How to create a vacation responder (and 50 other things you might want to teach your parents)

My parents have a history of bringing work with them when we go on family vacations. At first it was just a few paper documents to review at the beach…years later, a laptop…now a smartphone. They couldn’t let go for fear that a colleague might need to get a hold of them.

My folks aren’t the only ones frightened by the prospect of missing an important message when they’re away from their inbox — there must be millions of people with the same concern. Not everyone knows that Gmail can help you relax when you’re on vacation by automatically notifying colleagues, friends, and family that you’re away (handy for the holidays).

To enlighten parents and families around the world about how basic technology can improve their lives, a handful of us at Google decided to create a website — — where “kids” of any age can send basic how-to videos to their moms, dads, uncles — whomever. Here’s a video I made that walks you through how to set up an email auto-responder message:

To see more videos or to send someone a tech support “care package” of your own, visit

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