Gmail is a cloud-based email service with powerful organization and communication features. Best of all, being cloud-based means Gmail is accessible from nearly any user device with an Internet connection.
Gmail is everywhere! … And it is also part of G Suite for Education.

Hey there, young fella/fellette, before we get started with Gmail, pardon me while I assail your ears with stories of the mild inconviences of email in days long past, when — after dutifully clearing the phone lines and dialing up to the Interwebs  —  one had to crank up the ol' email client by hand, and even (gasp) hand-type our own email signatures like the cavepeople did. 

Thankfully, we now live in the future, where one is no longer required to wear floor-length trenchcoats to use the Web, "cyber-" is a rarely used prefix, and green, non-ascii nonsense almost never rains down our screens anymore. And the steak is so, so good. Anyhoo, here's Gmail: 

 

Getting to Gmail

Good news, everyone! If you're a Weber School District employee, you already have access to possibly the most powerful yet convenient way to manage email, ever. That's a great thing, because if you're reading this, you're probably a teacher, and teachers get a metric ton of email. While Gmail is simple to use, whether you're going after your GCE Level 1 certification or just looking to make your life in education a little bit easier, there's definitely a lot to be found in Gmail (and also possibly this article!) 

 

Gif demonstrating accessing Gmail by clicking on the icon in the Google apps menu

 

The quickest way to access Gmail is probably gmail.com or mail.gmail.com. You can also access Gmail through two places in the Google apps menu, otherwise known as the nine-dots menu.

Gmail mobile apps are also available for iOS and Android users (sorry to Windows Phone fans, both of you).

 

I'm totally checking my email. Total, man.

 

Picture of the home screen for Gmail, showing the Inbox

 

Now that you've successfully reached Gmail and logged in with your trusty wsd.net login, you can click on any messages you have and blissfully read away. Note that unread emails are bolded

By default, Gmail neatly groups the email-back-and-forth conversations you have with the same person (or group of people) together:

 

Picture showing multiple emails stacked on top of each other in Gmail's conversation view

 

This way, all your emails to the same people about the same topic appear together in one scrollable view. If you'd like to go back in time to 2010 or to so see each individual email listed seperately in your inbox, thankfully you won't need any flux capacitors. Just click Picture of the Settings button in GmailSettings and scroll down to Conversation View to turn this feature on or off.

Now that you've read some mail, perhaps you'd like to send an email. Let's look at that now:

 

Creating an email in Gmail  

To create a new email, click the Picture of the Compose button in Gmail button on the left.

 

Picture of the home screen for Gmail, showing a new message pop-up

 

 This will pop-up a small New Message window, great for quick announcments or reminders. For a larger writing space, click on Full-screen Picture of the FullScreen button in Gmail ...

 

Picture of a full-screen composition window in Gmail

 

... which may be more comfortable for longer missives. Click on Exit full-screen Picture of the Exit full-screen button in Gmail to return to a smaller window. 

 

Picture showing the recipients fields on a new message in Gmail

 

Now it's time to address our new Gmail email, and we've got our standard setup pictured above. Whether you're a write-first, address later person or vice-versa, it's good to know what the types of recipients are:

  • To: Type the email addresses or names of your intended recipients here. You can also message entire Google Groups. For example, a message addressed To: 120-Teachers would go to all teachers at Lomond View Elementary School. A message addressed To:410-Staff would go out to all employees at T.H. Bell Junior High School (including teachers). You can create your own Groups as well for your messaging conviencience, and there are approximately one brazillion custom-made Google Groups in Weber School District right now, and you address a message to any of those as well. (Btw: Someone made a Group named "Friends" that I'm not invited to. Just saying.)
  • CC: While you can include as many senders as you want in the To: field (okay, technically 500), Carbon Copy (CC:) is used to address secondary recipients who may be interested in the contents, but don't need to act on the message right away. Recipients in the To: and CC: fields can see each other's addresses in your sent message.
  • BCC: Or Blind Carbon Copy is used when you as the sender don't want an email's recipients to know all the people who recieved the message. Anyone whose email is entered in this field will recieve the message, but won't be able to see who else received the same message. This is incredibly useful to protect student and record confidentiality. For example, if I wanted to send a reminder email to my students who hadn't turned in an important assignment, I can address myself in the To: field, and put all the relevent students' email addresses in the BCC field. That way, each student recieves the reminder message without knowing who else has yet to turn in said assignment.
  • Subject: Best kept short, succinct, and sweet. 

