Gmail these days seems to be omnipresent and it pays to improve your e-mail efficiency if you’re using Gmail. Due to more and more people switching over to Google apps you might also be using the Gmail interface to manage your business e-mail.
Gmail has many features that can help you improve your e-mail efficiency. Some of them are listed below:
Use Gmail keyboard shortcuts to move around
For almost all the functions you perform while using Gmail there is a keyboard shortcut so that you don’t have to use your mouse while you’re busy sifting through the deluge of messages you get every morning. In order to use Gmail keyboard shortcuts you will first need to enable them if you haven’t already done so. Click the “Settings” icon and then under the “General” tab go to “Keyboard shortcuts” and then select “Keyboard shortcuts on”. You will need to save the settings.
Here are the basic functions that you can perform using the keyboard shortcuts in Gmail:
- To move to the next conversation under the current thread: k
- To move to the previous conversation under the current thread: j
- To go back to the main thread: u
- To go to the inbox: g then i
- To go to the Sent folder: g then t
- To compose a new message: c
- To bring up the Gmail keyboard shortcuts help screen: ?
To see a list of all Gmail keyboard shortcuts you can visit this section of Gmail help.
Use the Gmail labs features to improve your e-mail efficiency
Google constantly adds new features to Gmail under the Gmail labs section. These are just experimental features that they plan to introduce in future but they are available if you are the exploring type. For instance, you can enable mouse gestures to jump from one section of Gmail to another by simply using gestures rather than your keyboard or mouse clicks.
Create multiple inboxes to manage multiple Gmail accounts with a single Gmail account
You can enable multiple inboxes by going to the Labs section and enabling multiple inboxes. Then you can create filters to redirect e-mails from other Gmail accounts (in fact all e-mail accounts that support e-mail forwarding) to the newly created inboxes.
Use the undo feature
Do you know that Gmail has an undo feature? This means, if by mistake you have sent an e-mail and just seconds after sending it you’re regretting it, you can undo it. Sending an e-mail when this feature is enabled isn’t like a bullet that has left the gun. By default Gmail gives you 5 seconds to undo the send. Once you have enabled this feature you can change the number of seconds before the e-mail is finally sent.
Use WiseStamp to create custom signatures for your Gmail messages
WiseStamp is not actually a Gmail feature and it is an add-on that you need to add to your browser. Once you have added it, you can define an HTML signature for your outgoing Gmail messages. This signature is automatically inserted into the message. You can even decide where to place the signature. Although Gmail has its own default signature feature it is not as advanced as WiseStamp.
Use Boomerang to schedule your messages
Boomerang, again, is not a Gmail feature that you can enable. This is also an add-on that adds extra features to your Gmail interface. Using Boomerang you can schedule your messages so that they don’t immediately leave your inbox and they are sent at a particular time. The last time I checked you couldn’t decide the exact time, but now perhaps they have introduced this ability too.
Use labels to organize your Gmail messages
Labels are a great way to organize thousands of Gmail messages that might be accumulating inside your inbox. Suppose you are having an office party and scores of people are sending e-mails to you. To make sure that the party-related messages don’t get mixed up with your other messages and you can find them in one go, you can attach the “Party” label to all the messages pertaining to the impending party. Just select the message you want to associate a label to, and from the top bar (the interface and the icons have slightly changed in the new Gmail interface) click the labels icon. You can either choose an existing label or you can create a new label.
Although there are scores of other features and capabilities that you can enable to improve your e-mail efficiency in Gmail, these are what I have been using up till now. If you are aware of more ways to improve your e-mail efficiency, please share your thoughts in the comments section.