At the time of its release, and even to this day, Gmail challenged the way people thought about web-based email. When it was made available to the general public on February 7th, 2007, Gmail differed from other services like Yahoo Mail and MSN Hotmail in a number of ways:
- Email messages are arranged into threads called ‘conversations.’ Rather than organizing email sequentially by date, by sender, or by subject.
- The storage capacity of Gmail in its original closed beta was 1GB at a time when the most you could get from competing services of 2-4MB.
- Spam filtering in Gmail was community driven. This helps Gmail as a whole learn to filter similar messages for all users, not just user who marks a message as spam.
- From the start Gmail was heavily search-oriented. Google used their own search technology to allow Gmail users to search their inbox for messages.
That link leads you to a page where Google provides a guide to “Become a Gmail Ninja.” The different features in Gmail are divided into four levels:
- White Belt: Includes basic features like how to use stars to mark a note as special, how to reply by chat, and how to organize email using Gmail’s label system. Each rank is also divided by how much email a person deals with in a day. The typical Gmail White Belt is a user who only gets a few emails a day, and maybe only uses Gmail as an alternate email solution.
- Green Belt: Covers more advanced features like using Google video chat in Gmail, adding filters to incoming mail, and adding the forgotten attachment detector available in labs (and my favorite Gmail gadget by far). The typcial Gmail Green Belt is a user who gets a moderate amount of email every day and/or uses Gmail as their exclusive mail system.
- Black Belt: At the Black Belt level the Google guide goes over speeding up Gmail through keyboard shortcuts, filtering email with personalized email addresses, and setting up canned responses (definitely a useful feature). The typical Gmail Black Belt is a user who is definitely using Gmail exclusively, and someone who deals with a lot of email messages every day.
- The Master: A Gmail Master is someone who uses Google Docs and Google Calendar within Gmail, can sign out of their account remotely if it is left open on a public computer, and has personalized RSS feeds in web clips. Like the Black Belt the Gmail Master uses only Gmail as their email client, and they deal with a massive amount of email per day.
The features described at each level above are only a small sample of those offered by Gmail and Google Labs. To make it easier for the average user to choose the features they want, Google has published this guide online, and also made available a PDF version that users can print. Google also offers a laminated guide for $1.25. The laminated guide was given away for free to the first 1,024 (get it?) users to request a copy.
Take a look at some of the links below for more about Gmail Tips.
- Gmail tips on the official Google Blog
- How to Become a Gmail Ninja reported on Softpedia
- Google Offering Gmail Ninja Lessons on Information Week’s “Grok on Google” column
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