Google Mail and Calendar Boot Camp

Introduction to Google Mail

Google’s web-based email service (Gmail) has been around since 2004 and takes a slightly different approach to email. Related messages are grouped together into “conversations”, rather than just displayed in a long list. Instead of sorting messages into folders, you can use “labels” to categorize messages, even assigning multiple labels to the same message. Google Mail also offers a variety of different possible views of your Inbox, allowing you to customize your email to the way that you work. You can even access your Google Mail from your phone or tablet.

Login to your Google Account

  1. Open a web browser (Google Chrome works best) and go to http://www.google.com
  2. Click on the “Sign In” button
  3. Click on the “Apps Grid” icon at the top of the page to go to any of your Google services (e.g.Mail, Calendar, Drive, etc.)


Layout of the Google Mail Screen

When you first open Google Mail, the screen is divided into two basic areas; the Sidebar and the Message List.

The Sidebar

The Sidebar is where you will find the “Compose” button to create a new message. You will also find links to view different categories of messages, such as Drafts, Sent Mail, etc. If you click on “Mail” above the Compose button, you will be able to quickly jump between Mail, Contacts and Tasks.


The Message List

The message list displays (by default) up to 50 messages/conversations at one time. The type of messages displayed depends on what is selected on the left in the Sidebar. For example, if you select “Sent Mail”, you will only see messages/conversations in the message list that have been sent by you to another recipient.

Above the message list on the right is the “Settings” gear icon . You can click on the gear icon to access a variety of settings and options, as well as the built-in “Help”

Sending a Messages

Compose and Send a Message

  1. To compose a new message, click the “Compose” button on the Sidebar
  2. Start typing the name of the person to send the message to. Click the name of a person to add it to the “To” list

  3. If the name of the person does not appear, just type the person’s full email address and press ENTER on the keyboard
  4. Enter a subject for the message
  5. Type the text of the message. The content of your message is automatically saved as you work

  1. Click “Send” to send the message

Formatting Message Text

Like other email programs and services, Google Mail allows you to format the text of messages you send, however these tools are hidden by default.

  1. Create a new message by clicking the “Compose” button
  2. Click the “Formatting options” button at the bottom of the window
  3. Choose from the options listed to format the text of the message


Adding Attachments

Like other email programs and services, Google Mail allows you to attach files to a message and send them to other people. Attachments can be up to 25MB in size. Some types of attachments may be disallowed by your email administrator.

  1. Create a new message by clicking the “Compose” button
  2. Click the “Attach files” (paperclip) button at the bottom of the window
  3. Choose a file and click “Open”
  4. The attached file will appear at the bottom of the message


Save a Draft

Google Mail automatically saves your messages as you work on them, so you don’t need to worry if you get interrupted in the middle of typing a message. Messages that you are working on but have not sent can be found by clicking on the “Drafts” link in the Sidebar.

To continue working on a Draft message, just click on it to open it.

Reading and Replying to Messages

Read a Message

To open and read a message, just click on it in the list.


Unread messages appear BOLD in the list.

Identifying a Conversation

When looking at the message list, you can identify a “conversation” by a message that has more than one name listed and a number in parentheses that indicates how many messages are part of the conversation.

When you open a conversation, you will see all the messages listed in chronological order.

To expand all the messages in a conversation at once, click the “Expand all” button above the messages.


Reply to a Message

To reply to a message, open the message and then click the “Reply” button

Alternatively, you can also click the “Reply” link in the empty text box underneath the message

Reply to All

To reply to everyone who received a message (Reply to all), open the message, click the triangle to the right of the Reply button and select “Reply to all” from the menu

Alternatively, you can also click the “Reply to all” link in the empty text box underneath the message


Forwarding a Message

To Forward a message to someone else (including any attachments), open the message, click the triangle to the right of the Reply button and select “Forward” from the menu

Alternatively, you can also click the “Forward” link in the empty text box underneath the message

Useful and Important Mail Settings

There are a number of various settings within Google Mail that will allow you personalize the service, add functionality, and even make the service more useful. Here are a number of settings to check out.

Email Signature

A default “signature” can be automatically added to the bottom of each email that you send. To create a signature:


  1. Click on the “Gear” icon and click “Settings”
  2. Scroll down to the “Signature” section and enter an email signature. You can format the text of the signature using the toolbar
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Save Changes”

Mail Stars

Google Mail has a feature that allows you to “Star” messages for further follow up or to indicate importance. By default, only a single yellow star is available. You can select additional colors and icons to use if one star style isn’t enough.

