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30+ Quick Gmail Tips, Tricks, and Important Secrets (+ Video)

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This post is part of a series called Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Gmail Tips and Tricks.
20+ Helpful Gmail Plugins for Better Email Management

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?

Guess what? If you know the right Gmail tips, tricks, and secrets you can. Check out these Google account tips and tricks to add some new strategies to your workflow.

Gmail tips tricks and secrets
Timing-saving Gmail tips, tricks, and secrets. (graphic source)

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 thirty of the best Gmail tips and tricks so you can start using them right away. We'll look at some fun, cool Gmail tricks, like changing up visuals, as well as Gmail account tips and tricks for security, workflow, and more.

7 Top Gmail Tips and Tricks for Better Email Productivity (Video for 2021)

Gmail is full of tricks that can save you time. But are you getting the most from your Gmail? The answer is probably "no."

The short video below outlines some of the top time-saving Gmail tricks that can really make a difference in your workflow:

You've just learned some of our best Gmail tips. To discover even more ways to get the most from your Gmail account, study the following tutorial.

1. Use Undo Send to Recall a Message

Undo Send in Gmail
Gmail tip: use the Undo Send feature 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. Well, here is one of the best Gmail tips and tricks: you can recall a message.

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've got 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. Expand and Contract the Main Menu 

Looking for some Gmail tricks and tips to change up how your email looks? You can hide the Main Menu by clicking on the Main Menu button, at the top of your Gmail.

gmail hide extras
Save space in your Gmail by expanding or contracting the menu bar.

This can be a really handy way to cut back on clutter in your inbox. Just because you've minimized the Main Menu doesn't mean you've closed its features either. Note how the menu is represented by icons, rather than text, once it's been contracted. You can still click to view your inbox, various folders, and more. 

3. Save Time With Email Templates

Are you tired of answering the same questions over and over through email? Check out these Gmail tricks and secrets to help save some time.

Not only is repeating yourself annoying, but it also wastes time. Well, here are some Gmail account tips and tricks for you. Gmail has a solution to this problem with the Templates feature (previously called Canned Response). Templates allows you to save and re-use any email you send.

Templates saves a huge amount of time, especially if you're in a field that requires a lot of customer interaction. Enable Templates. Go to your Account Settings, and then the Advanced tab. Here, you can Enable Templates.

Gmail Tips Templates
Turn Templates on to easily use an Email Template for future responses.

Then, compose a message as you normally would. Click on the More Options icon to choose the Templates option. From here, save your draft as a template. You can access your saved templates and delete templates, too.

Gmail Compose Template
Use these Gmail tips and tricks to create your own Email Templates.

4. Scan Messages Quickly With the Reading Pane

Browsing your emails and paging through them can be tedious. You can easily preview your emails with these handy Gmail tips. Try working with the Reading Pane. Customize it to preview your emails to the side or the bottom of your viewing area. 

Gmail Preview Pane
Use the Reading Pane to see message contents without opening.

View and respond to your email messages without leaving your inbox. Use the Reading Pane to view the contents of your email messages as you scroll through them.

Enabling Reading 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.

You can find these options in your Settings. Go to the Inbox settings, and then scroll down to enable the Reading Pane. You can also choose whether you'd like your preview to the left or the bottom of your messages.

Gmail Reading Pane Settings
Use Gmail tricks and tips like the Reading Pane to help preview messages faster.

5. Listen to Google Voice Messages in Gmail

With Google Voice Player from GSuite, you can listen to each voice mail message from within Gmail. This can be really convenient, especially if you use both Gmail and Google Voice regularly.

But note that this is only available for paying GSuite customers. This isn't a free add on. So, if you're a customer, make sure to take advantage of this convenient option. Otherwise, it might be a reason to further look into the benefits of working with GSuite.

6. Use Nudges to Remind You to Reply

Have you ever forgotten to reply to an email? We probably all have at least once. Well, there are Gmail tricks and secrets for this situation too. Try working with Nudges. They're handy reminders. 

Gmail Nudge Feature
Cool Gmail tricks: Nudges reminds you to address important emails.

With Nudges active, you'll get a reminder at the top of your inbox, if a message lacks a reply for an extended amount of time. Then, either follow up or ignore the notification.

