Using Gmail as a Notebook

Gmail is a great email reader that has been used by millions of people. Among all the software released by Google, few titles have reached so wide adoption.

The nice thing about Gmail is that it is so easy to use. So much so that it ends up being employed for more than it was originally designed.

For example, I know people that use Gmail as a to-do list. They simply send messages to themselves with a notice of something that needs to be done. Then, the message can be moved either to a special folder or left in the inbox, as a reminder of what needs to be done.

Some others use Gmail as a file repository. You can use up to seven GB of space in a Gmail account (the free ones, but you can always buy more space if you want). Thus, you can just send yourself files that you want to store, and move them into a particular folder.

Simple Notebook

Another use case that I have experimented with in the last few months is creating notes as message drafts. The idea is simple but effective. Gmail creates a draft message that is saved in regular intervals. You can also save the message manually if you want, using the save button in the top bar.

If you leave gmail before a message is completed, the content will be saved under the “drafts” label, so you can retrieve it later as needed.

When I want to create a note that can be edited later, I just write it as a new message. To avoid sending the note to a wrong address, you should remember not to add any destination on the “to” field.

Without a destination address, Gmail will never be able to send the message. This way, you can modify the content of the draft, and save it as if it were an independent file.

The only possible problem you might have with this scheme is that, if you delete the content of the message you’re working on, it cannot be retrieved later — there is no “deleted drafts” tag in Gmail.

A possible solution to avoid accidental deletion is to send the file to yourself regularly, effectively creating a copy of the file that will be stored indefinitely.

Other Links

Quick explanation of How to use Gmail as a file server

An ad-on for Firefox that can be used to transfer files to Gmail

A blog post about turning Gmail into a storage tool

Another blog post on using Gmail as storage

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About the Author

Carlos Oliveira holds a PhD in Systems Engineering and Optimization from University of Florida. He works as a software engineer, with more than 10 years of experience in developing high performance, commercial and scientific applications in C++, Java, and Objective-C. His most Recent Book is Practical C++ Financial Programming.

One Response to “Using Gmail as a Notebook”

  1. I want a draft release for gmail

    By trevor on Apr 30, 2012

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