  1. Click on the “Gear” icon and click “Settings”
  2. Scroll down to the “Stars” section. Drag any Stars that you want to use up to the “In use” list
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Save Changes”

Undo Send

Google sometimes introduces new functionality under the heading of “Labs”. Mail Labs are features that may be unstable and may eventually disappear. However, there are some Labs that are particularly useful and are worth enabling. The most helpful Mail Lab may be “Undo send”.

The “Undo send” Lab allows you to pull back a message for a short period of time after you sent it. It’s extremely useful if you accidentally send a message before you are ready, if you forget to include something in the message, or if there is a mistake in the message. The amount of time from when you click “Send” and when you can “Undo send” is adjustable from 5 to 30 seconds.

  1. Click on the “Gear” icon and click “Settings”
  2. Click on the “Labs” tab on the Settings page and scroll down to the “Undo send” section. Click “Enable”
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Save Changes”
  4. Click the “General” tab and scroll to the “Undo Send” section. Set the amount of time for the cancellation period
  5. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Save Changes”

Google Calendar Gadget

Another useful Lab is the “Google Calendar Gadget”. When you enable the Google Calendar Gadget, a small list of your upcoming Calendar events appear in the Mail Sidebar.

  1. Click on the “Gear” icon and click “Settings”

  1. Click on the “Labs” tab on the Settings page and scroll down to the “Google Calendar gadget” section. Click “Enable”
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Save Changes”
  3. Below the Sidebar, there will be a new “Gadgets” button. Click the Gadgets button to show the Calendar Gadget

Right-side Chat

Still another useful Lab is “Right-side Chat”. If you frequently use the chat feature of Google Mail, it may be helpful to move the chat list to the right-side of the Google Mail screen so that it is out of the way of the Labels list and always available.

  1. Click on the “Gear” icon and click “Settings”

  1. Click on the “Labs” tab on the Settings page and scroll down to the “Google Calendar gadget” section. Click “Enable”
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Save Changes”

Managing and Organizing your Mail

Because Google Mail offers so much storage, you do not need to be concerned about deleting old messages to save space. You can keep messages indefinitely and then be able to find them using the powerful search capabilities. However, keeping thousands of messages can get messy, so Google Mail has some very unique tools and features to help organize and manage your messages.

Archive vs. Delete

If you want to keep your mail for future reference, you do not need to keep the messages in your Inbox to do so. You can “Archive” messages which will remove them from your Inbox, but will keep them in the “All  Mail” view so that you can find them in the future. So, if you want to keep your mail but also like to keep your Inbox neat, Archive, don’t Delete!

Archiving a Message

  1. Open a message
  2. Click the “Archive” button above the message

  1. The message will disappear from the Inbox, but can still be found by clicking on the “All Mail” view on the Sidebar

Archiving Messages from the Message List

You can also Archive multiple messages right from the Message List

  1. Select the messages you want to Archive by clicking the checkboxes to the left of the messages
  2. Click the “Archive” button above the message list

Deleting a Message

When you delete a message in Google Mail, the message is moved to the “Trash” label where it remains for 30 days until is deleted permanently. You can move a message back to the Inbox from the Trash any time during those 30 days.

Starring Messages

You can use “Stars” to flag important messages for future follow up or as a visual reminder. You can also use the Mail Stars (Superstars) settings to add additional colors and styles.

  1. When reading a message, click the Star icon at the top right of the message to add or remove a star
  2. When looking at the Message List, click the Star icon to the left of the sender’s name to add or remove a star

Creating a Label

Unlike other email programs and services, Google Mail does not use folders for sorting and organizing messages. Google Mail instead uses “Labels”. Essentially, Labels can do everything that folders do, but are more flexible because more than one Label can be assigned to a message.

There are a number of different methods to create and manage Mail Labels. Here is how to create a Label when you are reading a message.

