Gmail Tips and Tricks: 10 Things You Need to Know | Time

summer usually means a vacation from your gmail inbox. but all of your unread emails won’t be answered on their own (well, actually, they might, but I’ll get to that later). More than 281 billion emails were sent last year, according to Radicati, a tech marketing firm. and that number will only grow, reaching 330 billion in the next three years. those are a lot of emails that will require our attention.

It’s not just the sheer number of emails that is overwhelming, but the amount of time we spend looking at, responding to, and worrying about those emails. Nearly 80% of Americans read email on their smartphone, MIT Technology Review found, while the average American spends nearly 24 hours online each week. That’s almost an entire day of your life every week that you’re staring at your screens, and a lot of that is likely to be spent in your gmail inbox.

Fortunately, there are ways to take over your inbox before it takes over you. here are 10 gmail tips and tricks to help you control your email.

let smart wording help you respond faster

gmail’s smart compose feature finishes sentences for you. When you start writing an email, Gmail’s artificial intelligence algorithm will guess what you’re trying to say. pressing the “tab” key will auto-complete the suggestion in the email. it’s like we’re killing each other —

To turn on smart compose, go to → settings → general, then turn on the “smart compose” button. By simultaneously enabling “Personalization”, Google’s artificial intelligence will adapt its composition suggestions to your preferences and habits. You can even provide feedback for Smart Layout so this feature can learn your preferences and style. To do this, go to the “more options” button at the bottom of your email toolbar next to the trash can icon and select “smart compose comments”.

schedule an email to send later

in charge of sending rejection emails at 8 p.m. but do I have to get home in time to see the bachelorette party finale? announcing a major development next week but going on vacation without wi-fi? With the gmail scheduling feature, you can decide when, exactly, an email is sent. By clicking the little up arrow next to “send” and selecting a time and date, you can stay on top of deadlines while still living your life.

When you’re done with your email, click the down arrow at the bottom left of your new email next to the “send” button. you will be prompted to “schedule shipping”. click this option and choose a date and time to send the email. Once this is selected, click “schedule delivery” and the email will send itself without you having to put down your glass of wine.

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cut corners (trackpad) with keyboard shortcuts

gmail is packed with keyboard shortcuts that can make managing your inbox so much easier. Watch your email compose screen pop up when you hit the letter “c” on your keyboard, or automatically visit your drafts by clicking b + d. Gmail has dozens of customizable shortcuts that can make your life easier.

go to → settings → advanced and enable keyboard shortcuts. There should now be a tab for keyboard shortcuts in the settings window where you can view and customize your options. you’ll need to make sure that keyboard shortcuts are also turned on in settings → general → keyboard shortcuts.

To see a full list of more gmail options and shortcuts (including a bunch of options grouped by function), hold down shift + /. a panel with a directory of shortcuts will appear.

some favorite gmail keyboard shortcuts:

change +! : report as spam (emails you don’t like *poof* from your inbox)

shift + # : delete (read above)

r: reply (reply quickly, also prevents you from the embarrassing “reply all”)

u: mark as unread (to come back later, unless of course you have the snooze trick enabled)

c: compose a new email

a: reply to all (again, don’t confuse this with “r”)

e: archive a message

pressing g + (i, d, s, or t) takes you to a variety of different inboxes, starred emails, or drafts, depending on the letter you press.

unsend an email

The momentary panic that occurs when you type “dear kylie” instead of “dear kendall” in that work email is now and forever officially handled. gmail now has the option to retrieve a sent message up to 30 seconds after it was sent.

To set this up, go to the settings icon in the top right corner of your gmail home page, choose settings → general, then turn on “undo send”. You can decide how long you have before your email callback option disappears from the dark abyss of the internet. nervous nellies can opt for the 30-second option, while masochistic marges can select five seconds.

this email will self-destruct in 3, 2, 1…

Sending embarrassing photos of your dog in a tutu or sensitive company information is always a bit risky, so try gmail’s self-destruct feature. Just like snapchat emails, these messages just stay in the recipient’s inbox for as long as you want. email cannot be forwarded, copied, pasted, downloaded or printed, and you can even revoke access from your own account before the timer runs out.

