is a free webmail, POP3, and IMAP service provided
In the United Kingdom and Germany, it is officially called
Gmail was launched as an invitation-only beta
release on April 1, 2004 and it became available to the general
public on February 7, 2007. As of July 2009
it has 146 million users monthly. The service was upgraded from
beta status on July 7, 2009, along with the rest of the Google
With an initial storage capacity offer of 1 GB per user,
Gmail significantly increased the webmail standard for free
storage from the 2 to 4MB its competitors offered at that time.
The service currently offers over 7350 MB of free storage with
additional storage ranging from 10 GB to 400 GB available for
$20 to $500 (US) per year.
Gmail has a search-oriented interface and a "conversation
view" similar to an Internet forum. Software developers know
Gmail for its pioneering use of the Ajax programming technique.
Gmail runs on Google Servlet Engine and Google GFE/1.3 which
runs on Linux.
The Gmail service currently provides more than 7350 MB of
Users can rent additional storage (shared between Picasa Web
Albums and Gmail) from 10 GB (US$20/year) to 400 GB
On April 1, 2005 the first anniversary of Gmail, Google
announced the increase from 1 GB, stating that Google would
"keep giving people more space forever."
In April 2005 Gmail engineer Rob Siemborski stated that
Google would keep increasing storage by the second as long as it
had enough space on its servers. On October 12, 2007 the rate of
increase was 5.37 MB per hour.
As of July 27, 2009, the rate was 0.000004 MB/s, or 0.0144 MB/hr
The Gmail Labs feature, introduced on June 5, 2008, allows
users to test new or experimental features of Gmail, such as
bookmarking of important e-mail messages, custom
keyboard-shortcuts and games.
Users can enable or disable Labs features selectively and
provide feedback about each of them. This allows Gmail engineers
to obtain user input about new features to improve them and also
to assess their popularity and whether they merit developing
into regular Gmail features. All Labs features are experimental
and are subject to termination at any time.
On December 10, 2008 Gmail added support for SMS Messaging
through its integrated Chat.
On January 28, 2009 Gmail added support for offline access
through its integration with Gears.
On July 14, 2009 Gmail brought Tasks out of Labs testing and
made it an official feature.
Gmail's spam filtering features a community-driven system:
when any user marks an email as spam, this provides information
to help the system identify similar future messages for all
Gmail Mobile is a version of Google's Gmail email service. It
is a free service, developed to provide access to Gmail from
mobile devices such as cell phones, or smartphones. Gmail Mobile
was released on December 16, 2005 and is available in many
different languages. Gmail Mobile offers many of the features as
Gmail delivered effectively to smaller, mobile screens. Users
have the ability to compose, read, reply, forward, mark unread,
add a star or trash email messages.
The Gmail interface differs from other webmail systems with
its focus on search and its "conversation view" of email,
grouping several replies onto a single page. Gmail's user
experience designer, Kevin Fox, intended users to feel as if
they were always on one page and just changing things on that
page, rather than having to navigate to other places.
Gmail was a project started by Google developer Paul Buchheit
several years before it was announced to the public. Initially
the e-mail client was available for use only by Google employees
internally within the company. Google announced Gmail to the
public on April 1, 2004.
Before its acquisition by Google, the gmail.com domain name
was used by a free e-mail service offered by Garfield.com,
online home of the comic strip Garfield. After moving to
a different domain, that service has since been discontinued.
As of 22 June 2005 (2005
Gmail's canonical URI changed from http://gmail.google.com/gmail/
As of July 2009 ,
those who typed in the former URI were redirected to the latter.
The domain gmail.com is unavailable in certain
countries due to trademark disputes, in which cases users are
able to use the domain googlemail.com. The Gmail service
does not discriminate between these two domains for incoming
e-mails, therefore a user with the address "firstname.lastname@example.org"
will receive mail sent to "email@example.com", and
vice-versa. Accordingly, users obliged to use the
googlemail.com domain are unable to select addresses already
chosen by gmail.com users.
Gmail Paper hoax
On April Fools' Day 2007, Google made fun of Gmail by
introducing "Gmail Paper", where a user could click a button and
Gmail would purportedly mail an ad-supported hard copy for free.
Gmail Custom Time hoax
On April Fools' Day 2008 Google introduced a fake service, "Gmail
Custom Time", which would allegedly allow a user to send up to
ten e-mails per year with forged timestamps. The hoax stated
that by bending spacetime on the Google servers, the e-mails
actually get routed through the fourth dimension of time itself
before reaching their intended recipient.
