By Team Digit Published Date
01 - Aug - 2005
| Last Updated
01 - Aug - 2005
In Netscape, Mozilla and Firefox, if you close the Gmail tab, not the window, you're still signed in. Anybody can open a new tab and go to Gmail and automatically get logged into your account. It's therefore a good habit to sign out from a Gmail session by clicking the 'Sign out' link on the top right corner.

Compose In A New Window
Pressing [Shift] brings up a new window for composing. This is assuming your pop-up blocker is off. For example, when you press [Shift] and click on 'Compose Mail', a new window pops up for composition. You can also use [Shift] in conjunction with 'Reply', 'Reply All', and 'Forward'.

A Secure Gmail Session
Gmail lets you have a secure HTTPS session via Use this link if you're paranoid about security!

Return To The Inbox
To return to the inbox, you can, of course, click on the 'Inbox' link on the left-hand side, or if you're in conversation view, click on the 'Back to Inbox' link above the conversation.

There is a green 'Inbox' label text next to the subject. You can also click the Gmail logo, a much larger target, to go back to the inbox. Clicking on the logo, the 'Inbox' link, or the 'Refresh' link will refresh the 'Inbox' with the latest messages received.

Selecting A Sub-Conversation
Have you ever had a long, multi-person conversation, and you wanted to concentrate on a particular sub-conversation with one person?

Let's say you e-mailed three of your friends, Aditya, Bob, and Renuka, with the subject "Going okay?" and asked them all "How's it going with you?".

They all replied back and now you've gotten into three separate sub-conversations, all within the same Gmail conversation. There is an easy way to concentrate on your sub-conversation with, say, Aditya. Simply do the following search (without the square brackets):
[ subject:"going okay" (from:aditya OR to:aditya) ]

Then when you click on the conversation, it will open up with only the matching messages expanded.

The "to:" operator finds stuff in the to/cc/bcc fields. If you also cc-ed or bcc-ed Aditya in other messages that you don't want to match the search (e.g. in your messages to Bob and Renuka), then do the search:
[ subject:"going okay" (from:aditya OR (to:aditya -cc:aditya -bcc:aditya)) ]

The "-cc:aditya" and "-bcc:aditya" terms eliminate the possibility of matching on messages cc-ed or bcc-ed to Aditya.

Sending Shortcuts
Send mail to fellow Gmailers by entering the username in the 'To', 'Cc', or 'Bcc' area. There's no need to include ''!

If your e-mail address is, and now you wish you didn't have the period, you're in luck. For some reason, Gmail treats that e-mail address the same as one without a period (and vice-versa), so firstnamelastname works just as well as firstname.lastname Gmail is flexible with regards to capitalisations, too!

Searching For Names
In Gmail, "or" is not the same as "OR". Only the capitalised version (sans quotes) will work with searches. Also, the actual search terms are not case-sensitive. "adi" works just as good as "Adi". Using the same example, it's important to realise that the search engine of Gmail does not search partial words. So "adi" will not find "Aditya".

Performing Actions On A Group Of E-mails
Let's say you have 150 e-mails, listed over two pages (100 maximum per page), and you want to archive all of them.

You might make the mistake of clicking 'All', then hitting 'Archive' and thinking that this would do the trick. It doesn't. Commands such as 'Trash', 'Archive' or 'Label' only affect items that are both selected and on the page you're currently viewing.

Don't forget that when you archive or label e-mail, you're affecting the entire conversation of e-mails by default. If you want to trash just one of the e-mails in a conversation, you can do this by expanding that particular e-mail, clicking on 'More Options', and then clicking 'Trash this message'.
Importing Contacts Into Gmail
To import contacts into Gmail the 'official' way, you'll need to export a CSV file from your other mail account, and then import it into Gmail.

To import your Yahoo! Mail address book, save your file as a Yahoo! CSV. Instructions are available in the Yahoo! Address Book help section at:

Here's a way to export your contacts from Hotmail to Gmail.

Using Internet Explorer:
Sign in to your Hotmail account. Click the 'Contacts' tab. Click 'Print View'. Align the cursor with the first letter of the 'Name' column. Highlight your contacts by holding down the cursor and dragging it down the list. Hold down [Ctrl] [C] to copy the list. Open Microsoft Excel (or a similar spreadsheet program that supports comma separated values).

