Tool #13 Gmail, or Google Mail

Hotmail and Yahoo Mail are fine, but Google has a feature in their webmail that makes it much better to use. You can tag your email with labels, and then dump the emails all into one big folder. Don’t worry, because the search is fantastic. I can always find messages that I have saved.

Gmail lets you send attachments up to 10 MB, great for podcasts
Gmail lets you send attachments up to 10 MB, great for podcasts

And you can save a lot of them. Google gives you many megabytes to store your email messages. I even have Google go get my school email so I can access from anywhere.

Tool #12: Thunderbird email client

Mozilla didn’t stop with Firefox, they also made a great email client. It is much easier to use than Outlook, especially when moving email messages from one computer to another. All of the email messages are stored as simple text files, in a standard format that almost any program can read, so you can export your emails to other programs if you want (but who would want?).

Thunderbird works great with Firefox
Thunderbird works great with Firefox

Email clients as software are a little old fashioned. Many students use web-based email programs, such as Hotmail, Yahoo Mail or Gmail from Google. Actually, among seven different ways to communication electronically, university students use email the least. More about the other ways to communicate with students in other tools.

Tool #11: Firefox Browser

When Netscape lost out to Internet Explorer in the Browser Wars, it didn’t die. It went to Mozilla Foundation, and changed into Firefox, a browser that is much better than Explorer, which shows in its growing market share (now up to about 25 %, and about 60% of heavy users, like me.)

Firefox Japanese version, one of many languages
Firefox Japanese version, one of many languages

The best thing about Firefox was the Tabbed Browsing, where you can load lots of pages at the same time, and look at one while others are loading. The tabs at the top of the window allow you to choose each page, instead of going to a completely different window. This feature was so good the Internet Explorer copied it.

The best thing about Firefox is that you can customize and extend it to do many different things, with thousands of free add-ons available from the web site. Play music? Find stock prices? Add a Delicious bookmark? Almost anything, and all for free. People write this software for free, too. More on that in another tool.