Gmail is a free, non-free, ad-supported email service provided by Google. It can be accessed via the web or through applications that use POP3, IMAP, or Google APIs.

Gmail website
Site Type Electronic mail
Registration Mandatory
Profit Yes
Owner Google LLC
Created by Google LLC
Toss April 1, 2004
Current status Active

It was released on April 1, 2004, and only on July 7, 2009, after more than 5 years of remaining in public beta status, was it made final. It has 15 GB of free space (shared with all other services offered by Google to the user), which can be further increased with paid packages. The main webmail version is made in AJAX, but there is an HTML version that does not require JavaScript.

History of Gmail

The name Gmail appears for the first time in Italy in 2000 on the Sitomito website, created by Gianni Greco, in reference to his stage name “G”.

5th anniversary Gmail logo
Logo celebrating the 5th anniversary

When Google announced Gmail on April 1, 2004, most thought of an April Fool’s joke. In fact, Gmail was equipped with some features, such as 1 GB of available space, which at the time were revolutionary.

From the beginning, registration to the service could only take place by invitation from another user who already used Gmail. At the same time as this form of limited number of registration, many sites and forums had arisen that offered invitations “donated” by users. The service in 2005 saw the invitations expand to 100 per address, instead of the previous 6, and they are constantly renewed so that they always have 50 usable invitations. On April 1, 2005, in view of the first year of Gmail’s life, the mailbox was expanded to 2 GB and continues to grow, according to Gmail, indefinitely. Since 7 February 2007, access to the service has passed from invitation-based operation to the traditional registration system also in Italy, while the American version has allowed it for some time (with a simple request via SMS). The state of Beta testing remained.

During the autumn of 2007, a phase of the renewal of webmail began, in addition to the acceleration of the pace of space increase, the implementation of the possibility of accessing via IMAP and the updating of the AJAX script. On February 24, 2009, the first major worldwide interruption took place. From 12:30 p.m. Pacific Time until approximately 2:30 p.m., all services were disrupted. In the following hours from the official Google blog, in addition to the apology, the reason for the disservice also appeared: a wrong calculation about the resources of the system.

Logo della fase Beta di Gmail
Gmail Beta Logo

In the night, European, between 7 and 8 July 2009 the Gmail service came out of the status of “beta”, after practically 5 years of stay in that condition.

On October 27, 2020, Gmail changed its logo again, adapting it more to the style of other Google applications and Google itself.


Gmail memorization

Gmail was originally launched with 1 GB of storage.

On April 1, 2005, Gmail’s first anniversary, the limit was doubled to 2 GB. Georges Harik, director of product management at Gmail, said Google would “continue to offer more storage to users forever”.

On April 24, 2012, Google announced the increase of free Gmail storage from 7.5 GB to 10 GB (“increasing”) as part of the launch of Google Drive.

On May 13, 2013, Google announced the general merger of storage between Gmail, Google Drive and Google+ Photos, offering users 15 GB of free storage across the three services.

Users can purchase additional storage, shared between Gmail, Google Drive, and Google+ Photos, with a monthly subscription plan. Since 2015, storage up to 15 GB is free, while paid plans are available with up to 30 TB of space for personal use.

Gmail Mobile

Gmail mobile is available in more than 40 languages. This is a free service designed to provide access to Gmail from mobile devices. Gmail Mobile offers many of the features of Gmail effectively on smaller mobile screens.

On September 22, 2009, Google added push support to Gmail using Google Sync for iPhone and iPod touch platforms.

Social network integration

On February 9, 2010, Google launched a new social networking tool, Google Buzz, which integrated with Gmail allowing users to share links and media content, as well as status updates. Buzz was launched with an automatic membership causing an outcry in the Gmail community, leading Google to quickly undo the initial move. Buzz was discontinued in December 2011 in favor of Google+.

Starting in January 2014, Gmail allows users to send emails to users who have Google+ accounts, even if they don’t have each other’s email addresses.

