Chapter 2: Send and receive mail

Table of Contents

Write and send messages

Compose a message:

Carbon copy and hiding addresses

Format an email

Pasting images into email

Add Attachments

Save a draft

Undo Send

Read receipts

Email grouped by conversation

What are conversations?

Read an email conversation

Forward an email conversation

Find a message in conversation

Read and respond to messages

Read an email

Preview attachments before downloading

Standard vs. basic HTML view

Reply to an email

Forward an email

Print an email

New mail notifications

Mark messages as read or unread

Right sidebar links

People widget

Create email message templates

Why use an email template?

Create an email template

Use an email template

Modify an email template

Delete an email template

Receive mail from multiple accounts



Common errors

Other issues

Personalize your inbox and messages

Add an email signature

Vacation responder

Add a custom ‘from’ address

Emoticons in email

Change the background image of your inbox

Write and send messages

Compose a message:

To write a new message, click the Compose Mail link on any Gmail screen (it's on the left, under your school Apps logo).

Enter your recipient's email address. You can type the address in the 'To:' field, and Apps mail will automatically suggest addresses from your Contacts list. Hit Enter to choose the name at the top of the list, or scroll down to choose a different address. If Apps mail doesn't suggest the address you want, just continue typing.

Note:  Apps mail will first suggest the addresses you send mail to most often. To view a complete list of your most frequently mailed contacts, click Contacts on the left side any Apps mail page, then click Most Contacted.

You can also choose the address in your Contacts list by clicking the 'To:' link just below the Send button. This will open your Contacts list and allow you to select one or more recipients.

Enter a subject for your message in the 'Subject:' field.

Write your message! Just click in the large field and type away.

When you're done composing, click the Send button (located just above the 'To:' field). You'll see a confirmation at the top of the window that your message was sent.


You can delegate access to your Gmail to another person so they can read, send, and delete messages on your behalf. For example, you can delegate e-mail rights to an admin in your school. The delegate can also access the other person's contacts by clicking the Contacts link. Clicking the To, Cc, or Bcc links in the mail compose window will also bring up your contacts.

For more information: 

Related Videos

Carbon copy and hiding addresses

If you are composing an email to a group of people, and have some recipients for whom responses are welcome, but not required, you can add the addresses to the "CC" or Carbon Copy line. Display this field by clicking Add Cc.

If you're sending a message to several people and want to hide each recipient's email address, you can use the blind carbon copy feature. Simply enter the email addresses that you do not want to display to the recipients in the Bcc field of your composed message by clicking Add Bcc.

If you don't want any of the email addresses to show up to the recipients, common practice is to include your own email address in the To field, and all of the recipients' addresses in Bcc. When you do this, recipients will only see your email address and no other.

Note: Gmail will provide email recipients an indicator when they are added via Bcc on an email, but a visible Bcc header is only available on messages sent from another Gmail user, not from external sources.

Format an email

You can customize Apps mail messages with rich formatting, add color to your greetings, underline key points, or make your words bold. Here's how to enhance your messages:

  1. Click Compose Mail at the top of any Gmail page.
  2. Click the icon for the formatting feature you'd like to use in the formatting toolbar above the compose window. See below for a full chart of all the formatting options.
  3. If you don't see any icons, click Rich formatting >> to display all formatting options.
  4. Type your message! (Please note that Gmail doesn't recognize HTML tags inserted in the body of a message.)

If you decide you'd like to write a message in plain text format, just click << Plain text along the top of the compose window.

Google Mail’s Formatting Options

Bold - bold all or some of your message

Italics - italicize all or some of your message

Underline - underline all or some of your message

Font - select a special font

Font Size - change the font size of all or some text

Font Color - change the color of all or some text

Highlight Color - highlight the text of a message

Remove Formatting - remove formatting from selected text

Hyperlink Text - hyperlink the selected text

Numbered List - create a numbered list in your message

Bulleted List - create a bulleted list in your message

Indent Less - move text closer to the left of the page

Indent More - indent text further to the right of the page

Quote Text - format a block of text as a quote

Left Align - align text along the left side of the page

Center Align - align text in the center of the page

Right Align - align text along the right side of the page

Right to left* - changes the directionality of text composing

Left to right* - changes the directionality of text composing

Rich formatting is not available in Apps Mail's basic HTML view. At this time there is no way to save customized formatting options as a default Apps Mail's setting. Read later in the chapter how to personalize your inbox and learn more about standard vs basic view and signature settings.

If you are composing an email to a group of people, and have some recipients for whom responses are welcome, but not required, you can add the addresses to the "CC" or Carbon Copy line. Display this field by clicking Add Cc.

