On April 1, 2004, Gmail was launched with 1 gigabytes of storage space,a significantly higher number than the 2 megabytes of storage that Hotmail offered at the time.
On April 1, 2005, the first anniversary of Gmail, the limit was doubled to 2 gigabytes of storage. Georges Harik, the product management director for Gmail, stated that Google would “keep giving people more space forever.”
On April 24, 2012, Google announced the increase of free storage in Gmail from 7.5 to 10 gigabytes (“and counting”) as part of the launch of Google Drive.
On May 13, 2013, Google announced the overall merge of storage across Gmail, Google Drive, and Google+ Photos, allowing users 15 gigabytes of free storage among the three services.
Users can buy additional storage, shared among Gmail, Google Drive and Google Photos, through a monthly subscription plan. As of 2017, storage of up to 15 gigabytes is free, and paid plans are available for up to 30 terabytes for personal use.
There are also storage limits to individual Gmail messages. One message, including all attachments, cannot be larger than 25 megabytes. This was changed in March 2017, to allow receiving of email up to 50 megabytes, with the limit for sending email staying at 25 megabytes.In order to send larger files, users can insert files from Google Drive into the message.
Main article: Gmail interface
The Gmail user interface initially differed from other webmail systems with its focus on search and conversation threading of emails, grouping several messages between two or more people onto a single page, an approach that was later copied by its competitors. Gmail’s user interface designer, Kevin Fox, intended users to feel as if they were always on one page and just changing things on that page, rather than having to navigate to other places.
Gmail’s interface also makes use of ‘labels’ (tags) – that replace the conventional folders and provide a more flexible method of organizing email; filters for automatically organizing, deleting or forwarding incoming emails to other addresses; and importance markers for automatically marking messages as ‘important’.
In May 2013, Google updated the Gmail inbox with tabs which allow the application to categorize the user’s emails. The five tabs are: Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates, and Forums. In addition to customization options, the entire update can be disabled, allowing users to return to the traditional inbox structure.
In November 2011, Google began rolling out a redesign of its interface that “simplified” the look of Gmail into a more minimalist design to provide a more consistent look throughout its products and services as part of an overall Google design change. Major redesigned elements included a streamlined conversation view, configurable density of information, new higher-quality themes, a resizable navigation bar with always-visible labels and contacts, and better search.Users were able to preview the new interface design for months prior to the official release, as well as revert to the old interface, until March 2012, when Google discontinued the ability to revert and completed the transition to the new design for all users.
Gmail’s spam filtering features a community-driven system: when any user marks an email as spam, this provides information to help the system identify similar future messages for all Gmail users.
The Gmail Labs feature, introduced on June 5, 2008, allows users to test new or experimental features of Gmail. Users can enable or disable Labs features selectively and provide feedback about each of them. This allows Gmail engineers to obtain user input about new features to improve them and also to assess their popularity.
Popular features, like the “Undo Send” option, often “graduate” from Gmail Labs to become a formal setting in Gmail.
All Labs features are experimental and are subject to termination at any time.
Gmail incorporates a search bar for searching emails. The search bar can also search contacts, files stored in Google Drive, events from Google Calendar, and Google Sites.
In May 2012, Gmail improved the search functionality to include auto-complete predictions from the user’s emails.
Gmail’s search functionality does not support searching for word fragments (also known as ‘substring search’ or partial word search). Workarounds exist.
In August 2011, Google introduced Gmail Offline, an HTML5-powered app for providing access to the service while offline. Gmail Offline runs on the Google Chrome browser and can be downloaded from the Chrome Web Store.
Google Voice in Gmail chat
Main article: Google Voice
In August 2010, Google released a plugin that provides integrated telephone service within Gmail’s Google Chat interface. The feature initially lacked an official name, with Google referring to it as both “Google Voice in Gmail chat” and “Call Phones in Gmail”.The service logged over one million calls in 24 hours.
In March 2014, Google Voice was discontinued, and replaced with functionality from Google Hangouts, another communication platform from Google.
Gmail supports multiple languages, including the Japanese interface shown here
As of March 2015, the Gmail interface supports 72 languages, including: Arabic, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English (UK), English (US), Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Kannada, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malay, Malayalam, Marathi, Norwegian (Bokmål), Odia, Polish, Punjabi, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Sinhala, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog (Filipino), Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese, Welsh and Zulu.
Language input styles
In October 2012, Google added over 100 virtual keyboards, transliterations, and input method editors to Gmail, enabling users different types of input styles for different languages in an effort to help users write in languages that aren’t “limited by the language of your keyboard.”
In October 2013, Google added handwriting input support to Gmail.
In August 2014, Gmail became the first major email provider to let users send and receive email from addresses with accent marks and letters from outside the Latin alphabet.
Money transfer and payment options
In May 2013, Google announced the integration between Google Wallet and Gmail, which would allow Gmail users to send money as email attachments. Although the sender must use a Gmail account, the recipient does not need to be using a Gmail address. The feature has no transaction fees, but there are limits to amount of money that can be sent.Initially only available on the web, the feature was expanded to the Android app in March 2017, for people living in the United States.