Gmail Search

Gmail has a built-in search bar for searching emails. The search bar also lets you search through contacts, files stored in Google Drive, events from Google Calendar, and Google Sites. It also allows you to search the web using Google Search. On May 21, 2012, Gmail enhanced search functionality with the use of autocomplete predictions, leveraging users’ emails. As with web search, Gmail’s search functionality does not allow searching for word fragments (also known as ‘substring search’), although it does allow stemming on partial strings (for example, searching for ‘month’ will return an email that includes the word ‘months’).

Research and organization

  • Gmail allows you to search through emails using the “search mail” button and allows you to perform very accurate searches.
  • The “contains attachment” operator displays the list of emails with an attachment.
  • The “Filename: pdf” or “File: doc name” operator displays messages with an attachment of the specified type.
  • “sent:” for messages sent.
  • There is also the “language: English” operator, which allows you to view messages in the specified language.
  • See Google: Help Center for the full list of carriers.
  • Gmail doesn’t allow you to display the size in bytes of messages and sort them by this parameter.
  • Gmail allows you to organize messages with various tools.
  • Thanks to the management by conversations (threads): a message and subsequent replies (recognized by the title of the message itself) are grouped.
  • Messages can be organized by labels.
  • It allows the setting of filters to automatically organize incoming messages, applying labels and sorting them to other addresses automatically.
  • You can also mark a message as “Special” (giving it more visibility).
  • The “confidential mode” feature is intended to protect messages from unauthorized sharing by the recipient and you can set an expiration date for the message or restrict access to it.


Gmail uses AJAX (specifically the AjaXSLT framework), uses advanced browser features via JavaScript, and uses shortcuts via predefined keys.

There is a completely HTML version, without the advantages of JavaScript, but it is slower than the AJAX version.


Gmail automatically saves a contact’s details when an email is sent to an unknown recipient. If the user changes, adds, or removes information in an e-mail message such as name, the address book is automatically updated when composing a message, unless the user is using the basic HTML version. When a user starts typing in the To, CC, or BCC fields, a list appears with their contacts, their name and primary e-mail address. More information, including alternate email addresses, can be added to the Contact page. These contacts can also be added to a group, which makes it easier to send emails to a group of recipients. An image can be added to the contacts, which will appear whenever the mouse is placed over the contact’s name.

Contacts can be imported from Outlook, Eudora, Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, orkut and any other contact list that can be exported as a CSV file. Gmail also allows you to export contacts in CSV format.

Composition of Gmail

A year after the launch of Gmail, the Rich text format was introduced, which allows you to define font size, color and alignment, as well as to insert numbered or bulleted lists.

Also there is an autosave function, a system to avoid data loss in case of browser crashes or other errors. When composing a message, a copy of the message and attachments is automatically saved. Messages are saved once a minute, but the time may vary depending on the size of the message.

Gmail encourages top-posting by hovering over the text mentioned in replies. If the messages you receive respect this structure, Gmail displays them showing only the text you added and placing them chronologically.


For a period of time, Gmail used an unencrypted connection to retrieve user data, encrypting only the connection used for the sign-in page. However, by replacing the URL with, users were able to force Gmail to use a secure connection, reducing the risk of interception of user information, such as emails and contacts, which are transmitted in plain text form as JavaScript data in the page’s source code. Starting in July 2008, it was possible to configure Gmail to access only via HTTPS through the settings, avoiding any insecure access via HTTP. Access with POP3 and IMAP uses Transport Layer Security or TLS technology. Gmail currently uses a secure HTTPS connection by default.

Although email clients such as Mozilla Thunderbird use TLS technology when sending emails, the same technology is not used when email is sent from Gmail’s servers to email exchangers in the recipient domain, unless supported, so in some steps, the user’s email message can still be transmitted in plaintext form in clear text.

On March 20, 2014, Google announced the implementation of a general security enhancement to Gmail in response to Edward Snowden’s 2013 privacy revelations. An encrypted HTTPS connection will be used to send and receive all Gmail emails, and “every single email sent or received, 100% of messages, is encrypted during internal transfer” through corporate systems.

Around 2007, Gmail had major security issues that allowed the complete compromise of an account through cross-site scripting vulnerabilities affecting the homepage or the dissemination of information through a file stored on Google’s server that included all of the email contacts of the currently logged in user. The vulnerability was quickly resolved after initial disclosure on the Internet.

