Stop doing things the backward way.
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How to send 20 MB attachments: Sign up for Google's Gmail

May 28, 2007

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2007, Al Fasoldt

   If you need yet another reason to start using Google's free Gmail, you have one now: Gmail now allows attachments as big as 20 megabytes.
   A lot of users know about Gmail. But few realize that Gmail, which normally works as a Web-based e-mail system -- one you access through your Web browser, in other words -- can be turned into a standard e-mail system. In a standard system, you do your mail using a standard e-mail program; you don't have to use a Web browser and don't need to be on the Web.
   Standard e-mail is called POP mail, for "post office protocol," the name given to the method standard e-mail uses.
   So what I'm saying is that Gmail can be turned into POP mail.
   Listen up, folks. If you have a Gmail account, you can send 20-megabyte attachments through e-mail. You can receive 20-meg attachments. Using your standard e-mail software -- Outlook Express, Outlook, Thunderbird, Apple Mail, whatever.
   Sound good? There's more.
   You might already know that you can receive your regular e-mail, no matter what server or ISP you use, while on the go, using a wireless connection. You simply have your standard e-mail software poll for mail.
   That's wonderful and all that. But replying to e-mail that way is usually a no-go. Most ISPs won't let anyone log onto their outgoing mail servers from outside their own wide-area network. So when you're on the road, you can read mail all you want but not send replies. And not send any new messages. Ugh.
   (ISPs block access from outside their own loop because they're trying to keep spammers from doing their dirty work on their mail servers. This is all nonsense, as anyone with a third of a brain can see, because more than 70 percent of spam is relayed by Windows zombies without going through a mail server. Windows zombies, as you should already know, are virus-like programs that slip into Windows PCs and take over the PC during the night to relay spam, send viruses, propagate zombies and infect all other PCs that are reachable with whatever malware and scumware they can manage to spread. Zombies are the No. 1 problem with Windows PCs today, and, no, I can't tell you why Microsoft refuses to deal with it.)
   But Gmail gets around this very nicely. When you use Gmail, you can read your mail, reply to it and create new mail remotely, no matter where you are. Gmail uses a secure connection with password verification, which your e-mail software handles itself, without any added work from you.
   So there you go. 20 MB attachments, mail that can be dealt with anywhere, no cost to the user, and storage within Gmail of 2.5 gigabytes. Yes, that means you could store 100 20-MB attachments in your Gmail account, on the Google server no less, without a problem. In fact, you'd have room for 500 megs of other stuff, right on the Gmail server.
   To set this up, go to your Gmail page and click "Settings" at the top.
   Then, using Gmail's Help pages, look for POP and follow the instructions for your e-mail software.
   So stop doing things the backward way. Get a Gmail account if you don't already have one. And set up your mail software to handle Gmail as POP mail. You have to make one change to the Gmail server settings first. Go to Google, make sure you are logged in, then go to the Gmail page and choose Settings. Set it up to allow POP access. Then open the Gmail Help and look for tips on setting up your e-mail software.
   This article appears as a blog entry in my Technofile blog, at blog.syracuse.com/technofile/.