Owning a Gmail account is nearly essential, since it controls access to so many Google-owned properties: Google Search, your Gmail account for emails, YouTube, Google+, AdSense and AdWords , plus any service that uses your Google account for authentication. Since you can choose to optionally remain signed in when you login, your profile will automatically load for all these sites!
First, go to www.gmail.com or type it in your address bar: if it opens a person's inbox, click on the user's name (top right corner of the page), and select "Sign out" from the dropdown menu: Then, start over by going to Gmail.com and proceed to the next step…
Once you see a blank sign-in form on the page (meaning that no-one is currently logged in), click on the big "Create an Account" red button, again in the top right corner of the page:
Enter your first name and last name in the first two fields: these will be displayed when you send emails from Gmail in your web browser. It may also be used in other places, like YouTube or Google Plus:
Then, pick your Google ID, also known under "Choose your username": it is the part of your email address that comes before the "@" symbol. You can use letters, numbers, and periods (".") for the username; but unlike other webmail providers, you are not allowed to use underscores ("_"). Hit the Tab key to move to the next field: if that username is already taken, you will see a "Someone already has that username. Try another?" notice; if you don't, the username you typed is available!
Note: except for mobile phone and alternate email address, all fields are mandatory. Your date of birth is used to determine if you are allowed to see a YouTube video flagged as adult or graphic content, for example. (Otherwise, you'll get "You can't leave this empty" error messages.)
The security of your password is even more important than a "regular" email account, since it will access all your Google profile - which includes any other Google-owned website (like YouTube), Google wallet, etc. This password needs to be at least 8-characters long: to make it harder to guess, use uppercase and lowercase letters, and ideally include at least one symbol or punctuation mark ("$", "_", "!", etc.) and one or more numbers. Gmail will show you a "Password Strength" meter, updated as you type:
Caution: your Gmail password is case-sensitive, so upper- and lower-case letters are considered different characters! Make sure that CapsLock (all caps) is turned off when you type it.
Google says "Don't use a password from another site" ⇒ if each website / online service has its own credentials, a hacker who guess one password won't be able to login to your other accounts!
Under Birthday, enter a month, day, and year: make sure to supply your actual date of birth, since this information can be used to verify your account information in case you lose your password. Your age will also be calculated based on this, to determine if you should see some videos on YouTube without warning, for example. Access to (parts of) Google+ may also be restricted based on your age: Finally, pick your Gender (also a mandatory field - Google even includes "Other" as an option).
The next two field are optional, but we recommend that you supply them: your Mobile Phone can be used as verification when you try to regain access to your account (if you forgot its password, if it was hacked, etc.) Pick your country, and enter your full cell phone number (including area code). In the "Your current email address" text field, type an alternate email address you own. It's typically used for two purposes: receive password-reset links to it, and find friends in the Google+ network.
Tip: neither phone number nor alternate email address will appear publicly anywhere. These two pieces of information are meant for Google's internal use and your own account management.
If you leave the "Set Google as my default homepage" checkbox checked, Google try to will set itself as your current web browser's homepage when you submit the form: this has literally nothing to do with Gmail, and you don't need to have Google as homepage (unless you want to).
Under "Prove you're not a robot", you need to enter the matching "captcha" text, or click on the audio speaker icon to have a sentence read to you instead. If you choose to "Skip this verification", you'll need to confirm the sign up process with an automated phone call. (Tip: just click on the circular arrow and you'll get a new set of words to match!)
Click on the blue "Next Step" button to complete the account setup process.
The final screen will display a "Welcome" message: you have successfully signed up for a Google account, and are now the proud owner of a Gmail email address! Click on the "Continue to Gmail" button to go to your inbox. You will have three messages, all from the "Gmail Team" - General Tips, instructions on using Gmail for Mobile, and a generic, welcome email.
Click on any message to open it; the dropdown arrow next to the Reply button reveals all kinds of functions: forwarding, printing, adding to Contacts (address book), deleting, reporting spam, etc.
Once signed in, click on your username (top right corner of the page), and select "Account" from the dropdown menu. Make sure that your popup blocker doesn't prevent the new window from opening.
Scroll down and click on the "Manage security" link at the bottom of the right column; on the next page that loads, click "Change password".
Start by typing in your current password: this prevent others from changing your password if you leave your computer unattented while logged in to Gmail or Google. Then, enter your new password twice (at least 8 characters, containing uppercase and lowercase letters, plus numbers or symbols!) Click on the blue "Change Password" button when you are done:
Caution: changing your Gmail password affects your entire "Google Account", so make sure to remember to login to YouTube (for example) using your updated credentials!
When logged into Gmail, click on your username in the top right corner of the page and select "Account": a new window will open, which lets you manage your entire profile.
Click on the "Edit" link under your name on the right hand side, and a form with your First Name, Last Name, and Nickname will roll down. Type over the existing value to replace or update them, and click "Save" once you're done. The next email message you send from Gmail in a web browser will reflect your new "From" display name!
You may come across Google email addresses ending in different ways, so here's the breakdown and explanation (note: the part of an email address after the "@" symbol is called the "domain").