  1. Open a message

  1. Click on the “Labels” button above the message and select “Create new”

  2. Enter a name for the Label and click “Create”
  3. The new Label will be added to the message

Create a Label from the Sidebar

You can also create a new Label right from the Sidebar. Here’s how:

  1. Click the “More” link at the bottom of the Sidebar
  2. Click “Create new label”
  3. Enter a name for the Label and click “Create”

  1. The new Label will appear in the Sidebar

Assigning a Color to a Label

  1. Place your cursor above the name of a Label in the Sidebar. Click on the small triangle that appears to the right of the Label
  2. Click “Label color” and then click a color from the choices. You can also create your own color by clicking “Add custom color”

Manage Labels

You can manage Labels to decide which ones are displayed in the Sidebar, including the built-in “System Labels” like Drafts, Spam, Trash and All Mail


  1. Click the “More” link at the bottom of the Sidebar
  2. Click “Manage labels”
  3. Scroll down the list to the Labels you created. You can choose to show or hide a Label from the Sidebar list and edit or remove a Label

  1. At the top of list are the default “System Labels”. You can also choose to Show or Hide these Labels from the Sidebar list. The Drafts and Spam Labels have an additional option to only show them in the Sidebar if there is an unread message. This can be a useful way to save space in the Sidebar

Creating a Filter

Filters are a tool in Google Mail that allow you to automate your mail. For example; you could create a filter to automatically Star messages from your principal, a filter to automatically Label messages from a list-serv or mailing list, or a filter to prevent messages from a specific person from being sent to Spam.

  1. Click on the “Gear” icon and click “Settings”

  1. Click on the Filters tab and click “Create a new filter”
  2. Enter your filter/search criteria and click “Create filter with this search”
  3. Set the actions to be performed on the messages (you can set multiple actions) and then click “Create filter”. If you check “Also apply filter to matching conversations”, the filter will also be run on existing messages and conversations

Inbox Types

Google Mail offers a number of different “Inbox Types” to allow users the flexibility to read messages in the method that best fits their workflow. You can switch between the different types of Inboxes at any time, so feel free to experiment and try them out.

Description of Each Inbox Type

Selecting an Inbox Type

  1. Place your cursor above “Inbox” in the Sidebar. Click on the small triangle that appears to the right

  1. Select the Inbox Type you would like to use

Getting Help and Learning More

Google Mail has built-in “Help” that is available at any time. To access the Help information:

  1. Click the “Gear” icon and select “Help” from the menu
  2. Search for information about your question at the top of the window or click the “Help Center” link to access the entire Help Center

Introduction to Google Calendar

Google Calendar is a web-based tool that helps you stay organized by keeping track of meetings, events, and appointments, as well as setting reminders and notifications. You can share your calendar with colleagues to allow them to see your schedule or just what times you’re busy and unavailable. You can also access your calendar from your phone or tablet. You can even create a calendar for a specific purpose and embed it on a webpage or blog!

Layout of the Google Calendar Screen

The Google Calendar screen is divided into three basic sections: the Sidebar where you can create events and view all calendars that you own or manage; the Toolbar where you can navigate the calendar and set the view; and the Calendar View where you can view the calendar and events in several different formats.

Changing the Calendar View

You can look at Google Calendar in one of five different views; Day, Week, Month, 4 Days, and Agenda. Simply click the view of your choice in the Toolbar to select that view.

Setting the Calendar Default View

If you want Google Calendar to always open in a specific view, you can set the “Default view” in the Calendar Settings.

  1. Click the “Gear” icon and select “Settings” from the menu
  2. Scroll down to the “Default view” section and set the view to your preference
  3. Scroll to the top or the bottom of the page and click “Save”

Creating Events

There are a number of different ways to create new events using Google Calendar. Here are a few that you may want to try.


Create an Event Directly on the Calendar

One of the simplest ways to create an event is to click directly on the Calendar

  1. Click directly on the calendar on the date and time of the event. A window will pop-up
  2. Fill in the title of the event and click “Create event”
  3. The new event will appear on the calendar. You can change the start time, end time and length of the event by clicking and dragging

Create an Event Using the Create Button

If you have an event that has a lot of details, you may find it more efficient to use the “Create” button

  1. Click the “Create” button. The Event Details window will open
  2. Fill out the Event Details window
  1. Enter a title for the event
  2. Set the start date and time. You can customize to the specific minute
  3. Set the end date and time. You can customize to the specific minute
  4. Enter a location for the event (optional)
  5. Enter a description for the event (optional)
  6. Edit the default or add a new reminder for the event (optional)
  1. Click the “Save” button at the top of window

Create an Event Using Quick Add

The “Quick Add” feature of Google Calendar allows you to enter information about an event in regular language and Google will interpret that information and add the event to your calendar.

  1. Click the triangle on the right side of the “Create” button
  2. Enter basic information about the event and click “Add”        

  1. Google will attempt to interpret the information you entered and add the event

Create an All Day Event

You can also create events that last all day, rather than for a specific amount of time.

