Gmail Tools You Should Be Using
By Tracey Dowdy
Though it wasn’t my first email address, Gmail quickly became my primary, way back in 2007. Like every other tool in Google’s arsenal, it has constantly updated its features, making it an essential tool in my personal and professional communication.
But even Gmail users like me may have missed out on some of those updates and functionalities. So, without further ado, here are the tools to help you make the most of Gmail’s features.
Even strong spellers can make mistakes by mixing up common words or typing too fast.
Have no fear, Gmail’s spell-checking tool comes to the rescue. Gmail will keep the word underlined if it changes, so you can choose to undo it if the change is unintended. Gmail also has Grammar and Autocorrect features. Users can turn each on or off in Settings > Spell Check.
Create a custom signature
A custom signature is particularly useful if you have multiple Gmail accounts. To set up a signature for all outgoing messages, open Gmail > Settings gear > See All Settings. Scroll down to Signature, then click Create New. Signatures you’ve created will be visible in settings and can be edit or deleted at any time.
Access multiple accounts simultaneously
I have personal and professional Gmail accounts and access to one of my husband’s accounts to help manage his calendar. Accessing multiple accounts is as simple as clicking the profile icon in the top right corner (mobile or desktop) and choosing Add Another Account. Just sign into the account, and going forward, you can jump between them simply by clicking on the corresponding icon.
Undo a sent message
Ever sent a message and realized a second later you forgot the attachment or signed the email “Love, Tracey?” Yeah. Me neither. Fortunately, the nerds at Gmail heard our bitter weeping and created Undo Send. Immediately after you hit Send, a message pops up at the bottom left of the screen saying the message was sent. You also have the option to Undo or View Message. Plus, you can customize the cancellation window to five, 10, 20, or 30 seconds. When you click Undo, Gmail will stop sending the message. To set up Undo Send, go to Settings > See All Settings and scroll down to Undo Send. From there, you can choose your cancellation window timer.
Ever been trapped in a neverending group message with little to say? To escape, click the three-dot settings icon just above the email subject line and select Mute in the drop-down menu. Just like with the Undo Send, you’ll have an opportunity to unmute if you accidentally chose to mute.
Sync with calendar
While I still maintain a hard copy of my day’s to-do list – I love the satisfaction of crossing something off a physical list – I’d be doomed without my Google calendar. I love that events sync across my devices automatically, and being able to set multiple reminders is a gift from heaven itself.
Set up filters
If your inbox is anything like mine, you’re constantly getting emails from retailers and websites with only a small percentage being of any interest – I’m looking at you and the 93 emails you sent me in March DSW. Whether it’s emails from your well-meaning auntie or another offer from Target, organize and prioritize by setting up a filter. Open Gmail, click the settings icon and choose See All Settings. Then select Filters and Blocked Addresses > Create a New Filter.
Customize your filter to organize emails by sender, recipient, subject, keywords, etc. Once it’s set up the way you like, click Create Filter.
Schedule a message
If you work with clients or coworkers in different time zones, or if you’re going to be out of the office and need to plan ahead, you can choose the time your message is sent. Compose your email and instead of clicking Send, click the down arrow. Gmail will suggest possible times, but you also have the option to input a custom send time manually.
Gmail’s Smart Compose is predictive text to streamline your email composition. As you’re writing, Gmail will suggest words to complete a message, and you simply the tab to accept the suggestion. If you don’t like it, keep typing, and it disappears. If you don’t like Smart Compose, you can toggle it off in Settings.
Lord knows I love organizing, and Gmail’s label makes my mild OCD sing. To label messages, go to the left sidebar where your Inbox, Trash, Spam, and other folders. Keep scrolling down to Create New Label. You can even set up a filter to send an email to specific labels.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.