If you're sending a message to several people and want to hide each recipient's email address, you can use the blind carbon copy feature. Simply enter the email addresses that you do not want to display to the recipients in the Bcc field of your composed message by clicking Add Bcc.

If you don't want any of the email addresses to show up to the recipients, common practice is to include your own email address in the To field, and all of the recipients' addresses in Bcc. When you do this, recipients will only see your email address and no other.

Pasting images into email

If you’re running the latest version of Google Chrome, you can paste images right from your clipboard. So if you copy an image from the web or another email, you can paste it right into your message. This is especially handy for passing around screenshots — you don’t have to save the files any more.

On the Mac, you can use Command-Control-Shift-4 to save screenshots directly to the clipboard).

Add Attachments

You can add files to your email just as you would with any other email program. Apps mail will not allow you to send ".exe" files or files larger than 25 MB.  

To attach a file to a message you're composing, follow these steps:

  1. Click Attach a file under the subject field.
  2. Browse through your files and click the name of the file you'd like to attach. You can also choose multiple files at this time by using the "Shift" or "Cmd/Ctrl" keys.

  3. Click Open.

You should see a progress bar that tracks the status of your attached file.

If you'd like to remove a file you've attached to a message, simply uncheck the box next to the file before sending.

To attach another file, click Attach another file.

If your email contains reference to an attachment, but you forget to add one, Gmail can remind you. The reminder will appear as a popup when you click send, if you have not attached files to the message but Gmail thinks you intended to.

For example, if you compose an email that says, "Hi Mike, I'm attaching the latest reports" and then click Send before attaching any files, Gmail will remind you with this popup:

This is automatic and does not require you to enable a lab to access this feature.

Save a draft

Don't worry about losing messages as you write them -- Apps mail automatically saves drafts every few minutes. You can also save a draft manually, if you like. Click Save Now above the message you're composing, or press Ctrl+S when your cursor is in any of the text fields (Cmd+S for Macintosh users).

If you leave your drafted message, you can view or edit it again:

  1. Click Drafts along the left side of any Gmail page.
  2. Click the message you'd like to continue composing.
  3. Edit the message, and click Send, Save Now, or Discard.

If you'd like to delete a draft message:

  1. Click Drafts along the left side of any Gmail page.
  2. Check the box next to the message you'd like to delete.
  3. Click Discard Drafts near the top of the page. Your draft will be permanently removed.

Undo Send

Sometimes you hit the send button a little too soon. If you have a Labs-enabled Domain, you can enable a lab to 'Undo' a sent message. After initially sending your message, you'll have a couple of seconds to reconsider and undo sending the email message.

To check if your school domain is Labs-enabled - look in the top right corner of your Apps mail window. If there is a labs 'beaker' - then labs is enabled.

To enable the 'Undo send' experiment, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings gear dropdown menu and click the Labs link
  2. Find the 'Undo send' experiment and click the 'enable' button.

  3. Save your settings by clicking the 'Save changes' button at the top or bottom of the Labs settings.

Your inbox will reload. Now if you send a message, there will be a dialog box at the top of your inbox with the option to "Undo Send." This message will disappear after a few seconds.

Read receipts

A read receipt is an email notification delivered when a recipient opens (and presumably reads) an email you send. The receipt confirms that the recipient saw your message and records the time. When you view a message for which you've requested a receipt, the current status appears just below the body of the message in the web-based Gmail client.

Apps domain administrators specify whether users in your organization can request or return read receipts. The domain administrator can also limit which senders users can return receipts to. For example, he/she might allow them to return receipts only to senders within your organization. The domain administrator can also specify whether Gmail sends the receipt automatically when a recipient opens the message or asks recipients to approve sending the receipt.

If you are not using conversation view, the read receipt appears as a separate message in your inbox. The receipt status does not show in HTML view or mobile Gmail, and read receipts are not available when offline Gmail is enabled.

To request a read receipt:

  1. Compose a message as usual.
  2. Click the Request return receipt link, just below the To: box.
  3. Select the Request read receipt check box.
  4. Send the mail message.
  5. Gmail requests a read receipt from every recipient in the To: and Cc: boxes.

Read receipts work across most email systems, so that you can get notifications from recipients using other email software that supports read receipts. However, the behavior of the receipts may differ depending on the recipient's email software and how they access the message; for example, IMAP-based email clients may return a receipt when the message is marked as read even if the recipient does not open the message. To protect users' email addresses, Gmail only delivers read receipts for messages sent to the user's address, not messages sent to group mailing lists or aliases.

Do not rely on read receipts for certifying mail delivery. Although read receipts generally work across email systems, you may sometimes get a receipt for an unread message or not get a receipt even though the recipient has read the message.

