Tag Archives: Contacts

Gmail for Beginners, Part 4 – Composing emails & attaching a smiley

Part 1, Getting Started is here.
Part 2, Finding and Reading emails is here.
Part 3, Replying to an email & Saving a Contact is here.

Although replying to an email and composing one are very similar, the few small differences can be tricky, and they all involve your Contacts. If the email address of your Contact is already known to Gmail  – i.e. you have already saved it [as detailed in Part 3], composing an email will be easy. However, if you want to send an email to someone brand new, you will have to type their email address in from scratch, and that could cause problems if you do not do it properly.

Taking care with email addresses

One thing you have to remember at all times is that computers take things very literally. With a computer, close enough is not good enough, and this is especially true of email addresses. When you type in an email address from scratch, it has to be exactly right. For example, let’s look at the email address of Kenneth’s friend Single Pixel. It looks like this:


Typing in Singlepixel.soft@gmail.com will not work [the capital letter instead of a lowercase letter counts as a mistake]

Typing in single pixel.soft@gmail.com will not work  [the blank space counts as a mistake]

Typing in singlepixelsoft@gmail.com will not work [the lack of a ‘.’ also counts as a mistake]

The three examples shown are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of typos, but they do demonstrate how precise an email address must be. This is one very important reason for saving Contact details when you reply to emails.

[Note: you can also enter Contact details manually, but the process is more involved and will not be covered in this Beginners series. If you do want to know how to do it, you can find the Advanced how-to here.]

How to compose an email

Click on the big, red ‘Compose’ button located in your navigation pane [circled in blue below]:

6 gmail compose 1

You should now be looking at the ‘New Message’ pop-up. Notice how the blinking cursor is in the ‘To’ field? This means it is ready for you to type the email address.

After you have finished typing in the email address, click in the ‘Subject’ field and type in a short description of what the email is about. Leaving the Subject field blank could make some spam filters think your email is junk, or malware, so it is always a good idea to type something that makes sense.

Finally, click inside the big, blank text area and type the actual message. When you have finished, your message form should look something like this:

6 gmail compose 2B

Click the big blue ‘Send’ button down the bottom of the message form as shown above [circled in red]. You will get a bright yellow confirmation message from Gmail to let you know your message has been sent.

How to compose an email using saved Contact details

As always, Gmail provides more than one way of doing something, and entering the addressee of your email is no exception.

Method 1

Click the ‘Compose’ button. Once the ‘New Message’ form pops up, start typing the first few letters of the email address you wish to use.

As you type, Gmail checks all the email addresses you have saved, and it presents you with what it thinks you might want. For example, let’s say Kenneth wants to send an email to David Prosser. He starts typing and this is what happens:

6 gmail compose 3

The first match shows the email for David Prosser [because the letter ‘b’ is the first letter of the actual email address]. The second came up with Honie Briggs [because the letter ‘b’ appears in Honie’s surname].

To select one of the options provided by Gmail, you can either click on the correct addressee or, your can simply hit the Enter key on your keyboard. Either way, your chosen addressee will appear in the ‘To’ box like so:

6 gmail compose 4 Notice how Gmail inserts the name of the addressee rather than the actual email address? This is an easy way to check that you are, in fact, sending the email to the right person because ‘Barsetman@mail.com’ could be anyone.

Method 2

This method is particularly useful if you know someone is in your Contact list but you can’t remember anything about their email address – i.e. you can’t just start typing something and expect Gmail to come up with a reasonable match.

In the following example, Kenneth wants to send an interesting quote to one of the three new contacts he has made. He remembers that she liked quotes, but he can’t remember her name or email address.

After clicking on the ‘Compose’ button, Kenneth points the mouse at the word ‘To’ in the ‘New Message’ form. A small, context sensitive tooltip [help message] pops up. It says ‘Select Contacts’:

6 gmail compose 5

What that rather cryptic message means is that you should click on the word ‘To’ in order to select a contact[s] from the list of available contacts.

Kenneth clicks the word ‘To’ and the following list pops up:

6 gmail compose 6

When Kenneth looks at the list of Contacts, he sees the small graphic [picture] next to the name of Dale Newling and remembers that she is the one who sent him all those interesting quotes.

To select Dale Newling as his addressee, Kenneth clicks her entry [anywhere on the line will do]. The line is highlighted in pale yellow and a tick appears in the checkbox next to Dale Newling’s name:

6 gmail compose 7

Before Gmail will accept this Contact as the addressee, however, Kenneth must click the blue ‘Select’ button at the bottom of the pop-up. [This is because Gmail does not know whether you want to ‘Select’ the Contact or save it to a Group.]