A lot of the best Gmail tips tricks and secrets can help with workflow, but this one can really be a helping hand in a different way. These suggestions can be dismissed or toggled off in the same place, too.

7. Receive Email From Other Email Platforms on Gmail

But what if you've got more than one email to manage? Many of us have an email address that doesn't necessarily use the Gmail suffix. There are Google account tips and tricks to help you with your workflow on this too.

Add another email address to Gmail
Receive all your email messages in your Gmail inbox.

If you use more than one email account, you know how time-consuming checking them all can be. You've got 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. Check out these Google account secrets: you can use more than just Gmail within Gmail.

With Gmail, 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. When it comes to Gmail secrets, this one is such a time saver.

For step-by-step instructions on how to combine your email accounts, review this tutorial:

8. Mute Noisy Conversations in Gmail

But what if you're trying to quiet your inbox and declutter? Check out these Gmail email address tricks: you can mute conversations to help keep your inbox clear of unwanted messages.

Mute Conversation in Gmail
Gmail tip: use the Mute feature to keep unwanted messages from your inbox.

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. Check out these Gmail tips to opt out of messages you don't want to see.

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 conversation.

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

What about if you've got more than one Gmail account? Well, there are Gmail tricks for you too. 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:

Log in to Multiple Gmail accounts
Keep multiple Gmail accounts open in separate tabs.

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 tabs.

Continue the process for as many Gmail accounts as you want to open.

If you've got the Chrome browser, there's an added Gmail secret tip. All the Gmail accounts you're 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 messages. Use these cool Gmail tricks to quickly toggle between your accounts.

10. Track Who Sold Your Email Address

Check out these Gmail email address tricks: 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:

  • firstnamelastname@gmail.com
  • firstname.lastname@gmail.com
  • f.ir.st.na.me.last.name@gmail.com

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 firstnamelastname@gmail.com 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. This is a great way to use one these lesser known Gmail secrets.

Note: This tip doesn't 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:

  • firstnamelastname@gmail.com
  • firstnamelastname+booklist@gmail.com
  • firstnamelastname+subscription@gmail.com

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 (folder). Use these Gmail tips tricks and secrets to help organize your inbox.

12. Learn to Use Gmail Search Operators

Do you really know how to use Google's Gmail search function? Use these Google account secrets to find things in your inbox even faster.

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's got 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 Envato Tuts+ after January 15, 2016:

Gmail Tip on Using Search Strings
Gmail search operators can help you find what you're looking for.

For a complete tutorial on Gmail Search functions, including the Gmail Advanced Search Box and Gmail search operators, look at:

13. Turn Off Gmail's Inbox Tabs

Enable or disable Gmail inbox tabs
Turn off Gmail inbox tabs.

Gmail comes with five tabs automatically defined and enabled:

  • Primary
  • Social
  • Promotions
  • Updates
  • Forums

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 put in place. 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

Google Hangout within Gmail Trick
Use Google Hangouts to communicate quickly.

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're trying to reach have a Google account (and you're 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

Gmail Star Setting Trick
Gmail secret trick: use different color stars in your Gmail inbox.

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. That includes different colored stars and other symbols such as exclamation points and even a question mark.

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?

Send Large Files in Gmail with Google Drive
Use Google Drive to send large attachments.

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're 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 your message.

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.

Grant account access
Give someone else access to your Gmail 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

Search by file size
Use advanced Gmail search to find large attachments.

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're 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 following tutorial:

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's 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.

Gmail account activity
Gmail secret tip: find out when your account was used.

Click the Details link to see a record of recent account activity including IP addresses.

Gmail account activity details
A record of Gmail 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

Send and archive button
Use the Send & Archive button to automatically archive messages you reply to.

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're 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

Gmail notifications
Gmail tip: turn your desktop notifications on or off.

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 important.

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 toggle button.

22. Turn on Priority Inbox in Gmail

Gmail Priority Inbox
Quick tip: how to set up Gmail Priority Inbox.

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:

  1. important and unread messages
  2. starred messages
  3. customizable
  4. customizable
  5. everything else

With priority inbox, it's easy to see what's important and what's not. Enable it from Settings > Inbox > Inbox Type.