Returning read receipts

When you receive a message for which a user has requested a read receipt, Gmail may automatically send the receipt or may ask you to approve sending the receipt. Gmail asks you to approve sending the receipt only when your administrator configured the feature to ask, and only when you open the message using the web-based Gmail client.

Gmail does not deliver a read receipt to the sender if you open the message using a POP1 client or a Google Apps Sync client. If you open the message using an IMAP2 client, Gmail delivers a receipt only if your administrator has configured the feature to send receipts automatically. To protect users' email addresses, Gmail only delivers read receipts for messages sent to the user's address, not messages sent to group mailing lists or aliases.

To approve the sending of a read receipt:

  1. Open and read the message as usual.
  2. When you close the message or navigate away from it, Gmail prompts you to send the receipt:
  3. Click Send receipts or Not now.
  4. If you click Not now, Gmail will prompt you again the next time you open this conversation.

Email grouped by conversation

What are conversations?

After you begin using your school Apps mail account, you will notice in your inbox messages a list of contacts and a parenthesis number.

Apps mail groups all replies with their original message, to create a single conversation or thread. For example, lets say you send out an email about lesson plans to a group of teachers. In other email systems, the teachers' responses would appear individually as separate messages in your inbox, forcing you to wade through all your mail to see what people have said in their replies. In your Apps mail account, all messages related to the original email subject are displayed on one screen, in order, making it easier to understand the context of a message -- or to follow the conversation.

The number in the parenthesis corresponds with how many messages (or replies) are in the conversation.

Read an email conversation

When you open one message in a conversation, all of your related messages and replies will be stacked neatly on top of each other, like a deck of cards.  Each sender has a different color avatar assigned to his or her name if they do not have a picture in their profile. Check to the To: and CC: fields to see if the message was sent just to you or to the entire group.

We call this Conversation View. In Conversation View, each new message is stacked on top of the ones that arrived before it, so that the newest message is always the one you see first.

To see all the messages in a conversation, just click the Expand All icon next to the printer icon.  The most recent conversation will be at the bottom of the screen.  

To see a single message within the conversation, click on it, and it will expand. You can click again to collapse back into the "deck" of the conversation.

Forward an email conversation

You can forward individual messages by clicking the 'Forward' link at the bottom of a message. Sometimes it is useful to forward an entire conversation - one that includes an original message and all related replies. You can choose to forward an entire conversation, with all the messages, by clicking the new window link and then selecting the 'Forward all' link to the right of your conversation.

Find a message in conversation

Just because all the emails in a conversation are grouped together in your inbox does not mean you can't find the individual messages. You can always perform a search to find specific content within a message, or a search for one of the people participating in the conversation.

Review Chapter 4 to learn more about Search tips »

The search results will open the related message within the conversation with the search term highlighted.

Read and respond to messages

Read an email

To read an email, click on the message in your inbox.  If the conversation is composed of more than one message, the most recent messages will appear on top of the conversation stack.

<Keyboard shortcuts>

To read a message, hit the 'enter' key. The message next to the black arrow will open.

To navigate to messages in your inbox, use the 'j' (older/down) or 'k' (newer/up) keys. When you find the message you want to open, hit 'enter'

Preview attachments before downloading

If you receive a message with an attachment you will see a paperclip icon displayed to the left of the date field in your inbox.  When you open the message you will see the attachment files listed at the bottom.

If you receive a PDF, image, or Microsoft Office file attached in an email, you can preview them using Google Docs or the "HTML preview"

You can view the attachments in Gmail in several different ways:

To view an attachment in its original format:

  1. Open the message containing an attachment.
  2. Click Download at the bottom of the message.
  3. Choose to Open or Save the file. Opening the file displays the attachment in a new window. When you're finished reading the attached file, close the new browser window to return to Gmail.

If the attachment is in the following file formats, you can open it using Google Docs Viewer:

In Gmail, these types of attachments will show a “View” link, and clicking on this link will bring up the Google Docs Viewer.

  1. Open the message containing an attachment.
  2. Click View at the bottom of the message.
  3. A new browser window will open and you’ll be able to view the contents of the file.
  4. If you would like to view it in plain HTML mode, then select the View menu and then select Plain HTML. Note that some formatting may be lost when viewing a document in plain HTML.

  5. When you're finished reading the attached file, close the new browser window or tab to return to Gmail.
  6. In the Docs viewer, you also have the option to save the file in Google Docs, edit it online, or download the original file. When selecting Edit online, the file will be converted to a Google Doc for editing.

Additionally, if you use Google Chrome, you can drag and drop attachments from Gmail messages to your desktop.

Standard vs. basic HTML view

Apps mail is accessible in two different versions: Standard view and HTML view.

