Like most small business owners, processing email probably
takes a good chunk of your day. What if you could process your email messages faster and still deal with each message appropriately?
27+ Quick Gmail Tips, Tricks, and Important Secrets
Guess what? If you know the right Gmail tips, tricks, and
secrets you can.
If you use Gmail, you’re already using a powerful platform
with many productivity-enhancing features. The trouble is that most of us use
only a small percentage of the actual Gmail features that are available. That’s
because finding and learning Gmail’s most useful tricks can take time. As a
small business owner, who has the extra time?
In this article, I’ve done the legwork for you. I’ve rounded
up over two dozen of the best Gmail tips and tricks so you can start using
them right away.
1. Use Undo Send to Recall a Message
Did you ever wish you could unsend a Gmail message? If we’re
honest, I think most of us have sent a message we wish we could take back.
Yet many readers don’t realize that Gmail has a feature that
gives you a small window of time to recall a sent message. To use this Gmail trick you must first activate Undo Send before you can use it. And
you have to act quickly to recall your message, but this handy feature can save you from embarrassment.
For detailed instructions on how to activate and use Gmail’s
Undo Send feature, read through this tutorial:
2. Check Gmail Labs for New Features
You may be unaware of Gmail Labs. If so, you’re missing out
on some great Gmail tricks.
Gmail Labs is where Gmail tests features before making them
a permanent part of Gmail. Many of these features are incredibly useful. The
main drawback to using these feature is that Google could drop them. Google
also points out that Labs features could change or break at any time.
Despite the warnings from Google, many of the lab features
are worth checking into. I’ve included a few specific lab features in this
You’ll find the Gmail
Labs option on the Settings
3. Save Time With Canned Responses (Gmail Labs)
Are you tired of answering the same questions over and over
Not only is repeating yourself annoying, it also wastes time.
Gmail has a solution to this problem with the Canned Responses feature. Canned
Responses allows you to save and re-use any email you send as a Canned Response, which works like an email
a huge amount of time, especially if you are in a field that requires a lot of
customer interaction. Enable the Canned
Responses option from the Gmail Labs
4. Scan Messages Quickly With the Preview Pane (Gmail Labs)
View and respond to your email messages without leaving your
inbox. Use the Preview Pane from
Gmail labs to view the contents of your email messages as you scroll through
Enabling Preview Pane
adds a toggle button that lets you choose between a vertical preview pane
(pictured above), a horizontal preview pane, or no preview pane. Interact with
each message in the preview pane by replying to it or forwarding it.
5. Listen to Google Voice Messages From Email (Gmail Labs)
If you use Google Voice with your Google account, your
notifications are probably set up to go to your Gmail account. When someone
leaves a Google Voice message, you get an email notification with a message
Voice Player from Google Labs, listen to each voice mail message from
6. See Your Google Calendar From Email (Gmail Labs)
Have you ever been so wrapped up reading or responding to emails that you missed an appointment or a meeting?
Since processing email takes up a lot of time for many small
business owners, it’s not unusual to lose track of time. This is especially
true since you typically must exit email to view your Google Calendar.
There’s a quick Gmail trick to solve this issue. With Google Calendar from
Email from Gmail Labs, your appointments and meetings are right in front of
you as you work with your messages. When you use this Gmail secret, a Google Calendar Gadget displays within
7. Receive Email From Other Email Platforms on Gmail
If you use more than one email account, you know how
time-consuming checking them all can be. You have to log in to each email
account individually and look for new messages. If that’s what you’ve been
doing, there’s a better way with Gmail.
With Gmail, you can create a single, unified inbox where you
receive all your emails. If you respond to an email, choose which email
address you want the response to come from. There’s no need to log into any
platform other than Gmail to get your messages.
For step-by-step instructions on how to combine your email
accounts, review this tutorial:
8. Mute Noisy Conversations in Gmail
If you’ve ever been in a group discussion, you know it’s annoying when you’re copied in on messages
you don’t need.
You can mute a noisy conversation in Gmail. When you mute a
conversation, future messages from that thread go straight to your
archives—skipping your inbox. To start seeing those messages again, simply unmute the
For more Gmail tips on how to work with conversation threads,
including instructions on how to mute and unmute conversations, study
this tutorial guide:
9. Use Multiple Gmail Accounts at Once
If you use more than one Gmail account, did you know that you
can be logged in to more than one Gmail account at the same time? There’s no
need to log out of one account to check the messages in another.
This Gmail tip will let you have several accounts open at the same
time in different tabs. Here’s how to do it: Log in to your first Gmail account. Click your
profile icon in the upper right corner. This popup displays:
Click the Add
account button. Type the second Gmail account you want to open and the password
for the account.
