Best Gmail Tips to Enhance Productivity

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Patrick_Yu
edited May 14 in Business

Email is an essential tool for most professionals, and Gmail is one of the most widely used platforms. But even if you use it daily, there's a good chance you're not tapping into all of its productivity-boosting features. This article outlines ten powerful Gmail tips that can help you handle your email more efficiently, save time, and streamline your workflow. Whether you're looking to manage large attachments better, schedule emails for optimal timing, or simply navigate your inbox more quickly, these tips will give you the edge you need. Let's get started and unlock the full potential of your Gmail account. 

1. Use “Help me write”

Google Workspace Labs, Google latest program to test out its developmental AI, enhances Gmail productivity by integrating AI features that streamline email drafting. Using the “Help me write” function in Gmail (found at the bottom of a new email) users can quickly generate and refine drafts to ensure consistency and quality, saving time and improving communication. To use this, you must first have a Gmail or Google Workspace account and enable Workspace Labs by following these steps: 

  • Go to your Gmail settings (click the gear icon in the top right corner). 
  • Click "See all settings". 
  • Navigate to the "Labs" tab. 
  • Search for "Draft emails with AI" and click "Enable". 
  • Scroll to the bottom of the page and click "Save Changes". 

Once enabled, Workspace Labs' AI tools are readily accessible to streamline your email communications. By utilizing the "Help me write" function, you can effortlessly compose and refine drafts, ensuring your emails are both effective and professionally tailored. 

Using "Help me write" to write a new draft 

  1. Compose: Click the "Compose" button to start a new email. 
  2. Prompt: In the bottom left corner of the compose window, you'll see the "Help me write" button (looks like a lightbulb). Click it. 
  3. Enter a Prompt: Give the AI a clear idea of what you want to write about. Examples: 
    1. "A thank you letter for my job interview" 
    2. "A birthday invitation for my 5-year-old" 
    3. "A meeting request with my team" 
  4. Click "Create": The AI will generate a draft for you. 

Using "Help me write" to refine a draft 

  1. Write Your Message: Start typing your email draft as you normally would. 
  2. Suggestions: When ready, click the "Help me write" button. It will give you options like: 
    1. Formalize: Make your tone more professional. 
    2. Elaborate: Add more details to your draft. 
    3. Shorten: Make your message more concise. 
    4. I'm Feeling Lucky: Updates draft with creative details 

2. Send Large Files on Gmail

The default attachment size limit in Gmail is 25MB, which means you are restricted to attaching files that do not exceed this size. Should your files exceed this limit, Gmail offers a seamless integration with Google Drive to solve this issue. Here’s how it works: 

Manual Upload and Link

  1. First, upload your large file(s) to Google Drive. 
  2. Then, open Gmail and start composing a new email. 
  3. Click on the Google Drive icon (a triangle shape) located at the bottom of the compose window. 
  4. Find and select the uploaded file, then choose "Insert as Drive link". 

Automatic Upload and Link

  1. Compose a new email in Gmail. 
  2. Attach the file to your email as you normally would by using the paperclip icon. 
  3. If the file exceeds the 25 MB attachment limit, Gmail will automatically upload the file to Google Drive and insert a shareable link into your email. 

By using Google Drive, Gmail circumvents the attachment size limitations, allowing you to share large files effortlessly by inserting a link instead of the actual file. This method not only streamlines file sharing but also ensures that all your recipients have access to the necessary files without any hassle. 

3. Schedule an Email in Gmail

To schedule an email in Gmail, especially useful for managing time differences or odd working hours, follow these streamlined steps: 

  1. Compose: Click the "Compose" button to initiate a new email. 
  2. Write Your Email: Fill out your email as normal (subject, recipients, email body). 
  3. Schedule Button: Instead of just clicking "Send", locate the downward-facing arrow next to the "Send" button and click on it. 
  4. Schedule Send: Select "Schedule send". 
  5. Choose Time: You can pick from convenient presets (Tomorrow morning, Tomorrow afternoon, etc.) or click "Pick date & time" to set a custom date and time. 
  6. Confirm: Click "Schedule send" to finalize 

This method allows you to plan your communications effectively, ensuring that your emails reach the recipient at an appropriate time. 

4. Undo a sent mail

If you've ever sent an email prematurely or to the wrong person, Gmail provides a useful feature to rectify this by allowing you to retract a sent message shortly after sending. Here’s how to manage and use this feature effectively: 

Configuring the “Undo Send” window 

  1. Settings: Click the gear icon in the top right corner of Gmail and select "See all settings". 
  2. Undo Send Tab: Locate the "Undo Send" setting within the menu. 
  3. Cancellation Period: Adjust the send cancellation period by selecting 5, 10, 20, or 30 seconds from the dropdown menu. 
  4. Save Changes: Scroll to the bottom of the page and click "Save Changes" to apply your settings. 

Immediately after sending an Email 

  1. Notification: Immediately after sending an email, a notification appears in the bottom-left corner of Gmail displaying "Message sent" with options to "Undo" or "View message". 
  2. Click Undo: Click the "Undo" button within the chosen cancellation period to retract the email. 