Once Kenneth clicks on ‘Select’, the email address for Dale Newling is inserted into the ‘To’ area of his email and he is ready to type a message.

Before Kenneth hits the blue ‘Send’ button, however, he wants to insert something into the email, something fun, like a smiley face.

How to insert a smiley face [emoticon]

With the cursor positioned at the spot where he wants the smiley face to appear, he points the mouse at the emoticon button displayed at the bottom of the ‘New Message’ form:

6 gmail compose 9Clicking the emoticon button causes the following set of options to pop up:

6 gmail compose emoticons

To insert an emoticon into your email, simply click on the image you want and it will immediately appear at the spot where you left your cursor [or as close to it as possible, space permitting]. As the following screenshot shows, you can insert as many emoticons as you wish.

6 gmail compose emoticons 2

When you are finished with the emoticons, simply click on the ‘X’ button as shown above. Last, but not least, click the blue ‘Send’ button to actually send your new email to its recipient. Then sit back and wait for them to reply. 🙂

In Gmail for Beginners, Part 5, we will be looking at how to insert something more serious than a smiley face into an email. We will be attaching files and pictures located on your own PC, so you will need to have some knowledge of how to find your way around the files and folders of a PC. If you need some help, my post about basic folders in Windows 7 can be found here.

You can find Part 5 – opening an attachment & attaching a picture [Windows 7], here.



Gmail Advanced – How to manually add a Contact

One of the things I dislike intensely about the Gmail ‘Inbox’ interface is how it hides important functions behind layers of unintuitive forms. God forbid there should be a menu anywhere. No, instead you have to learn to look for tiny down arrows that lead to lists that may or may not lead to something you know you should be able to do….


One of the best hidden functions is something we used to take for granted – the ability to enter Contact details in one place and edit them in the same place. It’s still there, but boy do you have to dig to find it. So here goes.

Step 1 – Go to Contacts

6 gmail contacts manual 1I know, you’ve tried this before and got nowhere, right? Well, just trust me and click ‘Contacts’ one more time.

Gmail will take you to something called ‘Contacts Preview’, but don’t expect to see that name anywhere obvious.

Instead, you will see a screen that looks as if it should be a Contacts screen …but isn’t. There is a button for creating a new Contact but all it will let you do is type in a name. There is also an icon for editing a Contact. That will let you see all the available fields…but you can’t actually do anything with most of them.

Step 2 – click ‘More’

No, if you want to really add a new Contact, you have to click on the ‘More’ option [as shown below]:

6 gmail contacts manual 2

Do you see that option near the bottom of the ‘More’ features? The one that says ‘Leave the Contacts preview’? That, my friends, is the key to sanity.

Step 3 – click ‘Leave the Contacts preview’

Clicking the ‘Leave the Contacts preview’ option takes you to, ta dah, this:

6 gmail contacts manual 3

Does this screen look more hopeful? Of course it does.

Step 4 – click the ‘New Contact’ button

Clicking ‘New Contact’ will take you to this:

6 gmail contacts manual 4If you’ve used Gmail Contacts before, the layout and format of this screen should be a snap. Things are where they are supposed to be and the labels make sense. Better still, this view is now permanent. It will not change back when you log out of Gmail. Yay!

You can change the view back to the ‘Contacts preview’ by clicking on the ‘Try Contacts preview’ option, but for my money I never want to see it again. I don’t know what it is meant to do because just playing around with it tells me nothing, i.e. it’s about as intuitive as mud.

If anyone knows what the Contacts preview is good for, I’d be interested in finding out.



Gmail for Beginners, Part 3 – Replying to emails & saving Contacts

Part 1, Getting Started is here.
Part 2, Find and Reading emails is here.

To make this section feel a little more realistic, I called for help from the blogging community, and they responded by sending Kenneth Wu, [Gmail username kenzomuramasa] the fictional character I have been using in all my examples, lots of mail! This is what Kenneth’s Inbox looks like now:

1 new Inbox list

You can tell at a glance that Kenneth has received five new emails because the number (5) now appears next to the Inbox. 😉

Now have a look at the ‘date received’ column. All the emails are displayed in date order with the most recent one [from Honie Briggs] at the top of the list. Notice that Honie’s email does not have a date next to it. Instead, it has a time-stamp. This indicates the email arrived during the current day, hence no need for a date. By tomorrow, it will show a date like all the others.

And now to the emails themselves. As Kenneth looks at the sender of each email, he realises that he only knows two of the people who have written to him – Single Pixel and David Prosser. Single Pixel is an old friend from university days while David Prosser is both friend and mentor.

Unable to face the sympathy of an old friend, Kenneth reads the email from Single Pixel and then ‘stars’ it for later.

