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Gmail has a bunch of lesser-known feature that can end up being very useful once you get to know them. I've put together a list of my top 10 favorite features that you may or may not be familiar with. Here are the first five; watch for the second batch sometime next week.

10. Custom "from"
Most people end up managing more than one email account -- some are personal, others might be for work or school. When I graduated from college, I wanted to keep my .edu address for alumni-related things, but made Gmail my primary personal address. My university made it easy to forward my .edu mail to my Gmail address, so I could read all my mail from my within my Gmail account. I was happy to find out that Gmail would actually let me send mail "as" my .edu address, so I could continue to keep that identity, while managing all my email from one place. Here's how to set that up.

9. Open attachments in Google Docs & Spreadsheets, or view as slideshow
If you are sending a Word document or Excel file as an attachment, Gmail lets you easily open it in Google Docs & Spreadsheets. (In case you're not familiar with Google Docs & Spreadsheets, it's our online word processor and spreadsheet application, which lets you store and access documents online and collaborate on them with anyone.) Since other people are working on many of the docs I receive as attachments collaboratively, it's really easy to just open them in Docs & Spreadsheets and create a single document to work from, rather than constantly sending versions of documents back and forth. If the attachment is a PowerPoint presentation, Gmail will recognize this and give you a link to"View as a slideshow." This will open a window with a Flash preview of the slides. This is great for quickly reviewing slides in the browser.



8. Gmail gadget for iGoogle
I use iGoogle to bring together a lot of the information I care about on the web (feeds, my Google Calendar, YouTube videos, etc). I use it as a dashboard at the start of my day to get an overview of what's going on in the world. I've added the Gmail gadget to my page to get a preview of my Inbox, which is great because it's one of the first things I'm interested in seeing.

7. Reply by chat

Most people know that you can chat with your contacts in Gmail if they're using Gmail too. But there are some subtle features that make chat particularly useful in the context of using your email, like replying by chat. If you've received an email and notice that the sender is online (by seeing the little green dot next to his or her name in the conversation), you can click the button "reply by chat." What's particularly convenient about this is that the chat will be archived as part of the email thread to which you replied. I like this most because it means when I search for anything related to that thread, I find the chat transcript alongside all the relevant email messages.



6. Gmail for mobile application
It wasn't that long ago that my cellphone could barely handle sending text messages. I didn't used to think of it as being an efficient place to access my email. That's changed -- big time. Email has become one of my primary forms of communication when on the go. Unfortunately, on a lot of phones, dealing with email can still be a pretty annoying experience, especially if you're not using a device like a PDA. Enter Gmail for mobile. It's fast, it syncs with your online account, and it gives you virtually all of the same Gmail functionality like search, filters, and access to your whole archive of mail.

Next week: another 5 for you.

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Several weeks back, we posted a video to YouTube giving a behind-the-scenes look at how Gmail messages "really" travels around the world. We then invited you to submit your own clips to continue the story, and Gmail fans from more than 65 countries submitted more than 1,100 fantastic videos! We have to say, we are quite overwhelmed with everyone's creativity. From two Rubik's cubes, a few jaunts in a bottle, countless babies, and one dog's trip to the Southernmost point of the continental US, to jugglers, firemen, camel-riders, and original animation, we've had a lot of fun watching the responses come in, and we hope you have too. A big thanks to everyone who submitted clips, watched videos, and left comments for making this project so much fun!

Because of the international reach of the submissions, we used the Google Maps API to put together this map showing where many of the clips came from:


View Larger Map

As you can probably tell from viewing all these amazing videos, it was truly a difficult task to try and piece together as many of these clips as we could. We know that some of your favorites (and ours) may not have made it into the final cut, so we encourage everyone to surf through all of the submissions.

But now, drum roll, without further ado, here is the final video. We hope you like it!

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When I found out I was having twins a year or so ago, I was pretty worried. How could I possibly manage 2 babies, a three-year old, a dog, and a "I like to start companies and not hold down a 9-to-5 job" husband -- all while managing my own full-time job? This phase certainly started out rockily (mostly for our dog, Tobey, whom I consistently forgot to feed; he's fine, though, just a little hungry now and then). It turns out that Google actually offered much of what helped me survive. Well, Google and that great book about getting your kids to sleep through the night. So now, almost a year later, I have a few tips to share with other folks looking to find that balance between work and family - craziness and sanity - caffeine and a good night's rest - potty training and conference calls.

Without further ado, here's my first "Digital Mom" tip: keeping in sync with your spouse.

Sometimes when you get home from work and the kids are hollering about dinner, babies needing a change, and you just have time to kick off your shoes and throw something in the microwave, you don't really get a chance to talk to your spouse. In my case, with twins and a 3-year old, it can be days before I actually get a chance to ask him how he's feeling or what he's been doing. That's where Gmail chat comes in. Both my husband and I are on Gmail (his company uses it as a part of Google Apps and, of course, so does mine). So even if I fall asleep within minutes of wrestling my son into bed, at least my husband has already heard about how I'm feeling throughout the day. With a little :-) and a little <3, it's a wonderful way for us to stay connected.

Keep an eye on the Gmail blog for my tips, and I'd love to see yours. Send your own work-life balance suggestions to digitalmomtips@gmail.com and I'll share them here.

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Just a quick update to let you know we've extended the deadline for entries to our Gmail collaborative video to this Friday, August 17th. We've received a bunch of requests to extend the deadline, so we wanted to give people a bit more breathing room to get those last edits in. You can check out all the submissions (over 1000 now!) here. Some of them are just amazing - we've been blown away by the creativity and effort behind so many of the clips. Check out these:

Gmail par avion:


Email in a bottle:


Gmail cereal!


Gmail handstand delivery:

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According to Wikipedia, the world’s most accomplished hyperpolyglot is Ziad Fazah. This guy can readily communicate in 58 (f-i-f-t-y e-i-g-h-t) languages. Wow.

Well Mr. Fazah, while we’re not quite up to your standard yet, you better watch out -- because Gmail is now available in 41 languages, and don’t think we’re going to stop there.

If you’re multilingual, feeling adventurous, or if you just want to test how well you know the Gmail user interface, try changing your account language settings. Sound a little risky? Don't worry - it's easy. You can change the language through the Settings menu. Get a taste of what hyperpolyglotic Gmail has to offer:





How many of these language UIs do you recognize?

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On July 16th, we launched a Gmail t-shirt design contest with Threadless.com. Needless to say, we're psyched to see the quality of work that is pouring in. At last count, we had 192 submissions from designers around the world. Now, with under a week left to submit designs (contest ends Aug. 16th), I'd like to encourage everyone to submit a design. Or, if you're like me, and drawing stick figures is an accomplishment, then you can help score designs too!

Here are samples of some fun designs from the contest that recently finished scoring:

Everything's connected - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Home Is Where The Hub Is - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

.... . .-.. .-.. --- (hello) - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Hangin' on the Line - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

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Since we posted about our collaborative Gmail video project last week, we've gotten a lot of excellent submissions from around the world, and we wanted to share some of them with you here. I couldn't have imagined some of the ideas you've come up with, and they're going to make for a great final video. Here are just a few of the coolest clips made so far:


One of the first entries we got, from Taiwan:



Here's one that took some serious imagination:


Lightning mail:


Lego animation!


Gmail, the underwater edition:


X-ray Gmail:


Lots of people involved their kids. Here's a father and daughter from Spain:



You can see all of the responses here and learn how to submit your own clip at http://mail.google.com/mvideo. Remember, you can submit clips until August 13th.