Have you ever been clicking around in Gmail, wondering if there’s an even more efficient way to do one of things you mindlessly do 100 times a day, for example, open a new message or add a CC recipient?

You may not realize it, but all those bulky in-app actions are costing you time, and making you less efficient. That’s because Google offers dozens of Gmail keyboard shortcuts, which can convert almost any action in Gmail into a single keystroke.

Let’s do the math on this. The average worker spends about 17 hours every week managing email. Let’s assume that through the use of keyboard shortcuts, you can save 50 percent of your time for every action. Obviously, part of those 17 hours are spent drafting and thinking about emails, so let’s say about a quarter of that time is spent taking shortcut-able actions. Every week, you’d save about 2 hours of time, which could save you more than 100 hours a year.

If that sounds too good to be true, I encourage you to give keyboard shortcuts a try within Gmail; you’ll feel like you’re going 100 mph once you get used to them.

The only problem is, Google doesn’t do a good job of making these Gmail shortcuts known to its users; they’re considered advanced features, so the average user doesn’t need to know about them. That’s why I’ve compiled this near-comprehensive list of Gmail keyboard shortcuts, all of which have the potential to save you time.

A Word on Nomenclature and Usage

These keyboard shortcuts are for users of the Gmail desktop app. For each shortcut, I’ve included the keystrokes necessary to accomplish the desired function, bound by quotation marks “[example]”. You don’t need to include the quotation marks when applying them. When you see a + symbol, that implies you should keep any and all previous keys held down as you strike the subsequent keyboard key.

Many of these shortcuts require the use of a CTRL key or Command/Mac key. By default, I’ve listed them all as “CTRL,” but if you want to use the shortcut for Mac, just substitute the Command/Mac key.

Default Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts to Improve Your Email Productivity

All these keyboard shortcuts are immediately available in Gmail; you don’t have to install anything or change any features. Just get your fingers on the keyboard and start using them!

Composition and chatting

1. Focus the main window. If you want to focus the main window, use Shift + Esc. It’s helpful if you’re navigating somewhere else and you need to get back to your inbox (or whatever folder you were in last).

2. Focus your latest chat or compose message. If you’ve wandered away from your latest email draft, you can click Esc to bring focus back to it.

3. Advance to the next chat or compose message. Sometimes, it’s helpful to flip through the emails in your inbox without moving your fingers from the keyboard. Use Ctrl + . [period] to advance to the next chat or compose message.

4. Advance to the previous chat or compose message. If you need to cycle back, use Ctrl + , [comma] to advance to the previous chat or compose message.

5. Send the email. If you want to send your current email, Ctrl + Enter will make it happen. Just be careful not to slip on this one and send the email too soon!

6. Add CC. If you’re ready to add your CC contacts, use Ctrl + Shift + c to do it.

7. Add BCC. For BCC, use Ctrl + Shift +b to add a line.

8. Access the custom “from.” You can also add a custom “from” address by using Ctrl + Shift + f to bring up your options.

9. Insert a link. Using Ctrl + k allows you to insert a link into your message, which is especially handy if the link is already in your clipboard.

10. Go to the previous misspelled word. Let’s assume you’re in the proofreading phase and you’re reviewing suggested changes. To go to the previous misspelled word in the document, use Ctrl + ; to highlight it.

11. Go to the next misspelled word. Using Ctrl + ‘ will let you go to the next misspelled word.

12. Open spelling suggestions. When you have a misspelled word selected, you can use Ctrl + m to open a list of spelling suggestions.

13. Go to the next section. Use Ctrl + Alt + . to go to the next section.

14. Go to the previous section. Use Ctrl + Alt + , to go to the previous section.

Text formatting

These shortcuts are almost exclusively used when you’re composing a new message in Gmail. They can help you format your text correctly, and set up your emails to be easier to read.

15. Use previous font. You can cycle through the fonts available with two keyboard shortcuts. Using Ctrl + Shift + 5 will give you the previous font.

16. Use next font. Using Ctrl + Shift + 6 will give you the next font.

17. Decrease text size. You can increase the size of your text with Ctrl + Shift + – (appropriately enough).

18. Increase text size. You can increase your text size with Ctrl + Shift + + (the last + in this prompt is the actual key, not a prompt to hold down another button).

19. Bold. The next few keyboard shortcuts might be familiar to you if you’ve used them in Word or another program. Using Ctrl + b will allow you to toggle bold formatting on or off.