Select cell A1 in Excel. Hold down [Ctrl] [V] to paste (don't use 'Paste Special'). Choose 'Save As' from the 'File' menu, and select the type 'CSV (Comma delimited)'. Make a note of where you saved the file.

Using Mozilla Or Firefox:
Sign into your Hotmail account. Click the 'Contacts' tab. Click 'Print view'. Align the cursor with the first letter of the 'Name' column. Highlight your contacts by holding down the cursor and dragging it down the list.

Hold down [Ctrl] [C] to copy the list. Now, open either Microsoft Excel or a similar spreadsheet program that supports comma separated values.

Next, select cell A1 in Excel. Right-click inside cell A1 and select 'Paste Special'. Select 'Text', and click 'OK'. Choose 'Save As' from the 'File' menu, and select the type 'CSV (Comma delimited)'. Make a note of where you saved the file.

To Export A CSV File From Outlook And Outlook Express:
Here are some general directions to follow, though instructions may vary by version. For more detailed instructions, open 'Help' in Outlook or Outlook Express and type 'export' in the search box. Look for topics including 'export wizard', 'export information', 'exporting contacts' or 'exporting address book contacts' in the title.

From Outlook:
Select File > Import/Export > Export from the main menu. Choose Comma Separated Values (Windows). Select 'Contacts', and save the exported file.

From Outlook Express:
Select File > Export > Address Book from the main menu. Select 'Text File' (Comma Separated Values). Next,
click 'Export'.

Importing A CSV File Into Gmail:
Log into Gmail and click 'Contacts' on the left side of the page. The Contacts list then opens in a new window. Click 'Import Contacts'.

Click 'Browse' and locate the CSV file you'd like to upload. Select the file and click 'Import Contacts'. After successfully uploading the document, a dialog box displays the number of new entries that were added to your Contacts list.

An Easy Way To Import Contacts
There is a super-easy way to add your existing address book from your old e-mail account (Yahoo, Hotmail, or any other) to your Gmail contacts list.

Here's what to do: first e-mail everyone on your list including yourself at your new Gmail address. Say something like: "I'm going to be switching e-mail addresses to my new Gmail account." Then, 'Reply All' to that e-mail from your Gmail account. Tell everybody, "This is my new Gmail account." Everybody you e-mailed will then be in your Gmail contacts list.

Use ' ' to separate mails
Gmail filters can separate mails sent to name and name anotherword@ For example, give your Gmail address to Amazon and eBay as name and name respectively, and then you'll be able to filter the mails from Amazon and eBay.

Selecting Many Mails At Once
Suppose you have many mails to select (say for archiving them). In Gmail, select the first mail, press [Shift] and select the last mail. All mails between the first and the last will be selected, just like in ordinary desktop applications.

The Gmail Notifier
The Gmail Notifier is a downloadable Windows application that alerts you when you have new Gmail messages. It displays an icon in your system tray to let you know if you have unread Gmail messages, and shows you their subjects, senders and snippets, all without your having to open a Web browser. Download it at

Use Gmail As Your Default Mail Client
G-Mailto is a utility that automatically associates "mailto" e-mail links on the Web with Gmail. So clicking an e-mail link will open the Gmail compose window instead of opening, say,  Outlook Express, that doesn't work with Gmail (yet). If you are not logged in, it will bring you to the Gmail login screen and redirect you to the compose window after you log in. Download the utility here:
All About Labels
Gmail lets you assign a Label to a message and then view all messages assigned to that Label. Sounds a lot like the typical 'Folder', but unlike Folders, you can assign multiple Labels to a message, thus letting the message span multiple categories.

To better understand how Labels differ from Folders, consider the real-world counterparts, and it should become clear.

Say, you have a desk full of paper messages, some messages are from family members, and some are jokes that your friends have sent you. Using the Folder model to categorise the messages, you would create one folder called 'Family' and one called 'Jokes'. You would then look through the paper messages and file them accordingly.

When you want to look for a message from your father, you just look in the 'Family' folder. But what if one of the messages is from your mother, and it's a joke or a forward? Which folder do you file it in?

