Power User: Make the most of Google's operators

John McCormick

Nothing has shaken up the leading online portals as much as Google.com's offer of free, gigabyte-size e-mail accounts with simple archiving and searching through messages.

I've been using the Gmail beta for a few weeks and so far am impressed, with a few caveats. It takes quite a while to load the start page over slower connections.

Unlike privacy advocates, I don't object to Google scanning the content of my messages and displaying advertising based on it.

I never considered any free e-mail account even slightly secure.

You certainly have little or no guarantee of privacy on your agency's messaging system. E-mail just isn't secure unless encrypted, and perhaps not even then. It's worth repeating: Before you put anything into an e-mail message, imagine how it would look on the front page of GCN.

Gmail's primary advantage, of course, is the excellent search feature. I expect it to become a wonderful tool as my archive grows.

I receive hundreds of e-mails a day in about 10 mailboxes, and I must stay on top of it because even paid accounts keep filling up.

If you get that much volume, imagine the great feeling when you see this bottom line on the Gmail page: 'You are currently using 0% of your 1,000M.'

Incidentally, a couple of underused Google operators can be a big help in your searches.
Ever wonder how many other sites are linking to your agency site? Type 'link:www.youragency.gov.'

Need a little help finding just the keywords in a large Web page or document? Try 'John McCormick is a free-lance writer and computer consultant. E-mail him at powerusr@yahoo.com.

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