Standard view is what you'll see when you sign in to Apps mail from a fully supported browser.

If you don't have access to a fully supported browser, we still want you to have access to Apps mail -- that's why we've developed a basic HTML view of our service that's compatible with almost any browser. If you sign in to Apps mail using a browser that isn't fully supported, you'll automatically be directed to the basic HTML view.

The basic HTML view is a little different from what you're used to because the following features aren't available:

If you need to access these features, please sign in to Apps mail from a fully supported browser (see link above), and make sure you have cookies and JavaScript enabled.

Reply to an email

Click Reply to reply only to the message sender, or Reply All to reply to everyone who received the message.

To reply to a message in the middle of a conversation, click on the Reply link to the right of the message’s card.

<Keyboard shortcuts>

You can also reply to a message if you type 'r' to reply to the message sender, or 'a' to reply all.

If there are multiple messages in the conversation, you can select which message to reply by using the 'p' (previous/older) or 'n' (newer) keys. When the select arrow is next to the message you wish to reply, use the 'r' or 'a' keys.

Forward an email

You can forward an email message in Apps mail as you would in any other mail program.

To forward an individual message:

  1. Open the appropriate conversation and select the message to forward.
  2. Click Forward from the bottom of the message card.
  3. Enter the email address(es) to which the email should be forwarded, and add any notes in the message field. If the message has attachments, you can choose not to forward them by deselecting the checkbox next to the filename below the Subject field.
  4. Click Send.

If you are reading a "conversation" of messages and would like to send all of them to another user, you can forward the entire conversation. Forwarding an entire conversation will add all messages from a conversation into a single message. Each message will be clearly marked, and will be listed in order from oldest to most recent. Learn more about conversations in the previous lesson »

To forward an entire conversation:

  1. Open the appropriate conversation.
  2. Click the New Window icon and a new dialog box will open. Then select Forward all

To forward an inline image:

  1. Ensure you have Rich formatting enabled by clicking Compose Mail and clicking Rich formatting >> above the blank text field of the message.

If you don't see this link (and instead see what is pictured below), you already have Rich formatting enabled. Discard the blank message.

  1. If Rich formatting is enabled, open the message you'd like to forward.
  2. Click Forward along the bottom of the message.
  3. Click Send.

Please note: Rich formatting is not available in Apps mail's basic HTML view.

<Keyboard shortcuts>

You can also forward messages by using the 'f' key. <Shift> + f allows you to forward a message in a new window. (Only applicable in 'Conversation View.')

Print an email

Sometimes you need to keep an email handy when you're not online – a reservation, instructions, or important announcement.

To print one message:

  1. Open the message you want to print.
  2. Click the down arrow next to Reply, at the top-right of the message.
  3. Select Print.

To print an entire conversation:

  1. Open the conversation you want to print.
  2. On the right side of the screen, click the Print icon

New mail notifications

Apps mail in your web browser is continuously checking for new mail, you do not need to click "refresh." Google Apps offers desktop notification options for the PC and Mac:

PC users 

The best option to receive notifications and configure mailto links is to use Google Talk. By default, you'll be alerted to incoming messages.

  1. Download and install Google Talk. Download it now.
  2. To have Google handle mailto links, click Settings in Google Talk.
  3. In the General section check Open Gmail when I click on email links.

    Note that not all mailto links will be handled by Google Talk, such as links outside of a web browser. For further integration with the Windows desktop or alternative options for maillto links, consider a third party product in the
    Google Solutions Marketplace.

Mac Users 

Mac users OS X 10.4 and above, can use the Google Notifier for Mac for notifications and handling of mailto links. To learn more, visit the download page.

Desktop Notifications in Chrome

Gmail desktop notifications let you know when you have a new email or Chat message. When you enable these notifications, you'll see a pop-up when new messages arrive so that even if you're not looking at your Gmail, you'll still know when someone wants to talk to you. For now, these notifications are available only if you use Google Chrome as your browser.

For more information: 

Mark messages as read or unread

You can quickly mark several messages as read from your inbox.

The subject and snippet of unread messages will be displayed as bold. Unread messages are counted and listed in parenthesis next to the 'Inbox' link.

Once you have viewed a message, the message will no longer appear bold in your inbox.

To remove the bolding from a message without reading it, you can "mark it as read" – similarly, you can convert a previously viewed message to 'unread' bold.

To mark your messages 'read' or 'unread' from your inbox, follow these steps:

  1. Check the box next to the message you'd like to mark as 'read' or 'unread.'
  2. Select 'Mark as read' or 'Mark as unread' from the 'More' drop-down menu.