Now, instead of having folders, say, you have sheets of labels, some marked 'Family' and some marked 'Jokes'. You affix 'Family' labels to all messages from your family, and you affix 'Jokes' labels to all messages that are jokes.

Your mother's message now has two labels on it. When you want to see all Family messages, you just look at all the messages that have 'Family' labels. Some may also have 'Jokes' labels, but you don't care because you are interested in your Family messages.

Likewise, when you grab all the messages labelled 'Jokes', some may also have 'Family' labels, but again, you don't care because you are looking at Jokes. Further, if you only want to look at jokes from your family, you look at the messages with both 'Family' and 'Jokes' labels.

But Gmail lets you assign multiple labels to a message! So just put one or more Labels on a message, and finding it later becomes much easier. You can add a Label to a message in one of two ways:
  • If you are viewing a message listing, you can just click the checkbox next to the message, click on the 'Apply label...' dropdown, and select the Label you want to apply. Gmail will display the Label just to the left of the message's subject.
  • If you are viewing a message, just click on the 'Apply label...' dropdown, and select the label you want to apply. Gmail will display the new label to the right of the subject line.
  • To remove a label, select 'Label View' from the Labels box on the left, 'select' the specific message by clicking the checkbox next to the message, and then click on the 'Remove label xxx' button at the top of the listing. Your label will now be removed.
But where did the message go? It's no longer in the current view. If the message had one or more other Labels assigned, it will still show up in those Label views. If not, you will find it in the 'All Mail' view.

Auto-Forward Gmails
Would you like to use your Gmail account as your main e-mail account, but have some or all e-mail auto-forwarded to other accounts? Gmail has the ability to forward received e-mails in two ways, viz., 'All' or 'Selective'.

'All' Forwarding
This is a global setting that lets you optionally forward all received e-mail to another e-mail address. Click the 'Settings' link, and click the 'Forwarding' tab.

Here, you have the option to 'Disable' or 'Enable' e-mail forwarding. Click 'Enable', enter the e-mail address to which you want to forward the mail, and then select one of the following self-explanatory actions from the associated dropdown:
  • Keep Gmail's copy in the Inbox
  • Archive Gmail's copy
  • Trash the Gmail's copy

'Selective' Forwarding
Filters have also been enhanced with a new 'Forward it to: e-mailaddress' action letting you selectively forward e-mails based on the filter criteria. You can use the same or different e-mail address for each filter if you choose, providing very powerful e-mail management.

For example, you get statement notifications from a bank, and you would like to auto-copy it to your wife. Just set up a filter to select e-mails with the bank's sending address and then select the 'Forward it to:' action, and enter your wife's e-mail address. Now, she will get notified!

All About Filters
You can create up to 20 filters to manage the flow of incoming messages. Use filters so that certain messages bypass the inbox, are automatically labelled, or both. You can also automatically forward messages to another e-mail address using filters. Filtered messages remain archived and searchable.
Bet You Didn't Know 
A keyboard shortcut for linking objects (layers)
Normally, to link objects, you would use the layer window, clicking on the right of the Eye icon. There is a keyboard shortcut for this: simply click the desired layer first. Then, pressing [Ctrl], [Alt] and [Shift] together, click the next (or desired) layer. They'll get linked. You can link as many layers as you want. To un-link layers, simply use [Ctrl] [Shift] instead.

To set up a filter, click 'Create a filter' to the right of the 'Search the Web' button. Next, enter your filter criteria in the appropriate fields. When you click 'Create Filter', a list of messages that match your filter appears.

After you create a filter, the filter rules are applied automatically to new messages in your inbox. You can change your filters at any time by clicking 'Settings'.

To edit filters, click 'Settings' at the top of any Gmail page. Click 'Filters' along the top of the orange 'Mail Settings' box. Click 'edit' next to the filter you'd like to update. Enter the new criteria for the filter in the appropriate fields, and click 'Next Step'. Choose an action for the messages to take, and click 'Update Filter'.


Embossing Type
Start by creating a new file. Fill it with a light colour. Change the foreground colour to a darker version of the background colour. Use the type tool to enter the same type.

Select Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Use a value of 1, for example. Now change the foreground colour to white. Use the type tool to enter the type again. This will be the highlight. Select the move tool and position the white type up and to the left of the darker type. Select the eye dropper tool and click on the background of the image.

