How to Use Gmail's Handiest Features

Beginner tips for sending, formatting, labeling, and more in Gmail

Gmail logo


Gmail can be used simply as an interface to send and receive email messages. But its many features do much more. Check out the items below and see which features can help make your personal or work life easier.

Send From Any Email Address

After a simple verification process to prove an email address is yours, use Gmail to compose messages in Gmail and send them from that address. Recipients see the message as being sent from the non-Gmail address.

Gmail new message with multiple from addresses to choose from

Use Automatic Forwarding or POP Access

Do you prefer a desktop email application to Gmail's web interface? To get Gmail messages without going to the Gmail website, have Gmail forward incoming mail automatically to another email address or download it directly to your email app.

Gmail showing the settings area for forwarding or POP/IMAP

Check Your Spelling

The Gmail spell checker is integrated and recognizes many languages. To use it, at the bottom of the composition window, select the menu (three-dot) icon and choose Check spelling. Then click any highlighted words to view spelling options.

Gmail showing new message with spell check engaged

Apply Rich Text Formatting

In most browsers, rich formatting such as custom fonts and colors, bold or italic face, indentation, and more can be added to email messages.

Gmail with composition window open, showing large typeface size and color

Have an Email Conversation

When you open an email in Gmail, you open the entire conversation thread. Gmail shows every message in its context, preceded by previous emails and followed by subsequent emails.

Gmail email conversation

Chat with Google Talk

In the Gmail application, chat on Google Talk with anybody connected to the Google Talk network. Conversations are automatically archived.

Google Chat window

Organize Messages with Labels

Use Gmail labels to categorize email messages. You can use as many labels as you want. To make a message show up under multiple folders, use the corresponding labels.

Gmail with the labels menu displayed

Choose How to Handle a Message

Deal with an incoming Gmail message in a variety of ways such as reply, forward, move to a folder, create an event, or report as spam.

Gmail with incoming messages menu displayed

Set a Vacation Responder

While you take a vacation or just a vacation from email, Gmail can reply on your behalf. Anyone who sends you multiple messages will receive your reply every four days.

Gmail with vacation responder feature displayed

Create Events From Emails

Appointments, plans, events, invitations, and meetings appear in emails regularly. Gmail can extract the details automatically and add events mentioned in messages to your Google Calendar.

To add an event in an email message, select the menu (three-dot) icon, then choose Create event. This opens Google Calendar, where you'll make modifications to the item. When you select Save, you have the option to send invites to friends. After you send the event invitation, the event appears in your Google Calendar.

Google Calendar showing an invitation created from Gmail

RSVP to Event Invitations

If you receive an invitation in an email, you can accept or decline from the message. To help you schedule, Gmail displays the appointments in your calendar around the time of the new event. To reply, select Yes, Maybe, or No under the event title.

Gmail invitation