Using a Web Browser

CAEN recommends using a web browser as the default method for accessing U-M Google accounts. The latest versions of Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari are all supported by Google. All browsers must have cookies and JavaScript enabled. Note: Some University of Michigan web services may have different browser requirements.

If you wish to instead use IMAP email clients, be sure to review our page on Enabling IMAP Access.

Google Chrome

The recommended web browser to access Google services is Google Chrome. Chrome, which is designed by Google, has several important features including automatic updates, and is optimized to take full advantage of Google services. For example, offline access to Mail, Calendar, and Docs is only available via the Offline Google Mail Chrome app. Settings like Desktop Notifications for Mail only work with Chrome. Also, Chrome's Sign In feature allows a user to sync bookmarks, apps, extensions, and browser preferences to their Google Account, making them instantly available via Chrome no matter what computer they're using.

Messages vs. Conversations

In most email clients, responses to your messages appear as separate messages in the Inbox. When accessing a Google Mail account using a web browser, Google will group all replies to a message by default, creating a single Conversation View displayed in the order messages are sent and received. When you open one message in a conversation, all of your related messages will be stacked neatly on top of each other, so that the newest message is always the one you see first. To see all the messages in a conversation, just click the Expand all button. A conversation will break off into a new thread if the subject line of the conversation is changed, or if the conversation reaches over 100 messages.

Users can change this setting so that replies aren't threaded into conversations, but appear as individual messages in the Inbox:

  1. Click the gear icon in the upper-right corner of the browser, and select Settings.
  2. Under the General tab, select the radio button next to Conversation view off.
  3. Click the Save Changes button.

Archiving vs. Deleting

The browser interface to Google provides separate buttons for Archiving and Deleting when viewing messages in the Inbox.

  • The Archive button will remove the Inbox Label from a message; any other Labels that have been applied to the message will be retained. If the message has no other Labels, it will then exist in the "Archive" and can only be viewed via All Mail (or by searching).
  • The Delete button will move messages to the Trash., no matter which Labels have been applied to it. Messages will remain in Trash for 30 days before being permanently removed. If they are positive they won't need the messages anymore, users can empty the Trash before the 30 days are up by selecting it from the left-hand Label list, and clicking the Empty Trash now link at the top of the resulting message list.


Labs is a testing ground for experimental features that aren't quite ready for production; they may change, break or disappear at any time. To begin using Labs, click the button in the upper-right corner of the browser and select Settings, then the Labs tab. You can selectively turn the Labs you like on; remember to click Save Changes when your selections are complete.

Listed below are just a few examples of Labs that may improve your experience using the browser to access Google Mail and Calendar.


  • Google Calendar: Adds a box in the left column of the mailbox to show the Google Calendar. See upcoming events, locations, and details.
  • Inserting Images: Allows embedded images to be placed in messages.
  • Preview Pane: Adds the button to toggle either a vertical or horizontal preview pane on and off.
  • Right-side Chat: Moves the Chat box to the right side of the mailbox, saving room on the left for labels.
  • Send and Archive: Adds a button to the compose form that lets you send a reply message and archive the email conversation in a single action.
  • Signature Tweaks: Places your signature before the quoted text in a reply, and removes the "--" line that appears before signatures.
  • Title Tweaks: Changes order of elements in the browser title bar from "University of Michigan Mail - Inbox (20) -" to "Inbox (20) - - University of Michigan Mail." This way you are able (most of the time) to see if a new mail has arrived, even if browser window is minimized.
  • Event attachments: Attach a Google document, spreadsheet or presentation, or upload a file from your computer to your Calendar event.
  • Free or Busy: See which of your colleagues are free or busy right now (requires that they share their Calendars with you.
  • Hide morning and night: Lets you minimize a range of times in the early morning and late night to save space on your screen.
  • Next Meeting: See what's coming up next in your calendar.
  • Year View: Adds a "Year View" button to Calendar.

Mobile Devices

For mobile devices, it will be more advantageous to use the built-in email apps than a browser to connect to Google accounts. Refer to our instructions for iPhone, iPod, & iPad and Android for recommended configurations.

Related U-M Google Links