Use the type tool to once again enter your type. Select the move tool and move the type between the fore and background type.

Superimposing Layers
Open up any image to be used as a background. Open up another image you want to superimpose. Select the paths palette. Select the pen tool from the tools palette.

Click all round the image, outlining it.

From the paths palette, select 'Load Path As A Selection'. Click Select > Feather, and choose a number, say 20. From the paths palette, select 'Turn Off Path'. Copy the selected image by pressing [Ctrl] [C]. Now paste the image into the background image pressing [Ctrl] [V]. Under the layers palette, drag the opacity bar to make the image blend into the background.

Drop Shadows
Create a new file. Create a new Layer. On the new layer, create the type font you want to use. Duplicate the layer with the type. You should now have 'Layer 1 copy' over 'Layer 1'. Select 'Layer 1', the bottom layer.

Press [Shift] [F5] to fill in the type, use black and preserve transparency. Offset the layer a bit using the move tool. Select Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. You can use a value of 2.5. If you want a softer shadow, select a higher number.
Creating Borders
Open up the photo or image you want to create a border around. Click the 'Quick Mask' mode button in the Photoshop toolbox. This will create a 'Quick Mask' channel in the 'Channels' palette.

Choose the rectangular marquee tool in the Photoshop toolbox. Select an area in the centre of the image. Choose 'Fill...' from the 'Edit' menu. Fill the selection area with black at 100 per cent opacity.

Choose 'None' from the 'Select' menu to deselect the area. Then choose 'Gaussian Blur...' from the 'Blur' submenu in the 'Filter' menu. Use a radius setting of between 10 and 20 pixels. You have now applied the 'Gaussian Blur' to the 'Quick Mask' channel.

Select a special effects filter from the 'Filter' menu. For example, you can use the 'Sprayed Strokes'. Since you are still in the 'Quick Mask' mode and there is nothing selected, only the 'Quick Mask' channel will be affected by the filter.

Click the 'Standard Selection Mode' button in the Photoshop toolbox. This will select the area of the image that is not masked by the 'Quick Mask' channel. Fill the area with a background colour, and you're done.

Glowing Type
Start with a new image and fill it with your background colour. Create a new layer and use the 'Type Mask' tool to enter your text. Use Select > Modify > Expand to expand the 'Type Mask'.

Now feather the selection: Select > Feather. Use '4', for example. Fill the selection with a colour of your liking for the 'glow'.

Now that you have your glow, use the 'Type' tool in the 'Layers' mode and enter your text again using any colour. Play with the 'Expand' and 'Feather' settings to create suit your preferences.

Dotted Lines
Here's a simple way to create dotted lines. Open a new document, any size, say 200 pixels wide and of any height. First of all, choose the pencil tool to make sure the settings apply to this set of brushes. Before doing anything else, be sure to save your brushes if you have a fancy set of brushes that have been already tampered with. You will be playing with the settings and it is always nice to be able to load your previous set.

Double-click on the second smallest brush in the palette window. Your palette should look rough as we are working with the pencil tool.

The smoother brush version will come later. You are now viewing the brush options. The important change you need to do for the dotted line effect is the spacing. Simply change the 'Spacing' option to 250 per cent. Here, you can enter any figure up to 999.

Now, simply draw with your pencil and you have your dotted line! To make sure your line is straight, hold down the shift key while you draw the line. Another technique is to single-click your starting point and then while holding the shift key, single-click your ending point; Photoshop draws the dotted line between the two points.

Switch over to the Paintbrush and see that the same effect is created, only with smoother anti-aliased dots. All of the same options also apply to the Airbrush tool as well.

Along with the size and spacing of the dots, if you need to do dotted lines with an oblong shape that are on an angled line, simply change the angle of the brush. Just like a calligraphy pen, you can change the angle of the stroke of your brush; however, in this case it changes the direction of the dot in your line.
Create A Textured Background
Start by creating a new image, 200 x 200 @ 72 dpi. Switch to the channels palette and create a new channel. With the new channel active, apply the 'Noise' filter and adjust the levels till you get the effect you desire. Return to the RGB channel and apply the Lighting effects filter:
Lighting Source: Directional
Intensity: 20
Focus: 50
Gloss: 100 (shiny)
Material: 75 (plastic)
Exposure: 45
Ambience: 13
Texture Channel: #4
White: high
Now that you have your texture, apply offset 100 to the left and 100 down, making sure 'Wraparound' is checked. Once you have applied the Lighting filter you also need to colour your new background.