The second Gmail account opens in a new tab. The first Gmail
is still open in the first tab. To check each account, simply switch between the
Continue the process for as many Gmail accounts as you want to
If you have the Chrome browser, there is an added Gmail
secret tip. All the Gmail accounts you are currently logged into display on the
popup window above. Click an account from the popup window to open a tab to view that account’s Gmail
10. Track Who Sold Your Email Address
If your Gmail address ends with @gmail.com, periods (.) in the
address don’t make any difference. The following Gmail addresses will end up in
the same inbox:
It’s a little known Gmail secret that it ignores these periods.
This can be a great way to track whether someone has sold
your email address.
For example, if you
normally use [email protected] but suspect that your email address
will be sold, insert a period somewhere in
the email address when you give it out. Later if you get
a message addressed with the period in the same place, you’ll know that your email address was sold and
who sold it.
Note: This tip does not work for Gmail addresses that
don’t end in @gmail.com. If your Gmail is through an organization such as your
work or school, the periods in your email address do make a difference.
11. Filter Messages From Email Subscriptions
Gmail also ignores characters after the plus (+) symbol in
an email address. The following email addresses go to the same Gmail inbox:
Knowing this can be a great way to filter messages from your subscriptions. Add a plus symbol and the name of the subscription after the first
part of your email address when you sign up for a subscription.
Next, set up a filter in Gmail to send all
messages with the plus symbol and the name of the subscription to a specific label
12. Learn to Use Gmail Search Operators
Do you really know how to use Google’s Gmail search
Even if you understand the Gmail Advanced Search Box, you’ve probably never explored Gmail
search operators. Gmail has over 20 search operators that can be used to find
messages or create filters. And search operators can be combined so that you
can be very specific.
Do you need to find a message from a specific sender that
has an attachment that was sent after a certain date? No problem, search
operators can help you find exactly what you need.
For example, the following search operator string finds all
messages sent from ThemeKeeper Tuts+ after January 15, 2016:
a complete tutorial on Gmail Search functions, including the Gmail Advanced Search Box and Gmail search operators, look at:
Gmail includes a powerful search engine that’s easy to use. In this tutorial, learn how to search Gmail effectively and work with Gmail’s search operators.
13. Turn Off Gmail’s Inbox Tabs
Gmail comes with five tabs automatically defined and enabled:
But the five-tab system isn’t for everyone. If you don’t take
part in social media or forums, for example, why would you want those tabs to
appear in your inbox? Also, you may want a tab-less email inbox.
This Gmail tip is quick to implement. You can turn off those
extra tabs using the Settings > Inbox > Categories option.
For more step-by-step instructions on various methods to set up
your Gmail inbox, study the following tutorial:
14. Use Hangouts From Within Gmail
Email messages are great, but you often must wait for a
reply. Did you ever wish you could get a quicker response? You can with this Gmail tip.
If both you and the contact you are trying to reach have a
Google account (and you are both online), use Google Hangouts from within Gmail
to get fast responses. It works like instant messaging.
To use Hangouts, click the Hangouts icon (it looks like a quotation mark) in the lower left
corner of your inbox. Click the name of the person you want to invite to the
Hangout. A Hangout dialog box
appears on the right side of your inbox. Now you can chat with your contact
in real time.
15. Change the Star Setting to Rank Email Messages
You’ve probably noticed the little stars next to each
message. Click the star, it turns yellow. The star is a great way to mark an
important message. Wouldn’t it be great if you could differentiate between your
important messages by marking them with different colors?
A little-known Gmail secret is that you can change the star
settings in Gmail with the Settings > General > Stars
option. There’s a total of twelve star options available, including different
colored stars and other symbols such as exclamation points and even a question
Choose to use a single star, four stars, or all the stars.
Once your options are changed, mark a message with the symbol of your choice by
the number of times you click the star next to the message. Click the star
once, it turns yellow. Click it twice, it turns the next color on the list.
Click it three times, and the star changes to the third color … and so on.
16. Use Google Drive to Send Large Attachments
Gmail allows you to send an attachment of up to 25 Mb with
your message. While that file size is large enough for most situations, there
may be times when you want to attach a larger file.
For example, what if you want to send an entire manuscript,
complete with images, for editing? Or, what if you need to send a zip file of
an entire photo shoot for review?
If you use Google Drive with your Google account, you can
send larger files through Gmail.
First, copy the large file you want to send to
your Google Drive. Next, click Compose
in Gmail and type your message. When you are ready to attach the large file to
your message, click the Google Drive
icon (next to the Attachment icon
that looks like a paper clip). Insert the files you want to attach and send
17. Give Your Assistant Access to Your Gmail
You’re busy. Checking email takes a lot of time.
You want to delegate this responsibility to someone else to save time. Good
news! With Gmail, you can. Gmail gives you the ability to give someone else
access to your account.
Here’s how to set this up: Use the Settings > Accounts
and Import > Grant access to your account option to allow someone else to
read and reply to your messages. Use the Leave
conversation unread when opened by others toggle to see which messages you
haven’t personally read.
