By Chantal Bechervaise
Can you believe that it has been over 11 years since Gmail was first made available to the public? A lot has changed since 2004. Even if you have a love/hate relationship with Gmail or think your inbox is out of control, the following tips and apps will help you to master Gmail and be more productive.
1. Unsend a Message
This is a fairly new feature in Gmail but long overdue. I have a bad habit of sending emails without attachments but this feature will remedy that. Gmail’s undo feature will let you unsend an email up to 30 seconds after you hit the send button. To enable the unsend feature, click the gear button on the top right hand side of your Gmail window. Click on settings. Scroll down to “Undo Send” and click to check the option. You can also select a cancellation period – either 5, 10, 20 or 30 seconds. Then scroll down to the bottom and click “Save Changes”.
After you enable this feature, whenever you send an email a yellow bar will appear at the top of your inbox, asking if you would like to undo. Just remember that you only have up to 30 seconds to unsend the email.
Boomerang is a Gmail app that lets you schedule emails. You can write an email any time of the day (even at 2am) and schedule it to be sent automatically at the time of your choosing (so it looks like you composed it at 8am). Just write the messages as you normally would, then click the Send Later button and schedule when you want to send the email. This is also great for reminders that you need to email yourself.
There may also be times when you need to make sure you follow up within a specific timeframe after sending a message. With Boomerang, you can choose to be reminded if nobody replies, or choose to be reminded anyway. This way you won’t let messages slip through the cracks and will never forget to follow up.
Rapportive is another great Gmail app that lets you see a person’s LinkedIn profile right inside Gmail. No need to Google someone or check their profile before composing an email; the information is right there alongside your email. Great for networking and ensuring that you are spelling the person’s name correctly.
There is a handy section in Gmail called Labs. To access you simply click on the gear button at the top right hand side of your Gmail. Then click on settings and then the ‘Labs’ tab at the top. There are a number of tools that you can try out that other people have built to work within Gmail. A favorite of mine is called ‘Canned Responses.’ You may want to use it if you find yourself sending out the same email message over and over. You can compose and save messages that you send frequently in Canned Responses, then when you are composing an email you will see a button next to the compose form which lets you pick a pre-saved message. You can also set up filters to send an auto-response.
5. Alias Filters
Using an alias with Gmail can help you to filter and sort through your emails more easily. What most people don’t realize is that punctuation or periods in a Gmail address don’t matter. For example a lot of people that I know use the following email structure: FirstName.LastName@Gmail.com. The period (or dot) between the first and last name doesn’t matter. Sending an email to John.Smith@gmail.com or JohnSmith@gmail.com will go to the same inbox.
To create aliases, use a dot (.) or the plus sign (+) in your email. If you enter a lot of online contests you could use JohnSmith+Contests@gmail.com. Then you can set up a filter to have all emails responses that are sent to JohnSmith+Contests@gmai.com go directly to your spam folder. Or if you create a filter for work, such as JohnSmithfirstname.lastname@example.org, you can have all responses automatically be starred. Or you can automatically label messages by going into the Settings then clicking on the Labels Tab and create a few useful labels for different things. You can then use the filters to label messages to “John.Smith@gmail.com” as “Family” and messages to “JohnSmith@gmail.com” as “Work”.
Do you have other Gmail tips or hacks that you use? Please leave a comment below and share your favorites.
Chantal is located in Ottawa, Ontario. She is passionate about everything related to the World of Work: Leadership, HR, Social Media and Technology. You can read more from Chantal at her TakeItPersonelly blog or follow her on Twitter @CBechervaise.