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Last week we announced we were providing you with free IMAP access and said we would roll out the feature over time as fast as we could. I'm happy to say that all Gmail users can now enable IMAP and sync their inbox across devices. Right now you'll only see IMAP settings in Gmail if you're using the English (US) interface, but IMAP will appear for all languages in the coming weeks. Check out our Help Center to learn more about IMAP, or watch our video to learn how to quickly set it up on the iPhone.

Update: I'm also pleased to say that Gmail users with custom email addresses (through Google Apps) can now enable IMAP too.

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I got lucky in April 2004, when Gmail had just launched, and I snagged one of the first invitations (I didn't work at Google at the time, but had a few friends who did). One of the first things I noticed was the spam filter. I had used another webmail service for the previous few years and was used to seeing spam in my inbox every day. With Gmail, I almost never did, and what's more, I didn't have legitimate email ending up in the spam folder (I eventually just stopped looking there). This is still true today, even though I've had my email address for 3+ years and use it on many sites around the web.

Now that I work on Gmail, not only do I keep an eye on my personal email, but I also monitor Gmail-wide stats which rigorously measure how our spam filters are doing. And despite an increase in spam targeted at Gmail, we're keeping more unwanted messages out of your inbox than ever before:

Spam Chart

We get mail and read posts all the time from people who've noticed these results:
  • "None of my real emails have slipped into the spam folder and I remember only one spam reaching my inbox in the period I've been using Gmail. Spam is the bane of the Internet and it is refreshing to see Gmail put up such a good fight against it." - Eric, who wrote into our support team

  • "I've been using Gmail as my main email account ever since I started receiving an average of 2,500 emails a day...of which 70 percent are...personal health products, free software, and more! If not for this wonderful spam filter of Gmail, I'd have to spend 48 hours sitting in front of my mail 24/7 just to keep up!" - Nicholas, CNET blogger
To help explain how our spam filter works, we put together a video starring some of our anti-spam engineers. Enjoy!

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When Gmail launched in 2004, the web was a very different place: people's expectations were different, browser capabilities were less advanced, and certain terms that are now commonplace on software engineer résumés hadn't even been coined yet.

In the past three and a half years we have launched a number of cool features: deep chat integration, voice mail, Google Docs integration, and most recently, free IMAP. During this time we've learned a lot about building large web applications and what happens when you push web browsers to their limits.

So recently the Gmail team has been working on a structural code change that we'll be rolling out to Firefox 2 and IE 7 users over the coming weeks (with other browsers to follow). You won't notice too many differences to start with, but we're using a new model that enables us to iterate faster and share components (we now use the same rich text editor as Groups and Page Creator, and the Contact Manager can be seen in several Google apps). A few other things you will notice are some new keyboard shortcuts and the ability to bookmark specific messages and email searches.

We have also been fanatical about speed. Even on a fast Internet connection, it can take a second to request and render a new web page, and when you read a lot of mail, these seconds can accumulate to hours waiting for email to load. We've spent a lot of time profiling all parts of the application, shaving milliseconds off wherever we can, and figuring out workarounds for some pretty deep-rooted issues with the current browser implementations. Some of the most common actions should be faster now. For instance, we prefetch messages in the current view, so when you open an email your browser doesn't have to talk to Google's server; it just displays the message. These techniques really shine on newer browsers and computers. Using an alpha version of Safari 3 on a MacBook, we're seeing sub-200ms times when opening messages—pretty quick.

One side effect of this change is that if you're using third-party Gmail extensions, they're likely to stop working. We've contacted a number of the developers behind some popular extensions and provided them with an opportunity to create fixes, so check back with them for updates. We're sorry that it may be a bit of a inconvenience, but we're trying to make this change as smooth as possible.

The team has a bunch more things in the works, so stay tuned.

Update (11/9): While we (like most web services) don't officially support third-party extensions like Greasemonkey scripts, we realize that some of our most active users want to write and run them. Because these scripts directly modify a web service's code rather than using a stable API, they tend to be fragile to even small changes in a web app's code (and can even create bugs in the web app itself).

To make this easier on our Greasemonkey users, we've recently added an experimental Gmail/Greasemonkey API that should make these types of scripts easier to write and more robust to code changes. (Note that this applies only to users who have installed Greasemonkey scripts -- if the term "Greasemonkey" evokes little more for you than an image of an oily mechanic, then you needn't worry about any of this.)

