Google's webmail service, Gmail, is powerful and flexible, but not everybody's using it to its full advantage. You can beef it up by applying these 14 tips and tools to customise and extend it.
Use remote servers to send mail
When you have Gmail checking mail from remote servers, you can also configure Gmail to send mail using your email address on that remote server. Configure that by going to Settings, then Accounts and Send mail as.
If you do that, it'll be obvious to the recipient on some email systems, with a glance at the 'From' address, that the message came from Gmail and not the remote server - it will say something like ' on behalf of ' or ' (sent by )'. In other cases, your recipient will be able to see your Gmail address by examining the e-ail headers.
To solve that problem, you can configure Gmail to use the remote address's SMTP server to send the email. Get the remote SMTP address when you get the POP3 address, and configure both at the same time.
Warning: As with the previous tip, don't attempt to use your employer's SMTP server without getting permission first. Many IT administrators will have blocked this option for an enterprise system.
In Gmail, go to Settings, then Accounts and 'Send mail as'. If you're setting up a new 'Send mail as' address, click 'Send mail from another address' or 'Add another email address you own', depending on which version of Gmail you're using. If you're editing an existing address, locate that address in the list and then click "Edit info." Either way, once you've gotten started on the configuration, just follow the instructions in the wizard to finish.
Aggregate mail for multiple domains
With Google Apps, you can aggregate email from multiple domains. This is better than fetching it remotely; it's faster because incoming email goes directly to your Google Apps account. Also, you don't have to mess with SMTP settings. To configure, go to Settings, then Manage this domain, followed by Domain settings, then Domain names, and follow the instructions to add a domain.
This is handy for companies that do business under multiple domains; people from different business units can have their own branded e-mail addresses and have it all go to the same Google Apps account.
Get new goodies faster on Google Apps - if you dare
Google rolls out new and experimental Gmail features to individual Gmail users first, holding them back from Google Apps customers until later. Adventurous Google Apps administrators can get new features faster by digging into the Control Panel. Select Manage this domain, Domain settings and then General, followed by New services and pre-release features. Check 'Automatically add new services when they become available', and also check 'Enable pre-release features', Also, under 'Control Panel' select 'Next generation (US English only)'.
Warning: These settings are deliberately buried to make sure users know they're getting access to experimental features. If you're not willing to run the risk of your email getting wonky, just leave the default settings alone, and you'll get new Gmail features after they've been tested by other people. It's safer that way. On the other hand, I've had these settings activated for a long time and have never had a problem.
See also: 9 essential tips for every Gmail user