What's So Great About Gmail?

Security, ease of use, and no cost are just some of the benefits

Gmail logo backed by a screenshot of Gmail

Google Inc.

Gmail is Google's free email service, accessible at mail.google.com. If you have a Google account, you already have a Gmail account.

Getting an Account

In its infancy, Gmail was available by invitation only, but now you can just sign up for an account whenever you like. When you do, you'll join a user base of more than 1.5 billion. The process is very simple and fast. 

How It's Funded

Gmail is sponsored by AdSense ads, which appear on the side panels of messages when you open them from within Gmail's website. The ads are unobtrusive and computer-matched to keywords within the mail message by Gmail's algorithms.

Unlike some competitors, Gmail does not put ads in or add attachments to the actual messages you send and receive. No ads appear in Gmail on Android phones. 

Spam Filtering

Most email services offer some sort of spam filtering these days, and Google has a reputation for being highly effective. The service attempts to filter advertising spam, viruses, and phishing attempts.

Not even Gmail's advanced spam filters are 100 percent effective. Always be cautious about opening email from unknown or unexpected sources.

Integration With Google Hangouts

Gmail's desktop version shows a Google Hangouts (previously Google Talk) interface on the screen, so you can send instant messages and make video and voice calls conveniently.

Space, Space, and More Space

Gmail offers 15 GB of storage space, which is shared with Google Drive and Google Photos. You can buy additional storage space if necessary. 

Free POP and IMAP

POP and IMAP are the internet protocols that most mail services use to retrieve mail messages. That means you can use programs such as Outlook and Apple Mail to check your Gmail account.

Search

As you might expect from the makers of Google, Gmail's search capabilities are legendary. You can search quickly through saved email and Hangouts sessions as if you were searching websites. Google automatically skips searching through its Spam and Trash folders, and you can use advanced searches to find exactly what you need.

Gmail advanced search

Offline Access

You can use Gmail even when your computer is not connected to the internet by enabling the feature in Settings. New messages will be received and sent when your computer is connected again. 

Enable offline mail in Gmail

Other Features

Gmail is available on nearly any desktop and mobile platform and lets you perform a host of other tasks and customizations. Among many other feats, you can:

What's Not to Love?

Gmail has exploded in popularity, but it also has become a tool for spammers. Occasionally, you may find that your messages are filtered by spam detection software on other email servers. Really, though, Gmail carries very few drawbacks for the wealth of features it offers.

Although Gmail lets you keep your mail archived on their servers, don't use only one backup method for important data, just as you wouldn't leave important data on only one hard drive.