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Working with Gmail Contact Groups

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Since the 2006 release of Google Gmail: Visual QuickStart Guide, new features have been added to the popular browser-based email client. In this addendum to the book, author Steve Schwartz explains how to create, use, and manage contact groups.
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Like most current email clients, Gmail now supports groups (also called contact groups). If you regularly send email to a particular set of people, you can save time by defining those contacts as a group. Then, each time you want to send email to that set of people, you can address the message to the group, rather than laboriously specifying the individual addresses.

A group is most useful when its membership is relatively static—or, at least, the membership doesn't change dramatically from one mailing to the next. Following are some examples of possible groups:

  • Employees of a department
  • Department heads or supervisors
  • Board members
  • Members of a study group
  • Bowling team or league members

Creating Groups

To help you get started, Gmail provides three predefined groups: Friends, Family, and Coworkers. If you find these groups useful, you can add contacts to them. And if you need other special-purpose groups, you can define your own.

There are two ways to create a group:

  • Name a new, empty group and then add contacts to it later.
  • Define a new group based on selected contacts (similar to creating an iTunes playlist from selected songs). This approach allows you to create and populate the group with the appropriate members simultaneously.

To create a new, empty group, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Contacts link on the left side of the Gmail window.
  2. Click the New Group toolbar icon (see Figure 1) at the top of the Contact Manager.
  3. Figure 1 Click the New Group icon.

  4. In the dialog box that appears (see Figure 2), name the group and click OK.
  5. The group name is added as a new group.

    Figure 2 Name the new group.

  6. At your leisure, specify the group membership, as explained in the section "Adding Contacts to a Group."

To create a group from selected contacts, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Contacts link on the left side of the Gmail window.
  2. Display the contact records from which you want to select group members (see Figure 3), using any of the following methods:
    • Click My Contacts or All Contacts to display your entire contact list.
    • Click Most Contacted to display the persons with whom you regularly correspond or chat.
    • Type a search term in the Search contacts box, such as a last name or part of an email domain name (examples: apple, peachpit, aol).

    Figure 3 Display the contact records from which you want to select group members.

  3. Click checkboxes to select group members (see Figure 4).
  4. Figure 4 Select group members by clicking their checkboxes.

  5. Click the Groups toolbar icon and choose New group from the drop-down menu (see Figure 5).
  6. Figure 5 Choose New group from the Groups drop-down menu.

  7. In the dialog box that appears (see Figure 6), name the new group and click OK.
  8. The populated group is added as a new group. If you need to add more contacts to the group, see the instructions in the next section.

Figure 6 Type a name for your new group.

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