I have a Gmail account that I use to login to Google properties such as Google Docs. Gmail is not my primary email account. I’ve started using it more; for LBJ class reunion stuff for example. I’ve used it quite a bit as a “throwaway” email when sites ask for an email address but I don’t want to give them my personal email. I highly recommend it to anyone as either a primary or secondary address. There are two main things I like about Gmail that I think everyone should take advantage of.
1. Have Google forward all mail to your primary address. That way you don’t ever have to login to Gmail and for all practical purposes, you can use your primary mail to receive and reply to people using your Gmail account. Of course if you don’t want people knowing your primary account, they you would login to Gmail and respond from there. Setup forwarding by clicking Settings in the upper right corner…select the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab…Select forward a copy of incoming mail to…enter your primary email address…choose what to do with the mail that arrives in your Gmail account.
2. Take advantage of a little known feature that allows you to create NEW email addresses on the fly! My email address is email@example.com. I can give out firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and those email addresses will be delivered to my Gmail mailbox. I’ve created quite a few like that when I’m asked for an email address. That way I can turn them off if I start receiving spam or I can setup filters to file them away or forward them. Not all websites accept an email with a ‘+’ in it but many do. Here is the Google Help page on the subject: Using an Address Alias
If you are concerned about the safety of your information using Google Gmail and Docs, I wrote this post on what I think of that.