Move To

This entry is part 5 of 23 in the series White Belt

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Gmail is full of so many features that sometimes I forget some of the best ones out there. One of those is the Move to button located on the button bar just above the conversation index and any conversation you open. The button works similar in both contexts. It is a combination of the label feature and archive feature rolled in to one. For more information on archiving and labeling, check the White Belt series Gmail Podcast website.

To use the Move To button from the conversation index, select the conversation or conversations you want to affect then click the Move To button. A list of of your labels appear, much like the Label button. When you select one of these, the conversations you checked are immediately removed from the conversation index and archived with the label you selected.

The Move To button behaves slightly differently if you are in the conversation reading mode. If you click on the Move To here, the same list of labels appears along with two options that let you move the message directly to spam and trash. These two options are identical to clicking the Spam or Delete buttons on the same button bar. Just like the mode from the conversation index, clicking any existing label will apply that label, archive that conversation, and take you back to the conversation index. Additionally, you can also create new labels from this mode, the same as using the Label feature.

Because of the way the Move To button attaches one label and archives at the same time, makes it behave more like a traditional folder action than a Gmail label in that it files your conversation in a specific place with one label associated and it’s done. That’s not to say you couldn’t display the conversations with that label, locate your specific one, and attach more labels to it, but that would defeat the purpose of this specialized button.

Sadly, I cannot find a shortcut key sequence to use this so I often use (the lower case letter) ‘l’ to bring up the label menu, label it, and type ‘y’ to archive it so fast I never think about the Move to feature. As useful as this button is, I rarely use it because it doesn’t have a shortcut key associated with it.

Gmail-Popout-Chat

Here’s a quick update… Google has improved the speed which popout windows appear. Popout windows are available when you are composing, replying, or forwarding messages, along with tasks, chat, and a few other places. For example, normally you see the chat window embedded in the bottom of your Gmail window. If you click the little upward arrow in the label bar with the person’s name, the chat window pops out of that browser window and becomes its own browser window. Previously this was a tedious few seconds. Now almost instantaneous. Thank you Google for continuing to improve our favorite mail program.

Gmail-Popout-Compose

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Themes

This entry is part 4 of 23 in the series White Belt

Gmail-ThemesThis show is sponsored by Citrix GotoAssist Express. Try it free for 30 days.
This episode is another in our getting started series with Gmail. This time I’ll cover a way to change the appearance of your Gmail interface without changing the functionality. Gmail calls these themes; other systems might call this “skinning” because you’re putting a new skin or motif to change the application’s cosmetics while leaving the underlying system the same.

Changing your theme in Gmail is very simple and quite fun. Begin by logging in to your Gmail account then clicking on the Settings link in the upper right corner. Next, click the Themes tab on the settings window. When you click on one of the themes, Gmail will instantly change the look of your interface. There is no Save Changes button to click on this page. Try as many as you like or stick with the Classic look. You can even choose your own colors.

Be selective with your theme and inspect all the various things on the conversation index and compose screens. You may find some things don’t contrast well. For example the light graphics at the top of the screen on the Phatasea theme makes it difficult to read the text “Show Search Options” and “Create a filter”.

Some themes actually change throughout the day. You may be prompted to enter your location when you pick one of the themes. If you are very mobile, you can change your location at the bottom of the themes settings. These dynamic themes change to show the proper sunrise, sunset, and even weather conditions. Yes, I’ve seen it snow in Gmail!

If you select one of these themes, you’ll see a drop-down menu appear asking for your country or region. Select the country you want, and then enter a city in the field provided. If you don’t enter a city, or enter an invalid one, Gmail will set your location to the capital city of the country you selected. When you’re done, click Save.

