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When we launched calling in Gmail back in August, we wanted it to be easy and affordable, so we made calls to the U.S. and Canada free for the rest of 2010. In the spirit of holiday giving and to help people keep in touch in the new year, we’re extending free calling for all of 2011.

In case you haven’t tried it yet, dialing a phone number works just like a regular phone. Look for “Call phone” at the top of your Gmail chat list and dial a number or enter a contact’s name.


To learn more, visit gmail.com/call. Calling in Gmail is currently only available to U.S. based Gmail users.

Happy New Year and happy calling!

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I use two Gmail accounts: one is my personal account and the other I share with my family (we use it to subscribe to groups like my children's classroom mailing list). Checking these two different accounts used to mean I had to sign out and back in to Gmail all the time. Not anymore. Instead, I can grant my personal account access to my shared family account and view, organize and send mail on behalf of our shared account.

We've offered email delegation for Google Apps accounts for a while — it's super useful for people who want their assistants to have access to read or respond to mail on their behalf. Now this functionality is available for anyone using Gmail. To grant access to another account, click the Settings link in the top right corner of Gmail. On the "Accounts" tab, you'll see a new section where you can "Grant access to your account." For example, below we've given hikingfan@gmail.com access to the hikingfanfamily@gmail.com account.


The account you add will get a verification email with links to accept or deny access. Once the account accepts and you've refreshed your browser or logged in and out again, you'll see a small down arrow beside the email address at the top right corner of Gmail which can be used to toggle between accounts — in this case hikingfan@gmail.com and hikingfanfamily@gmail.com.


Each account will open in a different browser tab or window so you can view both accounts simultaneously, all while signed into your primary account. When you send a message from hikingfanfamily@gmail.com while signed in as hikingfan@gmail.com, it will appear as being sent by hikingfan@gmail.com on behalf of hikingfanfamily@gmail.com.


Signing out of any one of the accounts will sign you out of all the accounts you're currently viewing, and, of course, you can revoke access at any time.

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There are many times in life when a do-over can come in handy. Perhaps you clicked “Send” on an email that was better left unsaid, or “Delete” on a contact before realizing you still needed it. Just like Gmail lets you unsend a message, you can now have a second chance with your contacts too.

We’ve added a new feature to Google Contacts that allows you to revert your contact list and undo any mistakes made up to 30 days in the past. Let’s say you accidentally deleted a bunch of contacts or wiped the contact data from your Gmail account by mistake while syncing to another device. Visit Gmail’s Contacts section, select “Restore contacts” in the “More actions” menu, and choose the time you would like to revert to.


Your contacts will be restored to exactly the same state they were in at that time — any contacts that didn’t exist then will be deleted and any that have since been added will be deleted. Don’t worry, you can always undo this change by restoring again if you didn’t get the time right.

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Last year, we launched a new mobile Gmail experience for iPhone and Android-powered devices. Since then, those of us who use Gmail in English could go to gmail.com from our mobile browsers and get most of the same features we’re used to in the desktop version of Gmail — including search, stars, labels, and threaded conversations.



Starting today, this updated version of Gmail for mobile is now available in 44 new languages. Check out the mobile blog for the complete list of languages and more info.

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My parents have a history of bringing work with them when we go on family vacations. At first it was just a few paper documents to review at the beach...years later, a laptop...now a smartphone. They couldn’t let go for fear that a colleague might need to get a hold of them.

My folks aren’t the only ones frightened by the prospect of missing an important message when they’re away from their inbox -- there must be millions of people with the same concern. Not everyone knows that Gmail can help you relax when you’re on vacation by automatically notifying colleagues, friends, and family that you’re away (handy for the holidays).

To enlighten parents and families around the world about how basic technology can improve their lives, a handful of us at Google decided to create a website -- TeachParentsTech.org -- where “kids” of any age can send basic how-to videos to their moms, dads, uncles -- whomever. Here’s a video I made that walks you through how to set up an email auto-responder message:



To see more videos or to send someone a tech support “care package” of your own, visit TeachParentsTech.org.

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(Cross posted from the Mobile blog)

When we first released Gmail in Android Market back in September, we said that you’d be getting new stuff faster, and we meant it. After getting thousands of comments on that release, we made a bunch of updates based on your feedback and today we’re launching Gmail for Android 2.3.2.

Priority Inbox

First of all, you told us that you love Priority Inbox and expect much better support for it on your phone. Now you can see important messages in a new Priority Inbox view.

This view includes all important messages in your inbox, regardless of whether you’ve read them or not. You can archive and delete conversations or mark them unimportant from there. You’ll notice the importance markers you’re used to seeing in the desktop version of Gmail, and you can also change a conversation’s importance using the menu. To switch between inboxes or labels, try tapping on the current label.

Ever wanted to know that you got an important message without taking your phone out of your pocket? Now you can set up your phone to notify, vibrate, or ring on just your new important mail (check out Menu > Settings > Priority Inbox).

While Priority Inbox on your Android phone doesn’t have all the features offered in the desktop version of Gmail, we think this is a good start and plan to add even more functionality moving forward.

Improved Compose

Since our last Market update, we adopted a few features related to composing messages from the desktop version of Gmail. Many of you asked for a better way to switch between replying to the sender to replying to all. Now, you can easily switch between reply, reply all, and forward while composing your response.


