Archive for the ‘Gmail Master’ Category

Priority Inbox

This entry is part 35 of 35 in the series Green Belt

Sponsored by GotoAssist Express – Try it free for 30 days

Gmail is attempting to make your email easier to sort through by releasing a feature called Priority Inbox. I have to admit, at first I was skeptical of how this feature would work since I’m one of those people who generally keep their inbox to 10 items or less. A few times a day I go through my inbox and archive the reference information, delete the things I don’t want to see again, take action on the quick items, and mark the other actions for later action. That seems to work fairly well. “What value do I get with Google guessing at the importance of my incoming messages?” was my first thought.

Let me back up a bit. When your account is enabled with this feature, you will see a red message in the upper right by your login name indicating Priority Inbox has been turned on. If you like, there is a short video in the pop up window that helps explain the benefits of priority inbox. Click the “Try it now” button in that same pop up window. Once enabled, Gmail does a few things. First, it creates a new link on the left called Priority Inbox. The regular Inbox is still available just below that link. Second, it goes through your mail and makes some guesses at what mail is important to you and labels them as Important. Finally, the conversation index is divided in to four sections. By default, three of these are turned on. They are for messages labeled Important, Starred, and Everything Else. You can change these and even add a fourth section by going in the Settings under the Priority Inbox tab. You can also tweak a few of the other priority inbox settings from that same screen including the option to not show the priority inbox at all.

Like spam filters, the priority inbox needs to learn what’s important to you. Gmail has one of the best spam filters around and it’s these same methods that help learn and identify important email as well. If it gets something wrong, you can use the new + and – tags on the button bar just above the conversation index to help it get smarter. After only a few days and a few keystrokes, I’m noticing a marked improvement.

It is possible to abuse the priority inbox if you mark too many things important. What does “important” mean? That’s up to you. If you mark too many things important and find that 95% of all of your email is ending up in the Important section, then it has lost its value.

One other thing about priority inbox, I noticed that the shortcut keys g-i take you back to the priority inbox if you have it enabled. There doesn’t appear to be a shortcut for the standard inbox while priority inbox is around, but if you find one, let me know about it.

One final note, Google Voice has added email notifications for missed calls. This is not so much a quick tip, but an FYI . While this isn’t terribly useful for people with Android phones who see the missed call on their handset, it is nice if you are on your desktop where you can have the missed calls noted in your Google Voice inbox or emailed to you.

Play

Google Apps In The Enterprise

This entry is part 19 of 20 in the series Gmail Master

Colleague and fellow Friends in Tech member, George Starcher joins me for a look at his experience deploying Google Apps in the enterprise. This podcast runs a little longer than our normal format because it digs in to many aspects you should be aware of if you are thinking of replacing your legacy apps with a cloud solution.

