Fortunately, if you use Gmail or G Suite, you have access to dozens of Gmail tips and tricks that can improve efficiency in multiple dimensions.
Gmail Tips and Tricks
Here are 40 Gmail tips and tricks every Gmail user should know about.
1. Visualize your email activity (and your team’s).
This is one of the most impactful Gmail tips we can recommend. Pretty much everyone who’s tech-savvy knows Google Analytics, and our very own EmailAnalytics is like Google Analytics for Gmail. It provides graphs and statistics for things like how many emails you send and receive every day, who sends you the most emails, how long your average response takes, and a lot more. Use it to identify clients or vendors who are taking up most of your time, ways to improve your productivity, or to identify workload imbalances on your sales team.
2. Un-send an email.
Head to the Settings area, then check the General tab, where you’ll find an option to “Enable Undo Send.” Once toggled on, you’ll have a period of up to 30 seconds where you can click “undo send” on any email you send. Technically, it won’t be sent in the first place, so it won’t ever reach your recipient’s inbox. This is one of the few Gmail tips I wish I’d known about sooner!
3. Send emails that self-destruct after a certain amount of time.
With the latest version of Gmail, you can send emails that will automatically erase themselves out of existence after some amount of time. They don’t allow recipients to forward them to anyone else, either, so they’re perfect for when you need to send super-secure emails that are for the recipient’s eyes only. To send a self-destructing email, start by composing a new message. Next, look at the row of icons near the “Send” button and find the one that looks like a padlock with a clock on it. That icon toggles “confidential mode” on or off.
4. Send an email that requires recipients to go through 2-step verification to read.
For an even deeper level of security, you can use “confidential mode” to enable 2-step verification on emails you send. This means that your recipient must enter a code sent via SMS to their phone in order to open the email.
5. Disable email snippet previews.
By default, Gmail displays snippets after the subject line when viewing your inbox. If you’d prefer to turn these off, you can do so in the General Settings area.
6. Use one Gmail inbox to sign up for the same service multiple times.
Here’s one of the more interesting Gmail tricks; Google will ignore any dots (.) and plus signs (+) in a Gmail email address. In other words, combinations like [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], and g.m+a.i+++lus…[email protected] will all go to the same [email protected] email address. One of the most useful ways to use this trick is to create multiple social media accounts using the same email address.
7. Pause your inbox.
Inbox Pause is a Gmail plugin that literally adds a “pause” button to your inbox. Click it to temporarily stop any new emails from showing up in your inbox, and click it again to “unpause”, which will cause all the emails you received during the paused period to immediately show up in your inbox. It’s a great way to work on something without getting tempted to stop and check your inbox every time a new email arrives.
8. Remove the “Social” and “Promotions” tabs
By default, Gmail shows three main tabs in your email inbox: Primary, Social, and Promotions. By personally, I prefer to just have all emails go into one single tab; I don’t want Google to use an algorithm to determine how to categorize my emails (I’d rather do that). If you’re like me, you can get rid of these tabs by heading to Settings, clicking “Configure Inbox”, then un-checking the boxes next to each of them.
9. Quote a previous email in your response.
If you want to respond to multiple points within a previous email, you can easily do so by using the “quote” feature. You’ll find it in the formatting bar.
10. Grant someone else access to your Gmail account without revealing your Gmail password.
If you need to grant Gmail access to someone else, you can do so by delegating account access. This is useful if you need to go on vacation or otherwise won’t have email access for an extended amount of time (be sure to see our post on out of office message examples if you’re planning on being out of the office for an extended amount of time). The process to set up and remove account delegates can be found here.
11. Ungroup threaded email “conversations” into individual emails.
Gmail automatically groups emails within a thread by default. If you’d prefer to see new emails individually (without being grouped into the same thread), you can do so by disabling “conversation view” within Settings.
12. Organize your emails with labels.
This is one of the Gmail tips and tricks that focuses on improving your Gmail organization. On the left side of Gmail, find the “create new label” option, and input a name for your new label. It’ll immediately appear in the list of labels & categories, and you can easily add emails or threads to that label to keep things organized going forward. For more help, see our guide on how to create folders in Gmail.
13. Get colorful with stars.
Using stars and “important” markers is a great first step in mastering your Gmail organization, but you can take it a step further with colored stars and other symbols. Head to the General Settings tab to choose the ones you want to start using.
14. Use Gmail automatic filtering to keep your inbox cleaner.
If you subscribe to lots of newsletters, social media platforms, task management systems, or other sources of daily emails, this a Gmail trick that will make your life feel a lot less cluttered. Use Gmail filters to sort emails into specific categories or labels. This is especially useful for keeping certain emails out of your inbox (ie, setting up an automatic rule to send all Groupon emails to a “Groupon” label). To do so, start by heading to Settings, then click the “Filters and Blocked Addresses” tab. You can create filters based on email address, subject line, and various other identifiers.
