Gmail: Introduction to Gmail

Lesson 1: Introduction to Gmail


Gmail is a free email service provided by Google. In many ways, Gmail is like any other email service: You can send and receive emails, block spam, create an address book, and perform other basic email tasks. But it also has some more unique features that help make it one of the most popular online email services.

In this lesson, we'll talk about some of the features and advantages of Gmail, and we'll give an overview of the Gmail window.

the Gmail inbox

Google accounts

Creating a Google account is needed to access Gmail because it is just one of the many services offered by Google to registered users. Signing up for a Google account is free and easy, and naming your new Gmail address will be a part of the sign-up process. This means whenever you're signed in to Gmail, you are automatically signed in to your Google account. You'll be able to easily access other Google services like Google Docs, Calendar, and YouTube.

Of course, you don't have to use any of these features. You may just want to focus on email for now. However, if you'd like more information, you can review our Google account tutorial, where we talk about some of the different services Google offers and show you how to change your privacy settings.

Gmail features

Gmail offers several useful features to make your email experience as smooth as possible, including:

  • Spam filtering. Spam is another name for junk email. Gmail uses advanced technologies to keep spam out of your inbox. Most spam is automatically sent to a separate spam folder, and after 30 days it is deleted.
  • Conversation View. An email conversation occurs whenever you send emails back and forth with another person (or a group of people), often about a specific topic or event. Gmail groups these emails together by default, which keeps your inbox more organized.
  • Built-in chat. Instead of sending an email, you can send someone an instant message or use the voice and video chat feature if your computer has a microphone and/or webcam.
  • Call Phone. This feature is similar to voice chat, except that it allows you to dial an actual phone number to call any phone in the world. It's free to make a call to anywhere in the United States or Canada, and you can make calls to other countries at relatively low rates.

Get to know the Gmail interface

When you're working with Gmail, you'll primarily be using the main Gmail interface. This window contains your inbox, and it allows you to navigate to your contacts, mail settings, and more. Also, if you use other Google services like YouTube or Calendar, you'll be able to access them from the top of the Gmail window.

Click the buttons in the interactive below to learn about the different parts of the Gmail interface.

edit hotspotsGmail interface interactive


Answer the following questions. You can either write down your answers or just think about them.

  1. What are the advantages of having a Gmail account?
  2. Are there any features on Gmail you would use aside from email?
  3. Optional: If you already have a Google account, sign in, then explore the Gmail interface.