You can also mark a message as 'unread' from the message view, just follow these steps:

  1. Open the message.
  2. Click the 'More actions' button and select 'Mark as unread' from the drop down.

<Keyboard shortcuts>

While viewing a message, You can also use <Shift>+'i' to mark a message as read and skip to the next message in your inbox, or you can use <shift> + 'u' to keep 'unread' and takes you back to your inbox.


If your administrator has Labs turned on, you can turn on the "Unread message icon" lab to see how many unread messages are in your inbox with a quick glance at the tab's icon. Currently this lab only works with Chrome (version 6 and above), Firefox (version 2 and above), and Opera.

Right sidebar links

Apps mail uses a completely automated process to provide useful information and relevant ads in the sidebar of your Apps mail pages:

Addresses, and other links

When you open a message that lists an address, Apps mail shows you handy links to maps and directions. These links are produced automatically for your convenience. No humans read the content of your email in order to generate these links and none of them are sponsored by advertisers. We hope you'll find them relevant and useful!

You may have noticed in a regular Gmail account there are ads placed on the right side of your inbox. However, with Google Apps Education Edition, your school domain administrator can turn off the ads. Learn how to turn off advertisements »

People widget

Email is just as much about the people you communicate with as it is what you’re communicating about. The Gmail people widget, located on the right-hand side of your messages, shows you contextual information about people you’re interacting with in Gmail.

You can communicate with individual contacts easily through the people widget, or just use it to find basic information. Simply click on the contact’s name on the right side. From there, you’ll see:

You’ll also be able to easily email, chat, or call your contacts using the call phones in Gmail feature, or edit contact details and settings. If you're using Google+, you'll be able to add the contact to your Google+ circles. You'll only be able to add contacts to circles via the people widget if you're using Gmail's new look (which is the default in the training center).

If you have several contacts on an email thread, you can look up individual contact information as described above, by clicking the contact’s name in the People widget list, which will open an expanded view of information about that contact. On a thread with many recipients, contacts are listed in order of who last responded on the thread, who is currently online and available to chat, contacts that whose chat status are set to ‘Busy’, contacts whose chat status are ‘Idle,’ and then contacts who you haven’t yet invited to chat before.

You can also interact with the whole group by using features like:

If you ever decide you don't want to see the people widget, you can do so by clicking the gear icon at the top of any Gmail page and selecting Mail settings. On the General tab in Settings, select the ‘Hide the people widget’ radio button. Then, click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.

Create email message templates

Why use an email template?

Have you ever had to type out the same email over and over - whether it be questions about scheduling, or where to find class resources, or weekly reminders? As an educator, do you ever feel like you have to repeat yourself in the classroom? Why do it in your email? For those times when you find yourself copying and pasting frequently, it's a good idea to create a "canned response," or an email message template, that you can send over and over again.

"Canned Responses" is an Apps mail Labs feature that allows you to insert pre-formatted content into your messages. You can save multiple types of messages, modify them as things change, or delete them when you no longer need them. Think of the email messages you send out on a regular basis - these email templates could be a good candidate for:

The possibilities are endless - just remember the next time you paste in that same text block, you can convert it into a "canned response" email template.

Create an email template

To create an email template, you first must enable the "canned response" experiment in Apps mail Labs.

Not all school domains have Labs enabled click the Settings gear dropdown menu to see if you have the Labs link.

From there, you can browse the experiments and enable Canned Responses, then save changes.

Now, to write an email template:

  1. Compose a message as you learned about at the beginning of this chapter. You can include rich formatting, but images will not be retained.
  2. After you are finished typing your template, go to the "Canned responses" Link beneath the Subject box.
  3. Click the link and select "New Canned Response" under the Save header.

  4. Type the name of your email template in the prompt box and click "OK."

  5. The email template will now be saved for use anytime in the "Canned responses" menu.

Please note: the email template will not save the 'To:' information or the 'Subject:' line. It will only save the information in the general message box.

Use an email template

You can use an email template in a new message, a reply, a forward – at any time when you can type a message, you can insert an email template.

To insert the template, follow these steps:

  1. Compose a new mail message.
  2. Go to the 'Canned responses' link beneath the 'Subject:' box.
  3. Beneath the Insert header select the email template you would like to use.

  4. Your email template now appears in the message box.

Please note: The email template does not replace the message content, it adds to it. If you do not want to have 2 signatures, or extra text, make sure to clear the message box before inserting the email template.

Modify an email template

If you need to change something in one of your existing email templates – for example you need to change dates or update a link – you can start to modify the template in 2 ways:

  1. Compose a new message and insert the desired canned response.
    Compose a new message and type an entirely new message.
  2. Make changes or type as you would to any other email.
  3. When your template is ready, go to the "Canned responses" menu, and select the same email template name under the Save header.

