Calendar

This entry is part 1 of 20 in the series Gmail Master

Yes, you heard right. This episode is about the Google Calendar. I’m not running out of Gmail information, on the contrary, I’m having a hard time keeping up with all the cool new stuff coming out. Recently I found a new feature that ties Gmail with the Google Calendar.

To begin, I’d like to give you a wonderful use of the Google Calendar that my co-worker Kevin in Raleigh North Carolina told me about. He said that he keeps all his appointments outside normal work hours in his Google Calendar. This way he can share it with his wife and maintain it from anywhere. I started thinking about our family calendar that hangs on the refrigerator at home. There are some drawbacks to this simple, and somewhat effective means of family communication. First, there isn’t always room to write what you want so you have to make shorthand notations, which can be difficult for your spouse to decipher. Second, you cannot check the piece of paper at home if someone at work asks “Are you available next Tuesday evening?”

This past weekend, I took the three sheets of paper from the refrigerator and entered them in to Google Calendar. I will spare you all the details of setting up and managing a calendar. However, I will let you know that I discovered quite a number of nice features such as notifications via email and SMS, as well as sending a daily agenda to my email box each day just before I wake up – saving me a step of reading my email and reviewing my calendar each morning before we get going.

Next, I shared the calendar with my wife Donna and gave her access to modify it. Finally, to appease Donna, I printed out not only a monthly view, but a weekly view as well to better see conflicts. After all, what good is a new piece of technology if you don’t have a process to drive it. I’ll be out of town and she isn’t quite comfortable with managing the calendar from the web yet.

OK, you may be saying “Chuck, I’ve been doing that with our family calendar for years. What took you so long?” To that I respond “Thanks” and admit I’m not always on the leading edge of all technologies.

OK, here’s the tie in with Gmail. I discovered a Gmail labs feature called “Google Calendar gadget” which displays upcoming events in a window on the left side. There is also one called “Google Docs gadget” to display recently modified Google Docs. The problem is that they appear at the bottom below the chat window and labels so I couldn’t glance and see what is coming up in the calendar. Fortunately, there are also two gadgets called “Right side chat” and “Right side labels” to place those two gadgets on the right side of the screen. This does make the message index a little narrower, and takes a bit of getting used to when looking for the labels or chat – after all they’ve been in the same place for years. However, the calendar and docs gadget now appear right under the Contacts link on the left and offer a quick glance at useful information.

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Hosted Mail (updated)

This entry is part 13 of 20 in the series Gmail Master

A while back I did an episode of the Gmail Podcast where I showed you how to switch your internet domain to be hosted by Google’s mail servers. This gives you the freedom of managing your own mail accounts, distribution lists, and other aspects of your mail environment, while providing all the benefits of Gmail like unmatched spam filtering, a large mailbox, and all the other wonderful features Gmail has to offer.

Consider this show an update to the previous one. I noticed that the procedure has changed a bit since the last show and rather than have you frustrated at icons and links that weren’t where they were supposed to be, I figured it was time to provide you with some updated information in case you’ve been thinking of making the switch.

A little warning, of all the things I’ve covered on the Gmail Podcast, this is probably one of the more complex. Not to worry, I’ll walk you through every step. Where specialized steps are needed, depending on your configuration, I will defer to Google’s excellent step-by-step documentation.

Let me first start by explaining the basics. First, we’re going to setup a hosting account on Google for your mail. Next, we’ll tell the Internet that mail for your domain is no longer with your old hosting system, but rather, all your email should now be sent to Google’s servers where it can be transparently delivered and received by you, or anyone in your domain.

