What is Gmail? + How Gmail Works

Last updated: June 14, 2016 - 12:06pm EDT

Compose, send, reply, forward, attach.  Using email is pretty simple, and is usually one of the first applications of the Internet that people learn.  But Internet mega-corporation Google knew that there was a better way to do email, and that's why they came up with Gmail.

So what exactly is Gmail?

Gmail is a free email service created and managed by Google.  Besides standard email functions, Gmail has a few other standout features.  These include its large memory storage space, ability to get your email from just about any computer (since Gmail is entirely on the Internet), and the ability to unsend messages.

How does Gmail work?  A few of Gmail's unique features

1. Keep track of related messages with the "conversations" function.

Forget searching through your whole email inbox for a reply to one of your emails, or the email that was originally replied to.  With Gmail's "conversations" function, you can keep track of all emails replied to back and forth between you and other people all in the same place.

Example of what a Gmail conversation looks like

2. Unsend a message if you have a moment of sober second thought.

Did you send an email to the wrong person, or one that you regret sending at all?  You have a limited amount of time to use it, but you can click "Undo" after sending an email, and Gmail will put it on hold so that you can go back and re-evaluate it.

How to undo sending a message in Gmail

3. Keep your emails organized, but still accessible, with the "labels" function.

Gmail thinks that stashing emails in folders isn't very efficient, because then you have to go rummaging through those same folders in order to find those emails.  With Gmail, you can keep your emails organized AND accessible by using the "labels" function.  Attach a label to an email or conversation, and you can keep it available to read in your inbox, while being able to see all emails with a similar label with a single mouse click.

Applying one or more labels to a Gmail message

4. Filter your incoming email with Google's famous search capabilities.

With Gmail, you have the power of Google Search at your fingertips... not just for finding emails that you already have, but for deciding what to do with emails you haven't received yet!  Set up some search parameters, and Gmail will look for emails that match them as they come in.  Then, you can tell Gmail what to do with those emails... mark them as important, add a label to them, send them right to the trash bin, or whatever you feel is best!

Creating search paramaters to filter incoming Gmail messages


There's a lot more to see with Gmail, so stick with us as we guide you through how to use this forward-thinking email client from Google in our Gmail course.  We'll show you how to compose and send emails, reply to or forward incoming emails, archive conversations that are taking up space but may be important later, and even add a personal signature to the bottom of your emails.  See how much more functional your email client can be with Google-powered Gmail!


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