 

Picture of a new email in Gmail

 

Now of course, you're ready to write your message. Gmail provides a rich-text editor with a toolbar containing plenty of text-formatting options, and you can also attach files from your computer or Google Drive. When you're done, click Send. As usual, the Down arrow on the Send button gives additional options, in this case Schedule Send, which allows you to choose a time to send your message (good for conscientious night owls).

 

Picture of the Undo popup in Gmail

 

Forget something? An attachment, maybe? For about thirty seconds after you send your mail, Gmail gives you the options to Undo your sent mail. Act quickly, though, as this is only available for five seconds by default (you can up this to thirty seconds in Picture of the Settings button in GmailSettings>General>Undo Send).

But wait; there's more! Next, we'll look at some innovative ways Google has provided us to keep your Gmail inbox neat and tidy!

 

Labeling and Filtering and Stuff in Gmail

 

Lables are a powerful organizational tool in Gmail. They're smarter than folders: You can attach multiple lables to a single email, and you can automatically assign labels to incoming mails based on certain conditions, and you can even attach actions to those labels that will automagically happen to each email that meets those criteria. Whew! That's a mouthful, so let's start by simply creating a label.

 

Gif demonstrating accessing the Labels tab in Gmail

 

 To create a new label from Settings, click on Settings Picture of the Settings button in Gmail> Labels (the Labels tab). Then, scroll down to the Labels section and click the Create New Label button.

 

Picture of the New Label naming pop-up menu in Gmail

 

Now, type the name of your new label. Then, feel accompished! ... buuuuut a more likely real-world scenario might be that you'll be inspired to create a label while already reading the 40,000-th email from that one person about that one thing that you can't necessarily ignore, but you don't need to act on right away.

 

Gif demonstrating creating a new label from within an email in Gmail

 

To create a new label while reading an email, click the Labels button ( Picture of the Labels button in Gmailit's in the menu just above the email content) >Create new. Enter the name of your new label, and you're done!

That's great and all, but in today's fast-paced teaching environment, you may want to apply labels to a bunch of emails all at once. To do that, from your Inbox, start by checking the boxes of the emails you'd like to label.

 

 Gif demonstrating applying labels to multiple emails in Gmail

 

Once you've checked all the boxes of all the emails you'd like to apply a label to, click Labels Picture of the Labels button in Gmail, then check the labels you'd like to apply in the pop-up menu that, well, pops up. (You can also create new labels from here.) When you're done, click Apply.

If you'd like some color with your email sorting, you can also customize your labels by applying colors to each of them. To do that, start at your Inbox. Notice that all your labels are shown on the left side:

 

Gif demonstrating applying colors to labels in Gmail

 

Hover your cursor over any label and click More Picture of the More options button in Gmail, choose a georgous color, then click Set color. Done!

Like doing the same thing, but differently? Another way to apply labels to a-bucha-emails-at-once: Check the boxes next to the emails you'd like to apply labels to, but this time click the Move to button Picture of the Move to button in Gmail.

 

Gif demonstrating moving multiple emails to a label in Gmail

 

Select the label you'd like to apply (or create one here), and we're good here.

Gmail filters are an even more poweful way to organize and clean up your Gmail inbox.

 

Picture of the search field in Gmail

 

To create a new filter, click the down arrow on the right side of the Search mail box. 

 

Image of the filter options menu in Gmail, showing various options

 

In the filter options screen that appears, choose which search search terms you'd like to filter by. You can be just about as picky as you want here! When you're done, click Create filter.

 

Picture of the filter actions screen in Gmail, showing a variety of actions that will trigger based on the filter

 

Here's the great part: Once you create a filter, you get to choose what happens when a message arrives that matches the setting for that filter. So, if you've created a filter that catches every email from a student email address (*@wsdstudent.net, for example), you can ask Gmail to automatically apply a label, forward it, mark it as super important, or much more. Likewise, if you want every email from, say, your Gsuite administrator who sits on the other side of the wall from you (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) to be instantly deleted to oblivion, you can do that, too!

