40 brilliant Gmail tips, hacks and secrets

Essential tips to turn you into a Gmail power user

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Gmail goes from strength to strength as Google rolls out new features every few months.

We've dug deep to bring you 40 top tips that'll make you a Gmail super-user, with total control over every aspect of the service.

1. If you haven't already created a Gmail account, you no longer need an invitation to do so. Just go to www.gmail.com and click Sign up for Google Mail.

2. Gmail blocks most executable filetypes as a virus protection measure. If you absolutely have to send EXE or DLL files to a colleague, use something like DropSend. You can send up to five files per month for free.

3. Attachments sent in formats that Google Documents can read can be opened direct in your browser. That list includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, and RTF files.

4. When you attach image files in JPEG, GIF or PNG formats, users will get the option to download the attached file or view in their browser. You can also download or playback MP3 files direct in Gmail.

5. To retrieve your email from accounts other than Gmail, go to Settings then the Accounts tab. Choose Add another mail account. This takes you through a two step process for configuring a POP3 mail account. You'll first be prompted for an email address. On the next page of the form, you'll be asked for the associated password and, crucially, the POP server address for this account. You should be able to find all this information from your email provider's documentation. Once the POP details are configured click Add Account and Gmail should try to fetch messages from your old account straight away.

6. Once you've configured Gmail to receive messages from another account - what do you do with your old inbox? Google Email Uploader has a solution for that. It enables you to transfer old emails stored in Outlook, Outlook Express or Mozilla Thunderbird to a Gmail account - even creating labels from folder names.

7. POP integration brings with it another perk; the ability to back up your old messages. Go to the Settings section, then choose Forwarding POP and IMAP. In the POP Download section select either Enable POP for all mail or Enable POP for all mail that arrives from now on. Select whether to keep or delete mail from the server when it's been downloaded then click the Configuration Instructions link to find out how to set up your particular mail client - whether it's Outlook Express, Windows Mail or Thunderbird.

8. There's a bonus to the account access tips we've already outlined. You can set up as many Gmail accounts as you like - creating different email addresses for different tasks - but receive all the mail at the same account. As we've described, any POP compatible email account can be added to a Gmail account - including other Gmail accounts. For example - you could set up different Gmail accounts for friends, family and work - but have all the messages sent to one inbox.

9. Of course, when you've got lots of email all coming into one place it's important to be able to organise it. Gmail doesn't use folders though - it uses Labels. You can apply these manually to a message by selecting a post in the main window, clicking the More Actions drop down menu and choosing New Label. A JavaScript prompt allows you to type in a label name which is immediately applied.

10. Apply colour coding to labels by clicking on the square next to a label name in the Labels sidebar box. Choose a colour from the pop-up swatch.

11. The More Actions menu also enables you to create Google Calendar events from emails... Select the mail in question then choose Create Event from the menu.