Writing and sending a letter is a lot of work, if you think about it. You have to find a working pen and some suitable paper, jot down what you’re thinking, find a nice envelope to put your note in, label it with both a destination address and a return address, put postage on it, and then drop it in the nearest post box.
Gmail makes the process much simpler, with many of these steps only requiring a few keyboard presses or mouse clicks. Here’s how it works
- Log into Gmail at www.gmail.com, if you haven’t already. When your main “Inbox” screen comes up, click Compose in the upper-left corner.
- You should see a box pop up in the lower-right corner, like the one below. The numbered legend below the screenshot will briefly explain what everything does.
1. Recipients (“To”) – These are the people to whom you are going to send the email. Click here and type in their email addresses. If an address is already part of your “Contacts”, Gmail will try to match it as you type. Click the person’s name in the drop-down menu that appears to quickly select them as a recipient. If you change your mind later and decide that you don’t want to send an email to a particular recipient, click the “X” beside their name or address.
2. CC / BCC – These stand for “carbon copy” and “blind carbon copy”, respectively. Clicking either of them will open up new text boxes underneath the “Recipients (To)” text box, and you can enter email addresses in these boxes in the same manner that was described for the “Recipients (To)” box above.
“CC” or “Carbon copy” lets you send a copy of an email to someone without making them a primary recipient. This is useful if you just want to pass along a piece of information to someone without expecting them to write you back.
“BCC” or “Blind carbon copy” does much the same thing, except the people listed here won’t be able to see who else you sent the email to. You could use this, for example, to plan a surprise birthday party. Just send the date, time, and location to all of your guests as primary recipients, except for the person whose birthday it is; put them in the “BCC” field. That way, they will know where they’re going… but they won’t know how many people will be there to help them celebrate their special day!
3. Subject – Click here and type some information in to let your recipients know what your email is about.
4. Composition box – This is where you will write your email. Click here, and then start typing to write your message.
5. Formatting Options – Click the underlined “A” here to open or close the formatting menu (it’s open in the screenshot here). The formatting menu lets you change how the content of your email looks in different ways. Most of these options are very similar to ones that you would see in a common word processor program, like Microsoft Word.
Among other things, you can:
– Change your font or text size
– Add a bold, italic, or underline effect to your text
– Change your text’s color
– Change how your text lines up on the page (e.g. to the left, to the right, in the middle)
– Start a numbered list, or a list of bullet points
6. Attachments – Want to send more than just a written message to your recipient(s)? Click this button. It will bring up a window that lets you navigate through the files on your computer. Click the one you want to attach to your email, and then click Open. You can use this to include documents that would be too clunky and tedious to write in an email by hand (like forms or spreadsheets), or just a picture or video from your latest vacation to share with the family. Gmail allows individual emails to be quite large in terms of computer memory size, so you can likely repeat this process to add several attachments to the same email.
See our Gmail Attachments tutorial for more information.
7. Discard – By default, Gmail periodically saves all emails that you are in the process of writing as drafts, so you won’t lose your work if you accidentally log out of Gmail, close your web browser, shut off your computer, or anything like that. However, there will be times when you’re writing an email, and for some reason, you’ll decide that you don’t want or need to write it anymore. That’s when you’ll want to click this button.
- When you’re done picking your recipients, writing your message, and adding any attached files that you want, click Send to get your email moving towards its destination(s)!
That’s pretty much all there is to writing an email with Gmail!