Add names to the confusing gmail icons?

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Lori KaufmanWriter

Lori Kaufman is a giải pháp công nghệ expert with 25 years of experience. She"s been a senior technical writer, worked as a programmer, & has even run her own multi-location business. Read more...

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About How-To Geek
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This series is intended khổng lồ help you master the important and useful features of Google’s Gmail và its simple but smart interface. By the kết thúc of these lessons, we’ll take you from a rookie to lớn a power user.


Gmail is one of the most popular webmail services out there. Gmail began in 2004 as what would turn out lớn be an extended 5-year beta & didn’t become open to the public until 2007.

Gmail was one of the first web-based email products khổng lồ offer a gigabyte of initial storage, trumping many of the other popular webmail services at the time, who typically offered 2 lớn 4 megabytes. Over time, Google has continued to lớn increase storage capathành phố and now offers 15 gigabytes of initial storage when you sign up for a new account!

Google also broke with tradition by offering an interface that organizes messages into lớn threads, and while you can still break these threads inlớn individual messages (we’ll talk about this later), it immediately made for a much cleaner inbox.


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Also, Gmail tread new ground by completely doing away with old school folders. Instead, users could now apply “labels,” as many as they needed, & thus filter their messages without ever filing it away in a folder. While the labels appear to bởi vì the same thing as folders, they’re actually far more versatile as we’ll find out later in Lesson 3.

Why Should You Use Gmail?

Let’s talk a bit more about Gmail’s best features and why, if you’re not already using Gmail, you might consider starting.

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Gmail Provides Plenty of Storage

Gmail provides over 15 GB of miễn phí storage, which allows you lớn save all your messages for future reference. NOTE: This 15 GB is shared with Google Drive sầu và Google+ Photos.

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Best of all, Google is always increasing your account’s storage capacity, so you don’t need khổng lồ worry about running out of space, & if you bởi, you can always purchase more!

Conversations in Emails are Organized inlớn Threads

Emails are automatically grouped according khổng lồ subject line. When you receive sầu a reply to lớn a message, all previous related messages are displayed in a collapsible vertical thread, making it easy khổng lồ see the entire conversation & Reviews what has been discussed previously.

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We will discuss the conversation view thoroughly, later in Lesson 2.

Thorough Malware and Virus-Checking Features

Gmail constantly updates its anti-malware và anti-virus scanners khổng lồ give sầu you the most up-to-date protection possible.

File attachments are saved on Google’s servers, but if malware or a virus makes it through in a message, Gmail displays a warning and immediately quarantines the offending message.


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You cannot turn the vi khuẩn filtering off, và it does prevent you from sending an executable (.exe) tệp tin as an attachment. If you really need to lớn sover anything like an .exe pháo tệp tin, you will first need lớn place it in a container such as a .zip or .rar file.

Excellent Spam Filtering

Gmail has some pretty excellent spam filtering, stray messages vị get through occasionally but for the most part, you’re unlikely khổng lồ see messages you don’t want to lớn see.

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Gmail in a Browser

We want to begin by touring the Gmail interfaces you will encounter. We’ll start with the web browser, which most Gmail users will be immediately familiar with. You can access Gmail in any web browser, however, How-To Geek recommends Google Chrome, và that is the browser we use in this series.

In Lesson 2, we’ll continue by focusing on the Smartphone Android tiện ích.

Quickly & Easily Find Messages Using the Search Box

You can quickly find tin nhắn messages using the power of Google Search, which is tied inkhổng lồ your Gmail allowing for instant results. Simply enter your search criteria in the tìm kiếm field và cliông xã the blue button or hit “enter.”

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Advanced search operators are query words or symbols that help you refine your tìm kiếm. They persize special actions that allow you khổng lồ quickly and easily traông chồng down what you’re looking for (see Google’s Advanced Search help page for a menu of the most useful operators).


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For more tìm kiếm options, clichồng the arrow on the tìm kiếm box.

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A dialog box drops down allowing you to lớn search for tin nhắn messages based on “From,”, “To,” “Subject,” message nội dung, attachments, and more.

