8 Gmail Hacks Guaranteed to Free Up an Hour of Your Day

How to file your entire inbox automatically and the basic keyboard shortcuts that are too simple not to remember (hint: 'r' is for reply).

Gmail hack: Organize your Gmail inbox with filters

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock

Spending an hour organizing filters now will save you a ton of time down the road. Filters automatically sort incoming mail into labeled folders which you can access in the left sidebar of your desktop setup. To create them, navigate to "Settings" (the gear icon in the top right corner). Navigate to "Filters and Blocked Addresses," and then click "create a new filter." From there, build out filters that make sense with your workflow. Perhaps you'd like all messages with the word "internship" in the subject line to go into a folder labeled "Summer Internship Applications." Or maybe you'd like all messages from your human resources point person and timesheet manager to file into a folder labeled "Admin." Up to you.

Gmail hack: Send a canned response

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock

This feature is great for people who constantly find themselves writing the same kinds of messages: say, confirmations on received materials or responses to frequently asked questions. To enable them, go to "Settings" and click on "Labs." Click "Enable Canned Response." The next time you reply to a message with a response you'd like to save, click the arrow on the bottom right corner of the reply box. Click on the "Canned response" option and choose "New canned response." Save your response with a relevant label. And don't worry about your emails sounding overly formulaic—you'll be able to edit the response before it sends. But do try to avoid these annoying email habits.

Gmail hack: Enable the "Undo Send" feature

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock

One of Gmail's most talked about new features is still a bit tricky to find. To enable "Undo Send," navigate to "Settings." Scroll to the "Enable Undo Send" box and check the tab next to it. You'll be able to choose how long you'd like the send-cancellation period to last (options include 5, 10, 20, or 30 seconds). You buy yourself the most time for error by choosing 30 seconds. When you send a message, a yellow banner will pop up underneath the search bar. The "Undo" button will appear there. Simply click on it if you send an email you'd like to retract.

Content continues below ad

Gmail hack: Set up stars

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock

You probably already know about gold stars in Gmail (they're the little star icons that show up to the left of a message). But did you know there are multiple colors and symbols available? Unlock seven different colors—plus symbols like exclamation points and question marks—by going to "Settings" and scrolling to "Stars." Click on "all stars." You can now associate different colors with different meanings. Perhaps a gold star means an email is a friendly message and a red star means it's a customer complaint. Your choice. Get to the colors by clicking on the star icon more than once (the first click will be gold, the second click will be orange, the third, red, etc.).

Gmail hack: Track incoming messages

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock

If you keep a Gmail tab open and want to stay updated on how many unread messages await you, enable the inbox tally feature. Click "Settings" and navigate to "Labs." Scroll to "Unread message icon," and select enable.

Gmail hack: View messages easily

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock

Enable a preview panel in order to be able to read mail next to your list of conversations (as opposed to being brought to a new page to view a message and having to click back). Go to "Settings" and select "Labs." Scroll to "Preview Pane" and click enable.

Content continues below ad

Gmail hack: Mute a conversation

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock

Are you often included on never-ending email threads that just aren't relevant? Opt out ASAP (here's how to opt out of basically everything). Simply open the conversation and click on the "More" button above your messages. Select mute. New messages will stay out of your inbox and be automatically archived. They'll only appear in your inbox again if a message in the conversation is addressed to you and you only, or if you're added to the "To" or "Cc" line in a new message.

Gmail hack: Know these simple keyboard shortcuts

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock

First, enable them: go to "Settings" and scroll to the "Keyboard shortcuts" section. Select "Keyboard shortcuts on." Here are the ones that will save you the most time: "c" allows you to compose a new message; "r" replies to the message sender; "s" will add or remove a star to a message or conversation; and "f" will forward a message. Clicking "tab" then "enter" will send your message.


Content continues below ad

View as Slideshow

Become more interesting every week!

Get our Read Up newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.