Custom Webmail Themes

Many free webmail services allow you to customize the look of your mail in your browser. If you want to add a little more pizazz to your email, check out the instructions below.

Gmail: Log into your mail. At the top right of the screen, click on the gear icon and then Mail Settings. Click on the Themes tab and choose your favorite theme.

Yahoo: Log into your mail. At the top left of the screen, click on Options > Themes and choose your favorite photo to appear in the header area.

Hotmail (Windows Live): Log into your mail. At the top right of the screen, click on Options > More Options. Under Customizing Hotmail, click on Themes. Choose your favorite theme and click Save.

AOL Mail: Log into your mail. At the top right of the screen, click on Themes. Choose your favorite theme and click Save.

Backing up Social Media

Need to create an archive of your Twitter, Facebook, Flickr or Google accounts? Maybe you have a lot of photos on Facebook or memorable quotes from friends on Twitter. Either way, there are several options (some free, some commercial) to backup all your social data.

  • Twapper Keeper: Archives your or your friends tweets.
  • The Archivist: A Windows program to archive your tweets.
  • SocialSafe: Backup data from both your Facebook and Twitter accounts.
  • Backupify: Backup and restore data from Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Google Apps, Flickr, Picasa and Blogger.

Sent from my iPod/iPhone/iPad

By default, any email sent from an iPod, iPhone or iPad will add a “sent from my…” at the end of the message. If you want to turn that off, just go to Settings > Mail > Signature and either delete the text or type in something else. Your friends that don’t have these fun devices will be a little less bitter now.

Migrating Email

If you’re looking to move your email from one service to another (i.e. AOL to Gmail) and want to keep all of your old email, check out YippieMovie. It’s an inexpensive migration tool that looks very easy to use. They don’t support all email providers yet, but plan to keep adding more.

Check it out »

Resizing Photos in Apple Mail

Did you know that you can change the size of a photo once you’ve attached it to an email in Apple Mail? This is quite handy, especially if your image is too large to send. You don’t even have to open up iPhoto or Photoshop to do it.

Just drag the image you want to send (from iPhoto or your desktop) into the message area of your New Message window. In the lower right-hand corner where it says Image Size, choose one of the sizes from the drop-down menu. Your photo will automatically be resized. In the lower left-hand corner of the message, the file size will be displayed.

I recommend keeping your email attachments below 10MB when possible. If you need to send larger files, try a file sending service like YouSendIt.

Gmail Labs

If you look at the top of the screen in your Gmail account, there should be a little green beaker icon. Clicking on this will take you to Gmail Labs, a testing ground for fun and useful experimental features in Gmail. Some of my favorites include:

  • Adding Google Calendar or Docs widgets to your Gmail window
  • Changing your Send button to a Send & Archive button
  • Enabling Picasa and Flickr photo previews in your Gmail

Managing Multiple Email Accounts

These days, most people have several different email accounts. Wouldn’t it be nice to check them all in one place? You may know that you can do this with Outlook, Thunderbird or Apple Mail. But did you know that you can also set up multiple accounts in Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail? Just follow the steps for your account of choice below:

Zip Files

Zipping files are a way of archiving and compressing your data. A ZIP file contains one or more files that have been compressed to reduce file size. Think of a very well packed suitcase, it’s much more efficient and smaller than a heap of clothes.

The main reasons to ZIP a file are:

  • Emailing large files
  • Emailing multiple files
  • Emailing files you can’t normally email (such as .exe files)
  • Encrypting files to protect sensitive data
  • Saving space on your hard drive

Current versions of Windows and Mac both allow zipping and unzipping of files.

How to zip/unzip on:
Windows Vista
Windows XP
Mac 10.5/6 (Leopard, Snow Leopard)
Mac 10.4 (Tiger)

Cc: or Bcc:?

There are three basic ways to send someone an email:

  1. Use the To: field, like most people do
  2. Use the Cc: field to send a copy to a secondary address
  3. Use the Bcc: field to send a secret copy

Bcc: stands for blind carbon copy. Addresses entered into this field are invisible to all recipients.

There are a few reasons you may wish to use Bcc: instead of the To: or Cc: fields:

  • If you want to prevent your recipients from accidentally hitting “reply all” and annoying your friends with replies intended only for you
  • If you want to keep your recipient’s email addresses private from the rest of the list (A best practice when you’re sending email to a large list)
  • If you want to email one person and secretly copy someone else on the same email

So next time you write an email, think twice before entering your addresses!

Instant email account

Mailinator is a website that gives you access to an instant and free email account, without having to sign up or maintain it. It can be handy if you need to sign up for something but don’t want to be spammed or added to an email list. Say you want to read an article on a news site that makes you register before reading. Just register with a Mailinator account, check the inbox from Mailinator’s website, confirm your subscription, and you’re set to go!

Keep in mind that Mailinator is a public email service, so anyone can access any email account that is created. Also, emails are deleted after only a few hours. So this service should only be used as a temporary email account. If you need something more long term, it doesn’t hurt to create a separate email account for junkmail through any free service such as Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail.