Digital Literacy Skills for Jobseekers

Week 3 - Module on Basic Email Skills

How to set-up a Gmail account

Introduction to Gmail


Gmail is a free email service provided by Google. In many ways, Gmail is like any other email service: You can send and receive emails, block spam, create an address book, and perform other basic email tasks. But it also has some more unique features that help to make it one of the most popular email services on the Web.

In this lesson, we'll talk about some of the features and advantages of Gmail, and we'll give an overview of the Gmail window.

Google accounts

Creating a Google account will be needed to access Gmail because this email service is one of the many services offered by Google to registered users. Signing up for a Google account is free and easy, and naming your new Gmail address will be a part of the signup process. This means whenever you're signed in to Gmail, you are automatically signed in to your Google account. You'll be able to easily access other Google services like Google Docs, Calendar, and YouTube. Creating a Google account also means you'll be a part of Google+, Google's social networking service.

Of course, you don't have to use any of these features—you may prefer to focus only on email for now. However, if you'd like more information, you can check out our Google Account tutorial, where we talk about some of the different services Google offers and show you how to change your privacy settings.

Gmail features

Gmail offers several useful features to make your email experience as smooth as possible, including:

  • Spam filtering. Spam is another name for junk email. Gmail uses advanced technologies to keep spam out of your inbox. Most spam is automatically sent to a separate spam folder, and after 30 days it is deleted.
  • Conversation View. An email conversation occurs whenever you send emails back and forth with another person (or a group of people), often about a specific topic or event. Gmail groups these emails together by default, which keeps your inbox more organized.
  • Built-in chat. Instead of sending an email, you can send someone an instant message or use the voice and video chat feature (if your computer has a microphone and/or webcam).
  • Call Phone. This feature is similar to voice chat, except that it allows you to dial an actual phone number to call any phone in the world. It's free to make a call to anywhere in the U.S. or Canada, and you can make calls to other countries at relatively low rates.

Get to know the Gmail interface

When you're working with Gmail, you'll primarily be using the main Gmail interface. This window contains your inbox, and it allows you to navigate to your contacts, Mail settings, and more. Also, if you use other Google services like YouTube or Calendar, you'll be able to access them from the top of the Gmail window.

Setting up a Gmail account


Setting up a Gmail account is easy. You will begin by creating a Google account, and during the quick signup process you will choose your Gmail account name. In this lesson, we'll show you how to set up your Google account for Gmail, add and edit contacts, and edit your mail settings.

Setting up a Gmail account

Free Gmail Tutorial at GCFLearnFree                                                                                                                                                      

To create a Gmail address, you'll first need to create a Google account. Gmail will redirect you to the Google account signup page. You'll need to provide some basic information like your name, birth date, gender, and location. You will also need to choose a name for your new Gmail address. Once you create an account, you'll be able to start adding contacts and adjusting your mail settings.

To create an account:

  1. Go to
  2. Click Create account.


3.  The signup form will appear. Follow the directions and enter the required information.

4.  Review Google's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, click the check box, then click Next step.

5.  Here, you'll have an opportunity to set up recovery options. Recovery options are helpful if you forget your password or if someone tries to access your account. If you don't want to set up recovery options at this time, click Done.

6.  Your account will be created, and the Google welcome page will appear.

Just like with any online service, it's important to choose a strong password—in other words, one that is difficult for someone else to guess. 

Signing in to your account

When you first create your account, you will be automatically signed in. Most of the time, however, you'll need to sign in to your account and sign out when you're done with it. Signing out is especially important if you're using a shared computer (for example, at a library or office) because it prevents others from viewing your emails.

To sign in:

  1. Go to
  2. Type your user name (your email address) and password, then click Sign in.

To sign out:

In the top-right corner of the page, locate the circle that has your first initial (if you've already selected an avatar image, it will show the image instead). To sign out, click the circle and select Sign out

Mail settings

Occasionally, you may want to make adjustments to Gmail's appearance or behavior. For example, you could create a signature or vacation reply, edit your labels, or change the theme. These adjustments can be made from your mail settings.

To access your mail settings:

1. Click the gear icon in the top-right corner of the page, then select Settings.

2.  From here, you can click any of the categories at the top to edit the desired settings.

Adding contacts

Like all major email providers, Gmail lets you keep an address book of contacts so you don't have to memorize everyone's email addresses. You can also add other contact information, like phone numbers, birthdays, and physical addresses.

