Gmail

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[edit] Description

Gmail is Google's free browser-based email service. Key features of Gmail include:

  • practically unlimited storage (2 GB and growing - continually) meaning you don't have to decide what to keep and what to delete - keep everything
  • email threading: emails with a common subject line are opened together making it easier to follow the conversation through a series of emails; the downside of this feature is that often it is more useful to provide a modified meaningful subject line - but then it starts a new thread;
  • labels instead of folders, making it possible to classify an email in more than one way
  • Google search: a fast way to find that email in which all you can remember is that it was about a conference in Hawaii
  • low or no graphics for fast loading (compared to Hotmail)
  • snippets: displays the beginning of the message along with subject line in the list view for quick scanning for urgent messages
  • autofill / autocomplete on email addresses, plus addresses are automatically added to the address book - convenient and timesaving
  • hides quoted (or duplicated) text; hides duplicate emails, also;


[edit] Usage

[edit] Keeping an empty inbox with Gmail

One of the GTD suggestions is to keep the inbox empty. This is one way to do it with Gmail.

  • First, use filters. Sequester mailing list mail into its own folder whenever possible. This leaves the inbox for important things like plans for lunch as opposed to machine-generated "the system is working" mail.
  • Second, make good use of the "starred" category. Any message that you want to track, i.e. that has an associated Next Action, apply a star to it. If it doesn't have a next action, no star; if you're waiting for something, apply a tag "@waiting for" or some such.

With this simple technique you can zip through your inbox, clearing out anything you are just keeping for reference by archiving it, tagging anything that escaped your first auto-categorization pass, and starring anything that doesn't get immediately acted on (the two minute rule). This way, the only mail in Inbox should be the unread mail addressed to you.

You still need to do something about all the starred mail, though; can't fix that.


[edit] Use Gmail Securely

Login using https rather than their generic http address -- especially, from shared computers on a network, for example, a free Wi-Fi connection at a cafe. By using https://gmail.google.com (NOT http://gmail.com) one gets the security of passing through Google's main signed certificate. (Be sure to modify your existing bookmark now.) --gochess


[edit] Persistent Searches in Gmail

persistent.info has a cool hack which allows persistent searches in Gmail. Neat-o. - JW


[edit] Gmail Drafts

The Gmail Drafts feature is a great tool for managing task lists, or any other kind of document or list that you edit or add to frequently. Just open up a new composition but don’t address it to anyone, and write your topic in the subject line and save as a draft. Do this for each of your projects or any thing you want to make a living document of. Now when you click on Drafts you will have a running list of projects with the date of your last revision, and full use of Gmail’s search mechanism. The only caveat is that if your web browser is closed inadvertently and you haven’t saved your draft, there is no fail safe built into the system to resurrect it, so it is not the best place to work on your Thesis. -Mose 03:41 pm 03/30/2005 (CST)

Gmail's draft autosave (since October 2005?) is pretty up-to-the-minute.

[edit] Gmail as filing system

Gmail can be used to store and easily search for those digital documents you have littered all over different computers and network drives.

  • When you get a document that you need to file away, e-mail it as an attachment. The subject line can be used to enter tags about the file. Use the body of the e-mail as a brief description of what the document contains. --Mocephus 15:50, 1 Apr 2005 (EST)
  • Filtering tips from Gmailgems blog:
    • Filter by sender -- gmail filters can separate mails sent to name+someword@gmail.com and name+anotherword@gmail.com. For example: Give your Gmail address to Amazon and Ebay as name+amazon@gmail.com and name+ebay@gmail.com respectively and filter the mails from Amazon and Ebay.
    • Filter to GTD folder -- I setup a filter to label everything sent to “myinbox+work@gmail.com” as “@Work”. Then I send myself an email to “myinbox+work@gmail.com”. Presto, my new action shows up in my work context AND it’s marked read (since I sent it to myself).


[edit] File conversions to HTML

Send yourself an attachment, then use "View as HTML" option (which is next to "Download" option.

  • This is especially helpful for PDF files.

Gmail will also show the these other types of files as HTML:

  • .doc, .xls, .ppt, .rtf, .sxw, .sxc, .sxi, .sdw, .sdc, .sdd, and .wml.

[edit] The Notifier

The GMail notifier is a big boost for productivity. Rather than letting your inbox sit open in a tab in Firefox, you can see the sender and beginning of each message in a popup that briefly appears in the corner of your screen, then fades away. If it's not urgent, you don't have to go deal with it. It's a bit counterintuitive -- you might think that adding another app that pops up and dings at you would be bad for productivity. But since you now don't have to leave your current context to know what a message is about, or even move your mouse or stop typing, you've kept yourself focused and allowed only a tiny intrusion into your current task. Compare to flipping over to your GMail tab whenever you see Inbox turn into Inbox (1).

[edit] See also

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