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After you’ve composed your email, click the little clock with a lock icon on the bottom toolbar and select the recipient and time period.

That’s not secure enough, you say? This new feature also gives you the option to password-protect the message, so the recipient must also enter a computer-generated password that they receive via text message before they can open it. just click the option that says “sms passcode” under “require passcode” and gmail will send the recipient the passcode needed to access the email. (note: some corporate gmail accounts don’t have this feature enabled. if you want something even more secure, try a secure messaging service like signal).


With gmail canned replies, you can quickly set up and import pre-written replies into your emails. this feature is mainly for business people who send the same email over and over again to different people. it’s the newer, lazier copy/paste, but without the anxiety of accidentally pasting the wrong name into your greeting. it even imports subject lines and any attachments you’ve saved with the email template. by tagging these canned responses, you will be able to find what you need quickly and effectively.

To enable canned responses, go to settings icon → settings → general → enable canned responses (templates).

after writing the initial email, click the “more options” icon next to the trash can icon on the gmail toolbar and select “canned responses”. from here select “save draft as template” then “save draft as new template”. from here, it will ask you to give your template a name; let’s say I’m calling mine “network template” and now I can send this email whenever I need to. simply open a new email, select more options → canned responses, and your template will appear. when you click on it, the new email will be populated with the saved template. voila! less typing, more canned responses.

pause your gmail

Receiving a stressful email after work hours can really put a damper on your happy hour or family time. Turn on Gmail’s “snooze” feature when you need a break from your inbox, and emails will reappear at your chosen time.

To snooze an email, hover over the message on the gmail home screen and click the clock icon on the far right. you can put off email for a day, a week, a month, heck, you can put off for a year. the email will reappear in your inbox when you are ready to reply. There’s also a designated label for these postponed emails on the left side of your inbox in case you need to find them sooner.

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if that’s not enough for you to remember to reply to grandma jane’s email, try clicking and dragging the email from your gmail inbox directly to the task tab on the right pane of your screen. the email reminder will appear there, with a link directly below it that will take you directly to the message in question. integrating these emails into your to-do list can be an effective way to remind yourself to respond.

the personal assistant you didn’t know you needed

Instead of digging through your gmail inbox to find your flight departure gate or where you’re meeting your mom for lunch, use the pay and sign-up feature to view and manage your flights, dinner reservations, and more. , subscriptions and more . it’s like suddenly having a personal assistant that you don’t have to pay for. This Gmail feature searches your inbox for any flight, hotel, concert, event, or restaurant reservations you’ve made and compiles them neatly in one place. It even keeps track of previous reservations and subscriptions that have already expired.

go to the circle in the upper right corner of your gmail screen with your initial or personal photo. click google accounts → payment and subscriptions. select which option you want to see, be it subscriptions, reservations or purchases you have made, so you can see and track them.

put it on your file

gmail tab update is like a free personal organizer, dividing your inbox between multiple different tabs, including social emails (like facebook, twitter and instagram), updates (newsletters etc), finances and promotions. The beauty of this feature is that your brain doesn’t have to constantly switch tasks from news to work, to new tagged facebook photos of mom, and back to work again. instead, choose the inbox label you want to deal with and go and conquer those unread messages. your main inbox will still contain all your most important messages to reply to, while other inboxes will take a backseat.

go to the settings icon → configure inbox and select the tabs you want to filter the messages that arrive in your gmail inbox. you can choose up to five different filters.

never break the chain

If you want to copy a colleague in an email thread in gmail, simply type “+[your name]” in the body of the email and select their email address. now this email will automatically include them in the conversation. yes, you can also type your email in the address field, but it feels cooler this way.

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