When April Fools rolls around, you have to be careful about what you hear about Google. Past pranks have involved features like Gmail Paper, a service that sends you emails through the traditional mail, or Gmail Custom Time, supposedly allowing you to date emails in the past so it looked like you had remembered Grandma's birthday after all. However, the biggest April 1 product announcement was not a prank at all: It was Gmail itself. Yup, Gmail turns 12 on Friday, and you might want to honor the dozen years it has spent in your life. How? With this Gmail hack that finds the first gmail you ever sent.
You may be surprised what you find. If you were one of the first users to get an invitation, you could be sifting through more than a decade of archived glory. Everything's in there, from flight reservations and vacation photos to break-up emails and gchat rants. The first one could say so much about who you were when you signed up for the service. Even more than your pre-Gmail email address. There's no telling the insights. Was it your college application? Tickets to an Usher concert? You're going to want to know. Hopefully you wan't need to print it for your therapist, but that's A-OK if you want to.
Here's how you do it: First, log into gmail from a PC. Click on "All Mail" in the lefthand bar. If you've been a good Gmail user, you've been archiving your read emails in an attempt to get to "Inbox Zero" — yes, it's nearly impossible.
Then hover over the "1-50 of ..." next to the left and right arrows at the top of the page. When you do this, a dropdown will allow you to click "Oldest." That takes you to the oldest page in your Gmail history. Look down to the bottom of the page and there you have it: That's your oldest Gmail. If you did it right (and don't delete old emails), it's the welcome email from Google to the service.
So let's find the first legit email. Go up one and you'll find the first email you sent or received. Mine was sending Spanish homework to myself. No joke. Also of interest might be your first back-and-forth conversation. You can tell because of the number in parentheses next to the recipient. Scroll up until you see one — hopefully it's not hard to find if people respond to you. Mine was with a friend trying to plan a European backpacking trip. Who knows what you might find!
Don't pass up this trip down memory lane. Gmail's been in our lives long enough it deserves this moment of recognition — and so does your own former Gmail newbie. Happy memories!