20. Italics. You can use Ctrl + i to toggle italics on or off.

21. Underline. You can use Ctrl + u to toggle underlining on or off.

22. Numbered list. If your emails don’t have lists, you’re missing out on a critical organizational tool that makes your emails more concise and easier to read. Use Ctrl + Shift + 7 to start or toggle on a numbered list.

23. Bulleted list. In Gmail, you can use Ctrl + Shift + 8 to call up a bulleted list, much in the same way.

24. Quote text. If you need to quote text in your email, you can use an indented format to make it more obvious and cleaner-looking. Try using Ctrl + Shift + 9 to do it.

25. Indent less. If you need to indent your text to the previous tab, use Ctrl + [ to regress.

26. Indent more. Using Ctrl + ] will allow you to indent more.

27. Align left. To align your text to the left side, use Ctrl + Shift + l (lowercase “L”).

28. Align center. Using Ctrl + Shift + e will align your text in the center.

29. Align right. The prompt Ctrl + Shift + r will align your text to the right.

30. Set right-to-left. If you want to establish right-to-left typing, like a madman, use Ctrl + Shift + , to do it.

31. Set left-to-right. When you’ve realized your mistake, use Ctrl + Shift + . to bring it back to left-to-right.

32. Remove all formatting. If you want to scrap whatever formatting your text had a moment ago, the prompt Ctrl + will help you.

Advanced Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts

These keyboard shortcuts are also built into Gmail, but if you want to use them, you’ll need to turn them on. You can do this from the Settings menu, but appropriately enough, there’s also a keyboard shortcut that can help you out:

33. Access keyboard shortcuts. Type “?” when you have Gmail open and you’ll see a menu with all the available keyboard shortcuts in Gmail by default. If you haven’t yet enabled keyboard shortcuts, you’ll also see a yellow line in the middle prompting you to “Enable” them. After this, you can still call up this menu any time to refer to your favorite keyboard shortcuts.

Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts

Once enabled, you’ll have access to all these keyboard shortcuts as well:

Actions

These advanced Gmail keyboard shortcuts are designed to help you take standard actions in Gmail, such as organizing your messages or switching your focus:

34. Move focus to the toolbar. If you need the focus on the toolbar, type , (comma).

35. Select a conversation. Use x to select a conversation.

36. Toggle star. Type s if you want to toggle whether a message is starred or not, or rotate between your different superstars.

37. Remove label. You can use y to remove a label from an email.

38. Archive. Use e to archive your currently selected message(s).

39. Mute. When a conversation spirals out of control and you no longer need to be part of it, use m to mute it.

40. Report as spam. You can report spam using !, though hopefully you won’t need to use this function often.

41. Delete. Delete messages with # for a faster variation.

42. Reply. There are a few reply-oriented variations to consider here. Using r will give you a standard reply.

43. Reply in a new window. Use Shift + r to reply in a new window.

44. Reply all. Using a will let you reply all automatically.

45. Reply all in a new window. Following the pattern, Shift + a will let you reply all in a new window.

46. Forward. You can forward a message using f for the standard approach.

47. Forward in a new window. And as you might have guessed, Shift + f will allow you to forward the message in a new window.

48. Update the conversation. If you want to update the conversation, use Shift + n as your command.

49. Remove conversation from current view and go previous/next. If you want to head to the previous message, use ] or if you want to head to the next message, use the [ Either way will remove the conversation from your current view.

50. Archive conversation and go previous/next. You can use a similar function, archiving your current conversation and using } for the previous message or { for the next message. The keys here are all very similar, so be careful not to hit the wrong key.

51. Undo the last action. Undo has been reduced to z in Gmail, so you can always quickly remedy a mistake.

52. Mark read. Use Shift + i to mark a conversation as read.

53. Mark unread. Use Shift + u to mark a conversation as unread.

54. Mark unread from the selected message. You can use _ to mark all messages as unread, starting from the currently selected message.

55. Mark as important. To mark a message as important, you have two options: + or = (and easily enough, they’re the same key).

56. Mark as not important. You can use to mark a conversation as not important.

57. Expand conversation. If you want to expand a conversation, use ; to do it.

58. Collapse conversation. The inverse function relies on : to collapse a conversation.

59. Snooze. Snooze is a relatively new function, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you weren’t familiar with it. You can use b to “snooze” an email and send it to your inbox at a later time or date.

