The Bottom Line

It helps to step back and take a look at the Gmail interface once in a while – you never know what you’ll see that you hadn’t spotted before. This week I took a close look at the bottom center of the screen. While I was familiar with some of the items, I notice something new. I also realized that I hadn’t discussed any of these items with you. So let’s go through them together.

Just below the blue bar that indicates the end of the conversation index or currently viewed conversation you should see several lines of text. The first is a helpful hint, such as common keyboard shortcuts, the fact that you can forward your mail to one Gmail account, or noting the availability of Gmail in multiple languages. These messages change every few minutes so don’t forget to glance down there from time to time for a bit of new information. You can typically find out more on these items by clicking on the Help link in the upper right corner of the Gmail screen.

The next line of information, in green, is the amount of space you have available and how much of that is being consumed. This is always handy to know – like looking at the fuel gauge on your car now and then. If I’ve learned anything from using Gmail over the past several years, this amount also changes – it goes up, so don’t forget to take a look.

I don’t know when Google decided to add the next line of information, but I noticed it only recently – and I like it. It tells you when the latest activity was on your Gmail account. What’s more, if you’re running Gmail from multiple computers, it will tell you when and where it was accessed. This is a great security feature and kind of fascinating too. I was using Gmail at work and noticed it said there was one other connection to this account. I clicked on the Details link and it said it was my home IP address. This made sense because I often leave the web interface running at home. If I had seen something suspicious, I could have clicked a link and sign out all other sessions – leaving my current connection at work still working. Since there are multiple ways to access Gmail, there is a log of other connections from web, mobile, IMAP, or POP. Check these periodically to make sure it coincides with your use habits. If not, I recommend you change your Gmail password as soon as possible.

Just under the connection information is a line that allows you to change the method in which Gmail is displayed. Most of the time, the software detects what browser you have and the interface is rendered appropriately. The links at the bottom allow you to change between standard view with extended capabilities, basic HTML – which works on older browsers, and even turn off the chat interface on the left hand side. For more information, click the link labeled Learn More on the line second from the bottom.

And finally, at the very bottom of the screen, is the copyright, a link to the Google Blog – with plenty of articles about Gmail from the developers themselves, a link to be part of the Gmail team – complete with pictures and job descriptions, and finally a link to what else? – the Google home page.

Whether you have listened to every Gmail Podcast or just getting started, I encourage you to explore every facet of every screen in Gmail and experiment. Like me, you’ll discover that it is so much more than an inbox.

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