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June 28, 2011

Send HTML Emails with Gmail and Google Docs

html gmail

All popular email programs – from web-based Gmail and Yahoo! Mail to desktop-based Microsoft Outlook to the mail app on your mobile phone – are now HTML (or rich-text) capable. Thus, your email messages can have custom fonts, inline images, lists, tables and other formatting similar to a web page.
But there’s one little problem - how do you write an HTML email?

The built-in WYSIWYG editors, like the one shown above, offer basic functions for formatting text but there are things you cannot do. For instance, how do you insert a 3x5 table inside a Gmail message? Can you right-align an image and wrap text around it similar to Word?

All this is easily possible in HTML but since your email program won’t let your compose a message directly in HTML, you’re stuck.

I have two easy solutions for this problem. The first is HTML Mail – here you can write an HTML message and send it yourself or anyone else with a click. The tool has a simple WYSIWYG editor but you can also switch to the code view and compose messages directly with HTML markup.

There’s another alternative that uses Google Docs to send HTML mails from your Gmail account itself. It works for both Google Apps and regular Google Accounts.

First make a copy of this Google Docs sheet and then choose Gmail –> HTML Mail to authorize the sheet to send mails from your email account. Once authorized, choose GMail –> HTML Mail again and now you should see a form for sending mails. Fill in the various fields, write any HTML code in the Message field and hit send.

You can use the previously mentioned WYSIWYG editor to generate the HTML markup and copy-paste that code into the Google Docs form. Also, if you wish to send the same message to multiple recipients at once, just separate their email addresses with commas.

The Google Docs option internally uses Google App scripts (class GmailApp) and you can find the full source code under Tools –> Script Editor. So the next time you want to create a more professional-looking email newsletter that has tables and other complex formatting, you know where to go.

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