  1. If you are viewing the calendar in Week or Day view, click the space just below a date
  2. Enter a title for the event and click “Create event”
  3. You can also click the “Create” button
  4. Fill out the Event Details window
  1. Enter a title for the event
  2. Enter a date
  3. Check the “All day” box
  4. Click “Save”

Create a Repeating Event

If you have an event that repeats at a regular interval (every day, every week, every month, etc.), you can create a single event and indicate how often it should repeat, saving you time and data entry. You can even specify when the repeating event should end.

  1. Click “Create”
  2. Enter the event’s title and initial start date and time
  3. Click the “Repeat” box
  4. Set the specific repeat interval using the options and click “Done”
  5. Click the “Save” button at the top of window

Inviting Guests to an Event

One of the most useful features within Google Calendar is the ability to invite guests to an event. If the guest is using Google Calendar, they will be able to respond to your invitation and add the event to their calendar right from the email invitation. If the guest is not using Google Calendar, they will still receive an email invitation and can respond manually.

  1. Open an existing event or create a new event using the “Create” button
  2. In the “Add guests” section of the Event Details window, enter an email address in the empty field and click “Add”
  3. Repeat the process to add additional guests
  4. Click “Save”
  5. If you have invited guests from outside your organization, you may see a warning message. Click “Invite external guests” to verify that you want to invite the external guests
  6. If asked if you would like to send invitations to guests, click “Send”

Checking on Guest Responses

You can check on the status of your guests responses to an invitation at any time.

  1. Open the event to which you invited guests
  2. Look in the “Add guests” section of the Event Details. Symbols next to each guest display their response to the invitation. A checkmark indicates that the guest responded “Yes”, a No symbol that they responded “No”, and a question mark that they responded “Maybe”. No symbol indicates that the guest has not responded

Editing or Deleting an Existing Event

You can edit, change or delete any existing event that you originally created or have the privileges to change.

Edit an Event

  1. Click on the title of an existing event (if you don’t click the title, you will need to click Edit in the pop-up that appears)
  2. Make your changes and click “Save”
  3. If the event is repeating, you will be asked if you want to make the change ONLY to the instance of the event you opened, that instance and all following/to come, or to all events in the series

Delete an Event

  1. Click on an existing event. Do not click on the title!
  2. Click “Delete”
  3. If the event is repeating, you will be asked if you want to delete ONLY the instance of the event you opened, that instance and all following/to come, or delete all events in the series

Useful and Important Calendar Settings

There are number of various settings within Google Mail that will allow you personalize the service, add functionality, and even make the service more useful. Here are a number of settings to check out.


Default Meeting Length

  1. Click the “Gear” icon and select “Settings” from the menu
  2. Scroll down to the “Default meeting length” section and set the length you would like
  3. Scroll to the top or the bottom of the screen and click “Save”

Automatically Add Invitations to my Calendar

By default, Google Calendar automatically adds events to your calendar when you receive an invitation from someone, whether you have responded to the invitation or not. This can be very annoying and clutter up your calendar pretty quickly, particularly if you use Google+. You may want to turn this setting off

  1. Click the “Gear” icon and select “Settings” from the menu
  2. Scroll down to the “Automatically add invitations to my calendar” section and select the “No” option
  3. Scroll to the top or the bottom of the screen and click “Save”

Show Events You Have Declined

By default, Google Calendar automatically displays events on your calendar , even if you have declined the invitation. This can be very annoying and clutter up your calendar pretty quickly, particularly if you use Google+. You may want to turn this setting off

  1. Click the “Gear” icon and select “Settings” from the menu
  2. Scroll down to the “Show events you have declined” section and select the “No” option
  3. Scroll to the top or the bottom of the screen and click “Save”

Reminders and Notifications

Google Calendar supports a variety of different reminders and notifications. For example, you can choose to receive reminders of an upcoming event via email, a pop-up on your computer, or even by text message on your phone. You can choose to receive email notifications when someone invites you to an event, changes an event, or responds to an invitation you sent them. You can even have Google Calendar email you your Daily Agenda each morning.

Adjusting Event Reminders

You can adjust the default reminder settings for all your events. Just remember that these reminders apply to ALL your events and that these reminders will ONLY be sent to you and not to others you invite to events.