  • Start by going to http://www.google.com/a
  • Click “Get Started”
  • Next, click on “Standard Edition” (Sign Up button)
  • If you already have a domain, choose “I want to use an existing domain”, otherwise choose “Create a domain”. For this example, we’ll assume you already have a domain.
  • Enter your domain name – then click “Use my domain”
  • Fill in the fields for your name, a current valid email address, and other required information to sign up
  • When you’ve completed the necessary fields, click “Continue” button
  • On the next page, enter the email address on your domain (ex: chuck@chuckchat.com)
  • Review the terms and conditions, then click “I accept, continue with sign up”
  • Note the message at the top of the screen that reads: To activate Google Apps services you must verify that you own your domain – “yourdomain”, click on the link that says “Verify domain ownership”
  • You can either upload an HTML file or change the CNAME record. I chose to upload the HTML file. Simply follow the instructions on the page. That takes care of part of setting up the email hosting.
  • Next, you need to update your MX, or mail exchange records to have the internet know that mail to your domain should be directed to Google’s servers. After setting up the mail hosting, you should be at the dashboard. If not, go to http://www.google.com/a/yourdomainname and login. From the Dashboard, click on “Activate Email” in the Email section. Select the hosting plan you have and follow the instructions.
  • Replication of your changes may take up to 48 hours to be sent around the internet so be patient.
  • Once that is done, your email to your new domain will be delivered to a nice big, managed, Gmail mailbox.
  • If you already have one or more mailboxes hosted by Google, I might recommend your review the instructions to either get mail from your other mailbox via POP or IMAP, or Forward your domain to a central Gmail account using forwarding and Send Mail As, all of which are explained in other episodes of the Gmail Podcast.
  • I’m guilty of always assuming people use the Gmail web interface, and for that I apologize. If you are using a third party client like Outlook, Thunderbird, Mail on the Mac, or something else, you may need to go back to the DNS servers and update the POP and SMTP records as well.


There you go. Mail for your domain is now being sent to Google’s servers. Now that you’ve got the framework setup out of the way, you can use the management console on Google’s hosted site to create more users and mail lists in your new domain.

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Accessing Another’s Email

This entry is part 12 of 20 in the series Gmail Master

This time we take a look at what you need to do if to get access to one of your loved one’s Gmail after they are deceased.

This item has been in the news and fortunately for us, Google has a standard procedure.

You will need to provide Google with the following information in written format. You can send it via fax or postal mail. That information is provided below.

1) Your full name and contact information. Please include a verifiable email address.

2) The Gmail address of the person who passed away.

3) The entire message from the account you are requesting access to. This includes not only the message body, but the full message header. The full header can be obtained by opening the message in Gmail and click on ‘More options,’ then click ‘Show original.’ Copy everything from ‘Delivered- To:’ through the ‘References:’ line.

To obtain headers from other webmail or email providers, please refer to http://www.spamcop.com/help_with_headers/)

4. You will also need to provide a copy of the death certificate of the deceased.
5. and a copy of the document that gives you Power of Attorney over the Gmail account.
6. If you are the parent of the individual, include a copy of the Birth Certificate if the Gmail account owner was under the age of 18. In this case, Power of Attorney is not required.

The postal address to send this to is:

Google Inc.
Attention: Gmail User Support
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043

Or the Fax number in the US is:

650-644-0358

It takes approximately 30 days for the information to be processed, but if the access is needed sooner, “it is Google’s policy to only provide information pursuant to a valid third party court order or other appropriate legal process.”

Add Event to Calendar

This entry is part 11 of 20 in the series Gmail Master

Listener Steve Holden pointed out that while reading messages, he noticed that the Gmail web interface has a link on the right side of the screen to add the event to your Google calendar when a date appears in the body of the message. I tried doing little experimenting to see if I could trigger the link, but was unsuccessful. Once Steve sent me a sample, I found out the format.

If you have a line of text in your message, then on the next line a date followed by a semicolon and a time, the link will appear. Gmail is pretty good about recognizing a wide format of dates. I have used month/day/year digits as well as spelling out the month then digits a comma and a year. As long as the date and time are on their own line and a semicolon separates them, the link will appear. I will include some examples in the show notes on the web site.

My Special Event
April 3, 2007; 5:00PM

Pay Taxes (US)
4/15/2007; 8:00AM

Why is this useful you ask? For the same reason Gmail presents a link when it recognizes package tracking IDs or a Google Map link when it recognizes an address – to be more helpful and save you time. When sending an email to a gmail user, you can include a date and time for an event and have it easily added to the calendar.

