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Hack 71. Glean a Gmail Invite

Ask a friend, acquaintance, or stranger; swap, auction, or finagle. A Gmail invite is hard to come by—but not that hard.

Gmail is one hot property and Gmail accounts are not available to just anyone. Yes, it's a free web mail service, but free doesn't necessarily mean freely available—much to the chagrin of those just itching to give it a whirl. You have to be invited, either by a Googler (someone working at Google) or a friend willing to spend one of their occasionally available Gmail invites on you.

Hmm . . . scarce commodity, high demand . . . sounds like a market to me.

And that's precisely what's happened. Gmail accounts are meted out to close friends, traded for wares and services, auctioned off, donated, and otherwise trafficked in a marketplace of sorts.

So, where do I glean myself a Gmail invite?

Ask a friend

Chances are one of your alpha-geek friends has a Gmail account. Ask nicely and be prepared to offer a latte or three.

Ask an acquaintance

Email acquaintances with Gmail accounts are easy to spot: just look for the email address. Set up a filter in your email application to highlight any incoming Gmail and rifle off a response the moment you see one pop up. Your ingenuity and bravado are sure to be admired—and hopefully rewarded.

Request one of a stranger

The Gmail invite spooler ( offers "a place for people with Gmail invites and those who want them to come together with minimal effort and fuss."

eBay for one

Yes, I know it seems silly, but Gmail invites are going for between $0.30 and $3.00 on eBay.

Swap something

Gmail swap ( is a virtual swap meet for Gmail invites where people offer everything from CDs to kisses for an invite. If you've an invite or three to trade, ask for a joke, picture, or "anything Disney" and bring your sense of humor.

Join the military

Gmail for the Troops ( and Gmail 4 Troops ( are sites dedicated to garnering Gmail accounts for troops currently serving to keep in touch with their loved ones at home.

Google for it

Try searching Google for "have * Gmail invites" (wow, that full-word wildcard really comes in handy!). Often webloggers who have Gmail invites available will post about it on their weblog. Even if you've found an old entry, you've found someone with a Gmail account—and Google periodically refreshes the number of invites a user has available.

By the time you read this, Gmail may well be freely available. If so, think of this hack as a moment in time when Gmail was the geek equivalent of a collector's plush toy.

Rael Dornfest and Justin Blanton

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