To add a contact:

  1. In the Gmail drop-down menu, select Contacts.

2. Your contacts screen will appear. Click Add new contact.

3.  Type the person's name or email address. If they have a Google+ profile, it may appear below. Click Create to add the contact.

4.  You can also type additional contact information if desired. All changes you make will be saved automatically.

To edit a contact:

  1. In the Gmail drop-down menu, select Contacts.

2.  Click the contact you want to edit.

3.  You can now make any changes you want to the contact.

Try this Challenge!


  1. If you do not already have a Gmail account, create one.
  2. Open Gmail.
  3. Navigate to your Gmail settings.
  4. Set your preferences in your Gmail settings.
  5. Add a new contact. You can either add one you already know, or if you'd like you can create one with the following information:Name: Julia FilloryEmail: 

Sending an Email


Now that you've created a Gmail account, you can start sending email messages. Writing an email can be as simple as typing a message, or you can use text formatting, attachments, and a signature to customize your message.

In this lesson, we'll show you how to compose an email, add an attachment, and create a signature that will appear on all of the messages you send.

Sending email

When you write an email, you'll be using the compose window. This is where you'll add the email address of the recipient(s), the subject, and the body of the email, which is the message itself. You'll also be able to add various types of text formatting, as well as one or more attachments. If you want, you can even create a signature that will be added to the end of every email you send.

The compose window

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2.  The compose window will appear in the lower-right corner of the page.

3.  You'll need to add one or more recipients to the To: field. You can do this by typing one or more email addresses, separated by commas, or you can click To to  select recipients from your contacts, then click select.

4.  Type a subject for the message.

5.  In the body field, type your message. When you're done, click Send.

If the person you are emailing is already one of your contacts, you can start typing that person's first name, last name, or email address, and Gmail will display the contact below the To: field. You can then press the Enter key to add the person to the To:field.

Adding attachments

An attachment is simply a file (like an image or document) that is sent along with your email. For example, if you are applying for a job, you might send your resume as an attachment, with the body of the email being the cover letter. It's a good idea to include a message in the body of your email explaining what the attachment is, especially if the recipient isn't expecting an attachment.

Remember to attach your file before you click Send. Forgetting to attach a file is a surprisingly common mistake.

To add an attachment:

  1. While composing an email, click the paperclip icon at the bottom of the compose window.

2.  A file upload dialog box will appear. Choose the file you want to attach, then click Open.

3.  The attachment will begin to upload. Most attachments will upload within a few seconds, but larger ones can take longer.

4.  When you're ready to send your email, click Send.

You can click Send before the attachment finishes uploading. It will continue to upload, and Gmail will automatically send the email once it's done.

Email formatting

Gmail allows you to add various types of formatting to your text.

Click the formatting button at the bottom of the compose window to see different formatting options.

For more serious emails, like job applications, be careful not to add formatting that would seem too informal, such as bright colors or emoticons.

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2.  Scroll down until you see the Signature section.

3.  Type your desired signature in the box. You can also change the font, add other formatting, or insert an image if you want.

4.  Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click Save Changes.

You should keep your signature brief. Instead of listing all of the phone numbers, email addresses, and mailing addresses where you can be reached, just list the most important ones.

Keep in mind that your signature will be seen by many different people, so you may not want to include your home address or anything too personal. Even if you only email people you know, someone can still forward your email to someone else, which can reveal your signature to even more people.

Try this Challenge!


  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Create a signature for your emails.
  3. Compose a new email.
  4. Address the email to yourself by putting your email address as the recipient.
  5. Type a subject and a message in the body of the email.
  6. Attach a file or picture to the email. If you don't have one, you can download and use the picture below by right-clicking and choosing Save Image As.

7.  When you're finished, your email should look something like this:

8.  Optional: Select send to actually send your email to yourself. 

Review what you have learned

To sign out of Gmail, you'll first need to click ________.

  • Contacts
  • Your name/profile icon
  • All mail
  • The gear icon

True or False: When you sign up for Gmail, you automatically have access to Google Drive, Google Calendar, and other services.

  • True
  • False

If you want to respond to a group of people, you should use the ________ option.

  • Reply All
  • Reply
  • Signature
  • Forward

True or False: Gmail requires that you create a signature.

  • True
  • False

To get to your settings, you'll first need to click ________.

  • The notifications icon
  • Spam
  • The gear icon
  • Contacts