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Migrating from Microsoft Outlook to Gmail

posted 17 Feb 2013, 02:40 by Dan Miles   [ updated 23 Feb 2013, 05:11 ]
Some people might be daunted by the relatively unfamiliar Gmail interface when first coming from Outlook, here are a few tips to make things a little more familiar looking and comfortable.

  • Turning off conversation view
  • Creating folders
  • Mailbox rules
  • Out of Office notification
  • Pop-up toast notifications

Turning off conversation view

By default Gmail has conversation view switched on, this is where emails are grouped in to threads based upon who the participants are.  This can be confusing to start with and you can switch conversation view off to display individual emails.

To turn off conversation view, go to Gmail settings from your Inbox by clicking on the cog button and selecting 'Settings'

gmail settings

On the 'General' tab, scroll down to the conversation view section and change the setting to off.

conversation view setting

When you go back to your mailbox, you will see each individual email listed.  Additionally, I like to switch the view to show unread messages first, by selecting 'Unread First' from the 'Inbox Type' context menu.

unread first

Creating  folders

Strictly speaking Gmail does not allow you to create folders, but has a feature named 'Labels' which offers similar functionality.

To create a new Label, go in to Gmail settings and click on the 'Labels' tab.  


Here you will see all of the Labels you have set up, along with the settings to make them visible or not on under your Inbox.


To create a new Label, click on the new Label button and enter a name and optionally a location under your mailbox before pressing the create button.

new label

You should see the new Label/folder appear on the left under your Inbox.

invoice label

You can manually add Labels to emails by selecting them using the tick box next to each email and entering in a new Label name or selecting a pre-existing Label from the Label menu.  This will effectively move the email to a folder.

labels menu

Mailbox rules

While you can always manually Label emails as they arrive this could become time consuming.  You can set up mailbox rules by using the 'Filters' functionality in Gmail.

filters tab

From within Gmail settings, select the 'Filters' tab and click on the 'Create a new filter' link to open the new filter wizard.  You can filter depending upon who sent the mail, who the mail was sent to, the message subject and content along with whether it has an attachment or not.

filter wizard

Once you have entered in all of your criteria, click on the 'Create filter with this search' link to proceed with the wizard.

filter wizard part two

From the wizards second page you can select what you want to do with a message when the criteria is met.  In this case, we want to Apply a specific Label when an email is sent to a certain address.  Once you are happy with your rule, press the create filter button.

Out of Office notification

You can easily set the Out of Office notification if you will be away or unable to respond for an amount of time.  Go into Gmail settings and scroll down to near the bottom of the 'General' tab.  You should see a familiar looking section under Out of Office AutoReply.

Out Of Office

Pop-up Toast Notifications

The little pop-up notification toast that pops up in the corner of the screen when you receive a mail is a great a feature in Outlook.  You can enable similar notifications when using Gmail.  

First, make sure that desktop notifications are enabled in Gmail, by going to the Gmail settings page and scrolling down the 'General' tab until you get to the notification settings.

desktop notifications

You can set notifications for chat and emails on or off here.

Additionally you will need to install either the Google Chrome Browser or Google Talk Messenger to enable pop-up notifications.  

To enable notifications using Google Talk Messenger, download and install Google Talk Messenger and sign in with your Google/company account.  Then go to the Google Talk application settings and ensure that 'Show notification' is set to on for New email.

google talk notification

To enable desktop pop-up notifications in the Google Chrome Browser, you will need to first download and install the Browser from the Internet and then sign in to the browser from chrome://signin/ using your Google account.  

sign in to chrome

There are more in depth tutorials about Google Chrome and Google Talk planned soon, so keep an eye out.