60. Add conversation to tasks. Try using Shift + t to add a conversation to your task list; it’s much faster than a manual entry.

Jumping

These shortcuts are designed to help you “jump” quickly from one folder or section of Gmail to another. For all of them, you’ll press g, followed by some other signature key.

61. Go to inbox. If you’ve gone somewhere else, you can get back to your inbox by striking g followed by

62. Go to Starred. After g, press s to go to your Starred conversations.

63. Go to Sent. Press g then t to get to your Sent message folder.

64. Go to Drafts. Using g then d will get you to your Drafts.

65. Go to All Mail. If you want to open all your mail, use g then a to do it.

66. Go to Contacts. Press g then c to get to your Contacts.

67. Go to Label. If you want to go to a label, try g then l (lowercase “L”).

68. Go to Tasks. Hit g then k to head to Tasks.

Toggling between threads

You’ll also need to learn how to select and deselect different clusters of threads with the click of a few keys. For all these shortcuts, you’ll strike the * key, then press another key.

69. Select all conversations. To select all conversations in your current view, use * then a to do it.

70. Deselect all conversations. With * then n you can deselect all conversations in your current view.

71. Select read conversations. If you only want to select read conversations, * then r will let you do it.

72. Select unread conversations. Conversely, * then u will let you select all unread conversations.

73. Select starred conversations. If you use stars frequently, * then s will be handy—it lets you select all starred conversations in your current view.

74. Select unstarred conversations. You can use * then t to select all unstarred conversations in your current view.

Navigating

Navigation keyboard shortcuts will help you quickly change the view within Gmail, and get to the exact section you need to go:

75. Go back to the threadlist. Use u to go back to the threadlist quickly.

76. Newer/older conversation. You can select a newer or older conversation by using k or j

77. Open conversation. Open a conversation using o or collapse/expand a conversation with the Enter

78. Read the previous/next message. To read the previous message, press p or to read the next message, press the n

79. Go to the next inbox section. Use ` to go to the next inbox section.

80. Go to the previous inbox section. Use ~ to go to the next inbox section.

Applications

These shortcuts will help you take specific actions, including composing a new message:

81. Compose. To call up a composition window, pressing c is all you have to do.

82. Compose in a tab. You can use d to open a composition window in a new tab.

83. Search mail. Try using / to search your mailbox.

84. Search chat contacts. If you need to search your chat contacts specifically, you’ll need to use q to do it.

85. Open “more actions” menu. If you’re looking for the “more actions” menu, . will take you there.

86. Open “move to” menu. You can use v to open the “move to” menu to sort your emails faster.

87. Open “label as” menu. Use l to open the “label as” menu and apply a custom label to a message.

Hangouts

If you use Google Hangouts, you’ll need to commit these keyboard shortcuts to memory. All of them rely on hitting h followed by another keystroke.

88. Show menu. To show the Hangouts menu, use h then m to call it up.

89. Show archived Hangouts. Use h then a to show your archived Hangouts.

90. Show Hangout requests. You can use h then i to show Hangout requests.

91. Focus on the Conversation list. Use h then c to focus on the Conversation list in Hangouts.

92. Open phone. If you’re ready to open the phone, use h then p to do it. Alternatively, you can use g then p to open the phone.

Custom Gmail Keyboard Shortcut Ideas to Consider

As if the preceding 92 keyboard shortcuts for Gmail weren’t enough for your taste, there’s also an option in Gmail that lets you create your own shortcuts. Head to Settings, and click on Advanced options (formerly known as Gmail Labs—there are lots of nifty features to try out there). Click Enable next to Custom keyboard shortcuts, then save your changes.

When you’ve done this, you’ll get a brand-new tab in Settings for Keyboard Shortcuts, where you can enter almost any combination of keystrokes to fill in for the majority of functions listed on this guide.

Custom Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts

If you’re stuck on what to do, here are some ideas to get you going:

93. Numeric keypad entries. Many of the standard keyboard shortcuts in Gmail rely on letters, or combinations of holding down keys with letters that force you to stretch your hand across the keyboard. Instead, consider utilizing number sequences, and leveraging the power of a numeric keypad. Everything will be easier to remember, and you’ll be less likely to mistype a word while you’re trying to access a shortcut.