Try GotoAssist Express free for 30 days

Play

Tags: , , , ,

Contextual Apps and Calendar Update

This entry is part 18 of 20 in the series Gmail Master
Try GotoAssist Express free for 30 days
This past week Microsoft announced several additions to Hotmail in order to better compete with Gmail. Â No, I am not changing this from the Gmail Podcast to the Hotmail Podcast. We Gmail users snickered because many of these features like conversation view, and one-click filtering have been in Gmail for years . Within hours of the Microsoft announcement, Gmail upped the ante by announcing an API, or application programming interface, to allow developers to create contextual gadgets.
Contextual gadgets allow you to interact with traditional non-email data without leaving your mail application. You may already be using contextual gadgets and not even realize it. Examples include YouTube, photo, and document previews. Watching a video within email is not something email was originally designed to do so Google thought it would be a great idea to look for YouTube (and similar links) and provide the information right in the message so you don’t have to click and switch to another browser window or application, then come back to manage your email.
Now these features is available to developers outside the Google Domain to extend the functionality of Gmail. Several already exist such as AwayFind that allows you to mark certain contacts or messages as urgent and flag the recipient can be alerted via phone, SMS, or IM. Contextual apps are available for those who host their domain with Google. For example, I can add AwayFind as an available feature to those with chuckchat.com email addresses because the chuckchat.com mail is hosted on Google.
The only information I could find at this time regarding the installation and activation of these apps was an article on CNet.com that Google Apps Administrators can install the contextual gadgets for their users.
When I logged in and went to Manage my chuckchat.com domain, a button appeared on the Dashboard near the top just below the menu bar that said “Continue with setup guide”. When I clicked on it, I was brought to the Google Apps Admin Help screen that has a link at the top to the Google Apps Marketplace. If you want to just look around, use google.com/enterprise/marketplace.
I went ahead and installed and configured AwayFind so I can be alerted via SMS to my Google Voice number when important messages come to a specific domain. It only took a few minutes and is nice to have for certain cases. I can manage the contextual app from the main control panel of the dashboard.
While doing research for this article I noticed that labs are now available in Gmail for hosted domains while themes are not yet an option.
One final thing, Google Calendar got a minor update this past week for the first time in a while. The changes may appear subtle at first. They include some tweaks to the fonts and colors to make them a bit sharper. If you use tasks in Gmail and Calendar, take note that the Tasks link in Calendar has been removed and replaced with a listing under My Calendars. When you turn this pseudo calendar on, the tasks will appear on the right hand side. Managing the tasks in Google Calendar is the same as in Gmail. See the Gmail Podcast archives for more information on tasks.
Play

Tags: , ,

Protect Yourself

This entry is part 17 of 20 in the series Gmail Master

This episode is sponsored by GotoAssist Express. Try it free for 30 days.

It’s time to take a look at maintaining your Gmail security. It’s no secret that the Internet can be a dangerous place. Fortunately, you don’t have to be an IT security geek to protect your Gmail account. With a few simple, common sense steps, and a little familiarity of some key Gmail features, you can protect yourself from people trying to gain access to your account.

You know the story. You get an email from a friend of yours who is reported to be stranded overseas and needs a couple hundred dollars to get home. This is one of the common messages and, of course, completely false. Your friend’s email account has been compromised, he’s got no idea until it’s too late, and your name happened to be in the address book along with who knows how many others who got a similar message. Remember, they wouldn’t be doing it if it didn’t work at least some of the time.

How do you prevent yourself from the same fate as your friend? (Not the ‘getting stuck overseas part’). The first step is understanding how your account could be breached. One way is forgetting logout on a public computer (a hotel kiosk for example.) Another way would be if someone had installed keylogging software on the computer you used. While undetectable to you, there are steps you can take to mitigate the risk.

First, select a strong password. Use a combination of letters, numbers, and throw in a symbol here or there. Use uppercase and lower case letters. Don’t use dictionary words or common names. Make it meaningful to you. For example: iat#1gmn! would be short for (I am the number 1 Gmail ninja). Also, change your password periodically. Yes, I know this is a pain, but when you think about it, even if someone has captured your password from a keylogger, it won’t be any good once you change your password. You can change your password under Settings> Accounts and Import> Change Account Settings or go to http://www.google.com/accounts

Second, remember to sign out when you’re done. It sounds simple, but it’s easy to forget.

Third, monitor any open sessions and understand what they mean. At the bottom of the main conversation index, there’s a line that says “Last account activity” and a link at the end to display the details. If you, or someone else, is logged on from another computer, it will tell you there. I often see one or two other computers logged in because I forget to logout on my home computer then access Gmail from work. By clicking on the Details link Gmail displays the location and IP addresses of the other sessions, a button to terminate the other sessions immediately, and a history of recent activity. It’s a good idea to become familiar with your home and work IP addresses so you can spot others that you don’t recognize. Remember to periodically scroll to the bottom of the screen and see how many other seessions are going. If it’s one or more, have a look at the details to be safe.

Finally, Gmail has created a feature that removes some of the burden of monitoring your activity. If Google sees activity on your account from two different countries within a few hours, you will see a warning message at the top of the screen in red which starts out “Warning, We believe your account was last accessed from…” You can turn this setting off from the same Activity history details mentioned earlier, but I don’t recommend it. Hopefully you’ll never see this message. While it’s nice to know Gmail is helping with some of the security, it doesn’t relieve you from doing some of the measures mentioned earlier.

