How to Sign Up for a Gmail Account - dummies

By Marsha Collier

Gmail is the free e-mail service from Google. Having a Gmail account is not only cool, but it’s very convenient. You might prefer to give out this anonymous e-mail address to online sites for privacy reasons. It’s just an extra (and free) convenience.

Gmail has great features and is easy to use. So start here to set up a Gmail account:

  1. Open your web browser and go to Google:

    You’ll see a page that looks like the one shown. Read the information on the page and then click the New Features link near the center of the screen. Should there be any updates you need to know about, the latest news will be on this page.

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  2. In the upper-right part of your screen, see the box that reads: Create an Account? Yep, that’s the one; click the Create an Account button and get ready for the magic to happen.

    By getting your own Gmail account, you get access to Google’s world of cloud web tools, such as Google calendar (an interactive online calendar you can share with your family), free Blogger blogs, YouTube and Google Docs (a suite of free online programs very similar to Microsoft Office).

  3. The resulting Create your Google Account page is where you type in your information:

    • Your name. First and Last.

    • Desired Login Name. Fill in what you want to become your local address and name at the Gmail domain.

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      After you type in your desired name, Gmail automatically lets you know if the name is available. If it isn’t, Google will make suggestions that you probably won’t like. Put on your thinking cap and come up with a good login name. This name will be with you for a long time; there’s no changing it later.

    • Choose a Password. Refer to the preceding section and type your password in the box; make sure it’s at least eight characters. You’ll notice (as you’re typing) that Google tells you whether your selected password is Weak or Strong. Go Strong! Also, type in your password again — carefully! — to confirm it where prompted.

    • Birthday. Google wants your birth date. Use the drop-down menu to select your birth month and fill in the date and year.

      It’s okay to fib about your age, but be sure you remember the date you give Google. Should you ever forget your password, or if your account gets messed up in some way, you’re going to have to supply this information. If you can’t remember it, you’re out of luck.

    • Gender. Male or female? Google also provides an Other option for all the others in the world.

    • Mobile Phone. Adding your mobile phone number here puts it on record with Google and offers the opportunity for them to send security notices or password-reset instructions to your phone if they’re ever needed.

    • Your current e-mail address. Type in your ISP e-mail address so that Google can send you an e-mail message to authenticate you.

    • Word verification. You’ll see a bunch of semi-legible letters in a box. (They’re called Captcha codes.) Try to read them — and if you can make them out, type them in as prompted. If you’re wrong, the page refreshes and you get a new set of letters. If it causes you problems, you can skip this form of verification. Google will then text your mobile phone a code to enter on the site.

    • Location. In this box, the United States is filled in by default. If that’s where you are, fine. If not, type in your country.

      Never use your mother’s maiden name as a security question on the web. That information should be between you and your bank.

    • Terms of Service. Here Google outlines its Terms of Service (TOS). Any website you sign up with has such terms. Read the TOS and print them if you’d like, but if you don’t agree to them, you can’t have a Gmail account.

    • Personalization Option. You may see a box asking if Google can use your account to personalize content and ads on other sites. Check this option if you want Google to scan your e-mail box to identify things that might interest you and deliver ads that match those interests. Deselect if you’d prefer that they keep out of your business.

  4. Click the Next Step button.

    The next page requires you to select some security questions and allows you to add a photo to your account. Follow the instructions to upload a pic if you want that extra level of personalization. If you’re fine being an anonymous blue silhouette, click Next Step again. You’re given the option to Continue on to Gmail and your new e-mail account.