How Gmail Is Different

Conversations, labels, stars, archiving, & search

Here are some key features that make Gmail different from GroupWise/NetMail

Email conversations instead of multiple messages

Rather than listing each message reply as a new message in your Inbox, Gmail, by default, groups a message and its replies in a conversation, which is listed only once. Opening a conversation shows all its messages in a neat stack, which you can easily collapse or expand. When a new reply arrives, the stack grows and the conversation is marked as unread, indicating there’s something new to look at. Grouping messages this way allows you to quickly retrieve all messages within a thread and reduces inbox clutter.

Here's how a conversation appears in your Inbox...

...and here's what an opened conversation looks like:

Tip: If conversations aren’t for you, you can simply turn off the feature in your Gmail settings, on the General tab, under Conversation View.

Labels and stars instead of folders

Instead of organizing messages in folders, you can organize your Gmail conversations by applying labels. The conversation can remain in your Inbox with the label clearly shown. Here's an example:

As shown in the example, if a conversation applies to more than one topic, you can give it multiple labels.

If you'd like to move a labeled conversation about of your Inbox, just click the Archive button. Whether or not a  a labeled conversation is archived, you can list all conversations that have a specific label by clicking the label name in the left pane of your Inbox -- similar to opening a folder of messages:

Unlike with folders, if you've applied more than one label to a message, you can retrieve the message by clicking any of those labels.

The Stars feature provides another way to categorize and access messages. Simply click the star icon to the left of any message to highlight it. You can then display all starred messages by clicking Starred in the left pane.

Tip: For more shapes and colors for your stars, turn on the Superstars feature in Gmail Labs: Cick the Labs icon (green flask) in the upper-right corner of your Mail window. Then, under Undo Send, click Enable.

Archiving online instead of saving to your desktop

With Gmail, you no longer risk running out of space for storing email. Instead, you get 25 GB of online storage space for just your own email and attachments, all hosted on Google’s secure servers. With that much space, you no longer need to save messages on your desktop in an email Archive to free up disk space, but can archive messages online instead. Just select a message and click Archive:

An archived message is removed from your Inbox but you can still find it later by clicking All Mail in the left pane or using search. Or, add labels to messages before you archive them for even easier retrieval.

Tip: Your All Mail link might be under the drop-down list in the left pane:

Google-powered search

Gmail features the same powerful search technology used on the Web to perform accurate keyword searches of all of your email and attachments. Search by keyword, label, date range, or a host of other options. By also archiving messages, you can instantly find any message you've ever sent or received, without having to create elaborate folder structures or keep unwanted correspondence in your Inbox.

To find messages, simply type in the search box at the top of your Mail window. Or, for more refined searching, click Show search options:

Then fill in the easy-to-use search form to find exactly what you're looking for!