Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Gmail Works


Getting Started with Gmail
­Setting up an account with Gmail is easy.
­Setting up an account with Gmail is easy.
Image courtesy of Google

Getting started with Gmail is simple, beginning with signing up for a Google account. Once you have that, you can complete the Gmail login and send your first e-mail. Here are some steps to take you to Gmail sign in.

  1. Go to Google, and click on "Sign up for Gmail" at the lower right.
  2. If you already have a Google account, click on "Sign In Here" on the next screen. If you don't have an account, you can sign up for one. You'll be asked to give your name and country and to choose a login name and password to use each time you access your Gmail. You'll also be asked to select and answer a security question (like your first phone number) to use for identification if you forget your password. Click acceptance of the terms of service and privacy policy, and your account will be set up.
  3. Now, you're ready to sign in. Go to Google from most browsers to connect to the sign-in screen page. Enter your user name (with "@gmail.com" at the end) and password at the right, click "Sign In," and you'll be signed in at your mail home page.
  4. Below the Sign In area is a box you can click to remain signed in. For security, don't check this if you're working on a shared computer.
  5. Forgot your ID or password? If so, click "I cannot access my account" below the Sign In button. After answering questions to verify your identity, you'll be contacted by e-mail with instructions.
  6. To sign out when you're done, just click on the words "Sign Out" at the far upper right of the screen page.

By going to "Settings" at the upper right, you can make personalized changes for Gmail. For instance, click "Settings" and then "General." On this screen, you can select the language you want to use, personalize e-mails with your picture and add a signature -- such as your name, address and phone numbers -- that'll appear on every e-mail you send. You also can set up a vacation responder, a response that'll be sent automatically to anyone who e-mails while you're gone. Be sure to click "Save Changes" after you make any changes to settings.

Now that you're ready to use Gmail, go to the next page to learn the basics of sending and receiving e-mails.