Gmail Autopilot hoax
On April Fools' Day 2009 Google introduced a service called
Gmail Autopilot by CADIE.
According to Google, the service purported to automatically read
and respond to emails for the user. It appeared to work by
analyzing messages for the emotions expressed in the message and
either providing advice to the user or automatically responding
to the message.
early fall of 2007 and was released to users starting on October
29, 2007. The new version had a redesigned contacts section,
quick contacts box and chat popups, which were added to names in
the message list as well as the contact list. The contacts
application is integrated into other Google services, such as
Google Docs. Users granted access to the new version were given
a link at the top-right corner which read "Newer Version". As of
December 2007, most new registrations in English (US) along with
most pre-existing accounts are given the new interface by
default when supported. There remains the option to downgrade
via a link labelled "Older Version".
These coding changes mean that only users of Internet
Explorer 7, Firefox 2, Google Chrome and Safari 3.0 (or more
recent versions) can fully use the new code. Internet Explorer
5.5+, Netscape 7.1+, Mozilla 1.4+, Firefox 0.8, Safari 1.3 and
some other browsers will give limited functionality. Other
browsers may be redirected to the basic-HTML-only version of
During the week of January 18, 2008 Google released an update
failure of some third-party extensions.
On December 12, 2008 Gmail added support for faster PDF
viewing within the browser.
Google automatically scans e-mails to add context-sensitive
advertisements to them. Privacy advocates raised concerns that
the plan involved scanning their personal, assumed private,
e-mails, and that this was a security problem. Allowing e-mail
content to be read, even by a computer, raises the risk that the
expectation of privacy in e-mail will be reduced. Furthermore,
e-mail that non-subscribers choose to send to Gmail accounts is
scanned by Gmail as well, even though those senders never agreed
to cross-reference cookies across its information-rich product
line to make dossiers on individuals. However, most e-mail
systems make use of server-side content scanning in order to
check for spam.
Privacy-advocates also regard the lack of disclosed data
retention and correlation policies as problematic. Google has
the ability to combine information contained in a person's
e-mails with information about their Internet searches. Google
has not confirmed how long such information would be kept and
how it could be used. One of the concerns is that it could be of
interest to law enforcement agencies. More than 30 privacy and
civil liberties organizations have urged Google to suspend Gmail
service until these issues are resolved.
of deleted messages and accounts may take up to 60 days to be
deleted from our active servers and may remain in our offline
backup systems." Google points out that Gmail adheres to most
industry-wide practices. Google has stated that they will "make
reasonable efforts to remove deleted information from our
systems as quickly as is practical."
Google defends its position by citing its use of
email-scanning to the users' benefit. Google states that Gmail
refrains from displaying ads next to potentially sensitive
messages, such as those that mention tragedy, catastrophe, or
Gmail does not allow users to send or receive executable
files or archives containing executable files if it recognises
the file extension as one used for executable files or archives.
Tech-savvy users who are not prone to casual errors report
loss of random messages in random amounts.
By design, Gmail does not deliver all of a user's e-mails.
When downloading mail through POP or IMAP access, Gmail fails to
deliver messages that users have sent to themselves.
It also does not deliver to a user's inbox (via any access
interface) those messages that users have sent to mailing lists
and which they might expect to receive back via the mailing
Gmail has been unavailable on several occasions. On February
24, 2009 the Gmail service was offline for 2.5 hours, preventing
millions of users from accessing their accounts. People who rely
entirely on Gmail for business purposes complained about these
Gmail sorts e-mail only by conversations (threads), which is
a problem for large conversations. For example, if a user sends
a query to a large group of people, all of the responses are
stored in a single conversation that is impossible to break
apart. There is no way to search for responses from one user
without getting the entire conversation. While deletion of
individual e-mails is possible, most operations, such as
archiving and labelling, can only be performed on whole
conversations. Conversations cannot be split up or combined.
"On behalf of"
Prior to July 2009, any email sent through the Gmail
interface included the Gmail.com address as the "sender", even
if it came from a custom email account. For example, an email
sent from an external account via the Gmail interface displayed
to an e-mail client user as From firstname.lastname@example.org on behalf of
user@OtherDomainEmailAddress.com. By exposing the Gmail
account name, Google claimed that this would "help prevent mail
from being marked as spam".
A number of Gmail users complained that this implementation was
both a privacy concern and a professionalism problem.
On July 30, 2009, Gmail announced an update to resolve this
updated custom 'From:' feature allows users to send
messages from Gmail using the SMTP server provided for the given
email address, instead of Gmail's (which will continue to add
the On behalf of).