Play

Tags: , , ,

Texting – Part 3

This entry is part 4 of 20 in the series Gmail Master

sms_smlThis episode is sponsored by GotoAssist. Try it free for 30 days

Welcome to part 3 of our 3 part series on texting from Gmail and Google applications. If you haven’t listened to parts 1 or 2, you can download them from iTunes or listen directly from the Gmail Podcast blog at chuckchat.com. That information is not required for this podcast, but it makes for a more complete picture of what you can do with Google applications and text messaging.
In parts 1 and 2 I showed you how to send free SMS messages from Gmail and Google Voice. In this part of the series, I cover how to send SMS messages to Google Calendar to quickly create appointments.

Let’s say I want to meet a friend for lunch tomorrow. I simply send a text message to GVENT (48368) with a message “Lunch with Bill at The Point tomorrow noon”. The text message gets sent to Google and put in your calendar. When the appointment is put on your calendar, you receive a text message confirming your appointment.

There are several ways to construct your message. If you remember “who”, “what”, “when”, and “where” you should have no problems. Only “what” and “when” are required. The message format follows the same rules as the Quick Add feature in Google Calendar.
The “what” is any text. The event title is created from this.

“When” is the date and time of your appointment. Leaving the time off makes the appointment an all day event. Using the words “at” or “on” can help Google recognize the when. By default, Google calendar creates one hour appointments. You can optionally specify start and end times or a duration.

You can add people to the guest list if you include “with” and one or more email addresses.

Where is also any text following an “at” or “in”.

Other examples are:

  • Disc golf with Jerry at 6PM
  • Take Cat to Vet Monday 3:00PM
  • National conference 3/15 – 3/20 in Orlando
  • Weekly one-on-one with Jason 10 – 10:30 every Wednesday at Jason’s Office

I use this feature all the time and absolutely love it when my wife tells me something. I can quickly text to Google Calendar and know it will appear our shared family calendar.

Here is some helpful reference information from Google how to create SMS text messages that get turned in to appointments.

Play

Tags: , , , , ,

Texting – Part 2

This entry is part 3 of 20 in the series Gmail Master

google-voice-sms

This show is sponsored by Citrix GotoAssist Express. Try it free for 30 days

Welcome to part 2 of our 3 part series on texting from Gmail and Google applications. If you haven’t listened to part 1, you can download it from iTunes or listen directly from the Gmail Podcast blog at chuckchat.com.

In part 1 I showed you how to send free text messages from Gmail chat. Another way is to use Google Voice. Google Voice has several features that make it attractive, including:

• Publish a single phone number and have it ring your home, work, and mobile phone or any combination based on the caller.
• Free voice mail with personalized greetings
• Voice mail automatically converted to text and emailed to you with both the audio file and translated text attached
• Listen to, or read, your voice mail on your computer or mobile phone
• Free text messaging

Begin by signing in to Google Voice using your Gmail account at voice.google.com. At the top, just under the logo, click the SMS button. Begin typing the name of the contact or their phone number. Make sure you have mobile phone numbers associated with the contacts you intend to send text messages. Unlike the Gmail Chat feature, it will not prompt you for the contact if you enter only the number. Similarly, if you enter a name that has no mobile phone number associated in your contacts list, you cannot send a message.

After you have entered a phone number or contact, type your message and press send. It’s that simple. Managing your Google Voice conversations from the web interface is very similar to Gmail. Responses will show up in your Inbox or you can look at just SMS messages and filter out voice mail by clicking the SMS link on the left. You can reply by typing in the text area just under the conversation and click Send.

Currently, Google Voice is free and open by invitation only. Contact me if you are interested in trying it out.

Play

Tags: , , , ,

Texting – Part 1

This entry is part 2 of 20 in the series Gmail Master

gmail-sms-from-chatThis episode is sponsored by GotoAssist Express. Try it free for 30 days.

