Selected Offline Messages and Password Tips

This entry is part 22 of 27 in the series Black Belt

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Back in January 2009, Gmail came out with a labs feature to let you access your Gmail without an Internet connection. The mail was synchronized when you were connected and then you could access it when you were offline. For frequent travelers, this is a terrific feature. You can learn more about it by listenging to the Gmail Podcast episode simply titled Offline from March 1, 2009.

The downside of the standard offline mode is that it took a very long time to download the messages or in some cases, all the messages you wanted were not there due to the way the software chooses which messages to download. You might find yourself with plenty of messages from a year ago that have little value, but not all your inbox was synced.

Gmail Offline now lets you choose which items to download and how far back to get them. This not only saves download time, but also ensures you have relevant information at your fingertips. For example, my Gmail archive is currently around 30,000 messages. It would take a couple hours to download all those messages, and according to the heuristics, I might not get all of the the ones I want.

To setup selected offline messages, you’ll need to enable the “Offline” labs feature from the Labs tab on the Settings screen. Once that is done, you can use the “Offline” tab from the Settings screen. The “Download Options” section of that screen is where you configure how far back you want to sync your conversations and from which labels. The old method would have defaulted to all conversations from all labels. I setup mine to only go back a month and then fine tune it to first, ignore most labels, then chose some like Inbox that I want all conversations, and finally chose a few fairly active labels where I only need the past month. Once I saved those options, I was able to sync my data in a few minutes and take it on the road.

This feature really makes Gmail Offline a lot more convenient, but you will need to remember to check the settings from time to time to ensure you add labels as they are needed and remove those that are not.

Here’s today’s quick tip – Be sure to change your Gmail password at least a couple times a year. There are people on the Internet who make a career out of trying to steal passwords. Some guidelines to follow when choosing a new Gmail password:

  • Make it unique. Don’t make it the same as your other Internet accounts. If someone compromises your Gmail account, they could have access to lots of other information on the Internet. If you have lots of different passwords to remember, I recommend a password vault program like KeePass available from keepass.info. I use because I have over 100 different passwords to remember at home and work.
  • Use a combination of upper case and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. One common trick is to replace letters with symbols. For example, replace S with a dollar sign, or T with a 7.
  • Don’t use simple words found in the dictionary like “house”, “automobile”, and definitely not “password”.
  • Don’t use personal information that is easy to find such as your street name, dog’s name, and so on.
  • Putting two or more words together with symbols is a good idea. Something like “dino+eggs”, of course replacing some of those letters with numbers or other symbols would make it a much stronger password.
  • Finally, make you password something you are likely to remember. “dino+eggs” would be great if you are a paleontologist, but not necessarily if you are a stock trader.

You can change your password by going to google.com/accounts, or if you are starting from Gmail, go to settings, click on the “Accounts and import” tab, then look near the bottom for a link labeled “Google Account Settings”.

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