By the way, that asterisk * I used with *@wsdstudent.net is a type of wildcard, meaning in this case, "anyone and everyone" @wsdstudent.net. I can use wildcards to include or exclude people from filters and labels. The minus sign (hyphen, whatever) is another type of wildcard that excludes people. For example, if I apply a label or filter to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., it means, essentially, "anyone and everyone except @wsdstudent.net."

 

Gif demonstrating creating a filter in Gmail

 

Above, I'm creating a filter that will catch any email I receive from an @wsd.net email address (so, basically all employees of WSD), then it will archive it (keeping it out of my inbox), and mark it with the label WSD People

Is it a good idea to archive all all the emails you receive from fellow Dub to the Ess-Dee (That's a thing I'm starting that the cool kids will definitely use for WSD) employees? Probably not, but it's the example I could think of as I write this at 7am, and I'm stickin' with it. 

 

 Image of the completed filters screen in Gmail

 

To view all the current filters you have applied, click the Settings icon Picture of the settings icon in Gmail, click Settings, and select the Filters and Blocked Addresses tab. You can also change, delete, or create new filters directly from here.

 

Some Other Labeling and Filtering Ideas I Just Came Up with in the Past Thirty Seconds: 

Description Filter Label/Action

Apply a label to any email sent by a WSD employee

From: *@wsd.net

WSD

Apply a label to any email sent by a WSD student

From: *@wsdstudent.net

Students

Apply a label to any email sent by specific people

From: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. OR This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Missives from Benevolent Overlords

Apply a label to any email outside of WSD

From: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. AND This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Strangers!

Label all meeting invites and skip your inbox

Has the words: invite.ics

Calendar,
Skip the Inbox

 

Signatur-ing and Translating in Gmail

Email signatures are great reminders of how important you are and all the stuff you've done, so make sure you include your job title, all degrees and schools attended, family vacation slideshows, 1040s, and blood type. Don't forget to include some kind of quote!

... Nah, please don't do that. This short Medium article has some great do's and don'ts with email signatures, but to summarize, a great signature includes your name, title, organization, and not too much else. To quote email etiquette expert Judith Kallos from that article, "If you wouldn't put it on business letterhead, don't put it in an email." Obviously, we're educators, and our audience is different and more fun than most, as are we! Bits of color, flair, and personality are totally cool, but it's easy to go overboard.

Also, remember that if you include images in your email signature, many people block images in emails, and many email clients don't support (or make difficult) including an alt tag for images to assist people who use screen readers to access the Web. So, if you have an image in your sig, try to make sure it's not necessary to view that image to know who you are and what you represent.

 

Picture of an example email signature in Gmail, including a non-necessary image

 

Here's my signature. It's not the greatest signature in the world, it's just a tribute. I've got a tiny image at the bottom there which is not vital information at all (in fact, I just added it for this example). That said, I kinda like it, so I'll probably keep it!

 

Picture of the Signature field in Gmail settings

 

To create your own email signature, click Settings Picture of the settings icon in Gmail> Settings, then under the General tab, scroll down to Signature. There's a rich content editor field there where you can format your signature however you'd like! 

 

Picture of a boring example signature in Gmail

 

... and there we go. Once you're happy with your new email sig, don't forget to scroll down to the bottom of the screen and click Save Changes.

 

Picture of an email in Gmail with text in Chinese.

 

Oh, and one more thing. If you receive an email in another language, Google will autodetect many languages and offer to translate them for you. Click Translate message to do that.

 

Picture of a translated message in Gmail

 

With translation, your mileage may vary, but you'll usually get a pretty good idea of what the message is about.

 

Gif demonstrating translating a message in Gmail from English to Dutch 

 

You can also translate your messages in Gmail to other languages. Click on More options Picture of the More options icon in Gmail > Translate message, then select a language.

... Aaand that's all for now about Gmail. If you have questions, suggestions, or feedback, feel free to use your new-found skills and tools to email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Thanks for reading!

 

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