  1. If necessary, expand the “My Calendars” section of the Sidebar by clicking the triangle on the LEFT
  2. Place your cursor over your calendar and click the small triangle that appears on the right

  1. Select “Reminders and notifications” from the menu
  2. Adjust the amount of time before each event you should be reminded
  3. You can add additional reminders by clicking “Add a reminder” or delete a reminder by clicking “Remove” next to that reminder
  4. Click “Save” at the top or the bottom of the screen

Adjusting Event Notifications

You can choose which types of event notifications you want to receive. For example, maybe you want to be notified when you are invited to an event and when an event is changed, but you don’t want to receive a notification when someone responds to your invitations. You can also choose to receive a daily agenda sent you via email each morning.

  1. If necessary, expand the “My Calendars” section of the Sidebar by clicking the triangle on the LEFT
  2. Place your cursor over your calendar and click the small triangle that appears on the right

  1. Select “Reminders and notifications” from the menu
  2. Select the types of Notifications you would like to receive. The last setting controls whether or not you receive a Daily Agenda via email
  3. Click “Save” at the top or the bottom of the screen

Calendar Sharing

Google Calendar offers a number of different options for sharing your calendar. You can keep your calendar completely private, allow users from your organization to see some information, or make it completely public. You can also add additional sharing permissions for specific users and allow other users to manage your calendar for you.

There are two areas where sharing options can be set; overall sharing settings for the public and your organization and specific sharing settings for individual users.

Explanation of Sharing Levels

Completely Private - You can set your calendar to be completely private so that none of your calendar information, not even free/busy information, will be available to anyone except those people you specifically added to share your calendar. To have a private calendar, you will need to disable sharing your calendar with the public or anyone in your organization.

Limited Calendar View - Sometimes you want people to be able to check your schedule and see only the times you're busy. In the 'free/busy' view, someone will only see blocks of time marked as 'busy' for times when you have entries in your calendar. They will not be able to see the name of the event or any of the event details. To allow people to see when you are free/busy, you will need to share your calendar, but only allow the “See only free/busy” setting.

Full Calendar View - This is useful if you want users to see your calendar and events and invite you to events, but do not want users to see individual events on your calendar that have been marked as private. Use the “See all event details” setting to allow this level of access.

Full Calendar Access - This level can only be given to specific users and allows them to add and make changes to events. To allow users to have full access to your calendar, you need to give them “Make changes to events” privileges.

Full Calendar Ownership - This level can only be given to specific users  within your organization and allows them to add and make changes to events. It also allows them to share your calendar with other users. To allow users to have full ownership of your calendar, you need to give them “Make changes to events AND manage sharing” privileges. Be extremely careful giving users this level of access!

Share this Calendar with Others (Broad access settings)

The first sharing settings are for the other users in your organization and for the public. If you ever want to embed a calendar in a public web page, you will need to make the calendar viewable to the public, including event details.

  1. If necessary, expand the “My Calendars” section of the Sidebar by clicking the triangle on the LEFT
  2. Place your cursor over your calendar and click the small triangle that appears on the right

  1. Select “Share this Calendar” from the menu
  2. Set the level of sharing for users in your organization or for the public. You can remove sharing for your organization and the public altogether by unchecking the “Share this calendar with others” box
  3. Click “Save” at the top or the bottom of the screen

Share with Specific People

The second level of sharing settings are for specific users. This is where you can provide access to specific users to add and makes changes to events on your calendar.

  1. If necessary, expand the “My Calendars” section of the Sidebar by clicking the triangle on the LEFT
  2. Place your cursor over your calendar and click the small triangle that appears on the right

  1. Select “Share this Calendar” from the menu
  2. Add individual users in the “Share with specific people” section
  1. Enter a user’s email address
  2. Set their level of access
  3. Click “Add Person”
  1. Repeat the process for other users
  2. Click “Save” at the top or the bottom of the screen
  3. If you try to provide access to a user outside your organization, you will receive a warning. Click “OK” to continue

Getting the Embed Code for your Calendar

If you have a website or blog, you can embed a live view of your calendar on the site. This is a great way to share event and schedule information with parents and students. In order to embed a calendar, you first need to allow the public to “See all event details.”

  1. If necessary, expand the “My Calendars” section of the Sidebar by clicking the triangle on the LEFT

  1. Place your cursor over your calendar and click the small triangle that appears on the right
  2. Select “Calendar settings” from the menu
  3. Scroll down to the “Embed This Calendar” section and copy the <iframe> code for your website or blog

Google Mail and Calendar Boot Camp                                                                Paul Barrette