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How to make Gmail your default email program



No more extra work

Over the past year, I’ve been writing about my quest to help us all become free of Internet Explorer and Outlook by switching to Google. There isn’t much grey area here, some people love it while others hate this concept. For those that love it, I’ve found one more way to break free from the restraints of Microsoft.

Whenever you click on a link that is an email and you’ve already switched to Gmail, you’ll experience that lag as Outlook (or your default software) takes the time to load not only the program but the hundreds of emails you’ve already had forwarded to your Gmail account. What a drag.

If you’re using Google Chrome as your browser, there is a simple extension that is free to download and requires one click to set Gmail as your default email. If you’re using Firefox, there is a simple settings change you can use, instructions are found here.

No more slow Outlook loads, no more copy and paste or hovering over a mail to link so you can see the address then transferring it somewhere then to Gmail. This extension fixes one of the few remaining problems I had with living in the cloud, this is great!

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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  1. Ben Goheen

    June 22, 2010 at 3:15 am

    Affixa is a program that will accomplish this, even if you still use Firefox or the dreaded IE. They offer a free version or multiple account paid version for about $2.95/year:

  2. Jim Gatos

    June 22, 2010 at 4:49 am

    I can’t work with GMail…

    Problem I have is I use an Android. When I use GMail to check all 6 emails I have my emails show up twice on my phone.

    Besides, I think an email that comes from or seems MORE professional than

  3. Susie Blackmon

    June 22, 2010 at 5:52 am

    I freed myself from Outlook over a year ago and it STILL feels good! Love everything about Gmail. Wish I knew an easy way to get rid of [delete] emails. I went through ‘globally’ and deleted emails and even emails in my ‘folders’ disappeared. So now I’m back up to 35k emails and counting. (I’m aware this is mostly my fault…)

  4. Fred Romano

    June 22, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Gmail is the BEST thing since sliced bread – seriously!

  5. Miami Condo Shop

    June 22, 2010 at 10:25 am

    I’ve never been a fan of Outlook. It’s such a drag. Gmail is peerless. Great post btw and thanks for the Firefox tip.

  6. Maxwell McDaniel

    June 22, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Great tip Lani! I use Google to do all of my hosting for email and now my domain as well. Free hosting is pretty hard to beat, and I have the Gmail client (which is really my domain also checking my pop accounts (Hotmail, other gmail, etc) and pulling them right into my inbox.

    One thing that I haven’t figured out though, maybe somebody here can help me out. When I’m using resident applications (non-web) like Adobe Acrobat, how can I make their email pdf icon to to my Gmail? Right now it trys to open Outlook. I’ve thought about uninstalling Outlook, but there are many gigs of old files that I man need access to at some time, so I’m keeping it around. So, thoughts anyone?

  7. Dave Lopez

    June 22, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    I like this idea. Question I have is I was told by a tech guy to be careful of Google Chrome, even though he is using it, stating it takes over as a browser and he had a hard time using other browsers because of it. makes sense?

  8. Ben Goheen

    June 22, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    Jim: I’m using an Android phone also and have no problems. I’m guessing you have your Gmail check your other email accounts. In the settings and under the ‘accounts and import’ tab, make sure you have the button with ‘reply from the same address the message was sent to’ checked.

    A bit more technical, but you could also setup Google apps for your domain. I wrote an article about it here:

    Those messages are kept separate on my Android.

  9. Ben Goheen

    June 22, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    Maxwell – give Affixa a try. I paid for the $2.95/year upgrade and it works, but I believe the free version will do the trick.

  10. Jim Gatos

    June 23, 2010 at 7:31 pm


    When I receive the emails on my android, I get them twice.. Once in the gmail account I have and once in the other NON gmail account I have. I have 6 non gmail accounts and one gmail account. I get ALL 7 email accounts emails on both that ONE gmail and then I get the individual emails on the 6 other accounts on their respective inboxes.



  11. Jim Gatos

    June 27, 2010 at 7:35 am

    Well, due to the lack of an answer I guess I won’t be using GMAIL for ALL my needs..

  12. Ben Goheen

    June 28, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Jim – I had family in town over the weekend, and didn’t see your prior comment until now. I don’t fully understand your explanation. Even if I did, I’m by no means an expert with Android phones and why you’re receiving the same message several times. Try looking up the solution on or elsewhere on the interwebs

  13. Jim Gatos

    June 29, 2010 at 4:55 am

    No problem.. I tried everything and it doesn’t work, I decided to just stick to my Thunderbird – Google Provider Extension, Gcontactsync Extension setup. It’s free and it works.. It’s amazing you can stay away from the computer for more than 2 days.. LOL…


  14. Braxton Beyer

    February 17, 2011 at 10:55 am

    If you’re on a Mac, is also worth looking into. Been using it for a few weeks now and think it is becoming my default mail app.

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Social Media

WeChat ban blocked by California judge, but for how long?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) WeChat is protected by First Amendment concerns for now, but it’s unclear how long the app will remain as pressure mounts.



