Creating and Sending Messages

Gmail-ComposeThis episode is sponsored by Citrix GotoAssist Express. Try it free for 30 days
This episode is another in our getting started series with Gmail. Creating and sending email may seem like an self-evident task with any email client. I want to ensure we cover everything to make you effective using Gmail. I’ll cover the basics to get beginners started and you Gmail veterans may still want to listen because I’ll throw in a few extras too.

Let’s get started by logging in to your Gmail account at In the future, I’ll assume you know how to do that, but since this is still one of the first getting started series, I want to make sure nothing is glossed over.

On the left side, just under the Gmail logo, click the Compose Mail link. Next, enter your recipient’s email address in the To field. If you have a list of contacts setup, you can also start typing the name or address and Gmail will start auto populating the list. If you’re not sure how to spell the name, you can click the To: label and bring up the contact chooser to help narrow down your search. Don’t worry if you don’t have any contacts entered yet, there’s another show on setting up contacts that guides you through that simple process so you don’t have to remember and type an email address every time.

Enter the subject of your message in the Subject text area, then click your mouse anywhere in the large text area on the screen to create the main body of your message and type away. As you type, Gmail will periodically save your message in the Drafts folder. In the event your browser or computer crash, you won’t lose all your work. Alternatively, you can also use the Save Now button at the top of your message. When you’ve completed your text, click the Send button just above the To field to have Gmail deliver your message. You’ll see a confirmation message at the top to let you know your email has been sent.

Now for some extras…

Below the To field are two additional links labeled Add Cc and Add Bcc. Clicking each of these links presents an additional text area for you to enter additional recipients. These are used to include additional people or groups in your message. Cc stands for Carbon Copy. When you enter a recipient here, they are included in the message, however their email client may display the message slightly differently because the message was not directly to them, but rather they were a secondary recipient. Bcc stands for Blind Carbon Copy. Like Cc, you add one or more recipients in the Bcc field, but it has the added advantage that people in the To and Cc fields do not know who is in the Bcc field. An example of this may be that I want to send a message to Dave asking him to explain his behavior in the meeting yesterday, but I’d also like to include his boss Sally without letting Dave know that Sally is included. If I include Sally in the Bcc field, she receives a copy of the message I sent to Dave, but Dave doesn’t know that. Be aware, that some email systems, particularly corporate ones, may block email if your name is in the Bcc field so use it with caution.

If you want to include a photo, document, or audio file, you can use the link labeled Attach a file just below the Subject field. Clicking this link presents a file browser that lets you navigate and choose a file to attach with your email message. When you’ve selected a file, click the Open button (on Windows machines) or Select (on a Mac) and your file will be uploaded to Google’s server and included as part of your message. If you want to remove the attachment before sending it, just uncheck the checkbox next to the attachment name. To attach more than one file, use the link Attach another file just below the list of file attachments. Gmail lets you attach up to 20 megabytes of attachments per message. If you have files larger than that, you should consider using another means of transferring your data.

Finally, you can change the look and feel of your message by using the toolbar just above the message window. The various icons let you make your text bold, underlined, larger or smaller, change the font style, create lists, and more. As a general rule, don’t go overboard with colors and fonts or your text will be unappealing to the reader.

Finally, l et’s say you’re in a bad mood or discovered the answer to the question you were starting to write in an email and don’t want to save it or send it, just click the Discard button above the To line, or at the bottom of the message window, to dispose of your work.

That’s it. Creating basic and sophisticated messages is quite simple with Gmail. I no time you’ll be sending email without a second thought.

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