  1. This will replace your outdated template with your newly modified message.

Delete an email template

If you no longer have need for an email template, you can delete it from any email message window.

  1. Click to the "Canned responses" menu
  2. Navigate to the Delete header
  3. Select the email template you would like to delete
  4. At the prompt to delete, click OK

Now your email template will no longer appear in the "Canned responses" menu.

Receive mail from multiple accounts


With Google Apps Mail's  "Mail Fetcher" you can set-up your inbox to receive email from multiple accounts (e.g. a personal Gmail account, a school alumni account, etc.)  Mail Fetcher can download messages from up to five other email accounts, centralizing all your email in Apps Mail.

Setting up Mail Fetcher is easy and free, but the email accounts you'd like to fetch from must support POP access and, in the case of Gmail addresses, have POP access enabled. Some free email services don't offer POP access to their users, so please contact the customer service department of your other webmail provider to determine if POP access is available in your non-Google email account.

Once you've set up Mail Fetcher, Google will check your other accounts on a regular basis, and new mail will appear automatically in Apps Mail. Google Apps Mail checks individual accounts for new messages at different rates, depending on previous mail fetch attempts. At this time you can't customize the frequency of automatic mail fetches.

Not only can you receive the email from different accounts, but you can send mail as well. So if you're receiving an email from a personal account into your school's Google Apps mail account, your reply will be from your personal account, even though you sent it while in your Google Apps inbox!


To set up Mail Fetcher:

  1. Click the Settings gear icon at the top of any Gmail page, select Mail settings, and open the Accounts tab.

  2. In the Check mail using POP3 section, click Add POP3 email account you own.
  3. Enter the full email address of the account you'd like to access, then click Next Step.
  4. Gmail will populate sample settings, but we recommend checking with your other provider to learn the correct server name and port. Enter your Password.
  5. Decide whether to:

    Leave a copy of retrieved messages on the server

Always use a secure connection (SSL) when retrieving mail

Label incoming messages

Archive incoming messages

  1. Click Add Account.
  2. Once your account has been added successfully, you'll have the option of setting it as a custom "From" address. This allows you to compose messages in Gmail, but have them appear to be sent from your other email account.
  3. Click Yes to set up a custom From address. You will learn more about customizing your email messages, including the from address in the next lesson.

Common errors

Please review the following error messages below for further instructions. For more information on troubleshooting, visit the help center.

Server denied POP3 access for the given username and password

While Gmail was able to find the other mail server, we were unable to access your account. Please verify that you correctly entered the username and password of your other account. If you are fetching mail from another Gmail address, make sure that POP is enabled for the remote address.

You may also receive this error message if your other webmail provider does not support POP access for your account.

There was a problem connecting to [your other webmail provider]

A 'Connection Timed Out' error indicates a problem with the server name, port, or encryption settings. When you set up Mail Fetcher, server settings will auto-populate based on the email address you provide. These default settings may not be accurate for smaller mail domains. Please verify that the mail server name and port is entered correctly for each account.

If you see a 'Protocol error', please uncheck Always use a secure connection (SSL) when retrieving mail, or verify that you are using the correct port for encrypted connections. For more information regarding POP encryption and port information, please contact the customer support team of your remote webmail provider.

You may also receive this error message if your other webmail provider does not support POP access for your account.

[Your other webmail provider] does not support leaving messages on the server

Uncheck the box beside Leave a copy of retrieved messages on the server, then click Save Changes.

Please note that if you are fetching from another Gmail address, you will need to leave this option unchecked. You can change the storage behavior of retrieved messages in the POP settings of your other address.

If your other server does support leaving messages on the server, but you receive this error message, then the other server may be advertising EXPIRE = 0, or may not be advertising UIDL capability. Please contact your other provider for more details.

Received an empty line

This error message indicates that the other provider is not complying with POP protocols. Most likely, one of your messages has a period on a line by itself, and your other server is failing to send the message correctly. Deleting the affected message may cause your messages to resume downloading. Please contact your other provider for more details.

Username contains unsafe characters

Gmail supports all printable characters in the username, except &, >, <, \ and spaces. If your username contains one of these characters, you will not be able to configure Mail Fetcher for that account.

The other server sent messages in the wrong order. Please contact your other provider

Gmail can only retrieve messages when the other server provides them in the correct numbered order, starting with 1. This error message indicates that the other server is providing messages in the wrong order, or is starting with 0. Please contact your other provider for more details.

There are too many messages on the other server. Please delete some mail from your other account, or move it out of the inbox.

