Forwarding Emails in Gmail

Say that your friend sends you a funny joke to your Gmail account.  You want to share it with your friends in the same way, but you don’t want to send it back to the friend who sent it, and you don’t want to have to create a new message and write the joke out again yourself.  That’s where “forwarding” is useful.

What is email forwarding?

“Forwarding” simply means sending an email that you received to someone other than the person from whom you received it, without having to rewrite the whole email. 

Think about it like being a runner in a relay race.  Your first teammate runs around the track with the baton, and then passes the baton to you.  You don’t have to go get an entirely new baton; you just take the one that your teammate gives you, run around the track, and then pass it on to your next teammate. 

Forwarding works in the same general way: you just take an email that someone already wrote to you, and pass it on to someone else.

How to Forward an Email in Gmail

The process for forwarding an email with Gmail is very similar to replying to one.

  1. Go to and log in (if you haven’t already). When you get to your main “Inbox” screen, click on the conversation (but not on the three buttons on the left of it) that contains the email that you wish to forward.
      Select a conversation to forward an email from    
  2. Now, at the box at the bottom of the screen, you can click Forward to forward the last email in the conversation. Additionally, you can forward any email that is visible in the conversation (remember, click the grey collapsed preview of an email — or the sender or date it was received, if that’s easier to remember — to make it visible or invisible) by clicking the   next to the  in the upper-right corner of the message, and then selecting Forward from the drop-down menu that appears.

Forward an email in a conversation

    1. The box at the bottom of the screen should look similar to the screenshot below. Note that it looks almost the same as when you used the “Reply” function, but with a few key differences.

      How to compose a forwarded email

      The most obvious one is that the email you are forwarding has been cut-and-pasted into the Composition Box, so you don’t have to re-type it yourself.  You can, however, add any of your own comments by clicking in this box and typing on your keyboard. 

      The other main difference is that there are no names or addresses in the Recipients (“To”)  Unlike with the “Reply” function, Gmail can’t guess who you’re going to be sending the forwarded email to, so you’ll have to click in this bar and type in their names or addresses yourself.

      Other than that, you can do with a forwarded email most of what you can do with other types of email you write on Gmail:

        • Click CC or BCC to select recipients of carbon copies or blind carbon copies
        • Click Formatting Options and change how parts of the message look
        • Click Attachments to send a file on your computer along with the email message
        • Click Discard if you change your mind and want to stop writing the email and keep that hilarious joke to yourself (because, you know, one of your friends might find it offensive).
    2. Once you’ve done everything you want to with your email, click Send, and off it goes!
      How to send an email to be forwarded

How to Search in Gmail

Need to find something in Gmail? Perhaps all emails to or from a particular person? Or how about an email that had a particular subject? Or maybe even any emails that had attachments on them? You can do all of those things! This is Google’s email service, after all; they put everything they learned from creating one of the Internet’s most popular search engines into making how to find things on Gmail a snap!

How to Search Gmail

  1. Go to and log in. At the very top of the screen, you will see a search bar. This will appear on pretty much every page in Gmail: Inbox, Settings, a particular conversation, you name it.
  2. Click inside the search bar and start typing. As you do, a drop-down menu will appear in which Gmail will make suggestions on what you might be looking for. It might suggest a specific person and their email address, a particular label that you’ve created and with which you’ve marked certain emails, words that were used in the subject of an email, or a word/phrase that you’ve searched for before.You can click one of these recommendations, or if none of them exactly match what you’re looking for, you can simply click the search button () or press “Enter” on your keyboard to search Gmail for exactly what you typed in.

    Also note that you can use the search bar in Gmail to search for something outside of Gmail with Google’s regular search engine. After typing in what you’re looking for, click “Search the web for [what you typed in]” at the bottom of the drop-down menu to search the entire Internet for that thing, just like you would with Google Search.

Performing an Advanced Search with Gmail

  1. You will notice that there is an arrow icon () button at the right-hand edge of the search bar, next to the search button (). If you move your mouse cursor over it, it will say “Show search options”. Click it, and it will bring up a window with additional ways for you to refine your search.
  2. Now, let’s look at some of the advanced options for searching with Gmail. At the top, you can click the drop-down menu labeled “Search” and select a specific subset of email that you want to search within. For example, you can look in just the ones you’ve sent, that are in your “Spam” or “Trash” folders, or that are marked with a certain label.

    Then you can click the boxes below the “Search” menu to type in or select your email search parameters, including:

    – who sent you it
    – to whom you sent it
    – particular words in the subject line
    – specific words anywhere in it
    – certain words absent from it
    – whether or not it has an attachment
    – whether its memory space is larger or smaller than a certain amount
    – whether it was sent or received within a certain number of days from a certain date

    If you want to make a filter to do things automatically with emails that fit your criteria, you can click Create Filter With This Search. See our lesson on Gmail filters for further instructions on how to create them.

  3. When you’ve entered all of the conditions for the emails that you want to search for, click the search button () at the bottom of the pop-up window to begin your search.  A new list will appear with all emails that fit your search criteria.

Now you know how to search for and find any email that you’re looking for in Gmail!

Gmail Attachments

What are Attachments?

Attachments are computer files that people sometimes send along with emails. They can be pictures, videos, office documents, posters, and more. You can tell if a conversation in Gmail has an attachment if there is a paperclip icon beside the date that it was received.

You can tell which specific emails within the conversation have attachments in the same manner.