18. Find and Remove Large Messages
Here’s a quick Gmail secret to keeping your account size down:
If you receive a lot of Gmail messages, over time you may
find your inbox filling up. Messages with attachments can be a big part of that
problem since they are larger than ordinary messages. You may remove those messages using the most memory and free up a lot of space in your Gmail account.
If you’re looking for a specific file that you received as
an attachment, you’re in luck. Gmail allows you to search specifically for
messages with attachments. You can narrow the Gmail search to look for file
attachments larger than a certain size.
For detailed instruction on how to search for
messages with attachments by size and other search capabilities, review the
19. Find Out If Someone Else Used Your Gmail
Computer security has been in the news a lot recently.
Almost every day it seems like we read another news story about someone whose
account was compromised. You may be worried that someone else has accessed your
Gmail account. (Note: Your risk for this is higher if you’ve logged into your account
using a public computer.)
There is a little-known Gmail trick that allows
you to tell whether someone else has used your Gmail account. Google tracks
your account usage and you can see the record. To access the record, look at
the lower right corner of your computer screen to see when your Gmail account
was last accessed.
the Details link to see a record of
recent account activity including IP addresses.
If anything looks off in your account history, your account
may have been accessed by someone else.
20. Use the Send and Archive Button
A Gmail trick that many users are unaware of allows you to reply to a message and archive them at the same time. When enabled, the Send & Archive button appears to
the left on any messages you are sending or forwarding.
To enable this Gmail trick, click the Show “Send & Archive button in reply toggle from Settings > General. This Gmail secret
helps de-clutter your inbox and is a quick time-saver.
21. Turn Gmail Notifications On
Notifications are a handy Gmail trick to ensure you never
miss a message. When you enable Desktop Notifications, you’ll receive a
popup on your desktop when a new message arrives. You can choose to receive the
notification pop-up for all new messages, or only for those flagged as
To activate Gmail notifications, click one of the
“on” toggle buttons at Settings > General > Desktop
Notifications. If you change your mind, de-activate the notifications by
clicking the Mail notifications off
22. Turn on Priority Inbox in Gmail
You may think that you’re stuck with the way your Gmail
looks. But what if you could organize your messages by their importance? Here’s
a quick Gmail tip—turn on Priority Inbox to do just that.
Gmail Priority inbox allows you to divide your email inbox
into up to five sections. Your messages will display in this order:
- important and unread messages
- starred messages
- everything else
With priority inbox, it’s easy to see what’s important and
what’s not. Enable it from Settings > Inbox > Inbox
For more information on various ways to arrange
your Gmail inbox, review:
Do you know how to organize your Gmail inbox? If not, you could be wasting time. Learn how to use labels and tabs to work in your Gmail inbox better.
23. Place a Phone Call From Gmail
Another Gmail secret is that you can place a phone call to
any of your contacts from within your Gmail inbox. This can be especially
helpful if you need to respond to an urgent message and want to talk to the
person right away.
You’ll need a microphone
and speakers (I used my headset). You’ll also need to download the Google Talk
plugin for hangouts. Most calls in the
U.S. and Canada are free of charge.
To place your call, click the Make a call link in the lower left corner of your Gmail inbox. Type
the number you wish to call and click on it.
Note: Your call will appear with No Caller Id.
24. Gmail Trick to See More Messages
Do you receive dozens of messages each day? If so, you may
want to view more messages in your inbox so that you don’t miss anything
The default is set at 50, but you can increase the number of
visible messages in your inbox to 100. To do this go to Settings > General > Maximum page size.
While you’re there, you can also change the number of
contacts you can see on one page.
25. Follow the Gmail Blog for Timely Tips
Do you want to be in the know about the latest Gmail tips,
tricks and secrets? One way to learn about Gmail features as they came out is
to follow the official Gmail blog.
The blog regularly covers new features as they become available as well as
26. Use Gmvault.org to Backup Your Messages
If you need to back up or migrate your Gmail messages, this
Gmail tip is for you. Gmvault is an open
source project that provides a way to back up your Gmail messages. Create a backup of
your entire Gmail directory or just for selected messages.
Then the email data is there for you if you need to restore or re-create your Gmail folders. You could
also use this utility to migrate messages from one account to another.
27. Use Plugins to Expand Gmail
One Gmail secret that many users don’t know is that you
don’t have to limit yourself to standard Gmail features. There are many Gmail
plugins that expand Gmail’s capabilities.
There are plugins to help you with task management, contact
management, inbox management, and even security—to mention just a few of the areas that plugins can help with. For a list of some of the most popular Gmail
28. Find More Great Gmail Features
Even many standard Gmail features are not well-known to
users. Many of us make use of Gmail’s most basic functions, but Gmail can do so much
It takes time to find and learn about everything that Gmail
can do and to figure out how each feature can help you. We save you time by
identifying some of Gmail’s must useful features in this article:
Power user Gmail secrets don’t need to be beyond
your reach. You too can save time with these helpful Gmail tips and
tricks. If you have a Gmail tip to share, or if we missed a Gmail secret you know about, leave a comment below.