10 Best Gmail Productivity Tools (And How to Set Them Up)

Email is a necessary evil that we all have to deal with almost every day. it is the lifeblood of most online businesses and remains one of the most trusted methods of communication on the internet. But it’s easy for your inbox to get out of hand quickly, especially with the number of online services and newsletters churning out new content.

However, there are many tools that can help you take control of your inbox once again, especially if you use gmail. the following are 10 gmail productivity tools you may not know about,

filters and filter tags

Let’s start with the built-in things you’re likely to miss. In general, the best organization tool you’ll find in Gmail is labels. labels are kind of a hybrid between labels and folders. they help you categorize all the new messages that arrive in your inbox.

As new messages come in, simply check them and drag and drop them onto the appropriate tag. Or you can create a filter so that gmail does it automatically. a fairly robust tool, called filters, detects certain emails when they arrive in your inbox. You match them with fields like from, to, subject, and more.

With these filters, you can have specific emails bypass your inbox and automatically archived and marked as read, like promotional newsletters you don’t want to unsubscribe from but also don’t want to see every day.

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I do this with amazon confirmation emails so I can look them up later if I need them, but I definitely don’t need to read all the emails telling me I just placed an order through amazon.

keyboard shortcuts

another immensely useful feature is keyboard shortcuts, which can be enabled in the general tab on the settings page within gmail. there’s a long list of commands you can queue with the press of a button, like compose, reply all, forward, and so on. one of my favorites is the ability to bulk archive by pressing e or y after selecting all.

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laboratories

in gmail settings, the most useful tool of all is called labs. this is gmail’s testing ground for new features that may or may not make the cut. Beneath the labs are custom keyboard shortcuts, which take individual keystrokes to a whole new level. this setting enables many more shortcuts than the default ones and, as the name suggests, allows you to customize all the hotkeys to your liking.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. there are several more features in labs that are just as useful. one, smartlabels, will automatically create labels for a large number of emails coming from the same address or with similar subjects. there are also multiple inboxes, google map previews, and the ability to enable a button to mark as read.

undo send

undo send, as the name suggests, allows you to “undo send” up to 30 seconds after clicking the send button. it was one of the most popular tools in gmail labs and was recently moved from labs to the general tab in the settings menu.

customizable emails

Another incredibly useful tool that many don’t even know about is the ability to personalize your email. all you have to do is add a plus sign and a word between your google username and @gmail.com (example+something@gmail.com). A similar effect can be achieved by adding any number of dots between the letters of your Google username (example@gmail.com or expl.e@gmail.com or e.x.a.m.p.l.e@gmail.com). google ignores extra periods and any letters after a plus sign. this means you can effectively have an infinite number of email addresses.

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I use this feature to sign in to multiple social accounts using the same gmail account. you can also combine this with filters and labels to proactively keep everything organized. for example, for new services you sign up for but don’t care about emails, you can create a filter that checks for +junk and auto-archives and marks as read. this greatly reduces inbox clutter.

mailbox or inbox

You can also get a lot more out of gmail if you combine it with some external services. A few months ago, I explained how I quickly and easily get to inbox zero almost every day using the mailbox. inbox is google’s own gesture-based gmail tool that can also help you sort. I’m still using and loving mailbox to this day.

boomerang

Sometimes I have a tendency to respond to emails too quickly. other times, I reply to emails too late at night, when the recipient is probably sleeping. To fix this without changing my workflow, I use a tool called boomerang, which allows you to write and send an email in gmail, but delays its delivery for as long as you need. If you want to make sure your email is the first message someone gets in the morning, install the boomerang plugin. then type your message, select the time you want to send the message, and hit send later. boomerang will also remove emails from your inbox and resend them to you after a set period of time. the idea is that you don’t overlook or forget something you don’t have time to act on right away.

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todoist gmail extension

Just so we don’t forget, there’s also a todoist chrome extension for use within the gmail client. With this, you can view and control your todoist account from your gmail browser tab. you can even add emails as tasks using the todoist button, which appears next to the standard gmail controls.

ifttt

As if you thought I’d walk away without mentioning ifttt (if this, then that). ifttt has a lot of potential when it comes to tackling gmail. for example, if I start an email, a task is created for that email in todoist. if I receive emails from specific email addresses, tasks are created for those tasks. you can have email attachments saved to evernote. You can also send an email to up to five addresses every time something happens with any of the other channels on ifttt. the possibilities are virtually endless.

unroll.me

and finally, since everyone hates spam and endless promotional emails, and unsubscribing from all of them individually can take forever, there is a service called unroll.me, which helps you recover your inbox. unroll.me used to be a little better in that it actually unrolled you from everything. now, it requires you to tweet about it. and instead of unsubscribing from everything, it automatically archives emails and marks them as read. but it doesn’t always catch them in time, so you still get notifications of emails that will soon disappear from your inbox.

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