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Gmail Productivity Tips: How to Become a Gmail Power User

Are you ready to boost your Gmail productivity? This article presents a number of simple and more advanced tips so that you can become a Gmail power user.

Are you ready to boost your Gmail productivity? The purpose of this article is to show you a number of simple and more advanced tips so that you can become a Gmail power user.

Gmail power users know something that your average user doesn’t. In this article you will discover how to:

  • Organize your inbox with stars
  • Use labels to properly organize your inbox
  • Personalize your inbox with Gmelius
  • Work with filters to automate email processing
  • Set up email delegation when you’re not available
  • Use Gmail keyboard shortcuts to save time
  • Search through your emails faster

TIP 1: Organize Your Inbox with Stars

Using Gmail’s star system, you’ll be able to tag your inbox messages with color-coded shapes and stars. You’ll notice that, by default, your Inbox only provides a yellow star but you also have the choice of tagging messages with other colored stars and icons.

Add stars to gmail

It’s entirely up to you which icons and colors you use, and how you use them. As an example, you might prefer that your urgent messages be tagged with a red exclamation mark, the messages you need to read should be tagged with a yellow star, and messages that must be researched before responding to be tagged with a purple question mark.

How to Activate Other Stars and Icons

Follow these simple steps:

  1. In the upper right corner of the screen, click the settings (gear) button;
  2. From the menu, select Settings;
  3. On the General tab in the Stars section, drag the stars you’d like to use from the Not in Use list to the In Use list.
Pick the stars to use in Gmail

Note: You have to know the star’s name in order to search for starred messages in the search box. Find this by going to the Settings page, General tab, and hovering your mouse over that particular star in the Stars section. For example, the red exclamation mark is known as Red-Bang, and the yellow star is known as Yellow-Star.

How to Use Stars

When you choose to use a star to tag a message you simply click the star icon until you find the one you want, and Gmail will rotate through the stars you’ve placed in your In Use list. But it gets even simpler.

As an option, you can perform this same task by using the keyboard shortcut s. If you’re sending a message and you want to apply a star, go to the New Message window and click on the down arrow in the lower right-hand corner, choose Label, then select Add Star.

Add a start to an email being sent

TIP 2: Use Labels to Properly Organize Your Inbox

Labels are one of the easiest and most effective ways of organizing your inbox. Labels are great for categorizing by topic, client, project, action required etc.

Add labels to gmail

For further categorizing you can use sub-labels. For example each of your clients could have his or her own sub-label.Note: If you’re coming from another email system and moving to Gmail, you’re probably wondering why there are no folders. The answer is that Gmail doesn’t use folders. It uses labels. A Gmail conversation can have many labels and be in many locations: Inbox, Sent Mail, All Mail, and so on – which offers the user more flexibility than having messages in only one folder.

If all your Gmail messages are in your inbox and you’ve never used labels before (and many, many people are guilty of this), this is the time to start.

Gmail’s Three-Step Labelling Process

If you’re just getting started with Gmail labels, here’s a three-step process to help you get started:

  1. Create your labels and sub-labels
  2. Apply these labels to the messages that are currently in your inbox
  3. Each time you review your inbox you should apply labels to every new message.

Alternatively, you can set up a filter to do this step for you.

How to Create a New Label

  1. Select a message and click on the Labels button on the navigation sidebar
  2. And select Create new label
  3. Chose a name, decide if you want the label to be nester under a parent label and click on Create.
Create a new label

As an alternative, when a particular email is open, you can create a new label simply by starting to type the name of the label and clicking on create new.

Create a new label

How to Apply Labels to Existing Messages

To apply labels to messages in your inbox the easiest methods are as follows:

  • From the navigation sidebar, drag the label to the message: Gmail will apply the label and the message will stay in your Inbox
  • From the Inbox, drag the message to the label on the navigation sidebar. The label will be applied by Gmail and the message will be moved out of the Inbox
  • At the top of the Inbox, use the Move To button or the Labels button to label or move messages; however, it’s usually quicker to use the drag-and-drop method.