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Access Other Gmail Features Using the Mail Menu

Click the “Mail” menu to lớn access other Gmail features like Google Contacts and Google Tasks.

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Perkhung Comtháng Actions on Your Messages Using the Action Buttons

kích hoạt buttons let you take actions on your messages. For example, you can use the buttons lớn label, delete, or mark one or more messages as spam. The action buttons are located under the search box & above sầu your messages.

Some buttons like “Archive sầu,” “Report spam,” and “Labels” are only available if you’ve selected one or more messages or opened a message.

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The “Select” button allows you to lớn quickly & easily select all or none of your messages, all read or unread messages, or all starred or unstarred messages. Clichồng the arrow on the “Select” button to access the various options for selecting your messages.


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To quickly select all your messages, cliông chồng the empty check box on the “Select” button. When the kiểm tra box on the “Select” button has a kiểm tra in it, all your messages are selected. Clicking the kiểm tra box on the “Select” button when it contains a kiểm tra mark, quickly de-selects all your messages.

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The “Archive” button allows you to remove sầu messages from your inbox, but keep them in your Gmail tài khoản, for later reference. You can think of archiving lượt thích moving an important file on your desk into lớn your filing cabinet rather than inkhổng lồ the trash can.

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If you have received any messages that seem to be spam, use the “Report spam” button to lớn report this to lớn Google. While Gmail’s spam filters works very well, they’re not perfect & errant messages do get through every now & then. This feature helps them get better at filtering out annoying, unwanted messages. To report a message as spam, select the kiểm tra box next to the message in your inbox or open the message, then click the “Report spam” button on the toolbar.

If you (or Google) has accidentally marked a message as spam, you can recover it. Simply, cliông xã the “Spam” label in the menu of labels on the left. Select the message that is not spam and click the “Not spam” button on the toolbar.

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Remember, the more spam messages you report, the better Google gets at filtering out these unwanted messages.

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Use the “Delete” button khổng lồ move sầu messages khổng lồ the “Trash.” Messages in the “Trash” are permanently deleted automatically after 30 days. Once a message has been permanently deleted from “Trash,” it cannot be recovered.


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To “undelete” a message, move the message, drag it lớn the “Inbox,” or another label. You can manually delete all the messages in the “Trash” by clicking the “Empty Trash now” liên kết at the top of the danh mục.

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Gmail allows you to delete specific messages within a conversation thread. We will discuss this further in a later section.

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The “Move sầu to” button accesses a thực đơn very similar to lớn the “Labels” button discussed below. However, when you select one or more messages, cliông xã “Move sầu to” & then select a label from the “Move to” menu. The selected message or messages are moved out of the “Inbox” inlớn that label, lượt thích a folder.

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The “Labels” button allows you to lớn organize your messages into categories. They’re similar lớn folders, but they add an additional feature not available with folders: you can add more than one label to lớn a message.

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To add a label to lớn a message, select the message, click the “Labels” button, và select a label from the các mục. The list does not close after you make a selection, so you can easily apply more than one label to a message.

Only you can see labels you apply lớn messages. So, you can mark a message with whatever label you want, such as “Read later,” and the sender of the message will never know.

Take kích hoạt on All Messages or Quickly Cheông chồng Email

If you have no message selected or open, there are only three kích hoạt buttons available: “Select,” “Refresh,” & “More.”

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The “Select” button (with the empty kiểm tra box) offers the same options that it does when one or more messages are selected or a message is open.

Use the “Refresh” button (with the circular arrow) khổng lồ check for new gmail.

When no messages are selected or open, the “More” button only allows you to lớn mark all messages as read.

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Display Text on Buttons Rather than Pictures

If you prefer to lớn have text instead of icons on the “Action” buttons, you can change a setting to accomplish this.

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Cliông xã the “Settings” gear button và select “Settings” from the drop-down thực đơn. Scroll down to lớn the “Button labels” section & select the “Text” option.

