Gmail FAQ

Note: Answers to questions about sending, replying, and other Gmail basics such as setting a signature or vacation responder can be found in the Using Gmail guide section under the Using Google Apps section in the sidebar to the left.

Q: How can I make Gmail my default email application?
A: Follow this guide from Google to make Gmail your default email app. Following these steps will prompt Gmail to open a new message whenever you click on a hyperlinked email address. Or, if you use Chrome as your web browser, you'll be asked if you want to use Gmail for all of your email links in Chrome.

Q: How can I set up my Gmail on my mobile device?
A: If you go to the Gmail Quick Start Guide, there are directions for setting up your Gmail on Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone devices. Setting up your calendar on your mobile device is done through the same setup process as setting up your email.

Q: When I send a message to a mailing list or Gmail Group, why don't I see the messages that I send in my Inbox?
A: When sending to mailing lists or groups, Gmail automatically skips sending a copy of that message to your Inbox. The sent message may be found under the Sent Mail label. If you want to receive a copy of that message to your Inbox, you can add yourself as a BCC recipient when sending out the email.

Another possibility to make viewing mailing list or group emails easier to see is to create some filters to group all mail sent to and from that mailing list into a single label.
  1. From the right side of the search bar at the top of your Gmail Inbox, click the more options triangle to reveal an advanced search menu.
  2. In both the From: field and the To: field, enter the email address of the mailing list.
  3. At the bottom right of this menu, Create a filter with this search should become available. Click this link to begin creating a filter.
  4. On the next page, check the Apply the label: option and then choose the label you wish to have applied to all emails to and from this mailing list. You can also create a new label from this menu.
  5. If you wish to retroactively apply this filter to messages you have already sent or received, make sure to check Also apply filter to 97 matching conversations.
Q: What will happen to my email folders when they're migrated into Gmail?
A: Your folders will be imported into Gmail as labels, and as long as each folder has at least one email in it, then the folder structure will be retained exactly how it was in your previous email client.

For example, take the following folder structure in an email client such as Outlook or Thunderbird:
  • TopFolderExample
    • Subfolder1
    • Subfolder2
    • Subfolder3
Assuming each of these folders has at least one email in it, the folder structure will be re-created in labels like so:
  • [TopFolderExample]
    • [TopFolderExample/Subfolder1]
    • [TopFolderExample/Subfolder2]
    • [TopFolderExample/Subfolder3]
If, however, the "TopFolderExample" did not have an email in it, the folder structure would still be replicated, but would be flat, like so:
  • [TopFolderExample/Subfolder1]
  • [TopFolderExample/Subfolder2]
  • [TopFolderExample/Subfolder3]
Folders with no emails in them will not be migrated, regardless of being a subfolder or top-level folder.

Q: What are labels? How are they different from folders?
A: Labels are functionally very similar to folders. Gmail uses the Archive function to move emails out of the Inbox to the All Mail folder. Once an email has had a label applied to it and has been archived, the label essentially functions as a folder, which can be accessed from the left side of your Gmail home screen. You can organize labels in the same way that you can organize folders; by reorganizing them and nesting them within each other.

Labels can also be applied to email messages while still in the Inbox, in which case, they will simply serve to "tag" the email, until the email is archived.

An advantage to labels is that multiple labels can be applied to email messages, which can be a useful organizational tool, and searching within labels allows for more efficient searching than searching the entire Inbox.