Techno Tuesday: Google Mail

Ah Google Mail, How doth I love thee, let me count the ways! If you are lucky enough to be able to choose whichever email provider you would like, then may I suggest that you try out Google mail, or Gmail for short. 

Gmail has some very useful features such as Hangouts, and plug-ins such as Boomerang which can really make your work effective. Of course, Gmail also allows you to work from anywhere in the world! And from any device.  You can easily get your email on your tablet or smartphone.   If you are worried that you always need to be connected to the internet, don’t be.  By installing the Gmail offline Chrome extension, you are able to view all your messages despite not being connected.  And once you are connected, your messages will simply upload / download.  

In Gmail, you can choose to sort your messages per conversation thread.  Personally I would strongly advise against this as the conversation thread can become extremely confusing if you are not careful.  Some people prefer having the conversation thread switched on, and others don’t. It’s extremely helpful if you have forgotten the background to a certain message and the conversation view allows you to see all the emails associated with the original (or latest) message.   My personal preference is off but if I REALLY need to I can switch it on temporarily if there is a conversation thread that I need to give attention to.  To switch the conversation on or off, simply go into the settings (the cog wheel on the right hand side of Gmail) and scroll down under the general settings to “Conversation View”.  Click on your preference.

One of the other features of Gmail that I really love is the fact that it’s like a one-stop portal for a whole host of things such as calendars, file storage etc.  The labs have proven to be invaluable to me and the other features have been useful and practical in organising my work and streamlining my processes.  I make use of Google Drive to store documents I want to share with all my colleagues and I use Google calendar extensively, not only as a calendar system but as a to-do system too. It has become a wonderful project management tool among all the administrators here.

Gmail is also very easy to use.  Composing a message is simple – you click on the “Compose” button., and it gives the option to really make your email bright and colourful with different font styles and colours – something that not all other emails allow for.

Sorting your emails is also simple.  You can label your incoming messages and sort your email into folders.  Gmail calls these ‘labels’ but they are in actual fact a folder!  I will also expand on how to search effectively in Gmail next week with some tips and tricks to help you. The search function for Gmail is extremely powerful if you know how to use it.

Another brilliant feature of Gmail is the fact that you can organise your inbox with your important and unread messages at the top and then all other unread messages are collated at the bottom.  Gmail (through the power of technology that baffles my brain) remembers which emails are the real deal and important for you and work related.  All your unimportant and often non-work related emails are then separated in the next section.  And then finally all your ‘read’ messages in the bottom box. This means that, when I open my email, I attack and prioritise the important and unread messages right at the top of my email first, then go back and clean out the other (non-important) unread messages.   

You can set your inbox settings under “inbox”. 

Next week we will look at the search functions on Gmail and I will provide some tips on searching and organising your emails in Gmail.

Written for OPSA by Marié Mieny

Marié Mieny is an administrator within the School of IT at Monash South Africa (MSA).  She has been at MSA for 13 years of which 7 years have been in the School of IT

Marié has a reputation for revolutionising the mundane tasks she is given by using technology to make her very efficient and effective in her job. As a result her school is one of the top schools at MSA with a reputation of being highly organised and effective.

Marié has two honours degrees – one in Criminology and one in Psychology.  She plans on doing her Masters in the near future

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