If you're like most people and have Gmail as one of your email accounts, you know what a challenge it can be to stay on top of your emails. As a longtime Gmail user, I always thought I was pretty good at using Google's service.
It wasn’t until I started staring at the 1,473 unread emails in my inbox that I realized – Surely an email service with 1.5 billion users has more to offer? Indeed it does, so here are 15 Gmail tips and tricks to help you make your Gmail life easier.
1. Keep Folders Visible
One of the easiest ways to make your inbox less cluttered is by keeping folders visible in Gmail. This way, you can quickly scan through them and see what's been going on in each one.
The good news is that you can set up this feature so that it's always enabled or disabled automatically depending on whether you're reading a message from a particular sender (like an airline or service provider).
2. Quickly Schedule a Meeting
If you want to schedule a meeting with a colleague, it's easy to do from Gmail. All you need to do is open an email, enter the email address of the people you want to invite, click on the calendar icon and choose when you'd like it to happen.
You can also send out a link if they don't have Google Calendar already set up (which is likely). Entering this information will automatically create an event in their calendar that matches your request.
3. Add a Signature to Your Gmail
In the same way that you have a signature for your business cards, you can have one for your Gmail account. Your signature can be an image or text that includes rich elements like hyperlinks.
To add a signature, head over to Gmail's Settings. Next;
- Click the gear icon in the upper right corner.
- Select “Settings” from the drop-down menu.
- Under “General,” click “Signatures.”
- Select “Configure Signature.”
- Enter the content for your signature.
- Click “Save Changes” at the bottom of the page.
You'll see that this new signature will appear above new emails you send out and reply to messages that you're writing back to someone else—but not on forwarded messages or those sent by other people.
4. Color Code Your Gmail Labels
Color-coding labels are a great way to organize your emails. For example, you might want to create a label for each client and assign different colors (blue, red, green) based on their industry. When you’re looking at your Gmail inbox and see that an email is from Client A or Client B, it’s easy to see which emails are essential without reading through them all.
To add labels:
- Click the gear icon in the upper right corner.
- Select “Settings” from the drop-down menu.
- Select the “Label” tab.
- Now you can create a new label or select an existing one to modify.
- Give the label a name, such as “Client A” or “Client B.”
Aside from just creating labels, you can also customize its placement. For example, you can choose whether this label will appear on the left or right side of the page when viewing Gmail's web interface messages by selecting either “Left” or “Right” under the Label position.
Aside from color coding labels, you can create custom notifications for each label so you don’t miss anything when they get updated (new emails).
5. Use the Conversation View
One of the best ways to manage your inbox is using the Conversation View. Google will group similar messages when you enable this setting and show them as a single conversation in your inbox.
Doing this means all messages sent in sequence will share the same subject line, and you'll be able to see all emails in the same email thread at once. Although Gmail enables Conversation View by default, you can toggle it back on if it isn’t for some reason.
Simply head to your Settings, scroll down to “Conversation view,” and make sure the radio button next to “Conversation view on” is selected.
6. Get Unlimited Emails Addresses
You can create an alias for one or more of your existing email addresses to have a unique address that forwards to your primary address. This feature is helpful if you're trying to manage multiple roles for a small business. For example, you could have the primary email address paired with aliases like [email protected] and [email protected].
To create an alias, head over to Gmail's Settings page and click on the Accounts & Import tab. Scroll down until you see “Aliases” in the General section, then click “Add another e-mail address.”
You can enter a new email address where users will receive their messages sent through this alias (and specify whether other settings such as reception in plain text or HTML) before clicking on “Create Alias.”
7. Manage Multiple Email Accounts from Your Gmail Inbox
Not fond of having emails with that “+” sign inside? Not a problem; use an alias instead. Email aliases are another excellent way to manage secondary email addresses. Email forwarding is awkward, but Gmail can handle multiple email addresses per account.
For example, your primary email address is [email protected], and you have another address that’s [email protected]. Click the gear icon to enter your Gmail settings, and click the “Accounts” tab. Click the link to “Add an email account” and follow the instructions.
Once done, Gmail will act like any regular email client and retrieve emails from that account. The additional account can work either standalone or as an alias of your primary account.
This work better with custom domains, especially if you’re a business. You can use it to manage multiple roles within a small business. For example, you could have the primary email address paired with aliases like [email protected] and [email protected].
8. Set Up Email Filters
Filters are rules you create to manage incoming mail. This feature is one of the most powerful (in my opinion) for Gmail. For example, you can have all incoming emails automatically archived and labeled with specific keywords, so they don’t clutter up the inbox.
