14 Killer Gmail Features to Make Use of Now

Sadly, most Gmail users don’t take the time to really learn how to make the most of their Gmail account. But that can change quickly.

14 Killer Gmail Features to Make Use of Now

If you use Gmail as your business or personal email tool,
there are some great features that will:

  • save you a whole lot of time
  • make your
    account more secure
  • even make your work more fun

Sadly, most Gmail users don’t take the time to really learn how to make the most of their Gmail account. But that can change quickly.

Some of the best Gmail features you may not know about

  • creating a to-do-list from within Gmail,
  • color-coding your contacts,
  • and customizing your Gmail interface with a personal photo.

And that’s just a few of them.

In this post, I’ve collected 14 of the most interesting and best
Gmail tools that you may not know about.

For each Gmail feature I also include
a link to detailed, step-by-step instructions. Use this post as a springboard to
put all these killer Gmail features into practice, or pick and choose your

Are you ready to get more from your Gmail account? Then, let’s get

1.  Customize Your Gmail Background With a Personal Photo

Do you spend hours staring at your Gmail interface every day?
If you send and receive a lot of email, you may wish that you could brighten up
Gmail’s default white background.

Well, you’re in luck. Most Gmail users don’t realize it, but
you can change Gmail’s background using Themes. Gmail has several predefined
themes you can choose, but the real fun comes when you create a new theme using
one of your own photos.

Here’s what happened when I used a photo of my
garden as my Gmail theme:

14 Killer Gmail Features to Make Use of Now

The possibilities for this Gmail tool are endless. You could
use a family photo, a picture of your pet, your favorite vacation photo, and

To have your own fun with Gmail themes, read through our detailed tutorial:

  • 14 Killer Gmail Features to Make Use of Now
    How to Customize Your Gmail Interface Look With Themes
    Laura Spencer

2. Create a to Do List From Your Gmail Inbox

If you’re like most of us, you spend a lot of time sorting
through email just to figure out what you need to do. Even worse, if you spend
too much time on email you could lose track of your immediate deadlines.

Save time (and avoid missed deadlines) by making use of
Gmail’s handy task list feature. Create tasks from within Gmail that can also show
up on your calendar. It’s easy, and you
can keep your task list open while you sort through email.

Here’s a personal to do list I made using Gmail’s task
list feature:

14 Killer Gmail Features to Make Use of Now

Note that I’ve sorted the list by due date, so I won’t
forget about any looming deadlines while I’m sorting through my email.

For a step-by-step tutorial on Gmail task lists, review:

  • 14 Killer Gmail Features to Make Use of Now
    How to Work With Tasks in Gmail to Be More Productive
    Laura Spencer

3. Block Messages From a Specific Sender

Unwanted email messages, ugh! Who doesn’t hate them? Sadly,
they’re just a part of having an email account. Or are they?

Many users don’t realize it, but you can block messages from
a specific contact in Gmail. It’s easy, once you know how. And if you change
your mind, you can just easily unblock messages from that same contact.

Here’s me using the block feature for
demonstration purposes:

14 Killer Gmail Features to Make Use of Now

Of course, I don’t really want to stop receiving
messages from my other email account. So, minutes later I unblocked myself.

If someone is repeatedly sending you messages you don’t want
or need, learn how to keep their messages out of your inbox using the steps
from this tutorial:

  • 14 Killer Gmail Features to Make Use of Now
    How to Filter & Block Unwanted Emails (Spam) in Gmail
    Laura Spencer

4. Sort Related Messages Into a Label

Do you have to scroll through screen after screen of
messages, just to find the one you’re looking for? Does it take you forever to
find a specific project-related email?

Gmail’s killer organizational features can save you time and
make finding those important emails less frustrating. If you make proper use of
Gmail’s label feature, you can organize messages by project (or any other
system that makes sense to you). Find the messages you need quickly, and
without hassle.

It’s easy to create and use labels to group
messages together:

14 Killer Gmail Features to Make Use of Now

out more about how Gmail labels can help you organize your inbox using this
tutorial How to Organize Your Gmail Inbox to Be More Effective.

5. Never Lose a Message Again

None of us want to admit it, but even when we’ve set up our
Gmail account as efficiently as we know how, we still sometimes accidentally
misfile, or even accidentally delete important email messages that we need. If
this has happened to you, you’ll love this next Gmail feature—Gmail’s search

Gmail is from Google, so it only makes sense that they’d
have a killer search tool. Yet, you don’t read much about how useful Gmail’s
search tool can be. You can search by sender, recipient, or subject. You can
even search for specific words within the body of a message or for messages
that have attachments.

Here’s a quick peek at the Gmail Advanced Search box:

14 Killer Gmail Features to Make Use of Now

Learn more about how Gmail search works in this tutorial, so you can start working with it more effectively:

  • 14 Killer Gmail Features to Make Use of Now
    How to Search Your Emails in Gmail Like a Pro
    Laura Spencer

6. Master Must-Use Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts

It’s no secret that keyboard shortcuts can save you
time. The more keyboard shortcuts you learn, the more time you save. Gmail has
some awesome keyboard shortcuts, if you have them activated. Here are a few of
my favorites:

When you want to… Do this…
Open a new message window on top of the main Gmail screen Type c from the main Gmail screen
Save the message you are composing as a draft on your computer Type Ctrl + s from within a message you are composing
Archive the conversation Type e with the conversation selected
Open a space to reply to the current message at the bottom of the message Type r while in Conversation view
Open the Labels menu Type l from the main Gmail screen with a message selected
Move a conversation to the Trash folder Type # with the message selected

Choose your own time saving favorite Gmail shortcuts from our
step-by-step tutorial on Gmail shortcuts:

  • 14 Killer Gmail Features to Make Use of Now
    How to Use Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts to Save More Time
    Laura Spencer

7. Automatically Send Out-of-Office Messages

Out-of-office messages can seem cliché, but they can also
avoid misunderstandings. If you’re going to miss work without checking your
email, it’s better to use one and let contacts know why you didn’t respond
right away.