Requirement for mobile phone
When attempting to create a Gmail account from some
countries, Google requires a mobile phone number that supports
text messaging. In other countries this is not required for
sign-up, according to Google due to service limitations.
Google explains this:
"If you'd like to sign up for a Gmail address, you need to have
a mobile phone that has text-messaging capabilities.
If you don't have a phone, you may want to ask a friend if
you can use his or her number to receive a code.
One of the reasons we're offering this new way to sign up for
Gmail is to help protect our users and combat abuse. Spam and
abuse protection are two things we take very seriously, and our
users have been very happy with the small amount of spam they've
received in Gmail. We take many measures to ensure that spammers
have a difficult time sending their spam messages, getting these
messages delivered, or even obtaining a Gmail address (spammers
will often use many different addresses to send spam). Sending
invitation codes to mobile phones is one way to address this, as
the number of addresses created per phone number can be limited."
Gmail was ranked second in PC World's "100 Best
Products of 2005," behind Mozilla Firefox. Gmail also won 'Honorable
Mention' in the Bottom Line Design Awards 2005.
Gmail has drawn many favorable reviews from users for
generous space quotas and unique organization.
On October 19, 2005 Google voluntarily converted the United
Kingdom version of Gmail to Google Mail because of a
dispute with the UK company, Independent International
Users who registered before the switch to Google Mail were
able to keep their Gmail address, although the Gmail logo was
replaced with a Google Mail logo.
Users who signed up after the name change receive a
googlemail.com address, although a reverse of either in the
sent email will still deliver it to the same place.
On July 4, 2005 Google announced that Gmail Deutschland
would be rebranded to Google Mail.
From that point forward, visitors originating from an IP address
determined to be in Germany would be forwarded to
googlemail.com where they could obtain an e-mail address
containing the new domain.
Any German user who wants a gmail.com address must sign
up for an account through a proxy. German users who were already
registered were allowed to keep their old addresses.
The German naming issue is due to a trademark dispute between
Google and Daniel Giersch. Daniel Giersch owns a company called
"G-mail" which provides the service of printing out e-mail from
senders and sending the print-out via postal mail to the
intended recipients. On January 30, 2007, the EU's Office for
Harmonization in the Internal Market ruled in favor of Giersch.
Google spoofed "offering" the same service in the Gmail Paper
April Fool's Day joke in 2007.
In February 2007 Google filed legal action against the owners
of gmail.pl, a poet group known in full as Grupa
Młodych Artystów i Literatów abbreviated GMAiL (literally,
"Group of Young Artists and Writers").
An information-technology company in mainland China named ISM
Technologies (Chinese: 爱思美) has owned and operated a web portal
from the domain gmail.cn since 2003.
A Russian free webmail service called gmail.ru owns
the "Gmail" trademark in the Russian Federation.
The gmail.ru domain name dates from January 27,
After Gmail's initial development and launch, many existing
web mail services quickly increased their storage capacity.
For example, Hotmail increased space for some users from 2 MB
to 25 MB, with 250 MB after 30 days, and 2 GB for Hotmail Plus
accounts. Yahoo! Mail went from 4 MB to 100 MB and 2 GB for
Yahoo! Mail Plus accounts. Yahoo! Mail storage then increased to
250 MB and in late April 2005 to 1 GB. Yahoo! Mail announced
that it would be providing "unlimited" storage to all its users
in March 2007 and began providing it in May 2007.
These were all seen as moves to stop existing users from
switching to Gmail and to capitalize on the newly rekindled
public interest in web mail services. The desire to catch up was
especially noted in the case of MSN's Hotmail, which upgraded
its e-mail storage from 250 MB to the new Windows Live Hotmail
which includes 5 GB of storage. As of November 2006, MSN Hotmail
upgraded all free accounts to 1 GB of storage.
In June 2005 AOL started providing all AIM screen names with
their own e-mail accounts with 2 GB of storage.
The Gmail system flags as dormant every Gmail account which
remains inactive for six months. After a further three months,
for a total of nine months dormancy, the system may delete such
Other webmail services have different, often shorter, times for
marking an account as inactive. Yahoo! Mail deactivates dormant
accounts after four months, while Hotmail matches Gmail's nine
As well as increasing storage limits following the launch of
Gmail, Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail also enhanced their e-mail
interfaces. During 2005 Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail matched Gmail's
attachment size of 10 MB. Following the footsteps of Gmail,
Yahoo! launched the Yahoo! Mail Beta service and Microsoft
launched Windows Live Hotmail, both incorporating Ajax
interfaces. Google increased the maximum attachment size to 20
MB in May 2007
and to 25 MB in June 2009.