Shantanu's Blog

Database Consultant

June 13, 2004

Gmail review
If you have a blogger account, please log in now! Google has invited active blogger users to test gmail. I just registered through blogger and got the new email address...
I have, unfortunately already sent 3 invitations. So I can't invite anymore friends to test gmail. To start with, I have registered mysql and php mailing list subscriptions using the new gmail address.
There are 3 important reasons why you should sign up.
1. With 1,000 megabytes of storage, the typical user can go for years without deleting a single message.
2. Unlimited email aliases.
3. You have a variety of search options that return speedy, accurate results.

Gmail is search-based. It is also heavily thread-orientated and uses labels to classify threads. These are the three central themes of the service.

What is gmail?

Conversations: (Learn, Unlearn and relearn)
E-mails are not e-mails, they are conversations. The idea is simple.
Individual e-mail messages do not appear in your inbox the way they do in Yahoo Mail or MSN Hotmail. Instead, the relevant conversation thread will be bumped to the top of the list each time a new message in that conversation arrives. In fact, in Gmail it's not even POSSIBLE to separate an email from its thread.
This might seem odd at first, especially when you're used to seeing individual messages appear in your inbox view, but once you get used to it you'll wonder how you survived for so long without it. (with the number of e-mails, snippets of conversation, listed by the side). If you need to refer back to a particular message, it's all right there in the conversation. No more hunting for messages or otherwise trying to remember what was previously said or what the context of the conversation was. You can also hit the Print link to put an entire conversation into print format.
Your messages are grouped together as conversations. If you delete from your inbox, you will be deleting an entire conversation, not just one message. To delete a single message, open the conversation. Expand the specific message that you would like to delete. Click 'More options'. Once the options are visible, click 'Trash this message'. The Gmail system will automatically empty your trash and spam every 30 days.

Since you'll have 1,000 megabytes of storage, it's recommended that you archive rather than delete. Archiving is a term that simply means an email (or discussion) ceases to show up in the inbox. It will still be included by default in searches, but that appears to be the only way to reach it -- there's no option to view the archive in Gmail.

"Search Mail" and "Search the Web" are the two options at the top of the page. By clicking on "Show search options" link, you can specify whether the search should be performed only on those discussions that have attachments. A useful date feature lets you search only those emails that arrived 1 day, 1 week or 1 month before.

Infinite Subaddresses:
You can create unlimited aliases by adding "+whatever" to your e-mail address. For e.g. I can sign up with ebay using my new email address If ebay starts sending me junk mail, (I will know that when I receive a mail from ebay and look at the TO: field) I will create a filter to send the message to trash as soon as it arrives. Apart from managing spam you can also use this technique to deal with mailing lists. You can keep your personal and professional contacts separate by adding +family or +company. It's a fun to create a new email address on the fly for your famaily, something like this...
I can use filters and labels to get organized and once read, archive the messages!
Your imagination is the only limit!

Alongside Search is the Filter option. For each filter, you can specify whether an email should skip the inbox and go straight to the archive, get a particular label assigned to it, or go straight to trash. Users can create any number of filters to organize email as it arrives.

User-defined labels are used instead of folders for organizing emails and discussions. An email can be assigned any number of labels. Gmail has four types set up by default: Inbox, Starred (a simple highlighting device), Spam and Trash. Unlike folders, labels can overlap, i.e. mailing list items in your inbox can have two labels "sql" and "programming".

Best Spell Checker:
Once you have typed your message, you can click the "Check Spelling" link at the bottom of your message to have your spelling checked. Potentially misspelled words will appear as red text.

Adds free mail:
Ads are not attached to emails that you send out.

keyboard shortcuts:
These are turned off by default, but when turned on allow you to navigate between discussions, through emails within discussions, and perform most other essential functions without touching a mouse. Click on "Settings" link to turn on the Keyboard shortcuts.

The Bad:
.exe attachments:
You can attach any file to your message while you send a mail, but can't receive .exe (and other potentially dangerous) attachments. Those e-mails will bounce back to the sender.

Does not support IE 5.0:
gmail supports IE 5.5 or newer. Most of the Cyber cafe's still use IE 5.0! (It supports firefox 0.8 so I have no problem.)
(Reason: Gmail's designers have made good use of advanced HTML and the DOM. Many transactions do not require page reloads, and highlighting is dynamic and effective.)

JPEG's received in an email aren't viewed inline.


mail and attachment:
It's not possible to archive the text message but not the file attached to it. The attachment will live in the archive along with the message.
I will like to delete the attachment but keep the message in the archive.

Inactive accounts:
If the account owner doesn't log in for nine months, Google will delete all messages in the account, close the account, and recycle the username.
I will like to see the duration increased to 12 months.

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