Google Mail Helpful Hints

  • Some useful things to know about Google Mail 

    If you feel unprepared for using Google Mail - or even if you feel very prepared, this is an overview of how to use Google Mail. I promise that you will learn some things if you watch this.

    And if you are looking for the golden nuggets of possibilities, this video describes some tricks too.

    And here's some handy ways to manage your email using Filters, Labels, Categories.

    Trying to create your "own" Groups - they aren't "Groups", they are Labels. Here's a video that explains.

    (Note that a few of the items mentioned in these videos are not possible in our environment, but most are!)

    Some particular "look-for's"

    Conversation vs Normal View: "Normal" view shows items essentially in order as they are received. "Conversation View" groups emails based on the email "thread" of replies, forwards. By default, Google mail shows email in "Conversation View". Some will like that. Others will not. To change it, simply go into Settings -> All Settings (Gear in top right) and then look for "Conversation View" which is either ON or OFF.

    Delayed Send: Once sent, Google Email cannot be retracted, but you can assign a send-delay that will automatically put in a short delay before actually sending - this allows you to stop the send after you hit Send but before it is actually sent. To enable it, simply go into Settings -> All Settings (Gear in top right) and then look for "Undo Send". 

    System-Defined Groups: System-Defined groups exist like they did in GroupWise - But in order to keep them separated from groups of students, all staff groups now begin with "Stf-", have "-" (not spaces) between all words, and include our domain ( So, what may have been "All Teacher Librarians" is now "" - BTW: this will auto-fill as you type it...

    An interesting (frustrating?) nuance: When you send an email to a Group that you are a member of, Google does not send you a copy. Of course, it is in your "Sent" folder, but you don't get a copy in your inbox automatically. You can include yourself though as a "to", a "cc", a "bc" and then you will get a copy. 

    LABELS (not Groups, not Folders): In Contacts and in Email, Google does not support traditional Groups (for contacts) or Folders (for organizing emails). Instead, each contact or email can be assigned a Label or even many Labels. The Labels end up functioning like Groups or Folders, but they are slightly different. The main difference is that if you delete the item, it is not just deleted from the Group or Folder, it is GONE. In most cases, you probably just want to remove a Label from an item rather than deleting the item. This is a video that helps explain them and how to set them up.

    Scheduling an Email to be Sent in the Future: When you compose an email, there is a Send button at the bottom of the window. It is not obvious that there is actually a pop-up menu there that will allow you to Schedule Send the email instead. This will allow you to send an email "now" but have not actually sent until some point in the future. This is handy to send yourself or others reminders in the future, or to send a particular email at a particularly valuable point in time.

    Student Class Address Books in Google Mail: Some teachers used Class Address Books in the past with your GroupWise account. There are new versions of these that do work, even for the Groups. To do so, all you need to do is go to your Contacts, click on Import (on the Left), then select your class file as found in the L drive under "Addrbooks". One important note though - when addressing an email to these groups, you should be sure to address the Group using the BC option so as to avoid exposing the actual email addresses among the recipients (GroupWise did this for you).

    Keyboard Shortcuts: If you are a person who uses Keyboard Shortcuts, this little tidbit might be the coolest thing EVER! So, Google Mail does support keyboard shortcuts. You have to turn them on - simply go into Settings -> All Settings (Gear in top right) and then look for "Keyboard Shortcuts" which is either ON or OFF. Set it to ON and then Save...

    Now, what are the shortcuts though? Well, pretty much anywhere in the Google Mail interface EXCEPT when composing an email, hit the ? on your keyboard (yes, that takes a "shift" to get the question mark). Voila! There they are! A couple notables: "c" to compose a new message (seriously? just a "c" - yep!), Ctrl-Shift-c to add a CC recipient to an email... There are a LOT though...

    Extra Special Bonus for reading this far: Holding Shift or Ctrl (Command key on a Mac) while clicking things sometimes does convenient things. Specifically, holding Ctrl while clicking an email will open the email in its own browser tab. Holding Shift while clicking an email will open the email in a new pop-out window. The same works when clicking the Compose button - Ctrl will create a new message in its own tab, Shift will create a new message in its own window.

    Delivery Verification: As "true Internet-based" email, Google Mail has limited ability to verify whether an email is delivered or opened. More directly stated, you will not be able to tell if someone received your email with Google mail. There are things called "read receipts" but the sender's email has to "ask for them" and the recipient actually controls whether they are sent or not. The "receipt" comes in the form of another email into your mailbox and clutters things up. It does not get tied to the email that is in your Sent "folder". And there are many circumstances where read receipts are misleading and inaccurate. Rather than providing misleading information, we have turned off your ability to use "read receipts" within our Google Mail System.

