As of May 2015, there is an estimated 900 million Gmail users all over the world, and we’re willing to bet over 75% of them don’t know how to tap into its optimal performance. Whether you use the desktop version of this popular email platform or are one of the 1 billion people who have downloaded it from Google Play, these settings, plug-ins and tricks will have you well on your way to an optimized gmail inbox in only 11 quick clicks. So get ready to spend less time sifting through spam and more time getting things done!
1. Secret Emails
We’re sure it probably took you a while to settle on your perfect Gmail username. And things were probably even harder if you have a super common name like Jon Smith, but did you know, you actually have a multitude of other username options even after you’ve clicked save? It’s true! Gmail has a feature that gives you the option of adding in periods (.) and plus signs (+) to customize your address.
For example, you’ve made the difficult decision of settling on the address firstname.lastname@example.org, but did you know with this you also own the address email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com? We know you’re probably thinking, “Okay, great – why do I need those?”. We’ll give you one word. Spam.
Ever wish there was a simple way to organize all the random sites and promotions you’d signed up for into a single folder (sure there’s a spam folder, but it isn’t always accurate). Or maybe you have a blog and want to organize those emails separately as well. A couple simple options would be to use the address firstname.lastname@example.org on every promotional site you sign up for or, email@example.com for blog related things.
This feature can also help you filter even further by creating specific emails for whatever you need. Say you are attending an event and you want to remember everyone you met there, simply give them the email firstname.lastname@example.org. Those people will only send email to that variation and you will be able to track them in your inbox.
This is a pretty time-saving and genius feature if you ask us!
We’re sure you know about starring favourite or important emails in your inbox, but did you know there are actually a variety of different stars and tabs you can use to mark your emails? Hidden inside the General Settings tab, you’ll find an option that allows you to use 1 star, 4 stars or all stars for flagging emails.
Using all of these stars will not only be more fun and add a little colour to your inbox, but it will also keep you hyper organized. For example, you could use the yellow exclamation mark for emails that need a fast response, the red star for blog related emails and the green star for personal emails. It makes everything a lot easier to find once you find yourself looking through 200 pages of previous emails for that one cell phone bill you need to pay!
3. Canned Response
If you’re one of those people that regularly gets the same email from 10 different people, canned responses are for you. What they are are preset messages you can click on quickly to get your point across without having to actually write an email.
You may be familiar with this concept on your cell phone, when someone calls and a screen pops up giving you an option to send a prewritten text message to the caller like, “I’m in a meeting” or “I’m driving”. The same thing goes for canned responses and you can set up as many different ones as you’d like.
To enable this setting, simply go into your Settings, click on the Labs tab, and Enable Canned Response. Now, when click reply, there will be a box at the bottom of your email where you can choose your response and quickly press send. There are also a lot of other interesting extensions in the Labs tab that you might want to check out to further your email productivity.
Mailbox is an app that is designed to help your inbox get to, and remain, at zero. We know the word “impossible” is floating around in your head right now, but hear us out – this is a good one.
Mailbox is designed for iPhone and Android but has recently released a beta version for Mac OSX. What it does is gives you a smarter inbox, giving you the ability to fly through your email at record speeds. Mailbox comes with quickswipe, which gives you the option to quickly mark the item as done, put it in the trash, can an entire conversation or archive it into a specific folder. Another great feature is having the ability to remind you of emails you couldn’t send right away either later, tomorrow, in a week or someday.
The best part of Mailbox is it adapts to your behaviours and becomes even smarter with daily use. So if you’re someone who wants to delete items quickly or archive them in a swipe, mailbox is definitely an app to try.
Ever send a sensitive email that you wish would self-destruct after being read? That exists. Dmail is a chrome extension that allows you to send secure emails and unsend them with a click of a button, even after it has been read.
One of the best parts about this app is that you don’t have to send to another gmail account for it to work. As long as you have it downloaded you have full control of how long someone has access to the email you sent. Dmail also encrypts your messages for better security.
Dmail is free right now in its Beta phase, but they will soon be introducing Individual, Startup and Enterprise plans. So if you want to grab this handy little tool for free, I suggest heading over to their website soon!
Sortd is another way to organize you inbox by putting all your emails into lists. This helps tailor your inbox to your specific needs since you can customize all the lists into categories you use. We recommend starting out with a To-Do list, a Follow-Up List and an Important list to keep things separated and neat.
This app is super simple to use and set up by dragging the emails you want to each list. It becomes smarter overtime and automatically puts certain emails into the selected list, so you don’t even have to think about it. It’s available on mobile and as a chrome extension, so you can see your email To-Do list where ever you are.
Full Contact touts itself as “Your Gmail. On Steroids.”. Intriguing isn’t it? Essentially what it does is gives you all the available information about each sender in your inbox. So instead of just knowing someone’s email address, you’ll have access to their Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn Profiles, and it will even give you info about where they live, what they do and even their Klout scores.
The app is made to help you build better business connections by knowing more about each person and growing your network (not for stalking people). Right now it’s available as a free Chrome add-on and will soon be available for Firefox and Safari. They also have a new free app in the Apple store for iphone users.
MailTrack.io is pretty much What’s App? reimagined for Gmail. If you love the feature of being able to see if and when your message has been read, then this plug-in is for you.
MailTrack is the only mail tracking app for Gmail with the double check, one check for being sent, and an additional one once it has been read. You can even see who has read your email out of of a large group so you know who you’re going to need to remind about that 9:00am meeting!
Ever wish you could just automate your email sending and let your Gmail account do the work? Well, Boomerang makes all your dreams come true. Okay, maybe only a couple but it certainly comes in handy!
With Boomerang, you can write a reply the moment you receive an email and schedule it to send a bit later – you know, so you don’t look to eager or desperate. This also works well scheduling follow up emails, sending reminders to colleagues and for tricking people into thinking you work really late nights or really early mornings.
Whichever way you decide to use it, we can guarantee this is going to come in handy at some point – even if you only use it once to write in sick to work the night before.
Tips & Tricks
10. Undo Send
This is such a great feature, we actually wrote an entire post about it when it was first released. Since we’re pretty sure everyone has typed up a hastily written email at some point in time we saw this as a feature we needed to share with the world.
The types of emails an unsend button can help with can vary greatly (see our full list here) but some of our favourite excuses to use it are the instantly regretted love email to your ex, fire-worthy note you sent to your boss and the all too common reply-all catastrophe. Even if you’re someone who is very careful about sending their emails, you can always find that last minute typo or realize you addressed someone by the wrong name.
Undo send works by giving you a 5, 10, 20 or 30 second delay on your send to really let what you just wrote sink in. If you have a moment of instant panic, it’s probably a good time to hit undo. Couple this with Dmail’s self-destruction and you’ll be covered for anything!
11. Keyboard Shortcuts
Little did we know, Gmail is actually programmed with a ton of keyboard shortcuts to make your email sending faster. If you’re someone that spends a good chunk of their day replying to emails, this could cut back on a lot of wasted time.
Since keyboard shortcuts can be hard to learn and memorize, there is a handy little browser extension you can add on to Google Chrome called KeyRocket that shows you the command you could have used after you have completed and action. For example, if you want to go from your Inbox to your Sent mail all you have to do is type G then T. Seriously, it’s like magic. Learning all these little short cuts will make your life so much faster, you may even have time to take a lunch break one day!
Bonus: It has a tracker to show you how much time you’ve wasted doing things the “old fashioned” way.