To do so, create a new layer and fill with the colour you want your background to be. Go to the layer palette and change the 'Layer' mode to 'Color Dodge'. And there you have it-your textured background!

Wrapping Text In A Circular Fashion
Starting with a new image, place your text making sure it just touches the left edge of the image. Now go to the 'Layers' palette and uncheck 'Preserve Transparency', with this option unchecked you can now wrap the text.

But first, we must re-scale the text so that when it is wrapped it does not look squashed. Go to Layer > Transform > Scale, and increase the height of the text by about one half.

Now we need to make a square selection around the text. Use the marquee tool and press [Shift] while drawing a perfect square around the type. If the selection is not centred on the text, just right use the arrow keys to adjust it.

All that is left now, is to apply Filter > Distort > Polar Coordinates and select 'Rectangular to Polar'. 

Photoshop CS Shortcuts

The Work Area
[Tab] hides your palettes and tools.
[Shift] [Tab] only hides the palettes.
[Ctrl] [Tab] cycles though all open image windows including the File Browser.
Press [Alt] and click on the image info area at the bottom of the document window (the Status bar on Windows) to access the actual pixel dimensions of the document (width, height, channels and resolution).
[Ctrl] [Page Up] or [Page Down] moves left or right one full screen.
[Home] moves to the upper left corner. [End] moves to the lower right corner.

Rulers And Guides
[Ctrl] [R] shows or hides the rulers.
 [Ctrl] [;] shows the guides.
 [Ctrl] ['] shows grids.
 Use the right mouse button in the ruler area to access units from the context-sensitive menu.
  • When dragging out a guide from the rulers, [Alt] changes the orientation of the guide (vertical to horizontal and vice versa).
  • Reposition a guide using the 'Move' tool (position the 'Move' tool directly on top of the guide). When the icon changes to a double-headed arrow, click and drag to reposition the guide.
  • Drag a ruler outside the image area, if you want to quickly delete it.
  • Set the rulers to percentage to quickly find the centre of an image.
  • Reset the origin of the rulers by clicking and dragging from the intersection of the rulers.
  • Double-clicking at the intersection of the rulers resets the point of origin to the upper-left corner.
  • [Shift]-drag a guide to snap it to the ruler marks. You must do so, even if the 'snap to' option is turned off.
  • In order to change the size of the image and also have the guides in the image resize proportionally, be sure to unlock them by unchecking the View > Lock Guides menu item. And, if you need them to stay in place, then lock the guides before resizing.
The Navigator Palette
To change the zoom percentage in the Navigator palette, [Ctrl]-drag in the thumbnail (on the Navigator palette) a new rectangle the size of the desired zoom.

The Info And Histogram Palettes
Click the 'Eyedropper' icon to select what information is presented in the readout. You can select 'Proof color', 'total ink' or even 'opacity' as one of the options.
  • Click the cross-hairs that track the cursor coordinates to change the units of measurement.
  • Click and drag in the histogram to select a range of tonal values.

The Color/Swatches/ Styles Palette
[Shift]-click the 'Color' palette's colour ramp to cycle through the available colour modes.

  • [Alt]-click on a colour swatch to delete it in the 'Swatches' palette.
  • Use the palette menus to choose different colour sliders (including HSB).
  • Right-click on a swatch or style to 'Rename', 'Delete' or 'Create a new swatch/style'.
  • Clicking in a blank area of the 'Swatches' or 'Styles' palette will create a new swatch/style.

The Actions Palette
Use the fly-out menu to access the 'Button Mode' to see your actions as clickable buttons.
  • [Alt]-drag to copy a recorded state to another action (or within an action).
  • To change the recorded settings for a state in an action, double-click on the recorded state.
  • [Alt]-click the disclosure triangle next to the action to collapse or expand all components of an action
  • While recording an action, you can play another action to record the steps.

