There are all kinds of reasons to use Gmail for your email. I have long recommended to genealogists to use an online email account so that a change in internet providers won't change your email address. This is so important if we want researchers to be able to find us over the years. I'm a big fan of Gmail and the following new additions are just some of the reasons why.
Send That Email to Tasks
There's a new icon found at the top left of Gmail. You might have seen it, it looks like a circle with a check mark. So what does this new feature do? It allows you to send an email link to your Tasks list (on the right-hand side of Gmail). You can then add information to that task. So now you have the the link to the email and additional information in your tasks so that you don't forget what needs to be done.
So how does this benefit your family history research? Let’s say a cousin emailed you asking for a copy of your grandparent’s marriage certificate. With their email open, click on the Add to Tasks icon and this will send a link to that email to your Tasks list. Next to that link you can type Send Grandparent’s Marriage Certificate this week. This way you have the information in your task list reminding you what you need to do and you have a link to the email that it involves.
Customize Your Signature
You may have known that Gmail allows you to create a custom “signature” that appears at the end of all your outgoing emails. This is terrific for customizing the “look” of your emails depending on if they are going to DNA matches, your family, volunteer endeavors or work. So for example, my email signature includes my name and that I am the author of the book, From the Family Kitchen, along with the URL for my food history blog. But sometimes the signature you want for one email isn’t what you want for another.
Now Gmail allows you to have multiple signatures and to choose which one to use when you send or reply to an email. To use this feature, go to the Gear icon at the top right of Gmail.
In that drop-down menu, choose Settings and then General. Scroll down and you will see Signature on the left-hand side. This is where you can customize each signature you want.
Consider creating a few different signatures that reflect your genealogy interests such as the surnames or places you are researching. If you are a board member of your society, create one with your contact information and title.
Now when you write or reply to an email, you will see a pen at the bottom. Click this to choose which signature you want to appear in the email. You also have the option to choose no signature.
Pay careful attention to that bottom tool bar to the right of the Send button. There’s also a new option that allows you to set emails as confidential which can restrict what the recipient can do with that email (forward, copy, print). That menu also includes the options to attach items to your email and to utilize various formatting features such as bold and bullet points.
Schedule Your Emails
There is one more feature I want to show you that you will want to take advantage of. Imagine you’re working on a family reunion and you want to plan ahead. You have an email for your family but you are getting ready to leave for vacation and won't be able to send it next week when you want to.
No problem! Write the email now and then schedule it to be sent while you are away. After you write the email, instead of just clicking the Send button, click on the down arrow next to Send. Now, click on Schedule Send. You will then see a box that will suggest three times in the future to send your email or you can pick your own date and time.
Gmail has so many great features and best of all you can customize it depending on how you use it. Check the Legacy TechZone for more tips and tricks for using Gmail and other Google products.
Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.