Setting Up Your First Email Account with Gmail
If you're new to the web, chances are you haven't had to set up an email account yet. This step-by-step guide will help you set up a free email account using Google's Gmail service. Because Gmail is web-based, you'll be able to access it from any computer that has an internet connection.
- The first thing you want to do is to go to the website at http://www.gmail.com. It should look something like this:
- Get a piece of paper to write down your information. You're gonna need it.
- Click on the button “Create an account” (indicated in the image above).
- Now you’ll see a new page something like this.
- Enter your first and last name into the first 2 boxes as marked.
- Now comes the interesting part! Choosing your e-mail name. This name makes up the first half of your e-mail address. This can be as simple or complicated as you want. Generally speaking, you want to keep it as simple as possible. Google allows you to use letters, numbers and periods (.) to make up your name. It can be anything from joesmith1973 to ilovemyteacuppoodles . You’ll notice that the names are all run together like one big typo. The reason for this is that you can’t use spaces between words or letters when making up your name. This is true on all e-mail accounts, everywhere. However, you can separate the various sections of your name with a period (.). This would make it look a little less typographically challenged. Something like joe.smith.1974 or i.love.my.teacup.poodles. Remember, though, to keep it simple. Any periods you use will have to be entered the same place every time you use your e-mail name, whether it’s logging in to your account or giving it to a friend. Unlike the postal service where you can misspell your brother-in-laws last name or he misspells yours, the letter will probably get there anyway. With e-mail, mistakes are not forgiven. It will result in an error message and tell you that the e-mail is undeliverable. Or worse, it could go to someone who has a similar name to yours. Think of it this way, it’s a computer doing the mail sorting, not a human. Computers aren’t going to make that inductive leap like your mailman would.
- Okay, now that you have found the name you want to use and have typed it into the 3rd box you will need to click on the small gray block below that that says “check availability!”. This will let you know whether or not the name you selected is being used by someone else or if you accidentally misspelled it. If it is already in use it will tell you and give a list of alternatives you might want to use. You don’t have to use any of these, you can make some unique changes to it and click the “check availability!” button again. It will also tell you if used an incorrect character, like a dash or slash (- or \) and which characters are acceptable. If it was your lucky day and you did it right the first time it will let you know that ilovemyteacuppoodles is available. Give yourself a pat on the back.
- Your new e-mail address will be firstname.lastname@example.org
- Now you can go to the next step. The password!
- This is another part where memory and spelling count. It must be EXACTLY the same each time or you won’t get into your account. So you don’t want to make it too complex, but you don’t want to make it ultra-simple either. Online security is a deep subject. We could be here all day and not scratch the surface. Your password for gmail must be at least 8 characters long. Like your e-mail name, you can’t use spaces. However, just about every other character, letters, numbers and symbols are allowed. You could simply take 6 random letters, make half of them randomly upper case, put 2 or 3 numbers randomly in between some of the letters and you’ll have a fairly strong and secure password. But, unless your memory is photographic you will have to consult your notebook each time you want to get into your e-mail account. This is not necessarily a bad thing to do. However, some may want an easier way to remember it. Choose your favorite 5 to 6 letter word. Then capitalize 2 of the letters. It doesn’t matter which 2 but you have to remember which 2 they were so make it easy on yourself. Next, take your 2 favorite numbers or your favorite 2 digit number and place it at the beginning or the end of your word. And lastly, take your favorite punctuation mark or special character (as long as they appear on the keyboard, that is) and place it on the opposite end of your word that you put the numbers on. When you done you should have at least 8 characters. If not, go back and add some in. Remember, you have to be able to memorize it at some point (if that’s what you want). Whew! Now, type this into the 4th block marked “Password”. As you’re typing you should notice a slight change to the area just to the right of the password block where it says “Password strength”. When you have finished typing it in, if all goes well, there should be a green line and the word “Strong” should appear. If this is okay, repeat your password in block 5. Please make sure you wrote this down somewhere…..just in case. Next!
- Keep the check marks in the boxes marked “Stay signed in” and “Enable Web History”. You can always change this in your account settings as you learn more and become a more sophisticated user.
- Security question. This is necessary in case you forgot your password or if something seems to go wrong with getting into your account.
- Click on the little arrow on the right side of the box (indicated above) and choose one of the security questions. There are several to choose from, these range from “What was the name of your first teacher?” to “What was your first phone number?” If none of these are to your liking you can click the last one, “Write my own question”. This will open another small box just below where you can write in the question of your choice. In the “Answer” box which should be the next in line write in your answer. Make sure both question and answer go on your piece of paper.
- Next box: Recovery email. This is not a required box to be filled out. However, if you do have another e-mail address that you have access to put that information in the box. When problems arise and you can’t get into your account (for whatever the reason), instead of going through a lot of the other security procedures it will simply send the instructions to the Recovery e-mail address listed in your account.
- Location: Okay people, let’s be honest now. It’s going to be the United States. Because if you are living in Lithuania, Japan or some other country, you wouldn’t be reading these instructions.
- Birthday: Yet another place for honesty.
- Word Verification: This is known as a “CAPTCHA” or "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart". Basically, you’re copying the letters from a picture and typing them into the box below it. It’s a really clever security feature designed to make sure that whoever is creating the account is a real person and not a computer program, since a computer program couldn’t “See” the picture to copy the words from. If you want to know more about this go to Wikipedia. Now…let’s press on.
- Terms of Service: Hmmmm….Well, there’s no easy way around this. This is the legal part. Most people don’t read these as they are filled with a lot of legalese and phrases that tend to confuse the layman. They just click the button marked “I Accept” and go on to the next step. However, if you don’t read it and break the rules unknowingly it falls back to the old saying “Ignorance of the law is no defense”.
- Having made that decision, click on the button “I accept. Create my account”. And let’s face it, you have to click the button in order to create your account or you’ve totally wasted your time. Having clicked it, comes the moment of truth. Did you fill everything in completely? Did you spell it correctly? Did you miss a block? You’ll know in a moment. Tick, tick, tick, tick.
- If you missed anything or need to re-do something it will highlight that part in red letters. Just re-do those areas according the instructions. You will probably be required to re-enter your password in the 2 blocks and go back to the bottom and click the button. If it happens again, go back through the instructions and make sure you didn’t miss a step.
- If you were successful you should see this page:
Congrats! You've set up your first email account! Now, head on to learn how to use your email.