Google’s Gmail is arguably the most powerful and configurable of the free e-mail services out there. But most people tap just a small percentage of its features. That’s in part because a lot of what you can do with Gmail is hidden beneath the surface. The following questions involve bringing some of that functionality to light.

I have multiple Gmail accounts. Logging on to each one is time-consuming, though. Is there a quicker way to manage them?

Perhaps the quickest way is to take advantage of Gmail’s POP3 functionality to set up your Gmail accounts in a traditional e-mail client, such as Outlook, Thunderbird, or Eudora. That way, you can download all of your mail from multiple accounts at the same time and respond to them from one location.

For instructions on setting up individual mail programs to receive Gmail, open your Gmail account, and click the Settings link. From the Settings screen, click Forwarding and POP/IMAP. In the POP Download section, make sure you select one of the “enable” option buttons. And from the same section, click the “Configuration instructions” link to learn how to set up Gmail with the e-mail program you use.

Instructions for Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird, Windows Mail, and more are provided. There’s also instructions for iPhone users.

If you use the Firefox web browser, another option is to download and install Gmail Manager (http://bit.ly/1i3TkM), a well-regarded add-on that gives you access to multiple Gmail accounts from your browser’s status bar. With the add-on installed, you’ll be able to see what’s new in each of your Gmail accounts, and you’ll be able to respond to compose mail or respond to messages quickly.

I heard that I can use the storage space provided by Gmail to store regular files. I don’t see anything about this in Gmail. Is this possible?

Yes. The free utility Gmail Drive (http://bit.ly/33AjJ) will create a virtual drive based upon your Gmail account. Once installed, the drive will show up in Windows Explorer just like any other drive.

In Windows 7, the drive is categorised as “Other.” When you first try to access or double-click the drive, Gmail Drive prompts you for your Gmail logon credentials. Once you’re logged on, you can drag and drop files to your Gmail drive just as you can to any other.

How can I back up my Gmail?

The easiest way is to have Gmail forward a copy of all incoming messages to another e-mail account. You can use another free e-mail provider, such as Yahoo! or Microsoft if you wish.

To set up forwarding, open your Gmail account, and click Settings.

From the Settings screen, click Forwarding and POP/IMAP, and from the Forwarding section, select “Forward a copy of incoming mail.” Supply an e-mail address to which mail should be forwarded.

In addition to backing up your e-mail, this feature will also give you a way to access your e-mail when Gmail is down or inaccessible for any reason. In an age when, for many people, e-mail is crucial to getting work done, backing up in this manner is a good idea.

The main reason I don’t use Gmail is that I hate web interfaces. They’re completely mouse oriented. Is there some kind of add-on or macro program that will allow me to assign keyboard shortcuts to Gmail?

You don’t need an add-on to make Gmail keyboard friendly. All you need to do is learn and take advantage of the many built-in keyboard shortcuts available already.

For instance, log on to your Gmail account, and press the letter “c” to compose a new message. While reading a message, press “r” to reply or “a” to reply to all recipients. Press “f” to forward. Press “n” to see the next message as you’re reading the current one, and press “p” to see the previous one. To see a complete list of keyboard shortcuts, just click the Help link and type “keyboard” in the resulting search box.

Of course, you can also set up your favourite e-mail program, such as Outlook, to retrieve and send Gmail, bypassing the web interface altogether. Then you’ll have the familiar keyboard shortcuts at your disposal.

There’s a new Buzz link in my Gmail. I watched the video tutorial about Buzz and clearly have no use for it. How do I get rid of it?

Buzz, the new Twitter-like Google service that allows you and others within a defined social group to post what’s going on or what’s interesting, is getting mixed reviews — and not just from those who see no use for it, like you. Some of those who actually use it complain that the service is resource-hungry and intrusive. If you use it, its integration into Gmail means that you’re notified of a “buzz” via your Gmail inbox.

It’s easy to get rid of Buzz, though. From the Settings screen, locate and click the Buzz link among the available settings. From the “Buzz choices” section, click “Do not show Google Buzz in Gmail” and/or Disable Google Buzz.

Selecting “Do not show Google Buzz in Gmail” will simply remove the Buzz link from your Gmail. Disabling Buzz will remove any Buzz profile you’ve created as well as any posts (or buzzes) that you’ve made.