Here are seven surprising things that can transform the way you use e-mail…
1. You might be able to cancel an e-mail after you have sent it. Have you ever pressed “Send” only to regret it a moment later, possibly because you included words of anger or other emotions in your message that you wish you hadn’t shared…addressed it to the wrong person…or hadn’t completed your message? With Gmail, the most popular e-mail service, there is an undo option that is easy to use.
What to do: Adjust your settings now, because there’s a time limit of 30 seconds after you actually send a message. Go to your e-mail settings by clicking on the gear icon in the upper right of the in-box page. Click on “Settings,” scroll down to “Undo Send,” enable it and choose a cancellation period that can last from five to 30 seconds. Click “Save changes” at the bottom of the page. From then on, whenever you send an e-mail, you’ll see a message at the top of your in-box with an undo option available for the length of time you selected.
2. Quirky text and punctuation can trigger spam filters that may keep someone from receiving your e-mail. These include using more than one exclamation point (!!!)…putting a sentence in ALL CAPS…using unusual spellings of words such as speci@l…or using too many spam-associated “trigger” words, phrases and/or symbols. Among those: Viagra…drugs…porn…guaranteed winner…prize…free…act now…limited time…$$$. Spam filters typically don’t block e-mail with known addresses regardless of the content. If you suspect or discover that your e-mail did wind up in someone’s spam folder, ask the recipient to add you to his/her e-mail program’s contacts list or address book.
3. You can get a free temporary e-mail address in seconds without filling out a long form. This can be very useful when you want to enter a site that requires you to establish an account or join a mailing list but you don’t want to provide your regular e-mail address. That way you don’t leave yourself vulnerable to a deluge of unwanted messages. To get your temporary e-mail address, go to Mailinator.com, type in an address you choose or that the site suggests (for example, YourName@Mailinator.com), and that’s it. There are no passwords. If you need to check e-mail, you just type in your address at the site. After a few hours, your address and your e-mail messages are automatically deleted.
Important: The site is designed for speed and convenience, not security. So don’t use it to receive any e-mail with sensitive information.
4. You can use the e-mail program on a computer to send text messages to cell phones. This is handy if your phone is not charged, you’re in an area with spotty cellular service or you just don’t like typing on a tiny keyboard. The address you will send your message to will consist of the recipient’s 10-digit mobile number (without hyphens or spaces), the “@” symbol, and the SMS gateway address of his/her cellular provider. Example: If the recipient’s provider is AT&T, you would send your e-mail to the person’s number@txt.ATT.net. Addresses for the other major cellular providers: For Sprint, use @messaging.sprintpcs.com…Verizon, @vtext.com…T-Mobile, @tmomail.net. For other SMS gateway addresses, go to EmailTextMessages.com.
5. E-mail providers such as Gmail and Yahoo Mail scan every word you write, and they sell the information to advertisers. Although no humans read the text, and your name and e-mail address are not identified, a software program searches for keywords and compiles data for sale. It’s called contextual ad targeting. You have to agree to this practice to be able to use these e-mail services, but that policy is hidden in the small type. And if you reveal private information in your e-mails—for instance, that you plan to get divorced—you and other people who share your computer may see ads for such products or services as divorce attorneys in your browser. If these policies make you uncomfortable, try Microsoft Outlook or Apple Mail instead. Although they reserve the right to scan your e-mail, Microsoft does not target ads to you based on your e-mail content, and Apple doesn’t make e-mail information available to third-party advertisers.
6. Even today, many e-mail services don’t allow sending or receiving attachments larger than 10 megabytes (MB)—so it is hard to send high-quality photos or videos. Gmail and Yahoo allow sending files of up to 25 MB, but even that is restrictive when a single high-resolution photograph can surpass 50 MB. There are several ways to give your recipients access to larger files, however. None of them involves actually attaching the files and transferring them from your computer to the recipient’s e-mail in-box. Instead, you upload the files to a remote server over the Internet. The recipient receives a link in your e-mail that he/she clicks to download the file from the remote server. Here’s how to do this…
If you have Gmail, use Google Drive. It’s an online file-storage and file-sharing service available to anyone with a Google account. With Google Drive, you can send files as large as 15 GB, which is 15,000 MB. After you compose your Gmail message, instead of attaching a document, video or photo using the paper clip icon, click on the Google Drive icon next to the paper clip. You can select a file that already is in Google Drive or first upload the file straight from your computer to Google Drive. The recipient does not need Gmail to retrieve the file.
For Microsoft Outlook, use Microsoft OneDrive, which works similarly to Google Drive. Learn how to do this at OneDrive.Live.com/about.
For Yahoo Mail and other e-mail services, use Dropbox.com. It’s a free online storage and file-sharing site that works with all major e-mail programs. It operates similarly to Google Drive, but it allows you to send the recipient a link to as large an attachment as you want. Downside: You need to install Dropbox software on your computer, and you need to pay if you want more than 2 GB of storage. (However, 2 GB can accommodate many high-resolution photos.) It costs $9.99 per month for an additional 1,000 GB of storage.
7. You can back up all your online e-mail to your computer hard drive…and you should. What would happen if you signed into your e-mail account and all your old e-mails and attachments, including work documents, photos and video, had been deleted? Although the chance of this occurring is remote, it’s possible—Gmail and Yahoo Mail, for example, have both suffered glitches on their servers that erased the contents of entire e-mail accounts. Fortunately, backing up e-mail is easy. What to do…
For Gmail, go to Google’s data download page (Takeout.Google.com/settings/takeout), log into your account and follow directions. You will receive a file in your Google Drive with the backed-up data that you can download to your hard drive or to any storage drive you attach to your computer.
For Microsoft Outlook, use the Microsoft Personal Folders Backup tool.
For Yahoo Mail, download Yahoo backup software from Yahoo.googleapps–backup.com. Install and follow directions.