15. Use Gmail even with a slow internet connection.
Gmail has a mode that’s meant for areas with slow or bad internet, called “HTML mode.”
Click this link (you’ll be prompted to confirm your switch to HTML mode) if you want to try it out. When enabled, Gmail will load without all its usual bells and whistles, and just give you the core basics you need to compose and send emails. It’s great for when you’re working at a Starbucks, airport, or somewhere with shoddy public Wi-Fi.
16. Insert photos so they display inside your email.
It’s often helpful to include a screenshot or image to illustrate something right within an email (rather than as an attachment), but it’s not obvious how to do this in Gmail. Luckily, it’s pretty simple to do. Click the little photo icon near the “send button” to add an image right to your email.
17. Use stars for another organization option.
It sounds simple, but using stars and “important” markers can be incredibly useful for improving your Gmail organization. Give them a try if you haven’t already!
18. Automatically unsubscribe from unwanted email newsletters.
Spam sucks, and we all get a lot of it. Unroll.me is one of our favorite Gmail tools — it automatically scans your email, finds newsletters you’re subscribed to, and gives you a one-click unsubscribe option for each of them.
19. Use Gmail search operators to refine your search.
You can use a number of advanced Gmail search operators to refine any search within Gmail. This is super helpful when you’re trying to find an important thread, long-lost client, or emails that occurred between certain date ranges (for help with that, see our guide on how to search by date in Gmail). Mastering Gmail search operators is one of the best Gmail tips on this list that can supercharge your daily productivity.
20. Automatically append an email signature to every email you send.
Email signatures present a fantastic opportunity to promote your website or social media profiles, and also serve as a way to provide your contact information in a convenient way for your recipients. To add an email signature, head to Settings, select the “General” tab, then scroll down to the “Signature” area.
21. Get desktop notifications whenever you get a new email.
Want to be notified whenever you receive a new email? You can do so with Gmail desktop notifications. By default, they’re turned off, but you can enable them by heading to Settings, General, then finding the “Desktop notifications” setting and enabling it. This is one of the best Gmail tips and tricks on this list that can save you time because it will reduce the time you spend checking your email only to find nothing new there.
22. Train Google how to properly mark emails.
By default, Google will observe how you mark or star emails and try to learn which emails it can helpfully mark for you. This functionality is turned on by default, but you can turn it off in the Settings area. Or, just know that Google is trying to be more helpful for you in the background as you go about marking emails!
23. Get reminded when someone doesn’t reply to your email.
Of all the Gmail tips and tricks on this list, this is probably the one I use most often. Whenever you send an email that requires a response, you need a way to ensure that it gets a response or else it runs the risk of the dreaded falling through the cracks. Boomerang for Gmail is the perfect app to solve this problem. On every email you send, you can set a boomerang on it so that if the recipient doesn’t send a response within a certain amount of time, the email will bounce back to the top of your inbox, allowing you to follow-up with that person. If you’re following up with a sales prospect, be sure to try one of our top sales email follow up templates for maximum effectiveness!
24. View more (or less) emails at a time in your inbox.
If you want to see a different number of email threads in your inbox, you can do so by visiting the Settings area, General tab, then scrolling down to the “Maximum page size.” Change it to suit your viewing needs!
25. Mark emails as unread even if you’ve read them.
This is one of my favorite Gmail tips because I use my inbox as a sort of to-do list. Unread emails signify a to-do list item for me. So if I read an email that requires me to take some action I can’t take right now, I mark it as unread after I’ve read it so I can come back to it later. To mark emails as unread, just click the three dots at the top of Gmail, then select “Mark as unread.” And don’t miss our post on how to find unread emails in Gmail!
26. Mute conversations.
Do you ever wish you could just stop receiving emails from a thread when you’re just CC’d on it but it’s not really relevant to you? Well, you can! Open a thread you want to mute, then click the three-dots at the top, then click “Mute”. This is another one of those Gmail tips I wish I had known about sooner!
27. Get an alert whenever someone opens an email you sent to them.
If you want to know immediately whenever someone opens an email you sent them, you can do so with a nifty Gmail plugin called Yesware. When you install it, it’ll add a tiny tracking pixel to emails you send. When your recipient opens the email, their system will download that tracking pixel, which notifies Yesware that they have opened the email. Yesware will then immediately notify you via a desktop notification that the email was opened. This is useful for knowing if someone is receiving your emails but choosing not to respond to you, or if they’re just not receiving your emails in the first place.
