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Posted by on Feb 13, 2010 in Technology, TG Roundup

Top 10 Google Settings You Should Know About

As the outcry over Google Buzz’s privacy has shown us, it’s smart to explore settings in Gmail, along with other places you’re sharing data with the search giant. Let’s take a look at 10 privacy, convenience, and annoyance fixers you should know.

10. Turn off auto-displayed pictures from Gmail contacts

By default, Gmail hides images embedded into emails from chain letters and unknown sources—and that’s a smart move, given spammers’ tracking tactics and malware tendencies. But it still shows images from contacts you’ve previously sent mail to, which can be a pain if you’ve got relatives who just love hi-larious forwards. Head to your Settings page, and look for the “external content” setting, which you can switch off to always ask you to confirm showing images in any email. If you’ve got just a handful of offenders, open up one of the egregious emails, hit the “Show details” link near the bottom of the to/from/subject details, and click the “don’t display from now on” link. (Original post)

9. Fine-tune Google Apps for your domain

Google Apps, formerly know as Apps for Your Domain, has a lot of goodies tucked inside it for anyone who owns their own site, runs a family name domain, or operates a small business. Unlike Gmail, however, the new features and disabled offerings aren’t as apparent (or blogged about). Gina gave us a great tour of Google Apps, showing how you can control privacy and access, choose which Labs features make it into your domain’s email, and otherwise set up your site to your liking.

8. Prevent Android from automatically signing into Gchat

Simple and easy, but also easy to miss: If you’ve got an Android phone and have launched Google Talk from it just once, you might notice that you seem to catch any and all chats throughout the day. That’s because Talk can sit in the background upon launching, ready to pick up messages. That’s fine if that’s what you want, but if you want a choice in the matter, head to the Google Talk app, hit your Menu key, and choose Settings. Un-check the “Automatically sign in” option, hit your back button, and then hit Menu and sign out of Google Talk. You’ll need to sign back in if you’re downloading apps from the Market (odd pairing, indeed), but you’re otherwise free to chat when you want to. (Original post)

7. Turn off Buzz, Chat, and Labs in Gmail

Not big on Buzz? Chat more distracting than useful? Gmail Labs making your inbox feel lag-ish? You can kill all of them, if you’d like, and get back just a plain vanilla inbox. Scroll all the way to the bottom of any page inside Gmail, and at the bottom, you’ll see two links to turn Gmail’s chat sidebar and Buzz inbox on or off. Actually, you don’t really “turn off Buzz” so much as remove it from your inbox, so be sure and check your Buzz settings at your Google Profile, if you have a Google Profile. If Labs features seem to be slowing down, or even breaking, your Gmail experience, you can turn them off entirely by loading Gmail from this URL: https://mail.google.com/mail/?labs=0#. Bookmark it as your main Gmail link, or title it “Gmail (Safe Mode)” if you’d like to still venture into all the goodies on occasion.

6. Disable SafeSearch (or lock it in semi-permanently)

Google’s SafeSearch isn’t an entirely comprehensive solution to preventing impressionable eyes from the worst realms of the internet. It is, however, a good stopgap until they learn to grow up and install other browsers, wipe out cookies, and customize user scripts. Whether you don’t have any young ones in the house and want to turn SafeSearch off altogether or you want a complete SafeSearch lockdown on your computer, head to your search preferences, scroll down to the SafeSearch section, and find the setting that fits you. (In Google Image Search, they’ve helpfully placed the control right under the search box on your first result.) If you want to permanently enable SafeSearch, click the “Lock SafeSearch” link—and repeat for any browsers the little ones use. Now when they’re performing a Google search, you should see some giant Google-colored balls in the upper-right corner—or else they’ve gotten too smart.

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