Google offers a number of ways to send and receive text messages for free without using a mobile phone. This is part 1 of a 3 part series on using text messages, or SMS, with Gmail and other Google applications.

Let’s begin with Gmail. Texting from Gmail chat is fairly easy. To do this you will need to enable the Labs feature “Text (SMS) in Chat”. You can find this in the Labs tab in the Settings page.

Once the labs feature is setup, begin by opening the chat window and signing in to chat. Type the name or phone number of the person you want to send a text message to in the “Search, add, or invite” box. If this person is not already in your contacts list, don’t worry. As you type, a window appears under your text with options “Mail, Invite to Chat, and SMS”. If you entered a phone number, only the SMS option will be displayed. Finish entering the text then choose the SMS option and a window appears. In the window, finish filling out the contact information. If you entered a name, provide the phone number, if you entered a phone number then provide a name and click Save. This information will be added to your contacts list for easier reference later.

gmail-sms-contactWhen Gmail gets done saving the contact information, a window appears at the bottom of the screen – much like a chat window. Type you text message and send it with the Enter key. If the other person responds, you will receive a response in the same window. Gmail makes it as easy to send text messages as it is to chat – and best of all it’s free.
Another way to send text messages from Gmail is to use the SMS in Chat gadget. This is also a labs feature that works very similar to the Text (SMS) in Chat feature. I don’t recommend using this labs feature. First, it requires the Text (SMS) in Chat feature to be turned on – so why not use that instead? Second, at the time this article was written, the labs feature seems to have a bug in that it prompts you for contact information each time instead of reusing previous entries from the contact database. This creates duplicate entries in the contact database each time you use it.

Keep in mind that although the text messaging using Google may be free to you, it may not be free to the person receiving or sending replies. Currently, text messages from chat only work with US phones.

Listener John writes in and asks “Is there a way to set a primary email for a contact that has multiple addresses?”

While I cannot find a definitive rule or setting to make any particular email address the primary one, my own experience has shown me that mutliple email addresses seem to be ordered by the frequency they are used. The more you use a specific address for a particular person, the more likely that address will appear at the top of the list. If you’ve got information to the contrary, let me know on the blog or drop me an email.

Play

Tags: , , , , , ,

Migrating My Email to Gmail

This entry is part 16 of 20 in the series Gmail Master

Fate conspired against me a couple years ago when I hit the limit on Gmail. If you’re not a Gmail veteran, here’s a quick refresher. When Gmail first came out it offered a whopping 1GB of storage for free. This was far larger than the 10MB my ISP was offering at the time. By mid-2007 the capacity was up to 2GB – and still free. Who was I to complain… Until late 2007 when I ran out of space.

My solution at the time was to start up Mozilla Thunderbird and use IMAP protocol to download all the messages to my local PC, then wipe Gmail clean. Sure it kept the file attachments, but I lost all my labels. I could still search through the archive and rebuild my email in the cloud.

Sadly (for me), only a few months later, Gmail capacity started shooting up again… 3GB… 4GB… 5GB… 6GB… 7GB… in a matter of months. It figures. Now everytime I want to find something I have to search two places when Gmail is large enough to hold the original 2GB, the 2GB I added since then, and still have plenty of space. But how to get my Thunderbird archive back on to Gmail?

Enter Ben Shoemate and his wonderful article explaining it all. Ben made it sound so simple to gather up the email and send it off to Gmail. Except I had problems.

I couldn’t get Gmail to recognize the server on my machine. Long story short, it turned out to be my Windows XP Firewall settings. Although I believed my exception in the port listing did the trick, it did not. I had to completely stop the service in order to make contact between any other machine and port 110 (POP3) on my machine.

What’s more, once I made contact, I had problems authenticating. Solution: I had to create another account and transfer the email messages (again) from one local IMAP account to another. A little time consuming, but soon I’ll have all my email safely back in Gmail’s hands.