The Paths Palette
To create a stroke of paint or create an even path for dodging and burning, create a path with the pen tool and then select the painting tool. Then from the 'Paths' palette menu, select 'Stroke' path. Choose the 'simulate pressure' option to simulate pressure sensitivity of the tool.

  • [Ctrl] [Enter] turns the selected path into a selection.
  • To copy and paste paths from Adobe Illustrator to Photoshop, in Illustrator select Preferences > Files and Clipboard and select copy as 'AICB'. Otherwise, the object will be placed as raster (pixels).

The Layers Palette
Double-click a layer's name in the 'Layers' palette to rename it. Double-clicking on any palette which lists its contents by name will allow renaming of the item.

  • [Ctrl] [Shift] [N] will bring up the 'New Layer' dialog box.
  •  When on a layer, use [/] to toggle the lock transparency option On and Off.
  •  [Alt] [ [ ] or [ ] ] selects the layer above or below.
  •  [Alt] [Ctrl] [{] or [}] moves the layer up or down.
  •  [Alt] 'Merge Visible' (from either the layer menu or the Layers palette menu) creates a 'flattened' version of the visible layers on the currently targeted layer.
  • To load the selection of any layer (based on the opacity of pixels in the layer):
  • [Ctrl]-click on the icon for a layer on the Layer's palette.
  • [Ctrl] [Shift] adds additional layers to the selection. [Alt] [Ctrl] subtracts another layer from the selection. [Alt] [Ctrl] [Shift] creates the intersection of two layers.
  • Double-clicking  'Background' will bring up the 'New Layer' dialog box, changing the Background into a layer.
  • [Alt]-double-clicking on the 'Background' will change the Background into a layer bypassing the 'New Layer' dialog box.
  • [Alt]-click between two layers in order to create a 'Clipping Mask'.
  • [Alt]-click on a layer's Eye icon to hide all other layers; [Alt]-click again to toggle all previously visible layers. To make all layers visible (as oppose to only those that were previously visible), right-click the Eye icon of a layer and select 'Show/hide all other layers'.
  • To delete hidden layers from the 'Layers' palette, use the fly-out and select 'Delete Hidden Layers'. You can do the same for 'Linked' layers. Or, to delete hidden layers, [Control]-click on the trash can icon at the bottom of the 'Layers' palette.
  • [Alt]-click the 'Adjustment Layer' icon on the 'Layers' palette to display the 'New Layer' dialog box. This allows for a variety of options including 'blend modes' and 'Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask'.
  • To hide the information on a layer while maintaining 'Layer Styles', decrease the 'Fill' amount of the 'Layer'. Note that decreasing the 'Opacity' amount will decrease the layer information as well as any 'Layer Styles' applied.
  • [Ctrl]-click on the Eye icon on the layer palette to colour-code a layer.
  • [Ctrl] [`] (or [~]) targets the image (not the mask) in the 'Layers' palette.
  • [Ctrl] [] targets the layer mask in the 'Layers' palette.

The Channels Palette
[Ctrl]-click the new channel icon to create a new 'Spot Color' channel.
  • Use the fly-out menu to select 'Palette' options to increase or decrease the size of the thumbnails in the 'Channels' palette. This option is also available for the 'Layers' palette.

The Brushes Palette
Use the 'Brush Tip Shape' to manipulate the diameter, angle, roundness, hardness and tip shape of a brush.
  • Click the 'Lock' icon to lock brush attributes regardless of the brush preset selected.
  • Turn on the 'Airbrush' attribute by clicking the icon in the options palette, or by using the 'Airbrush' option in the 'Brushes' palette with many of the painting tools to create an airbrush effect. Or, use the keyboard shortcut [Alt] [Shift] [P].
The Tool Presets Palette
To create a tool preset, set up the options for your tools, then click on the tool presets icon in the upper left of the options bar, and save the preset.

  • Tool presets (for the currently selected tool, or for all of the tools) can be accessed at any time from either the 'Options' bar, or the 'Tool Presets' palette.
  • When saving a brush as a tool preset, not only does Photoshop CS save all the options in the Options bar (such as opacity, blend modes etc), it also saves the foreground colour.
  • Use 'Current Tool Only' to view only those presets available for the currently selected tool.

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