28. Get faster by using keyboard shortcuts.
If you prefer to use keyboard combos to take actions instead of mouse clicks, you should know there are a number of Gmail keyboard shortcuts you can use for that purpose. For example, you can use CTRL + Enter to send emails, and delete emails with #. To enable them, head to the General Settings tab, then toggle “Keyboard shortcuts on.” There’s also a Chrome extension called KeyRocket which notifies you whenever you perform an action that has an associated shortcut. This is helpful for learning, over time, which actions you perform most often that could be shortcut.
29. Automatically categorize emails as they come in.
You can use Filters to automatically categorize emails into various categories and labels that you’ve created, saving you from having to do it manually. For example, if all emails from a certain client should be in the “Client X” folder, set up a rule to do so automatically. You can create filters based on email address, keywords, and other info. You can also block certain email addresses entirely.
30. Add bullet points, numbered lists, and other formatting to your emails.
Formatting your text is one of the best ways to appear more professional to recipients when communicating via email. It’s also a great way to reduce instances of miscommunication since it helps organize thoughts, action items, and other important points. If you aren’t using these formatting tricks yet, try it out!
31. Use Gmail even if you’re offline.
Gmail has an “offline” mode which enables you to read and compose responses to emails that you received when you had a connection. When you re-connect to Wi-Fi, the responses will be sent. You’ll need to install a free Chrome app to use it.
32. Open multiple Gmail accounts – as separate tabs – in the same browser window.
Want to keep multiple Gmail tabs open in your browser window? This can be useful if you want to monitor multiple work accounts, or a personal and a work email account. To do so, simply click on your profile photo in the upper-right of Gmail, then click “Add account.” Select the account you want to open, and it’ll open up in a separate browser tab.
33. Prioritize certain emails to always appear at the top of your inbox.
I don’t know about you, but when I look at my inbox, I want to see the most important stuff at the top. You can do this by enabling a setting in Gmail. Head to the Settings area, then click on the Inbox tab and find the “Inbox Type” drop-down. Personally, I use the “Unread first” inbox. It’s one of the Gmail tips I recommend most highly if you want to want to use your inbox as a sort of to-do list, as I do.
Advanced Gmail Tips and Tricks
Gmail also offers advanced options for power users, which are in the “Advanced” tab within the settings area. Formerly known as Gmail Labs, it’s a place where Google developers can tentatively launch beta versions of experimental new features.
They can be incredibly useful, and most people don’t even know they exist. Take your productivity and efficiency to the next level with these advanced Gmail tips and tricks:
34. Move chat from the left to the right side.
If you use Gmail for chat, you can change it to display on the right side if you don’t like the left-side default display.
35. Create your own Gmail keyboard shortcuts.
We previously covered how to use Gmail keyboard shortcuts, but if you want to create your own, you can do so!
36. Automatically open your next email.
If you want to speed up the process of going through your inbox in the morning, you can do so by enabling “Auto-advance” within the Settings area, in the “Advanced” tab. Whenever you archive, mute, or delete an email, it’ll automatically display the next email in your inbox. This is one of those Gmail tips that doesn’t seem to save a lot of time individually, but over the course of hundreds or thousands of emails, the time savings can quickly add up.
37. Manage multiple inboxes.
You can only use one inbox, but you can enable a feature called “Multiple Inboxes” to create sub-inboxes that essentially can be used as separate folders. They have some nifty filtering options, so you might prefer them to using Gmail labels or filters.
38. Create email template responses that you can add with a single click.
If you often compose similar responses to people, such as answers to common questions, you could benefit from Gmail’s “canned responses” feature. Enable it within the Settings area in the Advanced tab. Once enabled, you’ll notice a sub-menu in your compose window (near the trash icon) with the canned responses option. Save new canned responses here and select previously-saved ones to input directly into your email. This is one of the most time-saving Gmail tips and tricks on this whole list. For more info, see our in-depth setup guide for Gmail email templates.
39. Preview emails without opening them.
Gmail has a featured called the Preview Pane, which operates a lot like Outlook’s familiar left-right message format. The right-side pane displays a preview of the body content without constituting an “open” of the email, so you can quickly breeze through emails without even opening them.
40. Enable two-factor authentication.
You can add an extra layer of security to your account by enabling two-factor authentication. This will require you to input a code from your mobile device whenever you login to your Gmail account from a new location, but it will vastly improve your email security. If you have enabled two-factor authentication and want to disable it, see our guide on disabling 2-step verification.
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before exiting it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics, and co-host of the podcast The Entrepreneur Cast.