One important footnote, Gmail Themes aren’t yet compatible with all browsers. Themes are only available in Internet Explorer 7.0+, Firefox 2.0+ or Safari 3.0+, and Google Chrome. If you’re using an older version of one of these browsers, you may run in to problems or not see the themes tab at all. Also, themes are not available if you host your own domain on Gmail. The hosting and themes have been out for quite some time, and I haven’t quite figured out why Google hasn’t added themes to this set of Gmail users yet. You can find more information about hosting your own domain on Gmail in the Gmail Podcast archives on the website.

Quick update – Google has promoted six labs features to full Gmail features and removed five of them. Labs features are features in Gmail that allow you try out cool new things that Google is considering adding to Gmail. They may have errors and they may change, but most are useful to some degree. Again, more information on Labs can be found in the Gmail Podcast archives.

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Default Text Styling and Free Holiday Card

This entry is part 7 of 23 in the series White Belt

default-text-style

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Want to put a little flair in your email? Want to get away from the standard font that everyone else is using in their Gmail messages? Try the labs feature called Default Text Styling. Like other labs features, you can turn it on by:

  • Clicking the Settings link in the upper right corner
  • Click the Labs tab.
  • Scroll down the list until you find Default Text Styling and click “Enable” next to it
  • At the bottom of the screen, click “Save Changes”

Now you can define your default text style under the General tab in the setting screen. It may take a few minutes for the feature to show up if you are using offline mail. If you want to remove the formatting and go back to the default style, use the rightmost icon that looks like a capital T with a red x.
When you compose new a new message, your default text style will be set to the color, font, and size you setup in the General Settings. Your signature will not use the default style if you have one setup.

Here’s today’s quick tip. Send a free holiday greeting card through the U.S. Postal Service and let Google pay for it. You can choose from six different styles and send one card with a personalized message to anyone with a U.S. Postal Address for free. Find out more at http://services.google.com/fb/forms/googleholidaycard.

A couple quick updates before I go. First, the Gmail website has been redesigned. We’ve cleaned things up and modernized. There are still a few tweaks to make, but I think you’ll find the interface quite familiar. Second, if you’re a WordPress user or are thinking about starting your own blog, watch for the book “Sams Teach Yourself WordPress in 10 Minutes” written by me and my Technorama co-host Kreg Steppe. The book won’t be out until March 2010, but you can pre-order now at Amazon.com.

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Contact Chooser

This entry is part 8 of 23 in the series White Belt

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Have you found yourself trying to send a message to someone and you cannot remember their last name? John? John? What was John’s last name? OK, John’s not your closest friend and you don’t send him email all the time. In fact, you don’t even know if you added him to your Gmail contacts, you may have only sent a message to his email address and never used his full name. You start typing j-o-h-n in the To: field and auto-complete comes up with the people who have John in their name and you don’t find the person you are looking for. Was he even in the hundreds of contacts you have listed?

Now I have to admit, there are times when I would love to just browse my contacts list, or type a few characters, or even just poke around the contact groups I setup to get a better idea where John might be hiding. The latest update to Gmail answers this question. Google has placed a link on the “To”, “Cc”, and “Bcc” labels that bring up a contact chooser (see the image.) This works similar to the buttons next to the fields in Microsoft Outlook, only better.

If you type in text in the area marked “Search my contacts”, Gmail will start filtering out your people. In my case, I typed “tomasi” and got several of my family members. Now I can just click and choose them. I can also narrow down the search to my groups by using the drop down list just below.

This is a nice addition to the auto-complete feature if you’re really not sure how to spell someone’s name or want to quickly select all the Tomasis at once.

Here’s today’s quick tip. Listener John wrote in about the Goto Label feature. He says:

“One of my computers is a netbook, so the space saving tips catch my ear.
The “G” “L” combination to go to a label sounded like a great feature, but there is no drop down reminder. So I have to remember the name of the label.
My solution – kind of clunky – was to rename my labels so they all start with “L-“
Now when I enter “G” “L” and then “L”, I see a list of my labels.”

Thanks for the tip John. I generally use a dozen or so labels frequently; then there are some obscure ones that may go unused for months and I don’t recall their names or functions. Your suggestion seems to address that nicely. If you’ve got an tip about Gmail, send it along. I’d love to hear from you.

That’s all for this time… Comments, suggestions, or questions can be sent to gpodcast@gmail.com or check the website for full information and archives of all previous Gmail tips at chuckchat.com/gmail. I have no affiliation with Google other than as a satisfied Gmail user. Thanks to you for listening, and don’t forget to write.

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Auto Unsubscribe

This entry is part 9 of 23 in the series White Belt

This episode is sponsored by GotoAssist – try it free for 30 days.

Have you ever wondered what to do with those messages that you get because you are on someone’s mail list? You don’t read them regularly (or at all), but you just don’t see a quick link, or you are not ambitious enough to unsubscribe. Well the geniouses at Google have an answer for that now too.

The feature is called auto-unsubscribe. The feature is quite simple to use. Just open the message like you normally would, and click the “Report Spam” button. If the message is recognized as a mailing list, Gmail will present a popup window with an option to unsubscribe or identify the message as actual spam. The main difference is that marking it as spam won’t stop the sender from sending more messages in the future.

If you click the option to unsubscribe, Gmail will send back an Unsubscribe request to the list. This request could take up to several days to process, but I found it to be pretty reliable. I read about this feature several weeks ago, but it took a while before it started working on my account.

Here’s today’s quick tip… actually two tips regarding labels. The first is my recommendation to enable the labs feature called Goto Labels. Begin by enabling keyboard shortcuts in your general settings, then enable to labs feature Goto Labels. Now you can use the keyboard shortcut ‘g’ then ‘l’ (letter L) which brings up a quick popup window allowing you to type the label. Like addresses, quick typeahead is available. Using this, combined with the condensed screen options mentioned a few shows ago, this gives you rapid access to your labeled messages while maximizing your screen real estate. Which is very important if you have a smaller screen such as those found on netbook models of portable computers.

The screen resolution of many netbooks is 1024×600 which can be a little constraining for people used to much higher resolutions on desktop or full size laptop machines. When you start applying and displaying one or more labels, you lose the effectiveness of the subject line. Fear not, there is a labs feature for this growing problem also. The feature is called “Hide Labels” and it allows you to turn off labels on the conversation index without affecting the functionality of the labels themselves, like the Goto Labels labs feature just mentioned. Now you can use your netbook and enjoy Gmail even more with the Hide Labels labs feature.

Finally, it was discovered this week that Gmail has surpassed AOL mail and moved in to third place for online mail services with 37 million users, right behind Hotmail with 47 million, and Yahoo with a commanding lead 106 million unique visitors.

That’s all for this time… Comments, suggestions, or questions can be sent to gpodcast@gmail.com or check the website for full information and archives of all previous Gmail tips at chuckchat.com/gmail. I have no affiliation with Google other than as a satisfied Gmail user. Special thanks to listener Scott Reynolds for his tip on the Goto Labels labs feature. Thanks to you for listening, and don’t forget to write.

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Drag and Drop Labels

This entry is part 10 of 23 in the series White Belt

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Gmail has made some significant changes to the way you label and store conversations. They have now made labels work more like folders in more conventional mail applications by adding drag-and-drop actions. Once again, Google has impressed me with their web programming savvy.

Before getting started on the drag and drop feature, you should be aware that your labels have moved and are displayed a bit differently. Labels are no longer in their own little side window, but are now parked right underneath the standard system folders Inbox, Trash, Spam, and so on. You may also notice that all your labels are not displayed as they once were. Only the most used labels are displayed by default. If you don’t like this, click on the little down arrow just below the first few and click “Settings at the top of the new window. You can also get to this location by going in to Gmail Settings and click “Labels”.

In this redesigned Labels settings screen, you can show or hide any number of the standard folders or your labels quickly and easily. Go ahead and give it a try. You could save yourself a lot of screen real estate. If you don’t like it, just turn them back on.

