How can you check your Gmail?   Since it’s Web-based, you can check your Gmail from anywhere there’s an Internet connection and you have an Internet-ready device like a laptop or mobile phone. You can also set it up with your favorite email client like Outlook or Thunderbird.  But signing in to Google Mail or launching a program every time you want to know if you have new messages can be cumbersome, especially if you check your mail multiple times a day (as I and hmm, millions of others do).  Luckily, there are more efficient ways to check your mail, and little tricks that can speed up the way you like to do it, such as:

Forgot to log out of Gmail?  Log out remotely.

  • Make Gmail your home page
  • Configure your email client
  • Install a program that notifies you of new mail
  • Add Gmail to your toolbar
  • Get alerts on your mobile phone
  • Integrate Gmail with a personalized home page

Note: I don’t mention email aggregators here.  We’ll assume you’re interested n just Gmail for now.

#1. Make Gmail Your Home Page

First time-saver: Make Gmail your home page.  It makes sense to set your most frequently visited (or first visited) site your startup page.  Just how you configure your Web browser’s home page depends on the browser.  And if you want to save more time, you can save your Gmail password as well. (Don’t do this if others can access your computer.)

You must keep the Gmail inbox open in a browser window or tab, so you can look now and then for incoming mail.

To make Gmail the home page in Firefox  8:

  1. Go to Tools > Options > General.
  2. Enter http://mail.google.com/ or http://gmail.com in Home Page.
  3. Click OK.

To make Gmail the home page in Internet Explorer 9:

  1. Go to Tools > Internet options > General.
  2. Enter http://mail.google.com/ or http://gmail.com in Home page.
  3. Click OK.

To save your Gmail password in Firefox:

  1. Go to the Gmail home page.
  2. Enter your username and password.
  3. Check Stay signed in.
  4. Click Sign in.
  5. When prompted to save the password, click Remember password.

To remember the password in Internet Explorer:

  1. Go to Gmail.
  2. Enter your credentials as above.
  3. Check Stay signed in.
  4. Click Sign in.
  5. When asked if you want IE to remember the password, click Yes.

 #2. Add Gmail to Your Email Client

If you configure your email client to receive Gmail messages, you can just keep your client open and set it to check mail (say every 10 minutes) so you’ll know when there’s new stuff.  First you must enable external access.

To enable POP/IMAP access in Gmail:

  1. Sign in to Gmail and click the gear icon at the top-right of the page.
  2. Go to Mail settings > Forwarding and POP/IMAP.
  3. Click either Enable POP for all mail or Enable POP for mail that arrives from now on.
  4. You can also enable IMAP if you want to use it.
  5. Click Save Changes.
  6. Configure your email program to access Gmail. (See Gmail’s supported POP client list.)

How to keep checking for new Gmail in an email client:

This depends on the program.  Here’s how you do it in Windows Live Mail:

  1. Launch Windows Live Mail.
  2. Click the button in the top-left of the window before Home.
  3. Go to Options > Mail… > General.
  4. Under Send /  Receive Messages, enable Check for new messages every
  5. Enter the number of minutes in the box.
  6. Check Play sound when new messages arrive if desired.
  7. Click OK.

#3. Install Google Talk (PC only)

GoogleTalk is a chat program for Google users.  GoogleTalk can notify you of new messages in your Gmail account even when you don’t have the Gmail or iGoogle page open.  I don’t use GoogleTalk a lot; instead, I go to the Facebook home page to see who among my contacts is online if I want to chat. But this actually my preferred utility to notify me of new messages.

Google Talk

Google Talk alerts you when you have new mail.

To use Google Talk for Gmail notifications:

  1. Go to the Google Talk home page at www.google.com/talk.
  2. Download and install the Google Talk software.
  3. Launch Google Talk. (If you can’t find it, type “google talk” in the Start menu search bar, Windows 7.)
  4. Sign into Google with your Gmail username and password and click Sign in. (Check Remember password if you want it to be saved.)
  5. Click Settings at the top-right of the Google Talk window.
  6. Click Notifications on the left.
  7. Check Show notification under New email.
  8. If you want Google Talk to run every time you start Windows, go to General and check Start automatically when starting Windows.
  9. Click OK.

Now, whenever you are signed in to Google Talk, you will see a notification in the top-right corner of your screen whenever you have new mail.  When you start Windows and there are multiple emails waiting in your inbox, Google Talk will display each notice one after the other.  You can click each one to view it in its own window in your default Web browser.

Don’t forget to change the password in Google Talk if you change your Gmail password.  That is, if you saved your user credentials in Google Talk previously, and then changed the password in Gmail, you would need to update it manually in Google Talk.  Also, make sure you are logged in to the right Gmail account you want notifications for.  (Some people have multiple accounts with the same provider.)

#4. Add Gmail to Your Browser’s Toolbar

Here’s a quick way to access Gmail: link to it from your personal toolbar in your Web browser.  You could also use Google Toolbar for IE or Firefox, and add a Gmail button to it.  I don’t use Google Toolbar myself though.

To add Gmail in the Bookmarks Toolbar in Firefox:

  1. Go to Gmail.
  2. Click Bookmarks > Bookmark This Page.
  3. In Name, type a short name for the page, such as Gmail.
  4. Click the drop-down list next to Folder and select Bookmarks Toolbar.
  5. Enter tags if you wish.
  6. Click Done.

#5. Add Gmail to Your iGoogle Home Page

If you want to aggregate information into a single Web page, you might want to create an iGoogle home page and add Gmail to it. iGoogle is a personal home page you can customize to display your favorite news sources, weather, games, email and more.  When you add a Gmail gadget to iGoogle, it will display your Gmail inbox  in the iGoogle page without you having to log in separately into Gmail.To add Gmail to iGoogle:

  1. Log in to iGoogle at www.igoogle.com or www.google.com/ig.
  2. Click Add Gadgets. (Don’t see it?  Click the arrow pointing to the right to make the sidebar appear.)
  3. Type “gmail” in the search box on the right column and click Search.
  4. Click a gadget to view more information (including reviews) about it.
  5. When you find a gadget to use, click Add it now.
  6. Click Back to iGoogle home to return to the main page.

I’m happy with the official Gmail gadget.  That’s what I use. It gives you a view of the inbox and a link to new mail composition.  You can archive, delete or mark a message from within the gadget.  If you click the Gmail link at the top-left of the gadget, it will launch the full Gmail version.  I’ve never tried a third-party gadget for checking my Google Mail.

You can add gadgets for other services, for news, games and other things in iGoogle.  See How to Add Facebook to iGoogle.

Google Mail or Gmail is one of the giants in free Web email, along with Yahoo! Mail and Windows Live Hotmail.  Of the three, I use Gmail the most. And I’ll wager that you have a Gmail account and use it a lot too.  With virtually unlimited space, free POP3 access, oodles of innovative features and integration with other Google services, it’d be downright silly not to have one.

See also Email Management Tips to keep your inbox clean.  Also see Netflix login tips.

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10 Comments so far

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  9. Rich on February 10, 2012 9:14 am

    If you’re using Google Chrome you can install the Offline Gmail application. This has the benefit of presenting a two-pane interface to your Gmail account – which I for one find really useful.
    Rich recently posted..How to Build a Massive Twitter FollowingMy Profile

  10. Blog Lady on February 10, 2012 8:04 pm

    Thanks for the tip, Rich! I heard about this too but since I don’t use Chrome, I didn’t get to try it myself!
    Blog Lady recently posted..5 Ways to Use Facebook for Professional NetworkingMy Profile

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