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Scroll down khổng lồ the bottom of the page và cliông chồng “Save Changes.” All the “Action” buttons, except the “Select” button, change lớn display text instead of icons.

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Quickly Move sầu Through Your Messages Using the Newer & Older Buttons

If you have a lot of email messages in your inbox, you can use the “Newer” và “Older” buttons lớn move through your messages. These buttons are only active sầu if you have a message open.

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Communicate Internationally Using the Input Tools Button

Gmail provides many different virtual keyboards và IMEs (input đầu vào method editors) you must turn on lớn use, allowing you lớn communicate in different languages using different keyboard layouts for improved international communication. IMEs allow you to use a Latin alphabet keyboard to convert your keystrokes to characters in another language.

The Transliteration input tool allows you khổng lồ type languages phonetically in English letters, và they’ll display in their correct alphabet.

A Handwriting input tool is available that allows you to write words using your mouse or trackpad.

NOTE: Transliteration is different from translation. When using transliteration, you are only converting the sound of the words from one alphabet khổng lồ the other, not the meaning.


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Cliông chồng the keyboard button to lớn turn the Input tools on or off. cảnh báo that you can also press “Ctrl + Shift + K” to vì chưng this.

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Clicking the down arrow on the right side of the keyboard button displays the đầu vào options, such as selecting a different keyboard layout, enabling a personal dictionary, và accessing the “Input Tools Settings.”

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In Lesson 10, we will discuss the different types of input đầu vào tools, show you how lớn turn the “Input Tools” on và off, and select specific đầu vào tools lớn be available on the thực đơn.

Customize Gmail Using the Settings Button

Use the “Settings” gear button to define your display density setting (the space between messages và objects in Gmail), access other settings or themes, và get Gmail help.

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We will discuss useful Gmail settings in Lesson 3.

Write và Send Emails Using the Compose Button

Use the Compose button in the upper, left corner of the main Gmail screen to lớn write & send new emails. You can format your text, add images & liên kết, và attach files. We will show you all the Compose features in Lesson 2.

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Organize Your Inbox Using Default & Custom Labels

To the left of the Inbox is a các mục of labels. This menu is similar to the menu available from the “Labels” button, và just like the “Labels” button, it allows you to lớn organize the messages in your inbox inkhổng lồ categories.


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Gmail comes with several mặc định labels và you can add custom labels. The number in parentheses next to lớn a label indicates the number of unread messages associated or tagged, with that label. Click a label link to display all messages associated with that label.

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When you drag a message to a label, it’s similar to lớn using the “Move sầu to” button. The message is moved to lớn that label & is removed from the inbox. However, you can also drag a label from the menu to a message to lớn associate it with that label. This allows you lớn drag multiple labels lớn a single message, unlike folders.

The “All Mail” label is your archive. Use this label to lớn help reduce clutter in your inbox. Move sầu messages you’ve read (but don’t want to delete) in your inbox khổng lồ the “All Mail” label to lớn archive the message. Messages in the “All Mail” label are never deleted (unless you delete them) & are always available by clicking the “All Mail” label links. When you use the “Search” box to lớn find messages, the messages in the “All Mail” label are included in the search.

You can also assign different colors to lớn your labels to quickly find messages at a glance in your inbox. Clicking the arrow to lớn the right of a label allows you to lớn access options for that label, such as changing the color. Use this menu lớn show or hide the label in the labels các mục or in the message danh mục, to lớn edit or remove a label, or add a sub-label khổng lồ the label.

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We’ll cover labels at great length in Lesson 3.

Read và Organize Your Messages in Your Inbox

Your inbox displays all tin nhắn messages you’ve received and haven’t yet moved khổng lồ a label or archived. By default, unread messages in your inbox have sầu a trắng background and display in bold lettering while read messages have sầu a gray background & normal type.

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Everyone has their own distinct way of viewing & dealing with tin nhắn. Gmail allows you to lớn change your inbox style. Simply, cliông chồng the arrow to the right of the Inbox label & select a different style from the drop-down menu.