WeChat app icon on an iPhone screen

WeChat barely avoided a US ban after a Californian judge stepped in to temporarily block President Trump’s executive order. Judge Laurel Beeler cited the effects of the ban on US-based WeChat users and how it threatened the First Amendment rights of those users.

“The plaintiffs’ evidence reflects that WeChat is effectively the only means of communication for many in the community, not only because China bans other apps, but also because Chinese speakers with limited English proficiency have no options other than WeChat,” Beeler wrote.

WeChat is a Chinese instant messaging and social media/mobile transaction app with over 1 billion active monthly users. The WeChat Alliance, a group of users who filed the lawsuit in August, pointed out that the ban unfairly targets Chinese-Americans as it’s the primary app used by the demographic to communicate with loved ones, engage in political discussions, and receive news.

The app, along with TikTok, has come under fire as a means for China to collect data on its users. U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has stated, “At the President’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations.”

This example is yet another symptom of our ever-globalizing society where we are learning to navigate between connectivity and privacy. The plaintiffs also pointed out alternatives to an outright ban. One example cited was in Australia, where WeChat is now banned from government officials’ phones but not others.

Beeler has said that the range in alternatives to preserving national security affected her decision to strike down the ban. She also explained that in regards to dealing with national security, there is “scant little evidence that (the Commerce Department’s) effective ban of WeChat for all US users addresses those concerns.”

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Social Media

Instagram makes IGTV videos more accessible with automatic closed captions

(SOCIAL MEDIA) This new feature for Instagram opens avenues for viewers who don’t or can’t use audio on IGTV videos, creating more accessibility for all.



Instagram live being recorded will now feature auto captions.

In an effort to expand accessibility efforts, IGTV videos on Instagram will now include an auto captions option. While its parent company, Facebook, has included auto captions on uploaded videos since 2017, this new-for-Instagram feature is expected to widen audience viewership and increase potential viewing by those who prefer watching sans-audio.

In a statement by Facebook, the company states: “While there is no shortage of information, not everyone can access it. It needs to be available to the hundreds of millions of people in the world who are deaf or hard of hearing. According to the World Health Organization, over 5% of the world’s population – or 466 million people – have disabling hearing loss, and that is projected to increase to over 900 million by 2050.”

Current events have made the need for auto captions even more critical for inclusion. “The rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic caused a spike in both the supply and demand of public health information. Several local and state governments, that were accustomed to holding live press conferences but didn’t have the resources, staff or technology to record, stream, and caption their live events, turned to Facebook Live. Several governments also discovered that video captioning was not just a nice-to-have, but imperative, especially in the absence of available sign language interpreters,” states the company.

Currently, Facebook provides auto captions for videos in 16 languages and has announced that Instagram’s IGTV will have access to the same features. The caption accuracy is determined by the video’s audio quality, although AI technology is constantly improving in both precision and speed.

Additionally, branded content ads are likely to see an increase in consumer interaction. Recently published data by Facebook shows ads visually designed for watching with the sound off have 48% more relevance to viewers and a 42% higher purchase intent. As auto captions normalize across social media, users can expect ad content to utilize this feature to the fullest.

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Social Media

New tool organizes your Reddit feed (and makes it actually usable)

(Social Media) Reddit’s UI hasn’t always been super intuitive. ‘Deck for Reddit’ organizes your feed into themed columns, making it way more user-friendly.



Deck for Reddit on display on laptop on desk.

Love it or hate it, the mass collection of forums on Reddit have some form of content for everyone. The simple UX design places content straight down the middle of the screen and the infinite scrolling feature allows you to view a limitless amount of content from cute puppy images to cringe-worthy videos. However, its simplicity isn’t very practical, and is something that I think should be voted down.

Yes, Reddit has come a long way from its previous text-heavy form, but there is still a lot to improve on. Charles Yang, a frustrated Reddit user, has created a web app that could change all that: Deck for Reddit, a desktop optimized, alternative way to browse your favorite forums.

“I built it to show as much content as possible at a glance, while respecting your screen real-estate,” writes Yang.

Currently, the web app is in open beta. With a very similar experience to Tweetdeck, this Reddit tool seems to hold some promise.

On the far left side of the website, there is a list of icons with all the subreddits you’ve subscribed to. Clicking on an icon will take you directly to that subreddit column. This is very convenient for users with a bunch of subscriptions. Additionally, by making several subreddits visible on the screen all at once, Yang succeeds in his goal of taking advantage of the vast empty white space that Reddit failed to use.

From this display, you can click on a post, and it instantly expands to show all the comments. Hit the back button, and the post collapses. Now, you are back to seeing all the posts related to that subreddit. And at the top of each subreddit, you can easily sort the content by what’s new, popular, and trendy. Engagement has never felt easier.

Along with everything else, this extension also adds another great feature in setting customizations. The theme can be switched from light to dark mode. Fonts, text size, and even the shape of the subreddit icons can all be adjusted. Preferences can be changed to hide viewed submissions and reduce animation motion. And if you’re slacking off at work or want to chill, you can set it to hide NSFW content.

Overall, Deck for Reddit makes the user experience smooth sailing, and it truly makes Reddit the “front page of the internet.”

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