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IMAP graphic

There are two online petitions I've signed in my life. One was for a "Xena: Warrior Princess" movie. The other, which I signed a few months before starting at Google, was for Gmail IMAP. As some of you know, IMAP is the best way to access your email from multiple devices (e.g. phone or desktop). It keeps the same information synced across all devices so that whatever you do in one place shows up everywhere else you might access your email.

For example, I can:
  • read an email in Gmail, then
  • move it to the "Starred" folder on my iPhone, then
  • archive it by moving it to "All Mail" in Thunderbird, then
  • see all of those changes on my Blackberry (or any of the above devices for that matter).
For the past few years, we've offered POP access, which is similar to IMAP but lacks one critical feature: your changes made on other devices aren't seen in Gmail when you log back in. Instead you are presented with a list of unread mail, and you must re-read and re-sort everything. For this reason, as soon as I started at Google, IMAP was one of the first things I asked about. Since then, I've seen countless blog posts, requests, chats, and just about everything else asking, "Are you guys ever going to do IMAP?" Well now I can say: Yes. Yes, we are doing IMAP. In fact, we are doing it for you for free on all devices and platforms.

As we roll out the feature over the next couple of days, you will be able to use Gmail at work, in your car, or just about anywhere on any device, and actions you take will be automatically synced with Gmail on the web (and remember it works the other way too: anything you do on the Web will be seen on your phone or in your mail client). Just click the "Forwarding and POP/IMAP" tab in your Gmail "Settings" and turn it on. (Psst. If you don't see the "IMAP" in the "Forwarding and POP/IMAP" tab, then check back soon. We are giving it to users as fast as we can).

Now if only they'll make that Xena movie...

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Accessing Gmail on my phone has become indispensable to me. So often, I need to do things like search through my archive to find the name of that coffee shop where I'm going to meet a friend, or to send a quick email when I don't have access to my laptop. Gmail for mobile helps make this all very easy and fast. I can access my whole archive, and send emails to anyone in my contacts list -- through an interface that's very familiar. We just released a new version with some updates that you can get by pointing your phone's browser to http://gmail.com/app. The new version works on most phones that are Java ME enabled. For BlackBerry devices, you can continue to download the previous version from the same site.

The new version of Gmail for mobile is faster than before -- and consumes a lot less data. It also has a number of new features, including:
  • more than 30 percent faster overall, and 80 percent faster for some tasks
  • a contacts viewer to view your all Gmail contacts and addresses
  • an outgoing mail footer to let your recipients know you've sent an email from a mobile device
  • click-to-call phone numbers which you can call without retyping the number
  • emails are saved for later re-editing if connection drops or if you want to perform another task before sending out the message
  • Gmail keyboard shortcuts to perform tasks faster (on phones with full keyboards).


Learn more about Gmail for mobile and other mobile services.

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When people ask me about my job, one of the common questions I get is, "Where does Gmail put all that mail?" I generally answer by pointing them to a web site like this one. While that's not exactly how it works, we do spend a lot of time working to make sure our users have all the space they need.

In April 2005, we started increasing Gmail storage as part of our "Infinity+1" storage plan. At that time, we realized we'd never reach infinity, but we promised to keep giving Gmail users more space as we were able. That said, a few of you are using Gmail so much that you're running out of space, so to make good on our promise, today we're announcing we are speeding up our counter and giving out more free storage.

And, just in case you are like my friend Miriam, whose sister sends minute to minute photo updates of her kids in RAW format, then we still have a paid storage program where you can get your fix, and we're giving you more space than before for the same price.

By the way, businesses, schools and organizations using Google Apps to get Gmail on their own custom addresses (like Google does for our @google.com accounts) will get a storage boost in the coming days, too. Standard and Education Edition storage (now at 2GB) will begin matching Gmail's counter, and Premier Edition users get a whopping 25 GB (up from 10 GB).

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You may have noticed that Google Reader recently parted ways with Google Labs. If you're not familiar with Reader, it's Google's feed aggregator. Think of it as your inbox for the web: just subscribe to the news sites, blogs, or videos you want to follow. You can read all the updates in one place -- there's no need to visit 20 different sites to get all this stuff. To see how it works, try subscribing to this blog by clicking on the "Site Feed" link in the on the right-hand side. You'll find similar links on most blogs, and many news sites too. For further explanation about why feed readers are so great, watch RSS in Plain English:


So why has Reader graduated from Google Labs? There have been a bunch of feature updates in recent months. Reader now has offline access using Google Gears, a new search tool, it's available in 10 languages, and will show you trends about your reading and subscribing habits. There's even a version of Reader for the Nintendo Wii. (But, really, we found the chemistry with Labs just wasn't there anymore.)