If you moved to Gmail from another webmail provider and want to continue to send email from that address, now you can send from any address you’ve configured in the desktop version of Gmail.



In addition, you can now respond to messages in-line.



You won’t need to wait for Gingerbread to get these updates. This version of the Gmail app works for Android 2.2 (Froyo) and newer releases in most countries. (Not sure if your device is running the right version? Check here.) Get the update from Android Market (just scan the QR code below, or click here if you're on a phone) and check out the new Gmail. And don’t forget to send us your feedback from within the new version of the app (from your Inbox: Menu > More > About > Feedback).

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Dealing with time zones can be a headache. Whether you’re a regular traveler or trying to plan ahead for your weekend in Paris, it’s often difficult to keep track of time differences. We’ve heard your feedback and are pleased to announce a new addition to Google Calendar: event time zones.

With event time zones, you can specify the time zone for a given event. So when you’re home in Florida, you can more easily set up dinner with your friend in Paris for the following week. Events will appear on your calendar according to the current time zone you’re in, and when you change to your destination time zone they’ll be in the right place. Just click the “Time zone” link to the right of the date and time fields on the event page. You can even set up events which start in one time zone and end in another, ideal for those of you who fly often.

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It's been a couple of months since we first launched Priority Inbox. Since then, we’ve heard from a number of you who’ve found it helpful in combating information overload, and we’ve seen evidence of this in aggregate too. Looking at median time in conversation view, we noticed that typical Priority Inbox users spend 43% more time reading important mail compared to unimportant, and 15% less time reading email overall as compared to Gmail users who don’t use Priority Inbox. We’re excited about the impact Priority Inbox can have, and we’re listening to your feedback in order to make it even better.

For example, one thing we heard is that you wanted to know why Gmail classifies certain messages as important. So starting today, when you hover over an importance marker () you’ll see a short explanation (e.g. “Important because you marked it as important” or “Important mainly because of the people in the conversation.”).


You also told us that you thought Priority Inbox didn’t learn fast enough, so we've made it much more responsive to your manual corrections.

If you have more ideas for improvements, please share them with us on our new Priority Inbox product ideas page — or just vote on ideas that others suggest. Your feedback will help us make Priority Inbox work for even more Gmail users.

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(Cross-posted from the Google Voice blog)

Keeping in touch with family during the holiday season can be challenging for anyone, but it’s especially difficult for military families with loved ones serving around the country or overseas.

Gmail’s built in video chat and free calls to the U.S. and Canada can help keep friends and family in contact regardless of how far apart they may be. To make staying in touch this holiday season even easier for military families, we’re offering a $10 calling credit to help them reach their loved ones serving abroad.

These international call credits can be used to make calls with Google Voice or from right inside Gmail, and will provide families with roughly 30 minutes of call time to Afghanistan, 60 minutes to Iraq, or hundreds of minutes to many countries in Europe and around the world.

To make this possible, we’ve partnered with Blue Star Families and Sesame Street, two organizations dedicated to supporting service members and their families.

Photo by Sesame Workshop, 2010

To be eligible for $10 calling credits, military family members must:
  1. Be a member of either Blue Star Families or Sesame Street Family Connections — registration is free for all military families
  2. Provide their Gmail address
  3. Enable calling in Gmail and accept the terms of service OR have an existing Google Voice account
  4. Complete this registration form by December 22, 2010

We recognize the sacrifices military family members make when loved ones serve abroad, and we’re proud to help make it a little bit easier for families to stay connected over the holidays.

At this time, Google Voice and calling in Gmail are available in the U.S. only.

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If you subscribe to a lot of mailing lists and like to keep an empty inbox, muting (or preventing a conversation from re-entering your inbox) is an essential feature. We just made a few changes that should make muting even better.

First up is “Smart Mute,” a new Gmail Labs feature that helps solve the problem of conversations that just won’t die. You know the ones I’m talking about: those emails with 10+ people cc’d where everyone replies all, but you lost interest five emails ago. The current mute behavior doesn’t do well in these situations since the messages are addressed to you. You end up with muted messages in your inbox, and the only way to prevent these emails from coming back to your inbox has been to create a custom filter for a specific conversation.


If you enable “Smart Mute” from the Labs tab in Gmail Settings, muted conversations will only appear in your inbox if a new message in the conversation is addressed to you and no one else, or a new email in the conversation adds you to the “To” or “Cc” line. Once you enable Smart Mute, mute behavior will change across all versions of Gmail: web, mobile, Android, etc. Try it out and let us know what you think.

Since you’ll likely be muting more than ever, we also added easier ways to unmute muted conversations. Previously, the only way to unmute a conversation was to move it to your inbox -- not super intuitive and useless if the conversation was already in your inbox. Now there are two new ways to unmute a conversation. The first is through an "Unmute" option in the "More actions" menu. You’ll see this when you view or select a muted conversation.

If you’re viewing a muted conversation, you’ll see the second new way to unmute: the "Muted" label next to the subject line now behaves just like all other labels. Clicking on the "X" will remove the Muted label and unmute the conversation.


Hopefully these changes will make it easier to mute and unmute conversations.