This setup not only prevents accidental emails but also gives you flexibility in how long you have to make a decision after hitting send. 

5. Create an Email template

Repeatedly composing the same email can be both tedious and time-consuming. To streamline this process, consider setting up email templates in Gmail, which can save you significant time and effort. To do this, follow these steps:  

1. Enable Templates 

  • Settings: Click the gear icon in the top-right corner and then "See all settings". 
  • Advanced Tab: Go to the "Advanced" tab. 
  • Enable Templates: Find the "Templates" option and select "Enable". 
  • Save: Click "Save Changes" at the bottom of the page. 

2. Create Your Template 

  • Compose New Email: Click the "Compose" button to start a new email. 
  • Write the Template: Fill in the subject line and body of your email with the text you want to reuse. Consider using placeholders for parts you'd change later (like names or dates). 
  • Remove Signature: If you have an email signature, delete it from the template to avoid duplication. 

3. Save as Template 

  • More Options: Click the three dots icon in the bottom-right corner of the compose window. 
  • Templates: Hover over "Templates" and then choose "Save draft as template". 
  • Save as New Template: Select "Save as new template." 
  • Name Your Template: Give your template a descriptive name and click "Save." 

4. Using Your Template 

  • Start New Email: Click the "Compose" button. 
  • More Options: Click the three dots icon. 
  • Templates: Hover over "Templates" and select the template you want to use. Your template will be inserted into the email.

6. Create Email Filters in Gmail

Gmail filters are rules that help manage incoming mail, organizing your inbox by automatically handling emails based on your preferences. This feature helps reduce clutter by allowing you to archive, delete, forward, or apply other actions to incoming emails, ensuring that only essential messages get your attention. 

1. Filtering From a Specific Email 

  1. Open an Email: Find and open an email from the sender you want to filter, or an email with a subject line or content you frequently target. 
  2. More Options: Click the three dots (more options) icon in the top right of the email. 
  3. "Filter messages like these": Select this option. 
  4. Filter Criteria: Gmail will automatically pre-fill some filter criteria based on the email. You can add or refine fields like: 
    1. From (email address) 
    2. To (email address) 
    3. Subject 
    4. Has the words 
    5. Doesn't have 
  5. Create Filter: Click the "Create filter" button. 
  6. Choose Actions: Select what should happen to emails matching your criteria: 
    1. Skip the Inbox (Archive it) 
    2. Mark as important 
    3. Apply a label 
    4. Delete it 
    5. Forward it 
  7. Apply to Existing Conversations (Optional): Check the box to apply the filter to older emails that match the criteria. 
  8. Finish: Click the “Create Filter" button to finalize. 

2. Filtering From the Search Bar 

  1. Search Bar: Click the "Show search options" icon (downward arrow) in Gmail's search bar. 
  2. Enter Criteria: Fill out the fields with your desired filtering conditions (same options as in Method 1). 
  3. Create Filter: Click the "Create filter" button at the bottom of the search options window. 
  4. Choose Actions: Follow steps 6-8 from Method 1.

7. Create a Gmail Alias

An email alias is a forwarding address linked to a user's primary email, directing messages to the main account's inbox. Only one user can utilize each email alias. For scenarios requiring an email address shared by multiple users, Gmail delegation is recommended. 

Users can read and respond to messages sent to an alias by logging into their primary Google Workspace account. For example, Jeni, assigned the alias support@level.com, accesses messages through her primary account, jeni@level.com. 

Uses of Email Aliases 

  • Single Role, Multiple Functions: Ideal for small businesses where one person fulfills multiple roles, such as Patrick who manages customer inquiries, invoices, and sales through distinct aliases all routed to his primary email, patrick@level.com. 
  • Temporary Needs: Useful for temporary projects or service sign-ups. 
  • Managing Departures: Forward emails from former employees to current staff by assigning their old email as an alias. 

Creating a Gmail alias streamlines your email management, allowing you to maintain separate roles or projects under one main account. This feature is particularly useful for organizing communications by theme or function, enhancing both productivity and privacy without the need for multiple accounts. 

Here's how you can create a Gmail alias, depending on whether you have a regular Gmail account or a Google Workspace account: 

Regular Gmail accounts (ending in @gmail.com) 

Gmail offers a "+" feature for creating temporary aliases: 

  1. Your Base Email: Start with your regular Gmail address (e.g., [email address removed]). 
  2. Add "+" and a Tag: After the username, add a plus sign "+" and then a word relevant to your filter (e.g., edmund+[email address removed], edmund+shopping@gmail.com). 
  3. Use the Alias: Emails sent to these aliases will arrive in your regular inbox. 
  4. Create Filters (Optional): Set up filters in Gmail to automatically sort emails sent to your different aliases into specific folders/labels. 