For more information on various ways to arrange your Gmail inbox, review:

23. Place a Phone Call From Gmail

Gmail phone call
Place a phone call without leaving 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 Video Support plugin. 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 

Change the number of messages
Change the number of messages that display.

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 important.

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 productivity hacks.

26. Use Gmvault.org to Back Up Your Messages

Gmvault
Use the third-party tool, Gmvault, to back up 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 Plugins, read:

28. Customize the Look of your Gmail With Themes

You can also customize your inbox. Why not try out a Gmail cool theme, if you'd like to mix things up? To get started, go to your Settings and then choose Themes

From there, click on the button that says Set theme, as shown below.

Gmail Theme Settings
Change the look of your Gmail by choosing a new Theme.

Gmail gives us a collection to choose from, so you don't necessarily have to find an image of your own to use for your theme. Simply pick an image from the gallery and click Save to apply the theme.

Or click My Photos at the bottom to use a custom photo of your own.

What would you choose? Would you want your Gmail cool, clean, casual, or maybe a picture of your pet? Gmail themes can also be handy if you've got more than one Gmail account. Use different themes to easily and quickly show which one is active at the time.

Gmail Custom Theme
Choose from included images or upload your own for your Gmail Theme.

29. Check Spelling and Grammar in Your Emails

Spelling and grammatical errors are a common part of writing. That's why it's so important to check our work before we send it out. Luckily, Gmail makes this really easy for us. 

Go to your Gmail Settings, then, check out the General tab. Scroll down, and we can find a group of settings to help us with spelling and grammar.

You can turn on grammar suggestions, spelling suggestions, and autocorrect to help you refine your work. 

Gmail Spell Check
One of our best Gmail tips: check your spelling and grammar.

30. Easily Add Emojis to Informal Messages

Sometimes, adding an emoji or emoticon can add a light hearted, friendly tone to your emails. If you're in an informal situation and you're looking to share a smile, why not add one to your message? 

You can do so easily when composing a new message. Click on the Smiling Face Icon at the bottom panel, as highlighted below. Then, easily browse and select an emoji to insert into your email message. Simply click on the emoji you'd like to use.

Gmail Emoji
Looking for ways to make your Gmail cool? Try using emojis.

31. Add Security With Confidential Mode

Confidential mode might be one of the most interesting, hidden Gmail secrets. Add extra security to your message by setting a confidentiality passcode to your message. This will block the recipients from forwarding, copying, printing, or downloading your message for a set amount of time. 

Gmail Confidential Mode
One of the Gmail secrets you may not know is that there are confidentiality settings for Gmail.

To adjust these settings, click on the Lock Icon. Once you've set them, you'll see a confirmation on your message, as shown below.

While these confidentiality settings can help with protection, they aren't completely fool proof. They may be an effective deterrent and discourage unwanted sharing or copying. While it may be a solid step in adding extra control to email privacy and security, you should still take adequate precautions when sharing sensitive and private information. 

Gmail Confidential Mode Time Set
Note the confidentiality lock and clock icon.

32. Plan Your Messages With Schedule Send Emails

Need to send an email tomorrow, but you've already written it today? You can easily schedule your emails in Gmail. When composing your message, before clicking Send, click on the upwards arrow beside the Send button.

From here, click on Schedule Send. Choose a future date and time for your email. Easy, right?

Gmail Schedule Reply
Need to send an email at a later date? Schedule your emails within Gmail.

33. Find More Great Gmail Features 

Even many standard Gmail features aren't well-known to users. Many of us make use of Gmail's most basic functions, but Gmail can do so much more.

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:

Also, learn more about How to Use Gmail in our Ultimate Beginner's Guide: from setting up your Gmail account, to how to manage your passwords, and more.

Learn More about Gmail, Email, and More

Looking for even more Gmail tips and tricks? Or maybe you're just looking to get more familiar with Gmail. There's plenty of free tutorial content on Envato Tuts+ to help you learn more.

Check out these tutorials right now to get started:

Streamline Your Gmail Workflow With Gmail Tips, Tricks, and Secrets

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.

Editorial Note: This post was originally published in January of 2017. It's been comprehensively revised to make it current, accurate, and up to date by our staff—with special help from Daisy Ein. Video added by Sergio Sala. 

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