94. Appropriate letters. Some of the letters in the standard keyboard shortcuts make perfect sense, like using “r” for reply, “a” for reply all, and “f” for forward. But others, like “b” for Snooze, make little to no sense. You can use custom keyboard shortcuts to make sure your most commonly used functions are abbreviated using the most appropriate letters.

95. Comfortable positioning. You can also rearrange your keyboard shortcuts to maximize their ergonomics. This will depend on your personal preferences and some experimentation, but chances are, you’ll be able to find some shortcuts that make your hands far more comfortable and less strained.

Text Expansion Shortcuts

Though not technically shortcuts within Gmail, you can also make use of a Chrome extension or a third-party app to give you the power to expand certain keyboard entries into phrases, sentences, or even whole paragraphs of text. Auto Text Expander is one of the best-known, but there are other options to consider as well.

No matter which specific app you choose, the functionality will be similar; you’ll have the chance to program your own keystrokes to correspond to swaths of text that you use frequently. If you don’t have any ideas, try using some of these custom shortcuts:

96. Avoid profanities. In most work environments, profanities are a major taboo, and if you aren’t sure, you should err on the side of caution. The problem is, with words like “shirt” or “duck,” it’s easy for a single typo to make you look foolish and unprofessional. That might fly in an email to a coworker, but it can ruin a potential sale. Consider typing a list of swear words into your text expander, and set them to expand to something like “CORRECT THIS TEXT” so it draws your attention to the mistake in time to correct it.

97. Simplify your greetings. You can also simplify your greetings by typing them into your text expander. For example, if you frequently begin emails with a greeting like “Thanks for reaching out!,” you can reduce that phrase to “Thx” and save 21 keystrokes every email.

98. Automate your closings. You can do the same thing with your closings. Phrases like “Kind regards” or “Thanks for your time” can be reduced to a couple of keys.

99. Reduce bulky, common words. Bulky words you have to type frequently, such as your company’s brand name or a registered trademark, are also good choices for keyboard shortcuts. Just make sure you use a unique combination of letters that couldn’t be mistaken for something else.

100. Spell unfamiliar names correctly. If you work with someone who has a unique, hard-to-spell name, you can reduce their name to a shortcut. It will save you time typing, and make sure you never run the risk of misspelling it.

101. Program oft-repeated phrases. Nobody especially likes corporate jargon and repeated phrases, but sometimes, they get the job done. If you have any turns of phrase you particularly like, or ones you find yourself using most of the time, program them in.

Tips for Success

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the sheer number of keyboard shortcuts available, here are some tips to help you make the most of them:

  • Integrate gradually. Don’t try to use all these keyboard shortcuts at once. Even if you have an impressive memory, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to commit more than 100 extensions to memory in a short period of time. Instead, try to integrate these gradually. Start by learning 2-5 extensions you think would be most valuable to you, and only learn a new one when you’ve mastered those.
  • Try using a third-party extension. If you don’t like the idea of studying these extensions one by one, consider using a third-party extension that trains you to use these more naturally. For example, the Chrome extension KeyRocket prompts you when you take an action in Gmail that could have been shortened with a keyboard extension. It’s a real-time reminder that these extensions exist, and an automated way to keep learning new shortcuts.
  • Watch out for troublesome custom combinations. Be careful when creating your own custom combinations. The more complex you make Gmail, the more features it will have, but the more buggy and complicated it’s going to get; that’s why advanced Gmail features (previously known as Gmail Labs features) are disabled by default. If you create a keyboard shortcut that expands a simple combination of letters into a full phrase, you might accidentally add the full phrase when you don’t intend to.
  • Always double check your work. Relying on keyboard shortcuts inevitably opens you up to more vulnerabilities. Typing the wrong key, or highlighting the wrong window when entering your shortcuts can fill your emails with errors or send an email when you aren’t ready to send it. Take your time as you get used to these keyboard shortcuts for Gmail, and always spend an extra moment to double-check your work. It’s also a good time to make sure you have the Undo Send feature enabled in Gmail; that way, you have a failsafe in case you send out an email accidentally.

Once you’ve integrated these keyboard shortcuts into your daily email habits, you’ll notice your productivity improve significantly. If you’re curious as to how much your productivity has improved, exactly, you’ll need the help of an external tool. EmailAnalytics allows you to measure key variables associated with your email usage, including things like how many emails you send in a day, how long it takes you to write and read emails, and the contacts in your contact list who take up most of your time.

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