Fortunately, Gmail has some neat features that make an out-of-office
message easy to set up and use. Plus, you can limit your out-of-office message
to your contacts only so you aren’t broadcasting your absence to complete
strangers who happen to send you a message while you are out.

Here’s how I set up my out-of-office message
when I took a vacation during the summer:

14 Killer Gmail Features to Make Use of Now

For detailed instructions on how to set up your own
out-of-office message, check out this tutorial:

  • 14 Killer Gmail Features to Make Use of Now
    How to Set Up a Gmail (Out of Office) Vacation Responder Email
    Laura Spencer

8. Be More Secure With Gmail’s 2-Step Verification

Your email security is important. Hackers often try to
access email accounts because we use our email to sign up for other accounts.
Accessing your Gmail could ultimately lead to access to many of your other important accounts.

Fortunately, Gmail uses two-step verification. What this
feature means is that your password is not enough for a hacker to log in to
your Gmail account. A hacker would also need to have your phone in hand to
enter the code that Gmail sends you.

It’s not difficult to set up Gmail’s 2-Step
Verification. Here’s a peek at this great security feature:

14 Killer Gmail Features to Make Use of Now

For step-by-step instructions on how to use Gmail’s 2-Step
Verification and other security features, review:

  • 14 Killer Gmail Features to Make Use of Now
    How to Work With Gmail Passwords Safely & Not Get Hacked
    Laura Spencer

9. Color Code Your Messages

Sorting your Gmail messages into labels is a great way to
quickly find messages you need. Color coding your labels takes the convenience
of Gmail labels a step further. This killer Gmail feature is a quick visual way
to tell what information goes together at a glance.

You can assign a unique color to each Gmail
label and even create your own custom label colors. As you can see below, I’ve
assigned the color red to the messages that need immediate follow up:

14 Killer Gmail Features to Make Use of Now

Our ThemeKeeper Tuts+ tutorial, How
to Organize Your Gmail Inbox to Be More Effective
, explains how you can
color code your own Gmail inbox.

10. Use Bulleted Lists and Other Gmail Formatting Features

Do you send out blah, unformatted email messages? Many Gmail
users fail to realize that Gmail includes a substantial set of formatting
features. Because they don’t know about Gmail formatting, they don’t use it.

Gmail formatting features include:

  • Bulleted and numbered lists
  • Bold, italics, and underline
  • Colored text or colored background
  • Font type, font size
  • And more

Formatted messages make it easier for your
reader to scan and absorb your meaning. Here’s an example of a formatted Gmail
message using bold text and a bulleted list that I put together:

14 Killer Gmail Features to Make Use of Now

And that’s just a partial example of Gmail formatting

For detailed instructions on how to format your
own Gmail messages, read through this tutorial on How to Compose and Send Your First Email With Gmail.

11. Express Yourself With Email Message Emojis

When you think of Gmail, do you think of smiley faces,
hearts, and other fun emojis? If you’re like me, you probably didn’t know that Gmail
offers a sizable collection of emojis that you can insert directly in your
Gmail messages.

Emojis are a fun Gmail feature. They can add color and
excitement to your messages. Here’s a partial display of just a few Gmail
emojis you may wish to use:

14 Killer Gmail Features to Make Use of Now

For a complete explanation of how to use Gmail emojis, look
at our ThemeKeeper Tuts+ tutorial How
to Compose and Send Your First Email with Gmail

12. Import Your Social Media Contacts Into Gmail

As a business person, you know that networking is important.
Of course, you meet people in person. But in today’s business environment, it’s
increasingly common to make connections with people you’ve never met face-to-face.

A convenient Gmail feature is the ability to import Google+
social media contacts directly into your Gmail contact list. Not only does this
ensure that you stay connected, it can also save you from an awful lot of

Here’s a peek at the process when I imported some contacts
from Google+ writing circle into my Gmail contacts:

14 Killer Gmail Features to Make Use of Now

Note: Contact
names used in this post are not intended to represent real people.

For a step-by-step guide to importing contacts, refer to
this tutorial: How to Find Your Google Gmail Contacts and Organize Them Better.

13. Share a Calendar Event With a Contact

Using Google’s contacts feature allows you to reach out to
your connections in a lot of interesting ways. Another helpful Gmail feature is
the ability to share a calendar event directly with a contact using Google’s
calendar tool.

You can do this because your Google contact list is your
Gmail contact list. There’s no need to keep a separate contact list for every
Google tool. It’s a time saver, and having a centralized list means you don’t
have to worry about adding a contact on one tool’s list and not on another
tool’s list.

14. Create Custom Contact Groups for Every Purpose

This list of killer Gmail features wouldn’t be complete
without mentioning that you can organize your Google contacts into groups.
Contact list groups are good way to help you remember how you connected with an
individual. It also allows you to quickly reference people who you might
need to send the same information to.

In the example below, I’m about to rename the
group Prospective Clients to Current Clients:

14 Killer Gmail Features to Make Use of Now

To discover more about contact groups jump into the ThemeKeeper Tuts+
tutorial, How
to Find Your Gmail Contacts and Organize Them Better


You can improve your workflow with these helpful Gmail
features. These killer features can save you time, make your account more
secure, and even make your work more fun. By using our step-by-step tutorials,
you can make use of any or all of these Gmail features right now.

So, why wait? Find your favorite Gmail feature and
put it into effect today. Learn more in our multipart, Ultimate Beginner Guide to Using Gmail.