Gmail offers spam filters: the system automatically deletes messages marked as spam after 30 days. For those who want to restore deleted messages, ask the Gmail support team for help. Users can disable spam filtering by creating a rule to circumvent spam filtering for all messages. POP3 users can only manually check the Spam folder via the web interface, since only emails sent to the Inbox, a technical limit of POP3, can be retrieved via POP3. In 2008, about 75% of emails sent to Gmail accounts were filtered as spam.

The IP addresses of Gmail users who use the web interface are masked in order to protect their security, an early decision by Paul Buchheit.

Gmail automatically scans all incoming and outgoing emails for viruses in attachments. If a virus is found in an attachment that the reader is trying to open, Gmail will try to remove that virus and open the cleaned attachment. Gmail also scans all outgoing attachments and will prevent the message from being sent if a virus has been found. Gmail doesn’t allow users to send or receive executable files or archives that contain executable files.

On June 5, 2012, a new feature was introduced to protect users from state-sponsored attacks. Whenever Google’s analysis indicates that a government has attempted to compromise an account, Gmail will display a notification with the message “Warning: State-sponsored attacks are believed to be attempting to compromise your account or computer”.

Google may terminate a Gmail account after nine months of inactivity (as of 2008). Other webmail services have different, often shorter, times to indicate an account as inactive. Yahoo! Mail deactivates unused accounts after twelve months.

Two-step verification

Gmail supports two-step verification, a type of two-factor authentication. After enabling this option, users are prompted to verify their identity using a second method after entering their username and password when logging on with a new computer. Usually, users enter a 6-character code sent to their phones via text message or voice call. Users can also configure a compatible mobile application, such as Google Authenticator, to generate code, even without cellular service.

On October 21, 2014, Google announced the integration of the Universal Second Factor (U2F) into the Chrome browser, which allowed the use of a physical security key for two-step verification. Users can choose the U2F security key as their primary two-step verification method, rather than relying on verification codes sent via SMS or generated on their phones. Compared to 6-character codes, the security key offers better protection against phishing and eliminates the need for a mobile device.

24-hour block

If an algorithm detects what Google calls “abnormal usage, a symptom that your account may have been compromised,” your account can be automatically blocked from 1 minute to 24 hours, depending on the type of activity detected. A listed reason for a block may include:

  • “Receiving, deleting, or downloading large amounts of messages via POP or IMAP in a short period of time. If you receive the error message ‘Block in sector 4’, you should be able to access the email again after 24 hours”.
  • “Sending a large amount of undeliverable messages (messages that are sent back to the sender)”.
  • “Use of file sharing or storage software, browser extensions, or third-party software that automatically signs in to your account”.
  • “Several open instances of Gmail”.
  • “Browser issues. If your browser is constantly loading when trying to access your mailbox, the problem may be with your browser. Therefore it may be necessary to clear its cache and cookies.”

Child pornography on Gmail

Google fights child pornography by using Gmail’s servers in conjunction with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) to find abused children around the world. In collaboration with NCMEC, Google creates a database of child pornography images. Each image is assigned a unique numeric value known as a hash. Google then scans Gmail for unique hashes. If suspicious images are found, Google reports it to the authorities.


Gmail supports addresses with the “+” symbol. Messages can be sent to an address in the format, where text can be any string and arrive at the address. This allows users to register with aliases other than services and easily filter messages. However, many services do not support addresses with the “+” symbol.

Unlike other providers like Yahoo and Hotmail, Gmail servers omit the sender’s IP address from the email header. In this way, the geographical location of the sender is difficult. Many email clients (Outlook and web, Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail) offer an option to view the sender’s IP address, which is the last in the list of “received from” entries. Each server, through which an email passes, adds a “received from” value, where the first of these is the Gmail server.

Gmail allows users to add emails from other accounts to use as the sender of outgoing messages. A verification system is run to verify that the user owns the address before it is added. With the same system, an address with the “+” mentioned above can be added. Added addresses can be set as default. When using this function, the address appears in the “From:” field, the Gmail account is easily viewable, in fact, it is added to the “Sender:” field.

