How to Get Started With Your New Gmail Account

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If you've ever had an email account, you'll be somewhat familiar with the way Gmail works. You receive, send, delete, and archive mail in Gmail just as you would with any other email service. However, if you have ever struggled with an ever-growing inbox and setting up filters to move messages to folders or if you never seemed to find an email in the folder where it belonged, you will appreciate the easy methods for archiving, finding, and labeling of messages that Gmail provides.

If you've never had an email account before, Gmail is a good place to start. It is reliable and free, and it comes with 15GB of email message space for your account. Your email is stored online so you can connect to it from wherever you are over an internet connection and with any of your devices.

How to Get a Gmail Account

You need Google credentials to log in to a Gmail account. If you already have a Google account, you don't need another one. Click the menu in the top right corner of the Google.com website and click on Gmail to open the email client. If you don't already have a Google account or aren't sure if you have one, go to Google.com and click Sign In in the top right corner. If you have a Google account, Google asks if you want to use it for your Gmail. If so, click it and proceed. If not, click Add account and follow the screen prompts. You may have several Google accounts, but you can only have one Gmail account.

If Google doesn't find any existing accounts for you, you'll see the Google sign-in screen. To make a new account:

  1. Click Create account at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Enter your name and username in the fields provided. You can use letters, periods and numerals in your username. Google ignores capitalization. If your username choice is already in use, try again until you get a username that no one else already has.
  3. Enter a password and re-enter it in the fields provided. Your password must be at least eight characters long.
  4. Enter your birthdate and gender in the fields provided.
  5. Enter your account recovery information, which may be a cell phone number or an alternate email address.
  6. Agree to Google's privacy information, and you have a new Gmail account.
  7. Return to the Google.com webpage, and click Gmail at the top of the screen.
  8. Review the introductory information on several pages and then click Go to Gmail on the screen. Enter your new sign in credentials and password if prompted to do so.

How to Use Gmail

When you first go to your Gmail screen, you'll be prompted to add a photo to your profile and choose a theme. You aren't required to do either at this time to use Gmail. If you have another email account, you can choose to import your contacts from that account. Then you are ready to use Gmail.

  • To send a new Gmail message, click the Compose button. Enter your recipient's email address, a subject, and the message content just as you would in any email client.
  • After a few days and some email exchanges, process your inbox as described below, and process it regularly thereafter.
  • To sign out of Gmail, click your profile icon (or image) to open your Account screen. Click Sign out.

Processing Emails in Your Inbox

Click Inbox in the panel to the left of the email screen. For each message in your Gmail Inbox:

  1. Click on and read the message.
  2. Reply right away if you can.
  3. Apply all relevant labels to organize the emails as you need them by clicking the label icon at the top of the screen and selecting one of the categories in the drop-down menu. You can also create custom labels. For example, make a label for mail and newsletters you want to read later, labels for all the projects you are working on, labels for (large) clients you work with, a label for ideas, and labels with dates for when you need to revisit messages. You don't need to set up labels for specific contacts. Your Gmail address book does that automatically.
  4. Click the Star that appears immediately to the left of an email message to mark it as an urgent to-do item.
  5. Optionally, mark the message unread to add importance and visual boldness to it.
  6. Archive or—if you are certain you won't need to view the email again—trash the message.

How to Return to Certain Emails

  • Search for a message by content or attributes using the search bar.
  • Use your Gmail Contacts to find all correspondence with certain people.
  • Refer to your labels to gather relevant mail. As soon as a label no longer applies to a message, remove it.