Monthly Archives: December 2016

Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts

I’m a sucker for motivational quote and proverbs, especially those which encourage or add value to my growth as a person. A couple of my favorites, “if you aren’t keeping up, you’re falling behind” and “time is money,” go hand in hand with today’s Gmail tip.
Keyboard shortcuts can be found in virtually every modern operating system, app and service. They may only shave off a second or two at a time but trust me, the savings can quickly add up when used on a regular basis. Such is the case with Gmail, one of the world’s most popular e-mail clients.

Core Navigation Shortcuts
First things first – make sure you have keyboard shortcuts enabled. To check, simply click the gear icon in the top-right corner of Gmail and select Settings. Scroll down and tick the box to enable shortcuts (if they aren’t already active) then click Save Changes.

With your account primed, the first order of business is learning how to navigate Gmail’s various boxes without the mouse. These are some of the easiest shortcuts to memorize as they all use “G” plus one other letter. For example, G + I takes you to the inbox, G + D brings you to the drafts box and G + S drops you into your starred conversations.

Odds are, the majority of your time will be spent in the inbox, either composing new messages or replying to incoming e-mails.
Using the mouse or even the up / down arrow keys may seem like the quickest way to skip ahead or jump back to the previous message in your list but you can get the same results without removing your hand from the home row keys: type J to skip to the next message or K to move up the list.

To compose a quick message in window view, simply type C (or if for some reason you want to do so in a separate tab, just type the letter D). Finished reading a message and need to send it to the trash bin? Shift + 3 (the # sign) will do the trick. Can’t find what you’re looking for or need to move a message? Run a quick mail search by typing / or type the letter V to bring up the “move to” menu.

Dive in Deeper

We’ve only scratched the surface here but for those new to Gmail shortcuts, it’s a great start. Commit just a few of these time-saving shortcuts to memory and you’ll be wondering how you ever got by without them. Once you are ready to dive in deeper, simply type Shift + / (the ? symbol) to bring up Gmail’s keyboard shortcut cheat sheet.

Gmail Filters

One of the most powerful tools Gmail provides is its filtering system. Strangely, it seems that few users of Google’s extremely popular mail service take advantage of filters to improve their email experience and that’s such a shame. Filters can help automate many of the tasks you may perform daily, and can streamline your inbox to show just the emails you want, while removing those you don’t.
It’s true that Google does provide some email filtering already through features like inbox categories and tabs, automatic highlighting of ‘important’ emails, and, of course, spam filtering. But creating your own filters can take inbox organization to the next level, and help you spend less time in your inbox each day.
The Basics of Filtering
Filtering is accessed in Gmail under the ‘Filters and Blocked Addresses’ tab of the settings screen. You will need to open the Gmail web client on a desktop to access this setting, as there is currently no way to set up filters from the mobile Gmail app.
In this section of the settings screen you will find two sections, one for filtering emails, and another for blocking emails. In this article we’ll be focusing on filtering emails, although it’s easy to add email addresses to the blocked address list through the option under each email in a thread.
The first step to setting up a filter is to create a set of search parameters. Any incoming emails that match these search terms will be acted upon before they reach your inbox, so it’s important to make your terms as specific as necessary. Google provides several self-explanatory boxes to create the search terms you require, and you can combine as many of these fields into the one search as you’d like.

For example, let’s say you want to filter all emails from your boss relating to your important business project that have large attachments. You can set up a search with the following terms:
Your boss’ email address in the ‘from’ field
Important business project in the ‘has the words’ field
The ‘has attachment’ box is ticked
A size greater than 5MB in the last field
The next step is to set what you want the filter to do. There are a lot of very handy options available here, from automatically labelling emails, to outright deleting them when they arrive. As with the previous step, you can combine multiple actions into the one filter.

Using the previous example, let’s say you want to label these emails as ‘PDF’ and make sure they are as prominent in your inbox as possible. Setting up the following filter actions would be wise:
Star the email
Apply the label ‘PDF’
Never send to spam
Always mark as important
Click to create the filter (you can also apply the filter to existing emails) and it’ll quietly work in the background to optimize your email experience.

Handy Uses for Filtering
Now that you are aware of the filtering system and how it works, here are some handy things you can use the system for. Several of these have helped us automate our inboxes by cutting down on unwanted emails and categorizing incoming mail so it can be easily tackled.
Label work and personal emails. If you have a personal and work account coming in to the same inbox, you can apply labels to these respective emails automatically through the filtering system. Then, your work emails will stand out in your inbox.

Highlight emails relating to projects or events. Using the labelling, starring and categorizing features of the filtering system, you can automatically highlight emails that may be of the highest importance.
Delete spam that just won’t go away. Sometimes you might get a ton of emails from the same group of email addresses, and no matter how many times you report them as spam, they just keep coming back. The filtering system can target email addresses and banish these emails to spam or the trash with ease.

Forward only some emails. It’s easy to forward every email you receive to another address, but sometimes you need a more fine-grained approach to automatic forwarding. The filtering system gives you this ability.
Archive emails immediately. Does your mum send you outdated and not particularly funny memes via email? You can mark these emails as read and archive them when they arrive through the filtering system.

Of course, there are a bunch of other things you can do with Gmail’s email filtering system, so if you want to streamline your inbox and automate some basic tasks, it’s well worth exploring its full capabilities.

Gmail Offline

Even in today’s connected world, there will be times when you find yourself stuck offline. But there’s no need to panic in these situations; you can still read, search, and reply to your Gmail messages without an internet connection, thanks to the official Gmail Offline Chrome app.
Installing is simply a matter of heading on over to the Gmail Offline page in the Chrome web store and adding this extension to the Chrome browser.

To use the program, open a new Chrome tab and select ‘Apps’ from the top left corner. Gmail Offline should appear alongside other Chrome applications.
This first time you load up Gmail Offline, you’ll be asked whether you want to allow your mail to be saved on the current computer. Remember, don’t enable it on public or shared machines.
Once you agree, Gmail will open (notice how the interface looks different from the regular web version) and messages from the last seven days – along with those in the starred and drafts folders – will start syncing. You can increase the synchronization timeframe to include messages up to one month old by adjusting the settings.

Being offline means that you’re not going to be able to reply to messages, obviously; instead, anything you’ve written will sit in your outbox and be delivered as soon as you’re back online. Additionally, offline actions such as deleting and moving messages will also take place once you’re reconnected.
Scheduling & Snoozing Messages
Another excellent Gmail add-on that comes in the form of a Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera extension is Boomerang for Gmail. Extremely helpful for power users, the add-on can perform several functions — the most notable being the ability to send messages at scheduled times and postpone incoming emails.

Additionally, Boomerang lets you throw messages out of your inbox and have them return at a later date (hence the app’s name). The feature is useful as a reminder for bills or event invitation emails that you don’t want to forget about. Yes, you are able “star” anything important, but you’re liable to forget them when the due date is far off.
Boomerang can even identify dates in an email and suggest a time when it should be brought back to the top of the inbox. You can also boomerang sent messages, allowing you to follow them up at a later date.
Along with its response tracking, recurring messages, and read receipts, Boomerang is an excellent extra that improves the Gmail experience. While the app is free, you will need to subscribe if you want to remove the 10 messages per month limit.