Did you know that Gmail is the most used email platform in the world? With nearly 2 billion users, Gmail is a favorite because it is user friendly and also integrates with several other valuable tools. Gmail is expertly designed with features that allow everyone to be productive. You may already be using Gmail. Perhaps you use a different tool but you’re considering adding a Gmail account. Regardless of your current relationship with Gmail, it’s worth knowing a few hacks to make things simpler and more efficient. Here are some of the best tips we’ve collected for using Gmail.
Use Shift to manage multiple Gmail accounts
Many people manage different accounts from Gmail. Some people have separate accounts for personal and work purposes, or create different accounts for several clients. It’s great that Gmail is a tool that makes this easy, but users need to deal with logging in and out. Shift is a productivity tool that makes it simple to reduce the log in and out process and easily switch back and forth between accounts. Toggle between Gmail, Outlook, or other email platforms with a few simple clicks. Connect all of your Gmail, Outlook, and Office 365 accounts and manage everything from one centralized workstation.
Related Article: How to Manage Multiple Gmail Accounts
Choose a theme that you like
If you are like most people, you spend a lot of time looking at your Gmail screen. If you don’t find the basic colors and layout attractive, you may want to change it to something you enjoy more. Sometimes called a Gmail background, the theme is something that can be adjusted based on preferences. To change the default theme, follow these steps:
- Open your Gmail account and go to settings in the top right-hand corner.
- Choose “themes” on the right hand side.
- You’ll see a bunch of images that you can pick from. You can also click “More images” at the bottom to see more options.
- Select one to see what it might look like on your screen. This is helpful if you’ve customized your inbox with things like labels or color-coding.
- Choose one and click “save”.
Organize your inbox
Features like labels, stars, and colors can all help to sort your inbox and make it easier to navigate. It’s particularly helpful to organize which emails you need to prioritize and give attention immediately. If you want to see only the emails that are important to you, go into Settings > Inbox Type and choose “Important” first. You can do the same with starred messages or “Priority” to exclude junk mail from your view.
- Pro-tip: Organize email accounts with Shift. If it feels like multiple email accounts are taking over your life (and your screens), you can minimize their effects by implementing Shift. Shift offers email management for Gmail, Outlook, and Office 365. Shift brings together all of the email accounts and displays them in one place so you can easily switch between and manage multiple accounts.
Related Article: How to Organize Your Email Accounts
Categorize your emails
How do you know which emails are important to you? Do you use the priority inbox every time, or sort by other features like date, subject line, or sender name? You can sort individual messages by any of these areas. You can sort by sender, date received, or unread status. Most people choose to sort by importance, read status, stars, or priority, but you have to ensure these markers are enabled and you’re using them if you want to be effective.
Use the task button
Many people don’t realize there is task functionality built right into Gmail. If you click the arrow next to your email icon, you can go into tasks. This will give you a view of what needs to be completed and what’s already been done. Find the Actions menu to change your email formatting, set due dates for emails, and manage tasks. You can also send marked emails directly into Google tasks for follow up later.
Create events from email
In Google Calendar, go to the “more” menu. From there you can open a Gmail message and look for that option. Use the subject line of emails to create email reminders or events that interest you in your calendar. This is a great hack for streamlining calendar and email management.
Related Article: Google Calendar Hacks for Maximum Productivity
Mute conversations that aren’t relevant
Do you ever get copied on emails that don’t matter to you? And then the thread goes on and on? Simply mute the conversation to end the interruptions and save time. Many people don’t know that they can simply opt out of these long threads without deleting the messages altogether.
View a preview - or not
Gmail automatically shows a snippet of text from emails as a default. If you find this helpful, keep the setting. If you don’t, you can change it. Go into your settings and choose “show snippets” or “hide snippets”. These snippets are more effective for emails with short subject lines. Plus, some people just don’t find snippets helpful and view them as a distraction. Either way, you can manage the way that you want to see the beginning of emails in your settings.
Create a custom signature
Many people use Gmail for their small business, or to conduct communication in a more personal channel. Gmail offers a more conversational tone, but if you want to appear more professional, you can add a signature. You can also use different email accounts and create different signatures for each of them. Go to Settings> General and then follow the simple steps. One note on signatures: make sure they tie into your brand and will appear professional no matter where they end up. You never know where your email will be forwarded.
Sync CRM with Gmail
Did you know you can integrate your CRM with Gmail and other extensions? This is a powerful way to become a lot more productive. These sort of integrations can help with things like lead management, email campaigns, and data exports. If you’re not already using CRM, but you’re a big Google product user, then try Copper CRM. You can see how Copper syncs up with your G Suite apps by going into Settings in the app and selecting “Google Sync”. Then sync tasks from the CRM system right into your Google calendar. You can also add Gmail contacts to Copper CRM by using visual cues from a Chrome extension. Finally, you can add a new contact as a lead (or just a person on a list) and Copper will ask you if they’re worth following up with. It’s definitely worth looking into different CRM systems to see which ones play nice with Google products. Streamlining these software options can actually save a lot of time and energy.
Use Gmail filters
One complaint about email systems like Gmail is that they let subscription or sales emails pile up. Then it can be hard to know which ones are worth opening. However, there’s a simple fix: filtering them. To filter emails, click on the small arrow on the right side of your search bar. You’ll get a drop-down menu with several options, including things like “Archive” or “Mark as read”. From there, You can tick the box at the bottom to apply the setting to all messages matching those keywords.
