The majority of what you will be doing online will involve Google and Email to some extent or another. Your email is more than just a way of contact, it symbolizes your online identity. To get the most of the internet you need an email address, just like you need an ID to get the most out of citizenship in most countries. Many of the services that you will be using will be run by Google, this will require an email address. Fortunately Google provides both.
Google is the largest internet search engine and one of the largest advertising agencies online. At first Google was just a website that indexed other websites to make it easier to find others, but now it has its hands in every corner of the internet. Unfortunately this makes it difficult to avoid their almost omnipresent eyes. Fortunately this make things easier to manage.
Google’s main uses will be searching the internet and for email. Google also runs other services such as YouTube and Android’s main development branch. You have been touched by their influence, even if you have never touched a computer before. It is best to be acquainted with them.
Setting up a Google Account
Making a Google account is easy and quick. The first thing you need to do is open up your web browser (Firefox/Chrome/Etc.). In the search box just type up Google.com. At the top right of the screen there should be a blue button that says “Sign in”. This will take you to a page where you can sign into an account or make a new one. Underneath the login prompt asking for an email address is a “Create account” button, click it.
This page asks for some basic information. Your name, the username you wish, a password, birthday, gender, Phone#, and email. Remember that you do not need to use your real name, but what name you use will be an important identifier for many online actions.
You can omit the phone# and email. You will need a phone that can receive text messages or a call to verify your account on the next page. This is a safety measure that cannot be avoided easily. They will not use your phone # for any other purpose unless you allow them. They will send you a verification number. Enter the number and continue on.
Congratulations on your new Google account. Your email will be what was entered as the username with an @gmail.com.
You will be given a short tutorial on what each button does and be sent back to the Google home page. If you look at the top right of the screen, in place of the login button, there is a icon of the first letter used for the name of your account. Near that button is an array of 9 squares set in a 3×3 arrangement, click it. This will bring up a list of Google services that are available. You will want to check your email first. Over time we will explore what these other services do in detail.
Click Gmail. This is Google’s email system. A short promotional slide presentation will play. Afterwords you should get access to your inbox. As you can see the interface is quite simple. On the top of the page you have a search box for your emails and the same options on the right as everywhere else on google. Underneath is your inbox and options for each option such as moving messages between folders and deleting them. On the left sidebar is a list of folders. Some will contain messages automatically, others you will have to populate yourself.
The Inbox is where all messages that you receive are stored. You will want to keep this as empty as possible by always organizing your email into other folders once read. The Starred are emails that have been marked as important, sometimes messages from people you often write back to will automatically be stared. As you can see the message that is in our inbox right now has a white star next to it, if you click it the message will be stared. Sent Mail is self-explanatory, these are messages that you have sent to others. Drafts are messages that have been started, but not completed. If you click the More button you can see the spam mail you receive and create a new folder by clicking the “Create new label” button.
Above your Inbox is a couple of tabs that are designed to help organize the inbox. This can be both helpful or a hindrance depending on how much email you receive and how you teach Gmail. Depending on how you read and write messages and what you mark them as for organization will determine the effectiveness of organization. You can move an email from one of these tabs to another by clicking and dragging it over to one of them.
Click an email to start reading it.You can see who the email is from and their email address, the day and time the email was sent, and some options for staring and replying to the email at the top. Then follows the email’s contents. The email that is resting within the inbox by default is just a promotional mail for other google products, but it is a good example. After the contents of the email there should be a little reply box. This email is auto-generated so you should not reply to it, but if you are emailing your friends it is much easier for organization to reply instead of starting a new message.
Composing a Message
You type the email address of the person you wish to write an email to in the first line. If you already have them in your contacts you can just type their name and it will automatically type their email. Then you have the subject line. It is important that you fill this out. Most email that lacks a subject will be regarded as spam and even then it is rude.
The main body of the email is after the subject line. You fill this out just like a letter. By the send button you have text options to modify the font and create bullet lists. Next to that you can upload attachments using the paper clip button, this is an easy way to share small files. Other options are to include files for google, send money, insert a picture, link photos, and emoticons. At the end of the screen there is the option to delete the email and the arrow has more options like moving the email to other folders and checking for spelling mistakes.
Once you hit send, the message will be sent to the email address you intended. You can send an email to multiple people by entering more than one email in the subject line.
For more information on how to use Gmail you can look at the account setup option underneath your inbox.
Not that was a long and boring track, but now we can get into the more fun parts of computers. Look forward to more articles in the future.