Your school created a Google account for you.  That includes a student Gmail account for email.  Email messages are electronic letters to can send to your teachers and other students.  Your email address matches your Google login. This is a guide showing how to use Gmail for students.  After learning how to use your Gmail inbox, read about how to write a good email to your teacher. (Email etiquette is an important skill to learn.)

Gmail App Launcher
How to find your Gmail inbox

To get started, log in to your Chromebook or a Chrome browser on a computer.  From you can find Gmail in the App Launcher.  The Gmail icon will open your Gmail inbox.

Navigate your Gmail inbox

Gmail Inbox for Students
Example Gmail Inbox
  • Toggle Menu Button: The toggle menu button looks like three lines next to the Gmail logo.  (This is often called a “hamburger button” in websites.)  This button will show and hide the Main Menu Panel and Compose button.  
  • Compose button: This is how you create a new message.  Clicking this will open the new message window.  
  • Main Menu Panel: Along the left side of the screen are “folders”.  The Inbox is the main folder that contains all the email messages sent to you.  You will find other folders to help organize your email messages.  
  • Labels: You will see labels in the Main Menu Panel and on your email messages.  Labels help organize messages into separate categories.
  • Search Box: Use the search box to find messages.  You can search by sender, subject, or anything written in the message.  The down arrow on the right side of the search box opens the advanced search box. From the advanced search box, you can search by date and other message properties.
  • Side Panel: The side panel shows other applications that are integrated with Google Gmail.  Calendar and Keep are useful applications that can help you save time.
  • Profile: The profile circle shows how you are logged in to Google.  Click on the circle to see your account information.  From the profile, you can update your profile picture and change your password.

Star your important Gmail messages

You can add a Star to tag a message as an important or high priority.  To star a message, click the Star icon on the message.  The star icon will light up to show it is important.  You can find starred messages in the Starred folder in the main panel.

How to remove a star in Gmail

You can unstar a message after you have finished using it.  Click the star icon to remove the starred status.  A moment after removing the star it will leave the starred folder.

Gmail keyboard shortcuts

There are dozens of shortcuts in Gmail.  But, here are a few to help get you started.  They take a few minutes to get used to using.  As a bonus, most of these work in other Google applications such a Google Docs.

Hot KeyDescription
Ctrl + KInsert a link.  Select text in the body of your message.  Then, press CTRL+K to turn the highlighted text into a link to another website.  

This can even be a link to a Google Doc or an assignment in Google Classroom.
Ctrl + EnterSend the message.  Use this hotkey to send the message instead of pressing the send button.
Ctrl + bBold 
Ctrl + iItalics
Ctrl + Shift + 7Numbered list
Ctrl + Shift + 8Bulleted list
Ctrl + [Indent less
Ctrl + ]Indent more
Gmail hotkeys for beginners

How to set up my profile picture

Google Profile Picture

Your default profile picture will be a circle with your first initial.  Click on the circle to open your Account Menu.  Over your profile picture is a small camera icon.  You can use your Chromebook to take a picture.  Also, you can upload a picture from the internet.

How to create an email signature in Gmail

An email signature is a few lines of text that are added to the bottom of the messages you send.  The email signature typically includes your name, email address, and other contact information.  To change your signature, start by clicking the gear icon next to the app launcher.  Then, click the See all settings button.  Scroll near the bottom of the settings to find the Signature settings.  Click the Create new button to add a signature.

You will need to give the signature a name.  For your first signature, I suggest keeping it simple.  Include your name, school name, grade, and email address.  Later you could also include a link to social media profiles or a school appropriate quote.

Example High School Student Email Signature

Billy Smith
School Name
Grade 8

Compose a message in Gmail

Click the Compose button to start a new email message.  Each email needs the following at a bare minimum.

Email PartDescription
“To” AddressThe email address of the person to receive the message.
SubjectThe subject line is important.  This gives the person a preview of the message.  It is considered rude to not include a subject line.