Try pre-written templates
Chances are, you occasionally find yourself typing similar responses to different emails. Gmail has launched a feature called “canned responses” that can help you save a lot of time. It allows you to save a phrase, sentence, or paragraph in your inbox and then use it as needed. You can set up canned responses by going to the gear icon and clicking on settings. From there, you’ll look for a tab called labs where you can check off “Enable Canned Responses” under this box. If you want to draft one of these responses, check the arrow in the lower right-hand corner of your message window and choose “Canned Responses” from the dropdown menu. Then click “Save,” and “New Canned Response.” Give it a name, then hit “OK.” When you want to reply to a message with this response, select the “More options” button in your message window and select one of your pre-written responses.
Archive emails for later
For an organized inbox, it’s important to clear out email in the quickest way. Instead of letting messages clutter up your inbox, try having emails automatically archived to be found in the “All Mail” tab on the left menu of your screen. When you want them back in your inbox, you can also undo the send. Turn on the “Send and archive” feature in the gear icon under Settings. In the “General” tab, just find the “Send and Archive” section. Then choose whether or not you want to show this option in reply emails moving forward.
Use Google Drive for file storage
Sharing large files has never been easier. It’s simple to attach Google Drive files and share them quickly without worrying about file sizes. To make such a file, click on the Google Drive icon and then follow the series of steps that will allow you to create an attachment or link.
Related Article: Google Drive Hacks to Organize Your Digital Life
If you want to remove an email from your inbox without deleting it entirely, simply find that message and hit “Unread” or “Archive”.
Use an autoresponder template
Gmail has features that make it easy to respond to emails as they come in. All you need to do is choose an auto-responder template. For example, when you’re on vacation and want to opt out of responding to emails, go into settings and scroll down until you find the Vacation Responder. This will send automatic responses, and you can turn this off when you’re back.
Understand the Account Recovery option
People deal with spam every day, and hackers are a very real problem. For this reason, experts recommend periodically changing your account password. It’s also a good idea to change the account recovery options on your account. When you create a Gmail account, you’ll create an email address, username, and password. You may want to add some other information as well. Then, remember your answers!
Use Smart features
This is an innovative feature where Gmail will predict what email responses will be based on the content of previous emails. Then they can apply these responses automatically if you’d like them to. You’ll have to enable this by going to Settings > General and choosing “Writing suggestions on.” Then Gmail will start to finish your sentence for you! However, you don’t have to just go with what they recommend - you can continue writing your own response. What’s great about Smart Compose is that Gmail actually learns your writing style and gives suggestions that sound like they’re truly coming from you. You can also turn on personalization for even better results before sending emails to recipients. If you go to the General Settings tab, you can find a tool called Smart Reply which will help to draft quick replies. When responding to a message, you can either write your own or pick one of the ones that Gmail suggests for you. This is really helpful for things like quick emails to confirm meeting times - simply choose “Sounds great!” from the Smart Reply options.
Use offline mode
You never know when you’ll want to check your email. You can view everything offline on a phone or computer. To read email when you’re offline, go to Settings > Offline and turn on “Enable Offline Mail” for Gmail.
Add emails to tasks to get back to people later
It can be hard to keep track of which emails you’ve responded to and which you still need to think about. Gmail has some functionality to make this easier. Simply add an email to your “Tasks” list and get reminded later on when it’s time to respond to the mailing list of recipients. You can do this by clicking “More” at the top of this window before selecting “Add to Tasks.”
Related Article: How to Get a Gmail App for Desktop
Make the Most of Gmail with Shift
If you use multiple email accounts - for example, an Outlook account and a Gmail account - it’s even harder to remain organized. Fortunately, Shift is an innovative platform that can help with this process.
Shift can streamline the process of switching between more than one email account login, which saves users from having to search for specific emails buried in a pile of open browser tabs or inside of several Gmail account logins. In fact, the ability to manage all of your accounts from one place is what makes Shift so unique.
Your primary Shift account has to be a Gmail, G Suite, or Outlook account but you can add as many other email addresses as you’d like, even from other platforms. Simply click on “Add Account” on the left of the page and then enter your email account and password.
How does it work? When you log into Shift for the first time, you’ll be asked to enter an email address, choose a color to identify that address, and then verify the information by putting in your password and completing two factor authentication (if required). If you’re already using Shift and want to add more email accounts, you can follow this guide. Once all your accounts are added, you'll see colored icons on the left column of your dashboard. Simply click on the icon of the address you want to use. We suggest using distinct profile pictures for each account to make your Gmail accounts easily recognizable.
Note that Shift supports Gmail, GSuite, Outlook, Office 365, Yahoo Mail, Apple Mail, and many other email providers. Learn more here about all of the communication and messaging apps available for integration in Shift. Anyone who uses online platforms will find Shift to be a powerful resource. With Shift, you can organize and manage the following:
- Mail - Connect all of your Gmail, Outlook, and Office 365 accounts and manage everything from one centralized workstation.
- Apps - WhatsApp, Slack, Messenger—we have everything you need to get it done. Browse our Apps Directory, connect yours, and switch between them easily.
- Search - Save time and find exactly what you're looking for across any of your Mail, Calendar, and Drive accounts.
- Chrome extensions - Enjoy access to Boomerang, Grammarly, LastPass, and many of your other favorite Chrome Extensions.
- Focused web tabs - Access the web from inside Shift. Manage your tabs and organize them by account for a better browsing experience.
- Workspaces - Create a Workspace with the exact apps, tabs, and bookmarks you need, then share it with your team to get the job done.
- Account management - Toggle between your most-used accounts, check notifications and streamline your workflow.
Whether you’re a new Gmail account holder or a power user, you can take advantage of the features Google offers to streamline your entire email process. These tips are a great place to start in making the most of Gmail. Try some of these tactics, and download Shift in order to be your most productive.