How to Manage Labels

If you want to view all messages that have been tagged with a certain label, click on that label in the navigation sidebar. Labels can be managed on the Labels tab of the Settings page. From here you can specify which labels to hide and which labels to show in both the message list and the label list. You can also remove a label (which doesn’t delete the messages in it) and edit the name of a label.

Label settings

TIP 3: Personalize Your Inbox with Gmelius

Gmail offers a number of options under the Setting’s default section to customize your inbox. For instance you can specify the number of messages to appear in your inbox, turn off Google Chat etc. But the amount of customisation you can apply to your Gmail account is limited.

However, when you install Gmelius, you will be able to personalize your inbox further.

With Gmelius, you can tweak Gmail – from customizing the look of your inbox to removing Gmail ads and disabling functions you don’t use. Learn more.

Personalize your inbox with Gmelius

Here are some of the most popular customization options that are possible with Gmelius:

  • Disable Ads: Remove all Google advertisements from your inbox.
  • Noiseless inbox: Enjoy a cleaner inbox by removing or disabling diverse elements you don’t use, e.g., the people widget, chat, Google+ activity, the Gmail footer, etc.
  • Header visible on-demand: Hide the Gmail logo and header and only enable it only when needed.
  • Smarter attachment icons: Replace the standard paperclip icon that appears on your attachments with a graphic that better reflects the type of file attached. More than 40 types of files are currently supported.
  • Customize the look of your compose window: Get more control over how your compose window looks. For example, always show the formatting toolbar or make the subject line editable by default.
  • Attachment icons on the left: Move attachment icons from the right to the left of your inbox, making attachments more visible at first glance.
  • Labels on the right: Move labels from the left to the right of your inbox, making it easier to read your message subject line.
  • Inline images scaled to fit: Large images in emails often break the layout of your inbox, Gmelius automatically resizes large pictures to fit the width of your screen.
  • Better navigation icons: Make Gmail navigation icons (e.g., Archive, Spam, Delete) more identifiable by adding text and/or color.
  • Scroll to top: Relax and enjoy a smooth auto-scroll to the top of your email by simply clicking on the header of your inbox.
  • Search from any tab: Search for messages in the address bar of your browser, just like you would perform a normal Google search.
  • Consistent look of incoming emails: Avoid receiving emails with an exotic font and colors by removing fancy formatting from messages you received.

And Gmelius offers a lot more than just a way to personalize your inbox. It adds over 40 new features to your inbox designed to boost email productivity.

Click here to learn more and install Gmelius for free.

TIP 4: Work with Filters to Automate Email Processing

Filters are another powerful Gmail feature: they enable you to automatically perform a specific action when a message arrives in your inbox that matches the filter criteria. For example, filters can be created based on the subject line, the sender, content of the message, attachments, or size.

The most popular filters are based on the sender. You can let Gmail know what action you want taken after determining what triggers the filter. One or more of the following actions can be selected:

  • Mark as read
  • Archive, and skip the inbox
  • Mark with a star
  • Forward
  • Apply with a specific label
  • Delete
  • Never mark as important
  • Always mark as important
  • Never send to Spam
  • Categorize: (referring to category tabs, like Social, Primary, and so on).

A Word of Caution: Gmail filters are a wonderful timesaver, but creating filters that are too general could well result in missing vitally important messages. Let’s say you created a filter based on a word in the subject line, an important message you wanted to read could inadvertently be moved out of your Inbox. Generally, using a sender’s precise email address as a filter will yield the most accurate results.

How to Create a Filter

To create a filter:

  • In the search box, click the Down arrow;
  • Next, enter your filter criteria: this may be messages from a specific sender;
  • Next, click on the “Create Filter with This Search” link;
Second step of creating a gmail filter

Specify what you want Gmail to do when it encounters a match, such as applying a star or a label.

  • Finally, click on the blue “Create Filter” button.

