Gmail is really useful. It’s free without feeling cheap. It doesn’t add ads to the signature line of your email messages, and it gives you a very generous amount of storage space.
1. Use Gmail Offline With Google Gears
If you have Google Gears installed, you can use Gmail on the Web just like you were using it from a desktop client. It runs in three modes, online, offline, and “flaky connection” for those times when you can’t count on a good signal.
If you send message while you’re offline, your message will be sent while you reconnect, and you can browse through the messages you’ve already received.
2. Get Driving Directons From Gmail
Did someone send you an invitation with an address? Google automatically detects addresses in messages and creates a link to the right of your message asking if you would like to map it. It also asks if you’d like to track packages when you receive messages that contain them.
3. Turn on Experimental Features With Gmail Labs
Gmail Labs is a feature of Gmail that allows you to experiment with features that aren’t necessarily ready for wide release. If they’re popular, they might eventually be incorporated into the main Gmail interface.
Example tools include Mail Goggles that attempts to give you a sobriety test before you post on the weekend. Another includes a game. Gmail Labs also includes the very useful task list.
4. Add Gmail Themes
Rather than using the same Gmail background, you can use Gmail themes. Some themes even change during the day, similar to iGoogle themes. Some of them make your email harder to read, but most of them are pure fun.
5. Task Lists
This feature took a long time to arrive, but it was worth the wait. You can create a task list that shows you your to-do items and lets you check them off when completed. It also allows you to assign due dates and add details, as you would expect.
Your task list can stay hidden, float above the other items on your page, or open in a new window. Your task can also be viewed in iGoogle or Google Calendar.
6. Get Free IMAP and POP Mail
Many competing Web mail systems either don’t offer offline access or charge for them. Gmail supports both POP and IMAP, which are industry standards for desktop email clients. That means you can use Outlook, Thunderbird, or Mac Mail with your Gmail account.
7. Use Google Apps to Send Gmail From Your Own Domain
I’ve seen plenty of people give out Gmail addresses as their professional contact, but you might still be worried that this might not look professional. There’s an easy solution. If you own your own domain, you can use the free version of Google Apps to turn your domain address into your personal Gmail account.
Messages going to firstname.lastname@example.org would reach you using Gmail’s servers, and your clients would never know the difference. It’s also easier and cheaper than trying to maintain your own email server.
8. Video Chat From Gmail
Gmail is integrated with Google Chat and lets you send instant messages with your contacts. You can also engage in voice and video chats from both Windows-PCs and Macs. Video chat integration is not currently supported by the standalone version of Google Talk.
9. Check the Gmail Server Status
Gmail is reliable enough that outages make the news. That doesn’t mean they don’t happen. If you ever wonder if Gmail is down, you can check the Google Apps Status Dashboard. You’ll find out if Gmail is running, and if it is down, you should find information about when they expect it to be online again.
10. Remember the Milk
If you’re not happy with Gmail’s task list or you want to use a service with more features, try Remember the Milk. It’s not made by Google, but it integrates with Gmail. You can still see your task list in Gmail or have reminders sent to you by email.