Lots of people sign up for Gmail just for the great email service. This was especially true when Google first developed the email platform several years ago, but since then, Gmail has mushroomed into so much more than free email. Here, we discuss some of the other cool things that happen when you create a Gmail account.
Everyone’s favorite video player and way to procrastinate on the internet, YouTube, is officially owned by Google now. So, what does that mean for you and your new Gmail account? It means that having a Gmail email address and password gives you an automatic YouTube account, because they are both interconnected Google services.
Now, YouTube is great whether you have an account or not, but when you are logged in with your Gmail account, you have so many more possibilities. First off, if you want to see age-restricted content, you basically have to be signed in under your Google account for age verification. YouTube has also changed their policy so you have to be logged into an account to post comments on videos (to prevent abuse by anonymous users). When you create a Gmail account, you can create YouTube playlists and save them for later or sync them with other devices, and follow all your favorite “vloggers”.
And of course, getting a YouTube account vis a vis your Gmail means you can upload your own videos, create your own channels. Did you know that you can get paid by Google if enough people watch your original videos on YouTube?
Another way to earn some cash on the side is with Google Blogger, which allows you to create a free blog and actually make money if people click on ads on your page. And like we said above, you can also get paid a portion of the ad revenue if lots of people watch your YouTube videos.
If you already have a blog or website somewhere other than Blogger, you can use your Gmail account to set up AdSense, which lets you earn money the same way on the site that you already have!
Keeping things in the cloud is more secure than ever and by far the most convenient way to do things in our crazy busy lives where we’re always on the go. Gone are the days when your whole day is ruined because you forgot to copy an important file onto a USB drive (or a floppy disk, for those of you who are old enough to remember those) so you can use it somewhere else. When you put something in the cloud, you can access it easily from any device with an internet connection, even if it’s unexpected.
One of the most popular benefits of creating a Gmail account is that it gives you automatic access to Google Drive, which is a private cloud storage platform, with a very generous storage limit that is absolutely free. Files stored in Drive can be shared and edited on the go, even collaboratively by multiple people, using Google’s web version of a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation program. Any file you have that you want to be able to access anywhere you go, all you have to do is upload it to the Google Drive that you’ll conveniently find in your Gmail account.
You can store your favorite photos in Google Drive, but there is a whole other cloud storage option from Gmail that is specifically designed for pictures. It used to be called Picasa, but now it’s Google Photos, and you’ll find it in the menu of extra services in your inbox. Photos has some really useful features, like automatically backing up the pictures you take on your mobile devices so you don’t have to do it manually, organizing pics by the date they were taken, and giving you options to sort them into folders you make yourself. And of course, options for adding filters and photo editing to make sure everything looks perfect before sharing with your friends and family!
When you take an Android smartphone or tablet out of the box and power it up for the first time, the first thing it’s going to ask you for is your Gmail account. Why? Because Google is the provider of the official system apps for all Android-powered devices, and the best way to get new apps, games and entertainment on your new device is through the Google Play Store. As you’ve probably guessed, this is linked to your Gmail, so you can manage all of your apps, music, e-books, etc. on all of your devices from just one centralized location.
After you create your Gmail account, you are able to write reviews for applications in the Play Store, and in some cases you can even participate as a beta tester and get to try the newest version of your favorite apps before they’re publically available. In most cases, the way you join beta testing groups is through Google Plus (or Google+), which is the social network that comes linked to your Gmail. It hasn’t taken off the way Facebook has, but it certainly has its purposes.
There are really too many things to even name in a single article, but here are some of the highlights. First, you can instant message through Gmail using Hangouts, which actually has one of the better and most underrated video chat options available today. Hangouts was the first major instant messenger to have group video calls, hence the name: it’s like hanging out with a group of your friends (or family, or coworkers, or whomever).
Next, there’s the Calendar that comes integrated with your Gmail account. It syncs across all of your devices and can send you email reminders and popup notifications on your mobile devices. But maybe one of the coolest things about Calendar is how intuitively linked it is with Gmail. If I send a message to my friend Jill suggesting we meet up on Tuesday, the word “Tuesday” will become a clickable link to create an event on that day in Calendar. Similarly, if my colleague Omar sends an email letting me know about a conference call on Wednesday at 9:30am, that day and time will become a link, so it’s easier than ever to actually use your calendar app (most people don’t bother with it because scheduling events is such a hassle).
You can also improve your Google Maps experience by creating a Gmail account. Obviously, you can use Maps no matter what, but you can save frequent or recent searches to make things just that much easier when you’re trying to figure out where you’re going.
Similarly, if you happen to install the Google Chrome browser, you can use your Gmail account to sync your favorite sites, bookmarks, search history, etc., so if you log into your account on Chrome on another computer, it’s just like if you were on your personal computer.
So as you can see, when you create an account on Gmail, you’re getting so much more than email. And the good news is, if you don’t have an account already, signing up is easy and completely free. Here’s how to do it:
Go to “gmail.com” in your internet browser (it can be Chrome or anything else), and underneath the form where current users can sign in, there’s a link to create a new Gmail account. Once you click it, you’ll be sent to the account sign up page, where you’ll have to enter some basic information. The most important things here are your age (remember what we said about age-restricted content on YouTube?) and your alternative contact info. If possible, it’s a really good idea to provide your mobile number here; you can use it to activate two-step authentication to make your Gmail account more secure later, or use it to recover your password if you happen to forget it in the future.
After you’re satisfied with all the personal information, you get to pick your Google username, which will be your Gmail email address. Next, pick a password to secure your account, and all that’s left to do is agree to all the fine print, prove you’re not a robot, and click the “next step” button.
Personally, I think the “next step” button is kind of silly, because it creates this sense of anticipation or suspense for some other step that must be completed before your Gmail account is created, but this is actually the last step. You might be asked to add a profile picture, which is optional. It will be displayed by your name in your Gmail messages and your Google+ profile if you choose to add one. In no time, you’ll be in your new inbox.
At the top of the page in the right-hand corner, you’ll see your profile picture (or a gray person icon if you haven’t added one), which you can click on to access your Gmail account settings, link other Gmail accounts (if you have them), and sign out. To the left is an icon that looks like a bunch of tiles: this is the menu that contains most of the cool Google tools and services we’ve talked about in this article.
You might get a welcome email from Google offering to give you a tour of Gmail. If you’re new to this email service, it’s worth spending five minutes of your time to get familiar with things.
And that’s it! Enjoy your shiny new Gmail account, click around, see what’s what, and add your contacts to make emailing more convenient. Make sure you head over to YouTube and use your Gmail account to log in so you can build video playlists, and definitely take advantage of your free cloud storage on Google Drive. And if you’re ever in the market for a new mobile device, know that you can use your Gmail account to get the most out of any Android phone or tablet.