Tip: If you need to include multiple senders in the same filter, each sender’s email address should be separated with the word ‘OR’ – like [email protected] OR [email protected]

Managing Filters

Filters can be managed on the Settings page using the Filters tab.

Manage gmail filter

On this page you can create a new filter, plus you can delete, edit, import, and export existing filters.

TIP 5: Delegate Your Email Account to Someone Else

With Gmail, the management of your inbox can be delegated to another person, such as a colleague or an assistant. This person can then read, reply to, send, delete, and organize your messages.

Set Up Email Delegation When You Are Not Available

Follow these steps to set up delegation:

  1. In the upper right-hand corner of the screen click the Settings button
  2. Click on the Accounts and Import tab
  3. Click on the Add Another Account link in the Grant Access to Your Accoun section
  4. Add the email address of the person you wish to grant access to, then click the Next Step button;
  5. Finally, click on the Send Email to Grant Access button.

The person you’ve chosen to delegate your emails to will receive a notification from Gmail confirming your request.

Understand the Limitations of Delegation

Delegating your Gmail account to a colleague or assistant can be a very handy tool for busy people, but there are limitations. Remember that the person you’ll be delegating access to must have their own Gmail account and the number of accounts you can delegate is limited to one.

You also need to remember that you can’t use Gmail’s delegation feature to create a group email account; and if Google does notice that many people are accessing the same Gmail account it’s within its rights to shut the account down.Note: By default, when a delegate opens a message the message is marked as read. If you want to change this, go to the Accounts and Import tab and select the ‘Leave Conversation Unread When Opened by Others’ option.

How to Cancel Delegation Access

Let’s say you’ve decided you no longer want someone to have access to your Gmail account. To cancel delegation, follow these simple steps –

  1. In the upper right hand corner of the screen, click the Settings button;
  2. From the menu, select Settings;
  3. Next, click the Accounts and Import tab;
  4. Click on the Delete link next to the person’s name whose access you want to cancel in the Grant Access to Your Account section.

And you’re set!

TIP 6: Use Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts to Save Time

Did you know that Gmail provides many keyboard shortcuts, thus enabling you to complete tasks quicker?

If you’re not already using them, you really should take the time to familiarize yourself with the shortcuts and start using them for your common Gmail tasks.

Turning on Gmail’s Keyboard Shortcuts

By default Gmail offers a number of shortcuts however there are others that are not available unless you turn them on. Follow these simple steps to turn Shortcuts on:

  1. In the upper right-hand corner of the screen click on the Settings button
  2. From the menu, select Settings
  3. Select the Keyboard Shortcuts option on the General tab
  4. At the bottom of the page click on the Save Changes button.
keyboard shortcuts

How to View a List of Keyboard Shortcuts

Press ? To view a complete list of keyboard shortcuts: remember that when you press the**?** key you need to hold the Shift key down. See below for a comprehensive list of keyboard shortcuts.

That’s impressive, isn’t it?

Summary of all shortcuts Gmail

TIP 7: Search Through Your Emails Faster

Another huge time-waster is searching through Gmail trying to find a certain email message. Yes, performing a basic search is easy. However, when you’ve got thousands of Gmail messages, whether they’re archived or in your Inbox it can often be difficult to find precisely what you’re looking for.

The solution is learning to perform advanced Gmail searches.

To do so, click on the arrow to the right of the search button.

Search message in Gmail

Now, in the search window provided, you can search by sender, location , subject, recipient, attachments, words in the message or words not in the message, and date.

Search message faster with Gmail

You also have the option of using various search operators in the Search box:

  • has:yellow-star: Messages with a yellow star
  • 2016 work plan: Messages containing this exact phrase
  • Vacation-Geneva: Messages about a vacation, but without Geneva
  • label:work from:Helen: Messages from someone named Helen with the label ‘work’
  • after:2016/01/01: Messages dated after January 1, 2016

You can view a complete list of search operators here.

In Conclusion

It’s now your turn to apply these Gmail tips to your daily email routine to boost your email productivity. And in no time you’ll become a Gmail master.