Because Gmail retrieves a list of all messages when fetching occurs, we may be unable to process the request if your other account has too many messages. We suggest deleting some mail from the other account's inbox. If your other webmail provider doesn't provide POP access to folders, you may be able to resolve the issue by temporarily moving some messages to folders instead.

If you encounter this error, we recommend that you uncheck Leave a copy of retrieved messages on the server.

Other issues

How do I disable Mail Fetcher?

You can disable Mail Fetcher by following these steps:

  1. Click the Settings gear icon at the top of any Gmail page, and open the Accounts tab.
  2. Find the Check mail using POP3 section.
  3. Click delete next to the account you wish to disable.

Mail Fetcher will stop retrieving new messages, but any mail that you previously received will remain in Gmail until you delete it.

Also, please note that previously fetched messages, especially if there were a large number, may still arrive even after you've disabled Mail Fetcher. If you continue to receive mail from your other account a few hours after disabling Mail Fetcher, your other account may be configured to automatically forward your mail. Please log into your other email account and check your automatic forwarding settings. If you're not sure how to turn off automatic forwarding, ask your other webmail provider for further assistance.

My fetched mail isn't delivered

Delivery of fetched messages may occur up to an hour after a successful fetch attempt. The View history window on your Accounts tab will display the last five attempts to fetch mail from your other email accounts, but it won't show the time when those messages reached Gmail. If you see a recent fetch attempt but can't yet see the messages that were retrieved, please check again in a few minutes.

If the account from which Gmail is fetching mail doesn't receive mail at frequent intervals, Gmail will check for new messages less often. You can always force Gmail to check for new messages by following the steps below:

  1. Click the Settings gear icon at the top of any Gmail page, select Mail settings, and open the Accounts tab.

  2. Find the Check mail using POP3 section click the Check mail now link.

If you're still having trouble fetching mail, please visit the Gmail help center.

Personalize your inbox and messages

Add an email signature

A signature is a bit of personalized text (such as your contact information or a favorite quote) that is automatically inserted at the bottom of every message you send. Here's a sample signature:


Ms. Smith

(123) 456-7890 x123

Language Arts, 5-6

Class site:

To create a signature:

  1. Sign in to your Google Apps mail account
  2. Click the Settings gear icon at the top of any Gmail page, select Mail settings, and open the General tab.

  3. Enter your new signature text in the box at the bottom of the page next to the Signature option. As you type, the radio button will shift from No Signature to the text box.
  4. Click Save Changes.

Apps mail adds your signature at the very bottom of your message. Signatures are separated from the rest of your message by two dashes.

If you don't want your signature to appear on a specific message, you can delete it manually before sending the message. Just highlight the text and delete it before sending.

You are only allowed to create 1 signature per email account.

Note: Rich text signatures are available in Apps Mail allowing you to add your own formatting, images and links to your email signatures.

[For Labs-enabled Domains] You can add advanced features to your Signature in Apps Mail by enabling some experimental labs features. Learn more about Apps mail labs in Module 6 Chapter 1 »

The Signature Tweaks lab lets you modify where your signature is placed in email messages, and the Location in Signature lab adds a map displaying the location from where you sent the email directly in the signature.

Vacation responder

Going on vacation? Taking your class? No access to the Internet? Week's worth of papers to grade? No problem! Use Google Apps mail vacation responder to let people know you won't be able to get back to them right away. You don't have to be on vacation - but it's a great way to send an automatic response to anyone who emails you - parent, teacher, student, friend - that you are not actively responding to email.

You can set up a vacation response in your Apps mail settings that will automatically reply to anyone who emails you. While the vacation responder is enabled, Apps mail will send a response to anyone who contacts you. If that person contacts you again after four days and your vacation responder is still on, Apps mail will send another vacation response to remind the person that you're away from your email.

Note: You have the option to only send your vacation response to other people in your domain and not to external recipients.

For example, if Cristin sends Marie an email on Jan 2, and receives Marie's vacation response, she will not see another vacation response until 4 days later – no matter how many times she emails Marie during that time.

Here's how to let people know you can't respond right away:

  1. Sign in to your school Apps mail account.
  1. Click the Settings gear icon at the top of any Gmail page, select Mail Settings and open the General tab.

  1. From the General tab, select Vacation responder on in the Vacation responder: section.
  2. Enter the subject and body of your message in the Subject: and Message: fields.

  1. Select a start and end date for your responder by clicking the boxes next to First Day and Ends. The end date is optional.
  2. Check the box next to Only send a response to people in my Contacts if you don't want everyone who emails you to know that you're away from your mail. If you check this, someone who is not in your contacts list sends you an email, they will not receive the auto-response. You will learn more about Contacts in the next chapter.

    You can also check the box next
    Only send a response to people in... and anyone who emails you from within the domain (staff, students or others), would receive an auto-response.
  3. Click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.