I should point out that if you used the “Right Side Folders” labs feature, that it no longer functions. It is the first of the Gmail Labs features to be retired. A pity, I kind of liked having labels and chat on the right of the screen.

OK, now that you’ve got your labels and folders displayed the way you like, it’s time to try that drag and drop feature. You can drag any conversation on to a label or any label on to a conversation. To grab the conversation, click on the dotted area just to the left of the checkbox. Your mouse may change to the shape of a hand with all fingers extended, as opposed to the standard link cursor with just the index finger pointed out. Once you have the message, continue to hold the mouse button and drag the message to the desire label. This moves the message to that label and archives it, effectively treating it like an operation of moving a message into a folder.

If you would rather just apply a label and leave the message in the inbox, place your cursor over the desired label and click, then drag the label to the specific message shown on the conversation index. It’s really that simple. Remember, if the label you are looking for is not in the list, try the down arrow to show them all.

I have to admit, I’m very impressed with this new way of doings from a developer’s perspective and I’m sure most of you use your mouse a lot to click on that checkbox, conversation, or label. However, I’ve found that I can still process messages many times faster with keyboard shortcuts, so aside from cleaning up my screen by hiding most of the labels and folders, I won’t be using drag and drop too much.

If you’re not familiar with the keyboard shortcuts, have a listen to one of the first Gmail Podcasts I did in January 2006 to learn things like “l”, then start typing the first few letters of a label, or using “g” and “i” to go to the inbox quickly.

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Import Mail and Contacts

This entry is part 3 of 23 in the series White Belt

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Gmail is rolling out a feature that will allow you to migrate your email and contacts from other email providers including Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, and many others.

For years, you’ve heard me – and probably dozens of other people – preaching the virtues of Gmail. To some of us, it practically IS a religion. We want people to convert and Google understood the downfalls of changing from one email service to another. It can be painful to switch all your contacts using some clumsy export and import using a CSV file. No only that, what do you do with all your legacy email?

Now Gmail makes it much easier to make the transition. This feature is enabled for all new accounts and is being slowly deployed to all existing accounts. Unfortunately, businesses and schools using Google Apps won’t have this feature available to them any time soon.You’ll know you have it if you go in to Settings and you find a tab labeled “Accounts and Imports”, formerly just labeled “Accounts”.

There you will find a section with a button labeled “Import Mail and Contacts”. Click that and you’ll see choices to import contacts and mail immediately, continue importing email for the next 30 days, allowing you to take Gmail for a test drive, and even apply a Gmail label to all imported mail to quickly identify it as information from your other account.

If you don’t have the option, or prefer doing things the more traditional way, you can still use POP3 mail fetching or CSV export and import to retrieve your old information.

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Insert Images

This entry is part 11 of 23 in the series White Belt

It is no longer necessary to use workarounds to put images in your messages or attach them. There is now a labs feature that allows you to insert images as easily as your favorite word processor.

This episode of Gmail Podcast is sponsored by GotoMyPC.com – get a free 30 day trial!

Begin by going to Settings and click on the Labs tab. Search for the feature called “Inserting images” and click “enable” next to it then scroll to the bottom and save your settings. Now when you are composing a message, you should see a toolbar icon like this:

gmail-insert-images-icon
You’ll want to make sure you are in Rich Formatting mode or the icon won’t show up. If you don’t see it, look for a link that says “Rich Formatting”.

Once setup, just click on the little image icon and you can insert images in a couple different ways. First you can upload an image from your computer, or you can provide a web URL to a specific image.

To protect you from spammers, Gmail does not display URL based images in messages by default. If you are missing images, you’ll need to click on the link near the top that says “Display images below” or “Always dislay images from…” to see images you embed.

