Customizing Gmail

GmailOne of the greatest things about Gmail is the fact that it is very customizable, however when you first setup a Gmail account it can take some time to figure out how and where to make some of the changes that you want. I have highlighted a few of the standard changes I always do when helping someone setup their Gmail account for the first time, but this is only my preferred list and you may prefer to set your Gmail account up differently. However this could be a good place to start to make some changes and familiarize yourself with Gmail and its settings.

Remove Web Clips
While I love Gmail and it is my favorite email, one of the things that annoys me is web clips. If you are unsure what web clips are just look at the top of your Gmail and you will see a part of ads. These ads are designed to give you good information, but I find them both distracting and annoying. So the first thing I do with any Gmail account is turn them off. You can do this by clicking on the cog in the right hand of the screen, then selecting Settings. Go to the Web Clips label and uncheck the box that says Show my web clips above the inbox. That will remove the web clips and make your Gmail look a lot cleaner.

Set Your Signature
Personally I always like to set my signature in my email so I do not have to remember to put it in. Doing this in Gmail is very easy, just go to the cog and click on Settings. Under the General tab just scroll down to the Signature section and type in the signature you want. I always prefer to leave a blank line at the top, so that when you send email it will automatically put a space between the body of your text and your signature. When you are done just click on Save Changes at the bottom.

Cleaning Up Labels
When I first setup a Gmail account I do not like the way the default labels are displayed in Gmail. I feel there are some that should be displayed that are not, and some that are displayed that shouldn’t be. So one of the first things I do is change how some of the default labels are displayed. You can change this by click on the cog and then Settings. Go to the Labels tab. Typically I like to show only the Starred, Important, Sent Mail, Drafts, Spam, and Trash labels. All of the other labels I hide, so that they are hidden under the More link. I can still get to them when I need to, but I do not see them all the time. You may want to change the way your labels are displayed differently than the way I do mine, but that is what is great about Gmail. My Gmail is not the same as your Gmail, so feel free to change the way your labels work for you.

Enabling IMAP
If you have a mobile device and want to access your Gmail, then I would recommend going in and enabling IMAP. By default this option is not set in your Gmail account, and you have to manually turn it on. You can do so by clicking on the cog icon and going into Settings, then go to the Forwarding and POP/IMAP section and click on Enable IMAP and then Save Changes. I would not recommend clicking on POP as that downloads your email where as IMAP syncs your email. You can read more on what POP and IMAP is in a blog post I did a while ago called POP3 vs IMAP.

Signature Tweaks Lab
Earlier in this post I talked about how to set your signature, but the other part of the signature in Gmail that I do not like is how it puts your signature at the bottom of the history or string of emails. In doing this your signature does not appear below the email you are sending, but at the very bottom of ALL the emails. Gmail has a really nice Lab that fixes this and moves your Signature back under the email you are sending. It is called Siganture Tweaks and can be installed by click on the cog, going into Settings, then choose the Labs tab. Scroll down until you see Signature Tweaks, click to Enable and Save Changes. Going forward your signature will appear at the bottom of your emails and not the entire history of all the emails sent.

Google Calendar Gadget Lab
If like me you are a heavy user of Google Calendar you may wish you had a nice way to see or preview it in your regular email window, instead of having to open your calendar up into a separate tab. Well there is a Gmail lab for that, which will put a preview of your calendar right in your regular Gmail window. To enable it, just click on the cog and go into Settings. Choose the Labs tab and scroll until you find the Google Calendar Gadget, enable it and then click on Save Changes. This should refresh your email and you should get a nice preview of your calendar right in your email. If you decide you do not like it, you can go back into Labs and click on Disable, which will remove it from your Gmail.

Undo Send Lab
Have you ever sent an email and just as you did realized you forgot something or mistyped something and wished you can get it back? Well Gmail has thought of that as well and has created a lab called Undo Send. What it will do is give you the option up to 30 seconds after you click Send to hit a link and Undo the send. This way you can clean up, attach that file, or choose not to send the email at all. This is a nice feature that I have found very useful on many occasions. To enable it just click on the cog, then go into Settings and choose the Labs tab. Scroll until you find Undo Send and click Enable, then Save Changes.

And that about sums up some of my favorite tweaks for a Gmail account. As I said earlier these are just a way for you to get started in customizing your own Gmail, but I have found these settings and labs very useful for myself. So feel free to check out other labs and settings until you get your Gmail just the way you want it.