Google Workspace accounts (Custom Domain) 

If you have a Google Workspace account, your administrator will need to enable the capability, and then you can follow these steps: 

  1. Admin Console: Log in to the Google Admin console (admin.google.com). 
  2. Users: Navigate to the "Users" section. 
  3. Find Your User: Click on your user's name to open their account settings. 
  4. Email Aliases: Click "User information" and then "Email aliases." 
  5. Add Alias: Click "Add an alias" or "Add another email address." 
  6. Enter Alias: Enter the desired alias username (the part before the @ symbol) 
  7. Click "Save."

8.  Use Gmail with Keyboard Shortcuts

Using shortcuts in Gmail enhances speed and efficiency, enabling quicker navigation and management of emails. To utilize these benefits, ensure that shortcuts are enabled in your Gmail settings (See all settings>General>Keyboard shortcuts on). Regular use improves productivity and precision in handling daily email tasks. Here are some of the most useful Gmail shortcuts for you to use: 

Navigation 

  • Next/Previous Email: k / j 
  • Next/Previous Conversation: n / p 
  • Go to Inbox: g then i 
  • Go to Sent Mail: g then s 
  • Go to Drafts: g then d 
  • Open Keyboard Shortcut Help: Shift + ? 

Composing and Replying 

  • Compose New Email: c 
  • Reply to an Email: r 
  • Reply to All: a 
  • Forward an Email: f 
  • Send an Email: Ctrl + Enter 

Actions in Inbox 

  • Select an Email: x 
  • Archive an Email: e 
  • Delete an Email: # 
  • Mark as Important: = or + 
  • Mark as Unread: Shift + U 
  • Open an Email: o (same as Enter) 

Search 

  • Focus the Search Bar: / 
  • Search Within a Label: l:[label name] (e.g., l:work to search within your "Work" label) 

Advanced Formatting 

  • Bold: Ctrl + b 
  • Italicize: Ctrl + i 
  • Underline: Ctrl + u 
  • Remove Formatting: Ctrl + \ 
  • Add Bullet Points: Ctrl + Shift + 8 
  • Add Numbered List: Ctrl + Shift + 7 

These shortcuts can significantly speed up your workflow by reducing the need for mouse clicks and navigating through menus. They allow for quicker and more streamlined email management directly from your keyboard.

9. How to Set Up an Out-of-Office Auto-Reply (Vacation Responder)

Setting up an Out-of-Office Auto-Reply (Vacation Responder) is crucial as it informs contacts of your unavailability, manages expectations for response times, and maintains professionalism by acknowledging received emails. It also helps prevent misunderstandings and reduces the buildup of follow-up messages during your absence. 

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to set up an Out-of-Office (OOO) auto-reply in Gmail: 

  1. Access Settings
    1. Click the gear icon on the top right of your Gmail page and choose "See all settings." 
  2. Navigate to Vacation Responder
    1. Scroll down to locate the section titled "Vacation responder" toward the bottom of the settings page. 
  3. Enable Vacation Responder
    1. Select the "Vacation responder on" option. 
  4. Set Dates
    1. Click "First day" and set the start date of your absence. 
    2. If you have a specific end date, select "Last day" and choose it. Leave this blank if your return date is unclear. 
  5. Compose Your Message
    1. Subject Line: Craft a clear subject line, such as "Out of Office" or "Currently Unavailable." 
    2. Message: Write the message that recipients will receive during your absence. Include the duration of your absence, contact information for emergencies, and whether you'll have occasional email access. 
  6. Optional Specific Contacts
    1. If you want the Out of Office reply to be sent only to people in your contacts, check the box under your message that says "Only send a response to people in my Contacts." 
  7. Save Changes
    1. Click "Save Changes" at the very bottom of the page. 

10. Check GMail Offline

Gmail's offline access feature allows you to manage your emails without an internet connection, making it an invaluable tool for travelers, commuters, or anyone who frequently finds themselves without reliable connectivity. To keep your inbox up-to-date, it's essential to periodically connect to the internet, allowing Gmail to sync and store your recent messages for offline use. Here's how you can set it up: 

Enabling Gmail offline 

  1. Chrome Browser: You can only use Gmail offline within the Google Chrome web browser. Make sure you have it installed. 
  2. Settings: In Gmail, click the gear icon (top right) and select "See all settings". 
  3. Offline Tab: Navigate to the "Offline" tab. 
  4. Enable: Check the box next to "Enable offline mail". 
  5. Settings: Choose your settings: 
  6. Sync Settings: Decide how many days of emails you want to store offline. 
  7. Security: Choose whether to delete offline data when you sign out or keep it on your computer. 
  8. Save Changes: Click "Save Changes" at the bottom of the page. 

Using Gmail offline 

When you have no internet connection: 

  • Option 1: Go to mail.google.com. Gmail will automatically load in offline mode if you have enabled it. 
  • Option 2: Create a bookmark for Gmail offline in Chrome. 

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Patrick Yu is a Senior Project Manager at Level Interactive and has 8 years of experience writing business, legal, lifestyle, gaming, and technology articles. He is a significant contributor to Acer Corner and is currently based in Taipei, Taiwan.

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