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THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO GMAIL / HOW-TO GEEK SCHOOL

How-To Geek

Lesson 6: Invitations and Vacation Responders

Gmail Guide 6

We’re next going to talk about event invitations. Integration of Google Calendar in Gmail allows you to send event invitations directly within Gmail without accessing Google Calendar. You can also add events from Gmail messages directly to Google Calendar.

Lastly, we’ll talk about setting up vacation responders so you can leave town while letting people know when you’ll be back to answer their questions.

It’s worth noting that this lesson largely deals with Google Calendar, but from the point of view of a Gmail power user — because when you get an invitation or have to deal with calendar items, it’s usually through your email client, right? There’s no reason to open up your calendar when you can do almost everything directly inside of Gmail, including sending invitations to other people.

Quickly Find Event Invitations in Your Gmail Inbox

Event invitations in Gmail are indicated with a calendar icon to the right of the subject line.

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Respond to an Invitation on the Subject Line

You can quickly respond to an invitation directly on the subject line of the message. Simply click the RSVP button and click, “Yes,” “Maybe,” or “No,” to respond.

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Respond to an Invitation from Within the Message

You can also respond to an invitation from within the message.

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Insert an Invitation Directly in a Gmail Message

You can insert an invitation to an event directly in a Gmail message. Quickly invite someone to a meeting in an email, or respond to a friend’s email with an invitation to get together.

Click “Compose” to create a new email message.

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Add recipients to the email, enter a subject line, and add any relevant text to the body of the message. Move your mouse over the plus sign at the bottom of the Compose window.

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More icons become available. Click the “Insert invitation” calendar icon.

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Click on the date box to select a date for the event.

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Click on the beginning time box to select a starting time for the event from the drop-down list.

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Select the ending time and the ending date (if the event is more than one day long). Specify an “all day” event using the “All day” check box. Enter the location in the “Where” edit box and a “Description” for the event.

Click “Insert Invitation” to add the invitation to your email message.

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A box containing the event details is inserted into your message. Click “Send” and the recipients will see the message as an invitation in their inbox and will be able to RSVP to it.

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Create a Google Calendar Event from a Message without an Invitation in Gmail

Sometimes you might get an email about an event to which you are invited but the sender didn’t officially include an invitation. If there is a date and a time in the message, Gmail should recognize this fact and allow you to use the information to create an event in your calendar.

If there is a recognizable date and time in the message, Google will underline the date and the time with a dashed line and they become links. To add a date and time to your calendar from within a message, click the date and time link.

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Sometimes the date and time are not recognized by Google and you have to add these details to your Calendar manually.

A popup dialog box displays with the details gathered from the email about the event. In our example, the time is not recognized, so we must “add a time” to the event. Click the down arrow next to “add a time” and select the starting time from the drop-down list.

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Click “Add to Calendar” to add the event to your calendar.

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You will see this event in your Calendar now and you can edit it by clicking the “Edit in Calendar” button.

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Click anywhere in the message outside of the popup dialog box to close the box.

Keep People Informed Using Vacation Response

Even though you can check your Gmail account on many mobile devices, you may not want to when you’re on vacation. If you’re not going to be available and checking your email, you may want to automatically alert senders to that fact. Gmail allows you to set up a vacation responder to send out an automated response telling senders that you are unavailable and you will get back to them or whatever you want the email to say.

Setup a Vacation Responder in Gmail

To set up a vacation responder in your Gmail account, click the settings gear icon and select “Settings” from the drop-down menu. Stay on the “General” tab and scroll down to the “Vacation responder” section, select “Vacation responder on.”

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To indicate the first day the automated responses should be sent out, click the “First day” edit box and select a date from the drop-down calendar that displays.

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If you know when you will be available again, you can set an end-date for the vacation responder to automatically discontinue. To do this, select the “Ends” check box and click on the edit box to the right. Choose the date you will be available again from the drop-down calendar.

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Enter the “Subject” and “Message” for the response. Use the toolbar under “Message” to format your text and enter links and images, if desired.

You may not want this message going out to just anyone sending you email, you can specify to only send this automated response to people in your Contacts list. To do this, select the “Only send a response to people in my Contacts” check box.

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Click “Save Changes” at the bottom.

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Turn off the Gmail Vacation Responder Manually

If you get back early from your vacation or you are available earlier than planned, you can easily turn off the vacation responder manually, even if you set an end-date. Simply go back into the “Settings” and select the “Vacation responder off” option and click “Save Changes” at the bottom of the screen.

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Set up the Vacation Responder in the Gmail App

The vacation responder you set up through your browser on your PC is also available in the Gmail app. To access the vacation responder on you mobile device, access the “Settings” screen for the desired email account.

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If you defined a vacation responder in Gmail in your browser, that responder is reflected in the Gmail app. Simply touch the “Off/On” button to affect the change to the responder.

Touch “Done” when you have made your changes.

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Press the “Back” button on your phone twice to return to your inbox.

NOTE: To see changes made to the vacation responder using a mobile Android device in your Gmail account in PC browser, you must log out of your account in the browser and log back in. Conversely, because you can’t log out of your Gmail account on your Android phone, rebooting our phone picked up the changes made to the vacation responder in our Gmail account in a browser on our PC.

Coming up Next …

That’s it for today, there’s not a whole lot to it. Invitations and vacation responders in Gmail are a snap to use and can be extremely convenient.

In tomorrow’s How-To Geek School lesson, we devote an entire lesson entirely to using Gmail as a task list: adding tasks, including details, printing, clearing completed tasks and much, much more!

Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 03/3/14

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