Friday, October 1, 2004

Email the Google way


By David Silver

Generally, OutlookPower provides content that's related Outlook in one way or another. In covering Gmail, I'm drifting slightly away from the norm. Why cover Gmail? Well, it does relate to Oulook in that it's email related, it's currently a popular topic, and I think it's something that you, our reader, would be interested in.

Anybody that has kept up with modern day internet crazes will instantly recognize the name Gmail. Gmail, at, is Google's free, web-based email system, and has millions of people setting up shrines in its name. There is no shortage of web-based email sites, and some of them are fierce competition. Both MSN Hotmail, see, and Yahoo! Mail, at, are some of the most popular email domains in the world. What does Gmail offer that these don't?

Searching and archiving

One of the biggest advantages of Gmail to most people is the enormous storage size of your account: 1000MB, or 1GB. The only online email service to best this is the premium Yahoo! Mail Plus, which offers 2GB. Google estimates that the average user will be able to fill this up in five years without ever deleting anything. As a result, they recommend you don't.

Instead, they encourage you to "archive" your messages, and leave them on your account for future reference. In fact, it takes an extra mouse click to delete them instead of archiving them. Figure A, below, shows the archive screen.


The archive is the place to store all the mail you ever receive. (click for larger image)

The archiving method has one obvious flaw: after a while, it's going to become impossible to find any messages in the archive due to the large amount of messages that are bound to end up in there. Thankfully, the people at Google have come up with a solution.

Using the same high-quality search tools found in the Google Search Engine at, you're able to search through your archive. This searching can be done as a quick, basic search, where you just give keywords that Google tries to find, or a more advanced search, allowing you to specify the sender, the date, and the recipient. The advanced search box is shown in Figure B.


Advanced Search makes it easy to find the message you're looking for. (click for larger image)

Labeling instead of filing

Most online email clients only allow you to place an email in a single "folder", or category. But what if you have an email that covers two different topics? Which folder do you put it in? Gmail doesn't want you to have to make such tough decisions.