Normally the answers are addressed to the address indicated in the “From:” field, but it is possible that some software displays the “Sender:” address and sends the answers to the latter. Since July 30, 2009, following numerous user requests, it is also possible to set up SMTP servers for additional addresses; in this way, the emails are actually sent from the servers of the other accounts and in the source of the email there is no trace of the Gmail address.

You can set a “Reply-to:” for each address.

Gmail doesn’t recognize username points, and ignores them For this reason, the account also receives emails sent to,, etc. This feature can also be used to filter incoming messages. When accessing the account you must use the username indicated at registration without adding or subtracting points. This feature does not apply to Google Apps Gmail accounts.

The addresses of the “” domain also work, so the account also receives emails sent to the address.

Mail fetcher

Gmail also has a feature called Mail fetcher, which allows users to add 5 POP3 accounts from which Gmail will automatically download emails. The configuration is relatively simple and offers many options. IMAP accounts are not currently supported.

Integration of other products

Google Talk, is an instant messaging service, is accessible through a Web interface integrated into Gmail, but also through software that also allows voice calls. There are other web versions, such as the one that integrates with the browser sidebar. Messages are saved to the Gmail account in the “Chats” folder, and messages sent to offline users and audio messages are sent via email.

Other services integrated with Gmail are:

  • Google Calendar: When you receive an email with a date, Gmail offers to add the event.
  • Google Docs: When you receive emails with compatible attachments, you are offered to open them through the service without having to download them.
  • Picasa Web Albums: Images can be sent directly through a Gmail account.
  • Google Reader: You can send posts directly through a Gmail account.
  • Google Talk: you can chat with other users who have logged in to the Google chat service (from an Android terminal, from Google+ ..)
  • Google+ Circles: List of circles created on Google+, where conversations can be viewed (service ended April 2, 2019).
  • Android Address Book Sync: Gmail contacts are imported to an Android device associated with that account.

Speech recognition of Gmail

Gmail natively supports speech recognition, which can be activated by the microphone icon that appears at the bottom of the mobile display when you start typing text.


Gmail works on any computer with one of the following browsers: Internet Explorer 5.5+, Google Chrome, Mozilla Application Suite 1.4+, Firefox 0.8+, Safari 1.2.1+, K-Meleon 0.9+, Netscape 7.1+, and Opera 9+. Gmail also works with AOL 9.0, but there are issues with newer versions of the browser. Although not officially, Konqueror also works if it identifies itself as Firefox 1.5+.

Internet Explorer 7 or Firefox 2.0 is required to get the advanced features of the latest version. The new version allows you to chat on AIM, have colored labels, chat in groups and similar functions.

In some cases, you may need to use the English-language interface to access the latest news.

The “HTML” version allows access to users with: Internet Explorer 4.0+, Netscape 4.07+, Opera 6.03+ and users with JavaScript disabled.

Gmail is also available in Java for mobile phones and in a version accessible via WAP.

It also works with PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS but not officially.

There are also applications for Symbian, Android and iOS systems, published by Google itself, for managing mail via smartphone.

Gmail is also accessible via POP3/SMTP and IMAP clients.

Supported languages

Gmail is available in 40 languages, the US English version allows for more advanced features.

Available languages are: Arabic, Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, Simplified Chinese, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog, Thai, Traditional Chinese, Turkish, British English, American English, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.

Google Apps and corporate branding

On February 10, 2006, Google unveiled “Gmail For Your Domain”. All companies that participated in the beta tests had the option to use Gmail with their own domains. Since then, Google has developed Google Apps, which includes customizable versions of Google Calendar, Google Page Creator, and more. The range of editions available makes it a product for large and small companies.

Google Apps Partner Edition, a service for ISPs (Internet service providers) and portals, provides customizable Gmail accounts based on your corporate brand, as well as other Google services (such as Calendar and Docs).

Gmail themes

As of November 19, 2008, Gmail supports the use of themes. There are currently 31 themes, ranging from natural colors to themes with drawings, images and backgrounds. You can also create custom themes of various colors or set pre-existing ones on your location (whether they are cities or small villages).


Google has developed a number of applications to increase the potential of Gmail:

  • Gmail Notifier: which automatically checks for new emails and sets Gmail as an email client, intercepting “mailto:” links (no longer supported).
  • Google Hangout (formerly Google Talk): in addition to checking for the arrival of new mail, it is an instant messaging and video conferencing client.
  • Java scripts for mobile phones: allows you to have better access to Gmail than access via WAP.


Gmail runs on Google GFE/1.3 servers, running Linux.



  • Huge worldwide diffusion of the domain
  • Many mail clients have the configuration of a new account that presents GMail as a service, making it easier to perform the procedure
  • Send and receive attachments up to 25 MB
  • Available storage space
  • Arrangement of “discussion” emails
  • Absence of pop-ups and limited intrusiveness of the few text-only advertising messages (which appear in a column on the right of the messages)
  • Limited use of images (also absent in advertising messages) which makes the interface lighter to load
  • Ability to change the default theme and set it to your city or town


  • The account can be blocked for various reasons such as “unusual activity” or by entering a date of birth that proves that you are under 13 years of age. Reactivation is possible via web or fax, providing copies of valid documents or through a credit card payment of 30 cents. Free methods require human interaction and can take up to a couple of weeks to complete, making credit card payments the only real-time reactivation method. The holder must be a natural person and, if the account is linked to an association or a website, this can never be replaced:
  • Draft messages. If you accidentally delete messages stored in the drafts folder, they are permanently lost because they do not go to the trash. Remedies: use add-ons available on the net, self-send draft messages, use an email client
  • Spam blocker. If a message has been labeled spam by the system, it is not possible to reactivate any active content (e.g. images, hyperlinks) if the user knowingly needs it. The block also remains when you move the message to Inbox. Remedies: Unblock the message in an email client
  • Autosave addresses not in address books. When you send a message to an address not present in the address book, this is automatically stored and proposed, as a suggested contact, also in other Google apps. The problem is that the user has no control over the feature in the sense that you cannot disable it, delete these contacts, etc. Remedy: you could manually enter the contact in the address book but, once you delete it, it would reappear as proposed. Drastic Solution: Delete the Sent Message.

Gmail Privacy Policy

Google’s policies regarding data processing have raised many concerns, partly overcome by subsequent improvements by the US company.

There is the possibility that deleting messages from your Gmail box does not entail the simultaneous physical deletion of these messages from the server: “deleted” messages are no longer visible to the user and in the information pages on the service, but Google is committed to strive to remove the related information from its systems “in a realistic time frame” and “within a maximum of 60 days”.


Gmail was ranked second on PC World magazine’s “100 Best Products of 2005, behind Mozilla Firefox.

Gmail also received an “Honorable Mention” from the “Bottom Line Design Awards 2005“.

Trademark disputes


On July 4, 2005, Google announced that Gmail Deutschland would be renamed to Google Mail. By locating the visitor’s IP address, if it is determined that the user is connecting from Germany and is redirected to the domain, users will thus have an address with this domain. German users who want an address need to use a proxy. Users registered before the change continue to have access to the old address.

The trademark dispute in Germany is between Google and Daniel Giersch. Daniel Giersch owns a company called “G-Mail” that provides email printing services, which are sent by regular mail to customers. On 30 January 2007, the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market agreed with Giersch.

On April 1, 2007, Google mocked G-Mail by announcing the introduction of a service called “Gmail Paper”, which would allow a paper copy of your emails to be printed and delivered via an icon in Gmail.

Since June 19, 2008, the URL is no longer diverted to the Google Mail service for those who have a German IP, instead a short explanation message is displayed.


In February 2007, Google filed a lawsuit against the owners of, a group of poets known as Grupa Młodych Artystów i Literatów (literally, “Group of Young Artists and Writers”).

United Kingdom

On October 19, 2005, the UK version of Gmail was also ported to Google Mail, because “Gmail” is already a trademark of another company. As with the German version, the domain is used, but with some tricks it is possible to have a address.

On May 4, 2010, Google announced that the service would revert to being called Gmail in the UK and using addresses.

Mainland China

An IT company called provides addresses with this domain in mainland China.

Russian Federation

A free webmail service called owns the trademark “GMail” in Russia. was created on January 27, 2003.

References (sources)