It's no secret that 127TECH loves Google. How could we not? The company is always improving its old features while innovating new ones. It's one of the most popular search engines, mapping services, online calendars, mobile options...you name it, they do it (very well and most likely, for free). Perhaps one of the most useful weapons in Google's arsenal is their mail service, Gmail. Gmail has all of the features that you would expect from an email client and then some. They are also constantly making improvements so that your email experience is more organized and efficient.
Haven't made the switch yet, or wondering what Gmail could possibly provide that your current email client doesn't? Here's a rundown on some of the most useful features that should entice you into thinking about your new email address.
1) Conversation View: Rather than have each reply to a message come in as a new email, clogging up your inbox, Google has created a conversation view. This is very similar to a message board, in which one person starts a topic, and every replay is displayed below the previous one in chronological order. It is very helpful in back-and-forth conversations so that you don't need to go digging through your emails to find that one reply with the important address. Just find the conversation you had with the particular person or people, and scroll down until you find what you are looking for.
2) Google Chat: Off to the bottom left hand corner of your Gmail screen you will find a list of people you have contacted. This can be useful as a quick contacts list, but it serves an even cooler purpose. It's also a list of people you can instantly chat with. If someone you know also uses Gmail (or a compatible instant messaging service) and they are currently online, you can strike up a conversation or ask a quick question right from your email window. You can even use Google Chat to talk with video or voice. While it lacks some of the specialized features of Skype, it's still a quick and easy way to get a hold of someone without logging into a completely different program.
3) Labels and Filters: In Gmail you can add a label to a message in your inbox as both a visual cue and a way to organize your messages. For instance, you can make a bright blue label that says "WORK" so that you can spot your work emails quickly. This also makes a sub-folder in your inbox so that you can look at all of your work emails in one place. Labels can be added to each message manually, or you can use filters. When setting up a filter you instruct Gmail to automatically label any email from "__________@place_you_work.com" or any message containing the text "TPS Report." The more filters you set up, the more organized your inbox is without even getting your hands dirty.
4) Priority Inbox: Another self-organizing feature included in Gmail is the Priority Inbox. This relatively new feature keeps track of the emails you read and the emails you respond to, and assigns a priority to emails as they come in. It will see if there's a newsletter you hardly ever open and will give it a lower priority than, for example, an email from your wife who you always eagerly reply to (right?). If Gmail gets it wrong, all you have to do is tell it that this is more or less of a priority than it thought. This is a great feature if you only have a minute to look at dozens of new emails and you want to cut straight to the important ones.
5) Google Docs: This is a big one. Google has a whole suite of office programs (word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, etc.) available to use online for free. The interesting part about Google Docs (besides being free) is that it allows you to share documents with certain contacts that you choose. It allows you to write a draft which your partner (or partners) can look over and make whatever edits they like. A revision history is kept so that you can go back to a previous version, and it even lets you save your document to your computer in a format compatible with your office program of your choice. You don't need Gmail to use Google Docs, but having a Gmail account greatly simplifies the process.
These are just five neat features that you will find when you start using Gmail. I haven't even mentioned its spam filtering, quick search feature, mobile accessibly, large storage space, Google Labs additions...I could go on. If you do decide to make the switch Google has some excellent features which let you import old contact lists and emails from your previous email client. Gmail can even retrieve new emails as they come to your old email address in case you don't want to completely shut it down yet.
Let us know if you need help switching over, and we hope you enjoy Gmail!