Gmail Customization Guide

All of us spend quite a lot of time using our email. If you’re a Gmail user, some hidden gems within Gmail can upgrade your experience.

Since its release in 2007, Gmail has come a long way and amassed approximately half a billion active users due to its impressive features that include an easily searchable inbox and free online storage. Even though Gmail is an outstanding service on its own, there are numerous customization tips and tricks that can help you improve its efficiency for both home and work use. Follow the tips in the guide below to get the most out of your email service.

Optimize Your Inbox

The first step to a well-organized inbox is learning how to use the built-in keyboard shortcuts provided by Gmail. Even though it may take you a while to master them, shortcuts can make your life a lot easier, and what’s best, they are highly customizable, which means you can truly call your Gmail inbox your own.

Gmail has a couple of shortcuts enabled by default, but to get the most of this function, you need to turn on the full set of keyboard commands. Do so by clicking on the gear icon at the top right of the inbox. Go to “Settings”, then “General” and go to the “Keyboard Shortcuts” section. Click on the “Learn More” button to get familiar with some of the basic functions, and make sure that the bullet beside “Keyboard shortcuts on” is selected.

Now you are ready to use your keyboard to compose emails straight from your inbox. Some of the most helpful commands available include:

  • r – reply to the email you are currently reading
  • [ – archive the email you are reading and opens the next one
  • l – add a label to the current email
  • k and j – go back and forth new and older emails
  • / – place your cursor in the search box.

To change the existing keyboard shortcuts and add others, turn on the custom keyboard shortcuts in the Gmail Labs settings. Here, you can change the settings according to your own preferences. For example, you could change [ to n to get to the next email if it’s easier for you.

Set Up Gmail Auto Reply

Setting an auto reply message is important for those moments you spend away from work. If you’re planning to get on a vacation, let your co-workers and customers know when you’ll be back with an auto reply message. Here’s how to set it up:

  1. Click on the gear icon in the top right corner of the Gmail inbox and click on “Settings.”
  2. Look under the General Tab and select the “Vacation responder” bullet.
  3. Fill in the details of the message and select the dates you’ll be away from work. You can choose to send the message to everyone who emails you during this period, or only to your contacts.

Smart Tip: Keep your auto reply message short and sweet. If it’s a business email, remain professional and don’t include personal information. A generic response is the ideal solution in most situations.

Selectively Auto-Reply with a Canned Response

Most people are not aware of this function of Gmail, which comes in quite handy when you’re the kind of person who has to deal with lots of emails that ask the same thing. This function basically allows you to auto-reply to messages that match certain criteria determined by you with a canned response. For example, you may want to send a response to those who send unsolicited press releases or other marketing material to your personal inbox.

Canned responses are available as a filter in Gmail, so go to “Settings” then “Filters” and check the box near “Send canned response”. Here you can create a new canned response or manage your existent ones.

Turn on Personal Level Indicators

This rather unknown feature in Gmail lets you know if an email is intended just for you, multiple people, or simply a mailing list. Take a quick look at the yellow markers before the name of the sender in your inbox. Inside them, there are a couple of yellow markers. You may think that they are there to call your attention to the message, but in fact, they are personal indicators that let you know if you’re the only recipient of the email or not. No arrows means that the email was sent to a mailing list, one arrow indicates that it was sent to a group of people, and two arrows means it was only sent to you.

Go to “Settings” and then to the General Tab to turn on personal indicators.

Get All Your Emails to One Address

Most people have multiple email addresses, so at times it may be difficult to keep track of all of them. Put an end to the time-consuming hassle of signing in and out of all of your work and personal emails by using Gmail’s function that allows you to put emails from up to five other accounts into the same inbox. The emails do not have to be from Google accounts to add them via this function.

  1. Go to “Settings”, and then click on the “Accounts and Import” tab.
  2. Go to the “Check mail from other accounts” section and next click on “Add a POP3 mail account you own.”
  3. Set up the email account you wish to receive your emails from. Optionally, you can use multiple inboxes to see the activity from different accounts at a glance.

Customize or Disable the Tabbed Inbox

Gmail offers a feature that includes tabs for email categorization. The available tabs are Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates and Forums, but users do not have to use them all, or at all. If you do not like this feature, the good news is that you can disable it. Click on “Settings”, go to the “Configure Inbox” tab, and then uncheck all tabs except for “Primary”. This will bring back the one-boxed interface that was the Gmail standard before the implementation of the tabbed system, and all your emails will get in the same place.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s