 How to Download Attachments from Emails in Gmail

Attachments will appear in Gmail at the bottom of the email in which they were sent, like they do below. Note that this means you may have to open a collapsed email to see any attachments on it. Each attachment's icon will give you a preview of what kind of computer file it is, and maybe even a small preview of what's actually in the file. Click the button highlighted below to download all of the attachments on an email onto your computer at the same time.

If you download all attachments at once, they'll appear on your computer (most likely in your "Downloads" folder) as a "ZIP" file. A "ZIP" file is basically a folder where the contents have been squished down to take up less space and make them easier to move around. Think of it in terms of an inflatable castle or playground that you might see at a birthday party or carnival. It gets inflated into a recognizable shape so that kids can play and bounce around on it, and then when the air is let out, it shrinks to a size and shape that lets it be packed up and moved somewhere else.

For more information on how to open "ZIP" files, click here.

You can also move your mouse cursor over an attachment to get more options. Click anywhere except on one of the buttons in the attachment to open a full preview of it right in Gmail, or click the button highlighted below to download just that single attachment to your computer (again, it will likely show up in your "Downloads" folder on your computer).

You can also click the button highlighted with the red box below to save the attachment to Google Drive. Google Drive is another service that Google provides that lets you store your computer files on Google's powerful server computers instead of your own home computer. That way, not only are those files not taking up memory space on your home computer, but you can also get at them from any computer, as long as it has an Internet connection. So it's basically a second hard drive for you — hence the name.

You can also send all attachments on an email to Google Drive at once by clicking the button highlighted below.

How to Attach Files to an Email in Gmail

  1. When you have the "Compose" window open for writing an email (click the Compose button to start a new email, if you haven't already), click the Attach Files button.

  2. A new window will open that will allow you to browse through the files on your computer. Navigate through your folders until you find the file that you want to use as an attachment, click it to select it, and then click Open.

  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for however many files you want to attach to your email.

  4. You will now see that the files you attached have appeared in a list at the bottom of your "Compose" window, with each one showing both the name of the file and how much computer memory it takes up (in this case, it says "65K", so it takes up about 65 kilobytes of computer memory). Click on the name of an attachment to open or download it, or click the "X" to the far right of it to remove it from the email.

Gmail Attachment Size Limits

While Gmail does give you a lot of computer memory with which to store your emails and attachments, there is still a limit to the amount of computer memory that Google can devote to Gmail. Therefore, in order to keep things fair and prevent a select few people from hogging all of Gmail's computer memory, Google has imposed a limit on the amount of computer memory that a single email can take up.

Any one email in Gmail is limited to about 25 megabytes (or 25 000 kilobytes) of computer memory. This means that the total computer memory taken up by all of the attachments on a single email in Gmail has to be less than this number. This is also the maximum size that any one attachment to an email in Gmail can be (and even then, you won't have room for any more attachments).

As mentioned in the previous section, the amount of computer memory that an attachment takes up can be found next to its name.

If your attachments are taking up more computer memory than the limit on a single email, you can remove some of them by clicking the "X" next to the ones that you want to leave out of your email.

One final thing to note is that other email services usually also have limits on the amount of computer memory that a single email can take up, and some limits might be smaller than the one on Gmail. So even if you are within Gmail's limit on the size of attachments in your email, you may still not be able to send certain emails to certain people if your email and its attachments take up more computer memory than their email service will allow. In that case, let them know that they should switch to Gmail as their email service, and then this won't be a problem!

Replying to Emails with Gmail

So you just got an email on Gmail from a good friend of yours, asking you if you'd like to go out for lunch on the weekend. How do you write them back and let them know that you would love to spend some quality time with them? We'll show you how Gmail makes it easy to do this.

  1. Go to in your web browser and log in. When you get to your main "Inbox" screen, click on the conversation that contains the email which you wish to reply to (remember to click anywhere except on the three buttons at the far left of the conversation), in order to open it.

  2. While viewing a conversation, you can click Reply in the box at the bottom of the screen to reply to the last email in the conversation (note: clicking on the empty space inside the box will accomplish this, too).

    You can also click Reply to All if you want to send your reply email back to everyone involved in the conversation at the same time.

  3. Or, if you want to respond to a particular email in the conversation, you can click the reply button () in the upper-right corner of any email in the conversation that's visible (to make a collapsed email visible again, click on it). You can also click the arrow icon () next to this and select Reply to All to send your reply to that email to everyone in the conversation.

  4. The box at the bottom of the screen should now look similar to the one in the screenshot below. As you'll notice, it looks very similar to the box that you use to write and send your own emails on Gmail. It also works in much the same way.

    Notice that at least one name/address is already in the Recipients ("To") When you reply to an email, Gmail assumes that you're sending an email back to the person who sent that email (or everyone in the conversation, if you've chosen "Reply All"), so it fills in that person's name/address automatically as a recipient. But you can still click here and type in other names and addresses to change who you're sending the reply email to.

    You can also:

    — Click CC or BCC to add recipients of carbon copies or blind carbon copies to your email

    — Click in the composition (middle) box to write your message

    — Click the Formatting Options button to open the formatting menu and change how your message looks

    — Click the Attachments button to attach a file from your computer to your email

    — Click the Discard button if you decide not to write the email anymore

  5. When you've put everything that you want to into your email, including recipients, your message, and any attachments, click Send to get it where it needs to go!

And that's pretty much all there is to replying to an email with Gmail!

How to Compose and Send Emails with Gmail

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

  1. Log into Gmail at, if you haven’t already. When your main “Inbox” screen comes up, click Compose in the upper-left corner.
  2. 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.

  3. 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!