Another way to ‘star’ an email

In Part 2 you learned how to star an email while it was sitting in the Inbox list. Now you will learn a more intuitive way of starring an email – from within the email itself.

With the email open, click on the ‘More’ option as shown:

1 new Inbox more and star

A drop-down list will appear. Click the ‘Add star’ option as shown above.

Gmail will display a bright yellow confirmation message like this:

1 new Inbox star confirmed

After starring the email from Single Pixel, Kenneth returns to the list of emails by clicking ‘Inbox (4)‘ in the navigation pane. The (4) indicates that there are only four unread emails left.  From those emails, Kenneth clicks on the one from David Prosser who, along with his team of dedicated researchers, is working to make Kenneth’s dream a reality.

It’s a long email and Kenneth has two ways of replying to it. The first is circled in red on the screenshot below:

2 david prosser long read

Clicking the ‘Reply’ button takes you to the very end of the email and displays a text box [for typing in your reply].

The second method is to manually scroll to the end of the email until you see:

2 david prosser long reply to box

You cannot actually type anything into this text box. It is there only as a visual cue. Instead, you have to click the Reply link shown inside the box. [The Forward link is used when you want to send the email on to someone else. For example, you might receive a funny joke from one of your friends. Using the Forward link, you could send it on to one of your other friends]

Whichever method you use, you will be presented with the following reply-to form:

2 david prosser long reply to form

Notice that the cursor is already inside the form, ready for you to start typing.

When you have finished typing, click the bright blue ‘Send’ button as shown above.

Gmail will display a bright yellow message confirming that the reply was sent:

1 new Inbox reply confirmation

Kenneth now has three more emails to deal with. All three are from friends of his friend Meeka and are clearly from kind, generous people, exactly the sort of people he would want to keep in contact with. He decides to add all three to his contact list.

How to add Contacts

By a strange coincidence, Kenneth discovers that Gmail provides a different way of saving the contact details of each of his new friends.

Method 1

Opening the email from Honie Briggs, Kenneth hovers the mouse over her name as shown:

3 save contact honie briggs

Gmail displays a small pop-up with information about Honie Briggs as well as some options down the bottom. One of those options is ‘Add to contacts’ [circled in the screenshot above].

Clicking ‘Add to contacts’ will save the Honie Briggs’ name and email address to Kenneth’s contact list. When it’s done, Gmail displays another bright yellow confirmation message:

3 save contact honie briggs confirmation

Method 2

The next email came from Dale Newling. After opening it up, Kenneth clicked the small arrow next to the ‘Reply’ button [as shown below]:

4 save contact dale newlingClicking the down arrow causes Gmail to display another small pop-up. This one contains a long list of options, but the one of interest to us is about half way down – ‘Add Dale Newling to Contacts list’.

After clicking the option, Kenneth is presented with yet another yellow, confirmation message.

Method 3

The last email in Kenneth’s list belongs to Carrie Rubin. This time he decides to save her to Contacts directly from the Inbox list. He hovers the mouse over her name in the list until a pop-up appears:

5 save contact carrie rubin

This is exactly the same pop-up that appeared when Kenneth saved Honie Briggs to Contacts. Clicking on the ‘Add to contacts’ option [circled in red], Kenneth saves Carrie Rubin’s details to Contacts and is presented with the same, yellow confirmation message as before.

Exhausted from his labours, Kenneth decides to take a nap while I thank my friends – Honie Briggs, Single Pixel aka George, David Prosser, Dale Newling aka EllaDee, and Carrie Rubin – for their time and generosity!

In Gmail for Beginners, Part 4, we will explore how to write an email from scratch by:

  • using Contact details we have already saved,
  • typing in the email address of someone not in our Contact list, and
  • inserting a smiley face into the email




Please send an email to kenzomuramasa@gmail.com!

gmail contacts begging picI was working on Gmail for Beginners, Part 3, when I realised I needed a bunch of emails to properly illustrate how Gmail deals with new Contacts. I already have a couple of email addresses [for characters out of Innerscape] but Gmail recognizes that they are all ‘me’ so I need some emails from strangers [so to speak].

The email address in the title of this post ‘belongs’ to Kenneth Wu, one of the main characters out of Innerscape, and it is his Inbox that needs filling.

Can you help?

And no, I don’t expect you to make your real email addresses public! By help I mean, can you create a new email address [using any email client you like, it doesn’t have to be Gmail] and use that to write to Kenneth?

I know this is asking a lot, but I really could use the help so… please? Pretty please with sprinkles on top?

If you can help, could you please email Kenneth direct on:


And to show my appreciation, you can all enjoy this cute animal video. 🙂

Thank you. 🙂


%d bloggers like this: