Introduction to Outlook 2007 - Getting a Gmail Account

If you want to use Outlook 2007 as an email program, and you're not connected to a corporate Microsoft Exchange server, you'll need to connect Outlook to a Web-based email account. Lots of big companies, like Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Google offer free web-based email accounts, as do hundreds of smaller companies. But not all free accounts are suitable for use with Outlook. The top choice for most people is to connect Outlook to a free Gmail account from Google. Once you have Gmail, it only takes a few minutes to configure the Gmail Outlook connection. This allows you to use Outlook to read messages sent to your Gmail account. It also allows you to send messages from Outlook that use your Gmail address.

Why use Gmail? Well, there are lots of other free email accounts out there, like Yahoo! Mail & Hotmail. But connecting them to Outlook for free is the rub. Some Web-based email accounts are set up so you can view them using your Web browser, but they don't allow you to connect to them with programs like Outlook. Other email accounts (Yahoo! Mail & Hotmail, for example) allow you to connect them to Outlook, but they charge you a fee for the privilege. With those services, the free versions of the email account need to be upgraded to a paying version to enable the connection. There's only a small number of Web-based email accounts that allow you to connect Outlook for free. Google's Gmail is the biggest and best-known of this elite group.

With Gmail, you get a massive amount of space (measured in Gb) of mail storage right on Google's servers. Gmail also provides powerful search capabilities when you search your mail through the web interface (basically doing a Google search on your own email). Google supports the Gmail service with advertising, but you only see the ads when you use your Gmail account with your web browser, not when you use Outlook 2007. Gmail is definitely the free email service of choice for connecting to Outlook.

The directions for making the Gmail Outlook connection are moderately difficult, but in my experience, most people can make the connection on their own or with a little help. The instructions are posted on the Gmail site if you want to try it yourself.

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