While the vacation responder is enabled, you'll see a banner across the top of any Apps mail page, displaying the subject of your vacation response.

To stop Apps Mail from automatically sending the response, click End now within the banner. Or, if you'd like to edit the response, click Vacation Settings.

Add a custom ‘from’ address

You can use your Apps Mail inbox as your primary inbox for accessing & sending mail from multiple accounts. The previous lesson reviewed how to receive email from other email accounts (such as a personal Gmail or Hotmail address or an old alumni address), and in this lesson you will learn how to send messages from your Apps Mail inbox, but have the 'From' or sender address display your other email address.  This way, it's easier to manage multiple accounts from the Apps Mail interface.

Please note: The custom 'From:' feature works only if you already own the alternate address as part of a separate account. To send mail with a different Apps Mail, Gmail, or other email provider account, you must first sign up for that address.

To add a custom 'From' address:

  1. Sign in to your school Apps mail account.
  2. Click the Settings gear icon at the top of any Gmail page, select Mail settings, and open the Accounts tab.
  3. Under Send mail as, click Add another email address you own.
  4. Type the name you wish to appear in your email messages in the Name field, and in the Email address field, enter your name and alternate email address.
  5. Click Next Step >> and then click Send Verification. Apps Mail will send a verification message to your other email address to confirm that you own it.
  6. Locate the message from Apps Mail. Open it and and either click the link contained in the message or enter the confirmation code in the Accounts section of your Google Apps email settings.

If you do not receive the confirmation email, contact your Google Apps administrator to confirm the domain alias or nickname has been configured.

Messages you send will appear to be from the domain alias or nickname. The return-path of the message will indicate your primary mail addresses, but this information will only be visible to recipients who choose to examine the original message header.

Once you're set-up, you can start sending mail from any of the addresses you added.

To use a verified custom 'From:' address when composing a new message, pick an address from the drop-down menu in the 'From:' field.

If you're replying or forwarding, click change next to the 'From:' field first. You can also choose to automatically use the address to which a message was sent.

To edit the name, configuration or reply-to address for an existing entry, click edit next to the address on your Accounts tab. To delete an address, just click delete.

The reply-to address specifies whether you want an email that was directed to your non Apps mail account to have your Apps mail address or the original non Apps mail address.

You can replay from the same address the message was sent to by toggling the setting under When replying to a message:

Note for IMAP/POP users: If you access Apps Mail through a POP or IMAP email client (e.g. Outlook or Apple Mail) and would like to send messages with a custom "from" address, you have two options. We recommend that you configure your email client with two outgoing SMTP servers, one for Apps Mail and one for your other address. Your second option is to use Apps Mail's outbound servers with a different "from" address. If you've already configured the custom from address in the web interface, your message will be sent, sender:username@Apps, regardless of which custom from configuration you chose. Your messages will be sent from your regular Apps Mail address if you never configured your custom from settings in the web interface.

Emoticons in email

If you're tired of not being able to find the right words to express yourself in your messages, emoticons are here to help. Emoticons are small images (think yellow smiley faces) that can be inserted right into your email messages. Apps mail has a number of images (for example, smiley faces, food and drinks, or broken hearts) that you can use with, or in place of, the text in your messages.

Follow these steps to play along:

  1. When you're composing a message, click the Insert Emoticon button on the toolbar; it's the face located between the Highlight Color and the Image button.
  2. The emoticon pane expands, and remains open so you can select as many images as you'd like. Click an image, and it's inserted in your message.
  3. If you'd like to collapse the emoticon picker after you've selected an image, you can just click the Insert Emoticon button in the toolbar again.

Keep in mind you'll need to be in rich formatting mode to see the emoticon button. Have fun.

Change the background image of your inbox

You can customize the way your Apps mail inbox looks by adding one of many colorful and artistic themes.

To choose a theme, click a thumbnail on the Themes tab of your Settings page.

You can also customize by location. Some themes change during the day, and we use the location information you provide to correctly time these changes with your local sunrise, sunset, and/or weather.

If you select one of these themes, you'll see a Country/Region drop-down menu appear. Select the country you want, and then enter a city in the field provided. If you don't enter a city, or enter an invalid one, we'll set your location to the capital city of the country you selected.

When you're done, click Save.

Please note: Gmail Themes aren't yet compatible with all of our supported browsers. Themes are only available in Internet Explorer 8.0+, Firefox 3.6+ or Safari 4.0+, and Google Chrome. You won't see a 'Themes' tab in your Settings if you're not using the newer version of Gmail on the browsers listed above. Please note that Themes are not available if you're using Internet Explorer 7.0 or lower.