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The currently selected style is indicated with a check mark. Each style is described to the right of the menu as you move sầu your mouse over the options.

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Switching from one style to lớn another does not affect the messages in your inbox, it only changes the order in which the messages are listed.

Indicate Important Messages Using Stars

Use stars in your inbox khổng lồ mark certain messages as “Important.” For example, you can star messages that you need lớn reply to lớn later. To star a message, simply click the star to the left of the sender’s name.

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If you already have sầu the message open, you can cliông xã the “More” button and select “Add star.”

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You can add other types of stars, such as an exclamation point or a kiểm tra mark by modifying the preference in settings. We will show you how lớn vì chưng this in Lesson 4.

Easily Spot Messages with Attachments or Calendar Invitations

Gmail informs you visually when a message contains an attachment or an invitation with an ibé to lớn the right of the subject line.


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In the image below, we have an invitation lớn lunch (calendar icon) in one message, và an attachment (paperclip icon) on another.

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Stay Connected with Hangouts

Google Hangouts allows you lớn skết thúc messages, photos, & make đoạn phim calls with your friends và family. It’s available in Gmail below the các mục of labels on the left.

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We will briefly discuss Hangouts much later in Lesson 8.

Overview of the Course

For the remainder of this series, we will concentrate on nine key areas:

Lesson 2: The mobile App, Composing Mail, và Conversations

We finish our tour of the Gmail interface by going inkhổng lồ the Smartphone ứng dụng. Then we cover how lớn compose emails including replying lớn and forwarding. Finally, we will introduce you to the conversation view, how to disable it, và how khổng lồ delete a single message from a conversation.

Lesson 3 – Inbox Management & Labels

In Lesson 3 we move sầu on lớn inbox management such as how to lớn automatically categorize you inbox message và organize your messages with different inbox styles. Afterward, we dig into mail labels.

Lesson 4 – Mail Filters and the Star System

Lesson 4 begins with a discussion on how lớn filter your labeled mail, including how to lớn easily import & export existing filters into other Gmail accounts. We wind up the lesson by focusing on the star systems, which allows you lớn mark various tin nhắn messages with different color stars, making messages easier lớn find and group.

Lesson 5 – Attachments, Signatures, and Security

If you’ve sầu ever wanted lớn include a signature at the end of each message, then you’ll find out how to lớn vì chưng that in Lesson 5. We also touch briefly on Gmail’s attachment functionality and we’ll wrap the lesson up with coverage on how to change your password, add two-level security, and baông xã up your data.

Lesson 6 – Invitations và Vacation Responders

In Lesson 6, we cover invitations – how to find, respond, và insert them inlớn Gmail messages. Wrapping up, we explain how vacation responders work and how lớn use them effectively when you’re away from the office.

Lesson 7 – Use Gmail as a Task List

Lesson 7 is devoted solely lớn using Gmail as a task các mục – adding, creating, renaming, và just about anything else task menu related.

Lesson 8 – Multiple Accounts, Keyboard Shortcuts, Hangouts

Here we cover Google Hangouts (formally Gtalk), which will allow you to easily chat with any other Gmail user, or create a group chat (Hangout), with multiple users. Then we jump into lớn using và managing multiple accounts, how lớn sign out of Gmail remotely, and finally a brief introduction khổng lồ using Gmail with a keyboard.

Lesson 9 – Use Your Gmail Account khổng lồ Access Other Accounts and Working Offline

If you have sầu other email accounts, you can access them through your Gmail, allowing you to consolidate all your accounts inkhổng lồ one. You can also use Gmail offline in case you don’t have sầu reliable Internet access, such as if you’re traveling or in a remote area.

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Lesson 10 – Power nguồn Tips & Gmail Labs

We cthua the series out by taking you through some various remaining power tips và introducing you to Gmail Labs, which will let you extover the power & functionality of Gmail far beyond the basic, default user interface.


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Lori KaufmanLori Kaufman is a technology expert with 25 years of experience. She"s been a senior technical writer, worked as a programmer, và has even run her own multi-location business. Read Full Bio »

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