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Gmail FAQ

Why are we doing this?

Firstclass is a good email system that has served us well for approximately 15 years. Google is now offering their hosted web-based email system to schools as part of the Google Apps for education tools for free. In these difficult budget times we are always looking to save monies and still offer the same or better technology services. We believe that Google gives us the opportunity to offer an excellent email service that is also integrated with the other Google tools we have begun to use this past school year. Many school districts, universities and businesses have or are moving to Google for these similar services. 

To summarize, here are our main reasons for switching our email system to Google:
  • To free up technology resources (staff, server, backup, etc.)
  • Ease of deployment - No software to install, Upgrades delivered through Google
  • Web based system compatible with all types of computers and browsers
  • Integration with other Google Tools (Docs, Calendar, Sites, etc.)
  • Ease of use
  • Reliability - Google claims a 99.9% uptime
  • Easy integration with mobile devices (Smart phones)
  • Cost savings of approximately $5,000 annually for the Cape Elizabeth School District

When will this happen?

     August 31, 2010 -- This coincides with the expiration of our FirstClass email support contract on August 31st

How much does this cost?

Google states, "Google Apps for Education is FREE. We plan to keep the core offering of Google Apps Education Edition FREE."

Will my email address change?

Yes - Our Google Apps for Education domain is All staff emails will generally use the format first initial plus last name @ (Ex: John Smith's address would be
Some exceptions may apply to staff with the same initials and last name. We would generally use the first two initials of your first name and then last name for these exceptions. 
(Ex: John Smith's address would be

Important Note: Once the email switch has been made all emails directed to your old address will be redirected to your Cape Google email account. The old email address will still work, but we recommend that all staff move to the new address.

How do I get to my new Google email account?

You will be able to access your email through any web browser (Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc). Access is also provided through Cape Elizabeth Google Apps for Education start page or you could just type into any web browser. You will login using the same username and password you use for Google Docs.

Is there an email client I can use?

While you could setup your email client of choice to access your email, we won't be supporting those clients.  Though we are providing the Google Notifier with the 2010-2011 laptop image for both students and staff.  This works in conjunction with the web client to notify you of new email and up coming calendar events.  This software will set to launch automatically when you login.  You will need to put in your full email address ( or for students) and your password for Google Apps.  Also check off the checkbox to remember your login.

I clicked on a link on a web page to email someone but it brought up Apple's Mail.  Do I need to setup this mail client as well?

No, you do not have to configure Apple's Mail.  The easiest way to fix this is to use Google Notifier.  Click on the Google Mail menulet on your tool bar and select 'Preferences...'.

Go to the 'Gmail' tab and change 'Compose mail in:' to Gmail.

When clicking on a mailto link, the browser will open a new window to compose your email.

Will I lose my current email?

Your old email along with attachments can be imported from First Class into the new Google mail environment. We recommend that you spend some time cleaning out your current saved emails before doing the import into Google. Detailed instructions on how to import email into Google are listed under Option 2 below.

Do I have to do anything?

It's your choice. Here are your options...
Option 1:   Do nothing. Start fresh with a new email account on Aug 31st. All old emails, contacts, etc will be left in your old FirstClass mail account. New email after Aug. 31st will go directly to your new Google account.

Option 2:   Move your current mailbox/inbox of email from FirstClass to Google. A sheet with detailed instructions on this process
can be found at this link. We strongly recommend that you spend some time cleaning out your FirstClass email account before moving your email to Google.

Can I transfer my FirstClass contacts to Google?

Yes. Contacts may be exported out of FirstClass and imported into Google. Instructions are provided here.

Individual contacts can be transferred easily into Google mail. Mail lists (groups of emails) will need to be recreated in your new gmail account. 

Will we still have our school (group) mail lists?

Yes.  Groups are now set up for each school.  Main office staff in each building will be maintaining these building level staff group lists.  If additions or deletions are necessary please contact the main office staff in your building.  To send an email to an entire school staff use the address in the listing below for the desired school.
 School Email address
 Pond Cove Elementary School Staff
 Middle School Staff
 High School Staff

When sending email to these staff group lists follow this school board policy GCSA-R   EMPLOYEE COMPUTER AND INTERNET USE RULES
Section E  - Prohibited uses
5.  Any use as a forum for communicating by mass e-mail or any other medium with other school users or outside parties to solicit, proselytize, advocate or communicate the views of an individual or non-school sponsored organization; to solicit membership in or support of any non-school sponsored organization; or to raise funds for any non-school sponsored purpose, whether profit or not-for-profit. Employees who are uncertain as to whether particular activities are acceptable should seek further guidance from the building principal or other appropriate administrator.

How much disk/storage space do I get with Gmail?

Seven (7) Gigabytes and growing. This is nearly 70 times our current 100 MB email quota on our FirstClass system.

Can I make mail folders to organize my mail?

Gmail uses labels that are similar to folders. Labels do all the work folders do and give you the extra bonus that you can add more than one label to messages. 

View this short video about creating labels.

Does Gmail have built-in help?

Yes. Gmail has excellent built-in help, which should be accessed before calling us for technical support.

Gmail help can be accessed here.

When will training be offered?

During Cape Academy this summer and in one of the opening teacher workshop days at the beginning of the 2010-11 school year.  Technology Integrators and staff in each building are also available for assistance.
Google also provides a wealth of information and help through their help sites.

Will there be advertisements with this Google email?

There are no advertisements used with the Google Apps Education Edition.

Will we still have a Buy/Sell Exchange conference?

We are working on an options for our Buy/Sell/Exchange conference that we had in FirstClass. More information to come later in the staff trainings.

Can I get to my FirstClass email after August 31st?

No. The server will be taken offline and will only be accessible by our Technology staff.

Will I be able to check history with Google mail?

No. This feature is not currently offered by Gmail, and may not be possible given that the system is Internet based. You may recall that FirstClass offered this only for recipients who are on FirstClass and not to Internet mail recipients.

What if I already have a Gmail account?

If you already have a Gmail account, you'll are already one step ahead, as the interface of Cape Elizabeth's Google Mail system is identical to Gmail. If you'd like, you can have your personal gmail accessible via your Cape Elizabeth's Gmail so you can access your messages in one place or you may want to keep them separate. Technology staff can help if you would like to combine your personal and school Gmails.

Will I get more SPAM?

Google comes with excellent anti-spam features (better than our current system). In addition, as a Google education customer we get even more protection against spam, viruses, malware, and the like through Google's Postini services.

What if I accidentally delete an email that I need? Can I get it back?

Deleted messages are put into your trash folder, where they will remain for 30 days, after which they will be permanently deleted. For more information about deleting and restoring messages that may have been accidentally deleted, go to Google's Gmail help.

Can I save a copy of my current FirstClass mailbox and folders?

Yes.  You can export your mailbox and/or mail folders out of FirstClass.  Instructions on this process are provided here.

Does Gmail have spell check?

Yes. As does Google Docs. Information on Gmail's spell check feature is located here.

What is a Gmail conversations?

Gmail groups all replies with their original message, creating a single conversation or thread. In other email systems, responses appear as separate messages in your inbox, forcing you to wade through all your mail to follow the conversation. In Gmail, replies to replies (and replies to those replies) are displayed in one place, in order, making it easier to understand the context of a message -- or to follow the conversation.

What happened to the red flags for unread mail?

Gmail does not use the red flags like FirstClass for unread mail.  Unread mail in the Gmail inbox will be in Bold type.