invitation only at this point. Luckily there are ways to obtain an invitation.

  • I have some invites available from my account, that will be available to BPCA or BRCS members, as long as the supply lasts, just send me a request.
  • Request an invitation from a friend, who has an account with invitations.
  • Do a web search for “gmail invitations”; there are many constantly changing listings.

In future posts, I will show you how to use various features of Gmail to organize your correspondence using labels and filters.

Current Gmail users are invited to comment with how they use Gmail to increase their productivity.

Safely Viewing Suspect Email in Outlook Express

After the BPCA General meeting, I was asked how to view an email safely in Outlook Express, to determine if it should be opened. This is due to the topic of internet security at the meeting and the admonition to never open email, unless the sender is known or you had requested the specific email.

The following should give you some information to make the determination:

  • Right-click the message, select Properties, and click Details to read the message’s header.
  • Highlight the email in question and click Message Source to read the message itself in a non-running mode (you’ll see HTML code, but can scroll down and view the message’s text).

In the first case, you should be able to make a decision based on message origin and in the second by a perusal of the actual text.

This only applies to Outlook Express, but other email programs should have similar functions.

I do not use Outlook Express as a general rule, but I did check to make sure the above instructions work.

Note: This posting is a day late due to severe thunderstorms leaving me without computer access. I do apologize but, this will happen from time to time this time of year. Also, with next Tuesday being July 4th, I will probably post either Monday or Wednesday instead.

Setting up a Mailto Link

I have been asked how I created the mailto link.

This is really simple to do:

To write an email link just create an anchor link like you would normally, but instead of http:// write mailto: and then your email address.

If you want to send to multiple people, separate the email addresses with a comma:,

Use a question mark after the final “To” email address to indicate you want more than just a “To” line. Then you specify what other elements you would like:

  • cc – to send a carbon copy
  • bcc – to send a blind carbon copy
  • subject – for the subject line

You treat the elements as name=value pairs.

To add multiple elements, separate the second and subsequent elements with an ampersand (&).

If I substituted for toaddress; for ccaddress; for bccaddress and An Email To Steve for Whatever, the result would be a blank email, with the field entries below:

  • To:
  • CC:
  • BCC:
  • Subject: An Email To Steve

Note:You might end up with a lot of SPAM, using the mailto, due to webbot scanning.