Quick Tip: If you have shortcut keys enabled, you can use the “#” key to delete messages. From the conversation index, begin by checking the messages, or using the “x” key, then clicking “#”. If you need more information on how to enable shortcut keys, have a listen to the podcast from January 2005.

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Mail Fetcher

This entry is part 10 of 20 in the series Gmail Master

Gmail now has a way to get email from other accounts with a feature called Mail Fetcher. This differs slightly from the existing technology available in the “Send Mail As” feature described in an earlier podcast. Send Mail As is a “push” technology meaning that your mail is pushed from the original source (say your ISP mailbox) to Gmail. The Mail Fetcher is a pull technology, meaning that Gmail will pull information from your Internet Server Provider, or ISP, mailbox.

While this may seem like semantics at first, the underlying technologies differ quite a bit and the use for one over the other is up to you.

Mail Fetcher is configured from same screen as Send Mail As. Begin by logging in to your Gmail account and clicking on “Settings” in the upper right corner of the screen.

Next click on the “Accounts” link.

Find the section labeled “get mail from other accounts”. Normally there won’t be anything configured yet so click on the link “Add another mail account”. At this point, you can add up to five accounts.

Now enter the email address of the account you plan to pull the information from. For example if I want all my mail that normally goes to chuck@chuckchat.com to arrive in my chuck.tomasi@gmail.com, I would enter chuck@chuckchat.com since that is where it will first be delivered according to the mail routing rules setup on the internet name servers. Sorry if this is a little too technical.

Now, click “Next Step”

You will then be prompted for credentials regarding the other account. you should have your login and password handy. It will also prompt you for the POP server. This is the system which provides access to your mail on that server. If you don’t have that information available you may need to contact your ISP or mail hosting provider. If you are unsure of the port, leave it as the default.

Further options are available to leave a copy of the retrieved message on the server. You may want to check this, but if your other mail host is like mine, the mailbox size limit is not anywhere near as generous as Gmail and it will fill up quickly.

You can also choose to use a secure, or encrypted connection, but make sure your other mail host supports this first.

The third option is to allow the automatic application of a Gmail label of your choosing to the messages from that provider. This may help to identify the originating source of the email or just provide you with a visual record.

Like the filters, you can have this message complete skip the mailbox and go straight to the archive. This is handy if you have an account you use for purely marketing and spam collection, but don’t want it to get filled up.

Once your options are chosen, click “Add Account”.

The final question asks if you would like to be able to send mail as that other account. this is similar to the Send Mail As and allow the recipient of a message to think it came from the other account transparently.

The main difference between Send Mail As and Mail Fetcher is that the former requires you to send a test message, enable forwarding on the first mail account, and allow email to be received by Gmail. Mail Fetcher requires you to enter your credentials and then pulls the mail directly from the other server.

Gmail’s mail fetcher also keeps a history of attempts and fetches from the other account. Once you have setup the account, the same Accounts screen under settings has a link for each account labeled “View History”. The fetches will be done at regular intervals, but you can force Gmail to retrieve email from our other account manually by clicking “Check mail now” for the respective account on the same screen.

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Suggest Features

This entry is part 9 of 20 in the series Gmail Master

Gmail has a page to allow you to suggest features. Choose from some of the more popular suggestions or create your own. Find the page here.

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Web Clips

This entry is part 8 of 20 in the series Gmail Master

Learn how to customize (or even disable) those messages at the top of your mail index and messages.

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Hosting Part 2

This entry is part 7 of 20 in the series Gmail Master

The process to convert your domain mail over to Gmail continues with part 2 of 2 in the series. Hear how to create an admin account, update the MX record, and manage users in your domain both manually and in batch.

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Hosting Part 1

This entry is part 6 of 20 in the series Gmail Master

This is part one of a series to help you learn how to let Google manage your email domain entirely on Gmail.

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More Search Tips

This entry is part 5 of 20 in the series Gmail Master

There is more information on searching than will fit in one short episode. Learn about prefixing your searches with “in:”, “is:”, “cc:”, “bcc:”, “before:”, and “after:”. The quick tip will show you how to undo some of your recent actions.

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