- Click the Settings gearbox and select the “Filters and blocked addresses” tab to set up filters.
- Click on the “Create a new filter” link located at the bottom of that page.
- Specify the conditions under which this filter should apply, then click “Create filter.”
- Now you can select the checkboxes on what you want Gmail to do with emails that meet your conditions.
- Once done, click “Create filter.”
9. Open Multiple Emails at Once
You can open multiple emails at once, which is helpful if you want to compare them. Simply click the pop-out icon in Gmail's top right corner and select an email or multiple emails by holding down the Shift key as you click on each one. Doing so will create a new tab for each chosen email.
10. Manage Multiple Email Statuses
If you just want to delete, archive, or move specific messages quickly—and not open them all up at once, you can do the following:
Delete one message at a time by hovering over the trash bin icon on each message until it turns into a “clean up” button (this only works if your mouse is over an unread message). Then click it.
Archive multiple messages at once by selecting them before archiving them with Ctrl+Shift+A or clicking on “Archive” under More Actions in Gmail's drop-down menu (the latter option also allows users to select multiple messages from this list).
If need be, go back through your archived conversations later using Ctrl+Shift+O. Managing your emails like this helps keep them accessible without clogging up your inbox.
11. Grab Some Gmail Add-ons
If you want to take your Gmail experience one step further, plenty of third-party add-ons are available to make managing your inbox even easier. You can search for and install these apps on the Google Workspace Marketplace.
Naturally, the apps available vary widely, so the best assistance will depend on how you work. For example, I use the Slack and Asana add-ons. If you lean more towards the corporate side, there are apps like Zoom, CRM for Gmail, and Zapier for Gmail.
12. Manage Tasks from Gmail
Google Tasks is a simple but powerful tool for managing your to-do list. It's a great way to keep your tasks and emails together in one place, so you can keep track of them without cluttering up an inbox that's already overflowing with emails.
To add a task, click on the Tasks icon on the right navigation bar of your Gmail inbox. A panel will pop out from the right, and you can add the necessary information like title, details, and date/time.
13. You Can @Mention Contacts
Instead of having to add multiple cc email addresses, Gmail allows you to use the @ as a mention. Simply typing @ followed by their first and last name (or Gmail username) anywhere in your email content will add the recipient to the email loop.
You can also add a list of contacts to these messages without entering each email address individually.
14. Work Offline With Gmail
People often face one problem: Google services mostly require an Internet connection to use. If you travel a lot, the ability to use Gmail offline can be a lifesaver. Here are some tips for how to set up offline mode and access your email when there's no internet connection:
Click the gear icon in the top-right corner of your Gmail inbox, then click the “Offline” tab. Tick the checkbox on the “Offline” option and choose how much of your email you want to store on your local device. Remember to click the “Save Changes” button.
One important thing to note is that you won’t be able to send the email while offline. Instead, compose your email and click the down arrow next to the “Send” button. Select “Schedule Send” and set the time for later when you expect to get connectivity back.
If you don’t do this, Gmail will repeatedly say “Sending…” until there's an internet connection (or simply drives you nuts, whichever comes first).
15. Star Messages
Stars are a great way to save messages, but they also allow you to find them quickly. You can star important messages and then search for them later. Stars are easy to find in your inbox because they show up at the top of your list, making it easy to see what’s essential in a crowded inbox.
You can also use stars to create filters based on specific criteria. For example, if you want all messages with attachments that have been starred, select “Has Attachment” under “Starred Mail” and then click Create Filter.
This will create an automatic filter that sends these types of emails straight into a folder called Starred Messages, so they don’t get lost among other emails without attachments or other criteria specified by this filter.
Bonus Tip: Change the “Undo Send” Time Limit
Gmail has a built-in feature that allows you to undo sending a message for some time. This can be especially helpful if you send an email accidentally or realize that you made a typo in your message.
This option is always available in Gmail, but you can specify the time limit within which you can undo the send. Click Settings on the top right corner of your inbox and then select “Settings” from the dropdown menu.
Scroll down until you see “Undo Send” and click the dropdown menu nestled within the “Send cancellation period” line. You can set it to 5, 10, 20, or even 30 seconds. By default, Gmail gives you a mere 5 seconds to undo a send.
Many of the tips shared above should help you to manage Gmail better. We've shown you how to streamline your inbox, organize your labels, get better at email management, and leverage various available tools to take control of your inbox.
If you follow these tips, you'll see an improvement in handling your emails. That's something that can benefit any busy professional.