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Not Spam

This entry is part 12 of 23 in the series White Belt
One of the main reasons I, and many others, love Gmail is for its excellent spam filtering capabilities. Spam is a term used for those annoying advertisements typically regarding your health or finance. In some cases this content can be as high as 90% of your email traffic. Gmail does a pretty good job at automatically recognizing this type of content and moves from your inbox to a separate location labeled “Spam”. However, nothing is foolproof and every once in a while a conversation ends up in the spam folder by mistake.

Fortunately, there is a quick and easy way to retrieve the email and identify it as a valid message; at the same time have Gmail learn not to make the mistake again. By clicking the Spam link on the left you will be shown all the conversations that have been identified as questionable content.

At the top of the conversation index, you’ll see a couple buttons. The first is labeled “Delete forever”. This moves any selected conversations to the Trash folder. After 30 days they are completely removed from the system.

The second button is labeled “Not Spam”. By selecting one or more conversations and then clicking “Not Spam”, the content will be moved back to your Inbox and Gmail will learn not to make the same mistake.

If you are Gmail search savvy, there’s a catch to this. First, click on the Spam link on the left and take a look at the search box at the top of the screen. See how it says “in:spam”? As of this writing there is a minor bug in Gmail. If you type the search “in:spam” manually, you will be brought to a standard search results screen which does not have a “Not Spam” button. Ironically, you are now looking at all the mail that has been tagged as spam, but you still have the option to report it as spam with the “Report Spam” button. Hopefully Google will correct this oversight at some point.

Here’s today’s quick tip: If you have used the Gmail contacts to create groups of people, you can type the group name and address multiple recipients with one single label. For example, if I want to send my entire family an email, and I have created a group called “Tomasi family”, I can compose a new message and use the address “Tomasi family” in the To, Cc, or Bcc line for quicker addressing.

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Odds and Ends

This entry is part 14 of 23 in the series White Belt

Google has been very busy lately adding some very nice features to their version 2.0 interface. As a reminder, the ver 2.0 interface requires IE 6 or later or FireFox 2.0 or later.

if you haven’t been following the blog on the Gmail Podcast website I’ll bring you up to date on a few announcements from Gmail in the past few weeks.

At first glance, the feature of colored labels doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the most I use it, the more I like it. If you look at your labels on the left, you should see very light squares next to each of the labels. By clicking one of these squares you can set a color for that label. Now when you glance at your conversation index, the colors really stand out to help identify groupings of messages.

As a side note, I also noticed while reading a conversation, the labels at the top of the message have a little “x” next to them. If you click on the “x” you remove that label from the conversation. If you click on the “x” next to the Inbox label, you archive the message. That’s a lot quicker than pulling down the “More Actions” list and going to the bottom to remove a label.

Another new feature that will make you GoogleTalk users happy is that Gmail now allows you to import your AOL IM buddies directly in to GTalk. And yes, the chat transcripts from AIM conversations are saved to your email archive like the native GTalk conversations.

The final addition in the past few weeks is the use of a very useful keyboard shortcuts help screen. Besides the cool factor of transparency, being able to reference the help screen at any point. There is a lot of information on that screen so I suggest picking one or two keyboard shortcuts, get used to using them and then go get a couple more. One of my recent favorites is the “.” key that triggers the “More Actions” drop list. Now I can label messages with just a few keystrokes.

Something tells me we can look for plenty more new little features like this in the future. Google has proven that it continues to innovate and add to their product. Keep your eyes on the Gmail Podcast website and listening to the Gmail Podcast for more information.

Quick Tip: How to unmute a conversation. If you mute a conversation and then later decide you want to unmute it, you can use the “Unmute” link at the top. However, you may decide days or weeks later that you want to follow that subject again. This is a simple matter of finding the conversation and moving it back to the inbox. You can find all muted messages by searching using the keyword “is:muted”. Click on the conversation you want, then use the “More Actions” pull down – the first option is “Move to inbox”. This effectively, un-archives the message and continues to present it in your inbox and track it like any other conversation.

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