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Have You Ever Wondered What Gmail’s shva=1 URL Parameter Means?

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If you aren’t a programmer you might have never thought about all that stuff in the URL when you visit Gmail, but after years of noticing this, I finally decided to look it up. Turns out it actually does stand for something.

What the shva=1 Parameter Means

According to Google engineer Mike Sego:

shva is an acronym for “Should Have Valid Authentication”

To further explain…

Once you login to Gmail, their servers need to make sure that you’re actually logged in, and adding this parameter tells the Gmail web application that you’re logged in, so the Gmail App doesn’t need to reload and re-check the authentication. Note: while testing we noticed that sometimes Gmail ignores this parameter, and sometimes it uses it.

And just to give you even more useless information…

The #inbox parameter that you can see in the location bar tells Gmail which label to load. Go ahead, change #inbox to #drafts and you’ll see that the page doesn’t completely reload, but just acts as if you had clicked on the Drafts label.

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You can even use the URL bar to change to custom labels that you’ve created, and Gmail will act as if you searched. For example, using #label/Books instead of #inbox will tell Gmail to show anything with the label of Books.

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And now you know a completely useless, but somewhat interesting fact.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/7/13

Comments (15)

  1. JBytes

    What wallpaper do you have? Interesting article btw

  2. user

    I also have that Ninja set as my icon in Chrome

  3. jay

    how did you get that ninja icon on top left?

  4. JohnHauxwell

    Great bit of trivia – fun to play with for a minute or two :)

  5. Black Knight Rebel

    I always figured it meant that the summoning of the Shiva Aeon was successful.
    Obviously a failed Shiva Summon would be shva=0

  6. The Geek

    @Black Knight

    Love that game.

  7. darylgriffiths

    Never useless, certainly interesting and DEFINITELY all geek!

  8. Sriram @ revealingthestuffs.com

    I too noticed the shva=1 on Gmail but cam to know what it means now!!

  9. 4G Reaper

    @The Geek,

    Who doesn’t. :)

  10. bedlamb

    2 jay and whoever else….

    The ninja is part of a browser theme, or skin. Look in add-ons/extensions.

  11. JoeRya

    For Ninja… must have more than one profile in Chrome. Assign the Ninja by selecting Edit User.

  12. amira

    Thanks a lot for the information ^_^

  13. ashu

    Thanks fro the information :)
    Noticed a lot many times the same, even tried to think once or twice about it, but then as you mention USELESS so give up the idea.
    But anyway thanks for the USELESS information which every1 need to know.

  14. E.W.

    If I’d have wondered about it and it really bugged me enough, I’d have done a google search on it (gmail + shav1). And I got the same info from a bunch of other tech sites….

    I’ll give HTG credit though, at least it wasn’t another article about Windows 8.

  15. Enersium

    Dissable your javascript, and the shva will be used ;)

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