And if you really don’t believe all your data is safe in the cloud, you can always use Gmail Backup to keep a copy.

Thanks Ben!

Tags: , , , , , ,

Hosted Email – latest details

This entry is part 15 of 20 in the series Gmail Master

Hey Gmail-ers. Just a quick update on the hosted email instructions. It seems every time I go to host email from one of my domains, the procedure changes a bit. The toughest part was getting started with the FREE hosting. Here’s the first few critical steps to help get you started.

  • Go to http://www.google.com/a
  • Click on the blue button “See details and sign up”.
  • Now, look for the link just under the blue “Start Free Trial” labeled “Standard Edition”. This is the free one.
  • Click the blue “Get Started” button

The rest of the steps are pretty much the same as before and walk you through on the screen. If you have questions or problems drop me an email gpodcast at gmail dot com.

Multiple Inboxes

This entry is part 14 of 20 in the series Gmail Master

One of the most interesting new features in the Gmail Labs is called Multiple Inboxes. If you need more information on Gmail Labs, check the Gmail Podcast Archives for plenty of details on what it is and how you can enable dozens of useful features. Multiple inboxes gives you a very nice way to see items that would normally be cluttering up your inbox in separate window panes on the same screen. Combined with labels and filters, multiple inboxes makes for a very powerful organization tool.

Begin by enabling the Multiple Inboxes feature under Settings> Labs. You’ll notice your main conversation index now shows a sort of split-screen view of your normal conversation index as well as search results on the right. By default it comes up with search results for starred and draft items. To change this, go back in to Settings and you’ll see a new tab labeled “Multiple inboxes”. There you will see five lines, labeled “Pane 0-4” that you can put in the search conditions you want to display. You can also set a maximum number of conversations you want to display and if you want the panes displayed above, below, or to the right of the inbox. Now, back at your inbox, you’ll see a whole new layout. Using filters, you can immediately label and move messages to their own window for better organization.

At the top of each pane you can find a link on the right labeled “View All”. When you click on that link the particular pane will take over and take up the whole index.

Be careful not to get carried away with Multiple Inboxes. While they can be a powerful feature to keep you organized, I found the more I tried to configure them with filters, the less organized I became. I thought it would be helpful to take some of my more common messages and bypass the normal inbox by applying them to a label and making them appear in one of the other inboxes. For example, all my incoming notifications from Facebook would simply “appear” in a facebook pane. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a keyboard shortcut to move me to another pane (yet). Maybe something like g 0-4 would be helpful to allow me to select, label, archive, and delete conversations in those other inboxes. Try out the multiple inboxes and see what works for you.

I have to say, I’m rather impressed with some of the other changes in Gmail recently. The user interface has been cleaned up and a couple new features added. The buttons on the main index have been given cleaner look. Archive, Report Spam, and Delete are still there, however More Actions has been divided in to “Move to”, which allows you to apply a label and move the message out of the inbox, and label which simply applies a label. “More Actions” is still available, but has been tidied up to simply include “Mark as read”, “Mark as unread”, “Add to tasks”, “Add Star”, “Remove Star”, “Create an event”, “Filter Messages like these”, and “Mute”. For you keyboard shortcut nerds, “v” activates the “Move To” menu, “l” for the label menu, and “.” (period, or dot) still gets “More Actions”. It’s been a challenge to retrain my fingers, but I’m learning.

I’ve got dozens of labels and scrolling is quickly becoming impractical. Another nice feature about these new menu options is auto-complete. As you start typing the label name, Gmail will narrow the search down. Once again, I highly recommend keyboard shortcuts for moving between your messages with j and k, select them with “x”, move or label them with “l”, or “v”, archive them with “y”, or delete them with “#”. Applying labels with auto-complete makes organizing your messages a snap. I can quickly narrow down 100 new messages to 10 that I really need to read and reply to in a few minutes.

After seeing some of the recent interface changs, it starts to make the filter and label management screens look a little clunky. Keep watching the Gmail Podcast website and listening to the Gmail Podcast, you never know what’s coming next…

Play