    Groupwise was actually based in an "internal" email system in which the database held all email and the system could easily just look at the email accounts of others within the system to determine status. Even Groupwise was not able to "look" at the email accounts of true Internet-based email accounts to determine status. This was a very helpful thing with Groupwise and one of the biggest things that will be "missed" as we move to Google mail.

    When I click Email Links on Webpages, they are opening in Groupwise: This is because your computer thinks that Groupwise is still your email program "of choice". You can change this though using these instructions.

    Nothing tells me when I receive a new email: Google Mail can be set to notify you of incoming email. Here is a Google article describing how to do that on a computer. If you enable this and it still does not seem to be working, visit the "All Settings" again and look for a banner in the Desktop Notificiations section that may be asking you to enable this. This usually happens when you access your account on a different device and your Google account knows it wants to make notifications, but the computer is not yet allowing it.

    Note that there are different setup instructions Notifications for Android phones or iOS devices (iPads or iPhones).

    Password Recovery Options: If you forget your Google password, you have two options: 1) You contact IT staff and we reset your password (, or 2) You use Google's password recovery tools to set a new password. The first option can take some time, but the second option takes some pro-active setup. Luckily though, it is simple to setup.

    The idea with the Recovery Options is that you provide an alternative email address and/or phone number to the system. When and if you ever forget your password, you hit the "Forgot Password" link on the login page and the system will contact you at either of those and provide a backdoor to set a new password. You can get in within a few minutes and without anyone's help.

    For reasons having to do with our Google environment being mostly K-12 age students, Google does not support their normal methods of setting a Recovery email account or phone number. However, we have created a way to do it anyway:

    2-Step/Multi-Factor Authentication: With so much of our communication existing in the GoogleSphere, it is very important that you practice good security. Perhaps the single best thing you can do to protect your account is to enable Two-Step Authentication. With this, when you log in, you will be prompted on some other device (a 2nd factor) to approve your login. This adds a powerful and effective layer of security to your account.  To do so:

    1. Open your Google Account or click on your Google Profile icon in the top-right of most Google pages and select Manage Your Google Account.
    2. In the navigation panel, select Security.
    3. Under “Signing in to Google,” select 2-Step Verification and then Get started.
    4. Follow the on-screen steps.

    Want some instruction on using the Google Calendar too?

    Here's a nice overview video of how Google Calendar works.

    Creating "Randomly Set" Calendar Events: The Google Calendar does support "repeating events". However, it seems to only support them if they are in some sort of pattern - every 3rd Thursday for example... This is close to true, but there is a workaround. As you may recall, in Groupwise, you could just pick random dates and assign a single event to those dates. To do this in Google, you would create the event as a repeating event using a pattern that is "close" to what hits the right dates - for example, the event is normally is on the 1st Monday of the month but there are exceptions. So, create it as repeating on the 1st Mondays. Then, after the events exist, go to the ones that don't meet the pattern and you can move/edit them. When you save that, Google will remember that it was part of a series of events and ask if you want to apply the change to all occurences or just to this one instance. And there you go...

    Granting someone access to your Google Mail or Calendar

    In the Google world, this is referred to as "delegation" of your email account. Follow the link to learn how to set this up.

    To allow someone to see your calendar(s)), you "share" your calendar with them. Follow the link to learn how to set this up.

    Accessing Google Mail or Calendar on your phone

    In most cases, this is simply a matter of obtaining/installing and using the Gmail App for your device. Once installed, you simply add your Google account to it. Here are instructions - note that the instructions are slightly different for iOS devices vs Androids.

    Similarly accessing Google Calendar on your phone is usually a matter of obtaining/installing and using the Google Calendar App for your device. Once installed, you simply add your Google account to it. Here are instructions - note that the instructions are slightly different for iOS devices vs Androids.

    Can I access my Google Mail using Outlook (or other 3rd party clients)?

    Bottom line answer is "probably". In short, if you do this, then a particular feature has to be supported by Google's 3rd party interface AND by the 3rd party client. Each situation will be different in terms of those abilities. But, yes, this can be done. Here are the steps/settings that you will need.

    Access Old Groupwise Email via Retain

    Every single email going into or out of our GroupWise email system is copied to a system called "Retain" and has been for years. This system is accessible at Your login is the same as it is for the GroupWise system - the username is just the first part of your email address (does not include Email cannot be deleted from this system. However, you can review email in Retain and you can select specific emails and email them back to yourself which, after July 23, will arrive in your Google account.