10 Ultimate Gmail Tips To Become Uber Productive

May 3, 2016 Mark Glucki

Gmail Tips

Gmail isn't just for consumers anymore. With over 1 billion monthly active users, millions of business users and reports of nearly two-thirds of universities, the email service powered by Google is engrained in the corporate world in one form or another.

If you're in the company IT department and are concerned about security, you may also breathe a sigh of relief to hear that Google has made further strides to protect businesses through its Data Loss Prevention service. 

Gmail has changed the way we've thought about email since its release 10 years ago. So we've gathered 10 of the greatest email tips from online communities to help you make the most of the service. And don't forget to check out the links at the end of each tip to find even more helpful info from these amazing sites.

Decide on the Best Display Density

display density

We kick things off with the simplest and easiest tip to make Gmail feel personalized. "A small tip but one you'll notice every day: on top of how you organize your inbox, make sure to set what Gmail calls "display density." The feature, which is quick to access from the gear icon in the upper right corner, changes the spacing between the elements of your inbox. Give each one a try to see which works best for you." - Zapier

Enable the Best Gmail Labs Features

"Gmail’s Labs section in Settings has an array of awesome features that you should use but probably don’t. Here are some of them that we recommend enabling right away:

  • Mark as Read Button to mark emails as read with the click of a button.
  • Authentication icon for verified senders to weed out emails from scammers by highlighting authentic emails with a special key icon.
  • Canned Responses to avoid typing the same text snippets in emails over and over.
  • Preview pane to load individual emails in a pane instead of on a new page, à la Outlook. You can choose from a horizontal split view or a vertical split view once you enable this feature." -MakeUseOf

Personal Level Indicators

This tip is great for those people who get a lot of group messages and are added to the cc field far too often.

"Want to identify messages that are sent only to you? It’s possible with “Personal level indicators”. Go to Settings > General  and you can check “Show indicators” by scrolling down to “Personal level indicators” section.

"Gmail will then display an arrow for all messages sent to your email address (except newsletters). And it will show a double arrow if you are the only recipient of the message." - Minterest

"Gmailify" For Non-Gmail Subscribers

This one is pretty cool for those who don't actually have a Gmail account. The company recently introduced what Tech Crunch describes as "a new feature called “Gmailify” that will allow anyone to take advantage of Gmail’s spam protection, inbox organization, Google Now integrations, and more, without having to change their email address. 

"That means you’ll be able to not only be able to check your @Yahoo.com, @Hotmail.com, or @Outlook.com email within Gmail’s mobile application – but you can also manage those accounts as if those emails were hosted on Google’s own servers. This makes sense for people who would like to choose Gmail for its advanced feature set, but are stuck with a different email and don’t want to go through the hassles involved with changing their email address." - Tech Crunch

Use the Labels Feature

"You can create all the labels you want (think folders) in GMail to move and store all that email that comes in that you need to refer to. You might also like to jump to Google labs and turn on the Nested label feature that allows you to tuck sub topic underneath a parent. To create these sub labels you simply use the parent label connected to the sub label ie: clients/nameofclient" - Duct Tape Marketing

Use Variations on Your Gmail Address to Preemptively Filter

Don't overlook this awesome tip. It's going to save you more time than you can imagine with just a quick email tip.

"Gmail actually ignores periods that are inserted into your email address, and cuts off anything that appears after a plus sign. So if I sent an email toexamp.le.a.d.d.ress@gmail.com, it would be delivered to exampleaddress@gmail.com, instead. It’s similar with plus signs: If I send an email toexampleaddress+test@gmail.com, the email is delivered to exampleaddress@gmail.com.

"There are hundreds of valuable uses for the limitless number of email addresses that Gmail gives you, but one of my favorites is using the faux Gmail addresses to automatically archive unwanted messages.

"For example, say a site requires you to subscribe to their daily newsletter in order to use their service. You can simply provide the addressexampleaddress+unwanted@gmail.com, then create a filter that looks forto:exampleaddress+unwanted@gmail.com and automatically archives any of those incoming emails.

"You could also use this strategy for clothing stores that ask for your email address at the register in exchange for a discount. Give them the address with an added period, like example.address@gmail.com, and again create a filter that archives messages to that address. This has the added benefit of saving that store’s promotions without them jamming up your inbox—that way, if I’m shopping for a new pair of Nikes, I can still search my Gmail archives for coupon codes and deals." - Zapier

Search Like a Pro

Many Gmail users will never delete a message, instead choosing to archive emails so they can be easily searched for future reference.

"If you need to find something in your archived mail that doesn't happen to have any handy keywords attached, you'll need to use Gmail's search engine. Here are some advanced search operators that can help you find what you're looking for in a sea of 20,000 old messages.

  • Exclude messages from specific labels with the-label:[label name] operator. This is especially useful when you want to exclude chat logs -- just type -label:chats in the search box. You can also search for messages with specific labels exclusively with the +label:[label name] operator. The + and - operators work with other search operators as well.
  • Search for messages within a certain time frame with the before:[yyyy/mm/dd] and after:[yyyy/mm/dd] operators.
  • Find specific types of attachments with thefilename:[file type] operator. For example, if you want to find messages with PDF files attached, type in filename:pdf.
  • Regular searches do not include messages in the Trash folder or the Spam folder. To find messages in the Trash folder, use in:trash. To find messages in the Spam folder, use in:spam. To find messages in all folders, including Trash and Spam, use in:anywhere." - CNET

Clean Up Your Subscriptions With 'Mass Unsubscribe'

"Want to get rid of those newsletters for good? There's an "unsubscribe" button next to the sender's address in promotional emails. It's a great one-click solution for decluttering your inbox! Another tip for the newsletters that don't get the "unsubscribe" button: type "unsubscribe" into the search box, and you'll probably find every deal, discount, and event email notification you've ever signed up for. You can also select all (but make sure to click "select all conversations that match this search" too) to banish historic newsletters from your inbox for good. Unroll.me is a plug-in that can clean up your junk mail with just one click." - PopSugar.com

Default Reply All

This is another simple, but effective tip. "Having to resend an email is the worst. If you're frequently part of mass emails, consider making "reply all" default. In Settings under the General tab, head to "Reply Behavior" and switch to "Reply All."" - PopSugar.com

Turn Off Conversation View

Still not sold? Miss the old way of seeing one message at a time instead of conversation threads in your email? No problem...

"Like the traditional way of viewing messages individually (instead of grouping)? If so, you can go to Settings > General and scroll down to “Conversation View” section to turn if off." - Minterest

Are you still looking for more tips and tricks, or looking to get more info on how to get started with Gmail and Google Apps for business? Head over to Google's site for a great interactive demo on the service, and a lot more. Just click the image below.

Gmail and Google Apps for business

What's your favourite Gmail feature or most productive tip? Tell us in the comments below.

About the Author

Mark Glucki

Mark has grown digital blog communities to connect Canadian business and tech pros by focusing on creating relatable content that everyone can enjoy. He developed a North American best practice on creating great experiences on social networks and spends as much time thinking of the end reader as he does writing content. Mark is also a commercial photographer focusing on product and location images. His work can be seen at Wonderlab Photo.

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