We all get disillusioned with email accounts that never seem to empty, with emails that get forced down the list that we forget to reply to and a general sense of email overload. Plenty of you that are reading this either have a personal Gmail account or may be using Google Apps for Business – if you suffer from any email problems and have a Gmail account then this post on creating a happier inbox (and therefore a happier you) is one you might want to bookmark.

For Productivity

Offline Gmail – There are times when you may need to send email when you have no Internet connection (or at least an unreliable one). Using Google Gears you can install Offline Gmail onto your browser so that you can use your email even when you have no connection – a productivity win. Get it  in Google Labs. Install the Chrome Extension here.

Keyboard Shortcuts – If you are a shortcuts person then Gmail has more than enough for you. You can turn them on via the General Tab in Settings. I won’t list them here but you can find all the shortcuts here – you will just need to go through them and work out which ones are best for you.

gmail shortcuts

Canned Responses – Do you find yourself sending virtually the same email over and over again? Maybe more familiar is the fact that we use similar correspondence with lots of people. Canned responses lets you save sentences or whole emails that you use multiple times – click on the canned response and it populates in the email – a huge time saver. Get it in Google Labs.

canned responses in gmail

Undo Send – Have you ever sent an email and as you pressed the send button been filled with dread? That feeling that you either sent it to the wrong person or forgot to add the all important attachment? Undo Send will allow you a few seconds to recall the email – amazing! Get it in Google Labs.

undo send from gmail labs

undo send tool

For Organisation

Stars, Inboxes and Labels

Stars – if you send a lot of emails you can prioritise using the star system in Gmail. Depending on how busy you are can mean you just have a ‘one star’ system for making sure you keep track of your important conversations. For more complicated Gmail accounts you can organise you stars by importance.

gmail stars

Inboxes – Gmail also has a variety of inboxes (as you can see from the image below). Classic is the default inbox for Gmail accounts but have a play with the others to see what suits you best – I prefer the Priority Inbox to enable me to keep an eye on ongoing conversations.

gmail inboxes

Labels – not only do labels keep you organised but the fact that you can edit the colours stops you inbox from becoming too static. Choose colour wisely and you can see at a glance what needs answering and when.

gmail labels and stars

Useful Gmail Gadgets

The gadgets section can be a little hard to find, after enabling the gadgets I mention below they can be accessed via this button:

google gadget button

Quick note: the three dots that are the gadgets button (three dots – go figure) are always there but your gadgets wiull not show up until you have added them via Gmail Labs.

Google Calendar Gadget – If you use Google Calendar you can add the gadget to your Gmail for a quick overview or reminder as to what you have to do that day. Get it in Gmail Labs

google calendar gadget

Google Docs Gadget – Similarly if you use Google’s free Doc tools you can add a gadget in Gmail so that you can see them at a glance.

google docs gadget

Useful Gmail Plugins

Rapportive – get rich contact profiles right in Gmail. Fed up of searching for a contacts LinkedIn details, Twitter profiles or Facebook? Let rapportive find them for you.

rapportive for gmail

Boomerang for Gmail – allows you to schedule emails to go at a certain time and will also remind you if you don’t hear back from a contact at a specified time interval.

Yesware – designed for Sales teams but has the ability to track when the emails you sent are opened. Also allows you to create and save email templates and, if you are a serious user, you can hook it up to your CRM.

yesware for gmail

Scrubly – essentially a cleanup tool, will allow you to cleanse and backup the contacts that you have in Gmail.

Unroll Me – If your inbox starts to get cluttered up with unwanted email subscriptions use this tool to de-clutter. Get an update at a specified time period so that you can sort through them in one swoop!

Hopefully that round up will help you out a little. Did I miss any – are there any favourites that you have that I have rudely missed? Let us know in the comments!

3 responses to “Gmail Tricks, Tips and Tools For A Happier Inbox”

  1. I like to enable the ‘Preview Pane’ which is found in Settings–>Labs.

    This lets you have preview emails as you click on them, like the reading pane in Outlook, and can be positioned to the right or below your inbox. I find this saves time as you can flick through your email, and scan the contents, rather than have to open each one up.

    • Wayne Barker says:

      Thanks for the comment Richard! ‘Preview Pane’ is not one that I have enabled – I will have to give it a go, thanks for the heads up. I’ll let you know how I get on.

  2. Freud says:

    Revealing some of the hidden treasures in what is in itself a treasure is pretty awesome work. Great article on how to maximise the full power of Googles Gmail.

    How we humans organise our daily lifes is made easy by Google but even easier when it’s explained so clearly by Hallam.

    Thank you

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