Did you know that Gmail has 425 million users that includes 5 million businesses, 66 out of 100 universities and government agencies in 45 states? That amount of usage makes for some pretty sweet Gmail tips and tricks across the board.
Gmail users have access to some great features of the platform and even better features through third party tools.
What You Will Learn
In this guide, you will find the A to Z of Gmail tools, hacks and tips that are essential for marketers who want to manage their inbox efficiently and effectively.
These tools, hacks and tips will help you do the following.
- Manage your inbox and achieve inbox zero
- Follow up on important emails
- Get timely reminders
- Automate your workflow
- Increase your email productivity
- Gmail tips and tricks for the power user
Gmail Tips And Tricks
There are a total of 29 awesome Gmail tips and tricks for the power user below.
Trying to implement them all will be overwhelming to say the least so you should just pick out the ones that are most relevant to you.
Links referencing labs, settings and other areas in Gmail will take you to those areas in your account if you are logged in.
Over the years, you’ve likely given various applications permission to access your Gmail account. If you notice that something odd is happening in your Gmail, it never hurts to visit your account permissions to see what apps have access.
Simply do a CTRL+F and search for Gmail to see the applications that specifically access Gmail. You may find an application you used in the past is affecting the way your email is being delivered or received.
Case in point – I signed up for a newsletter, but never received it. I forgot that in the past, I had added that newsletter to Unroll.me (a service we’ll discuss later), so it was being removed from my inbox and put into my daily digest.
When I saw that Unroll.me had access to my Gmail, I remembered what I had done and was able to fix it.
Advanced Search Operators
One reason to love Gmail is the ability to search your inbox with the same detail that you search the internet with Google.
Similar to Google search, Gmail has advanced search operators that you can use to find specific emails or to set up filters.
Advanced search operators in Gmail can help you find…
- Emails to or from specific people.
- Emails with specific words in the subject.
- Emails in specific labels.
- Emails with attachments.
- Emails from specific lists.
- Emails with a specific file attached.
- Emails including or excluding specific text.
- Starred emails.
- Emails with cc and bcc recipients.
- Emails that began before or after a specified date.
- Emails from people in your Google+ circles.
- Emails that are larger or smaller than a specified size.
You can combine several advanced search operators to find the exact email you need, such as that link building ebook someone sent you in June of 2014.
You can also use advanced search operators to create filters to organize your inbox.
Enable the Authentication icon for verified senders in Gmail Labs to identify emails from services that are often faked by spammers such as PayPal, eBay and others.
These can be used as added protection against spamming, phishing and other hacking attempts on your accounts which makes it a great gmail trick!
Boomerang for Gmail is a service that allows you to do the following.
Schedule Emails To Reappear In Your Inbox
Use this feature to do things like remind you to follow up on an email conversation, remind you of an upcoming event, snooze emails that you need to reply to later, or put your travel confirmations in your inbox right before a trip.
Schedule Emails To Send Later
Use this feature to do things like write emails whenever you want and have them appear in your recipient’s inbox at opportune times or write a response immediately, but send it later so people don’t think you are monitoring your inbox 24/7.
Activate read receipts to find out when people open your email and what they click on in your email. Use this feature to ensure that people are getting your emails and know what they are most interested in reading.
Use this feature to do things like remind you to pay your affiliates or remind your virtual assistants to send in their timesheets.
Remind You If People Don’t Reply
Schedule emails you send to reappear in your inbox if you haven’t received a reply. Use this feature to follow up on client leads and make sure projects stay on track.
Add notes to emails that you schedule with Boomerang. Use this feature to remember any specifics the next time the email appears in your inbox.
Boomerang for Gmail is an inexpensive tool with plans starting at $4.99 per month and going up to $49.99 based on the features you need.
Canned responses in Gmail Labs allows you to create templates for your most used email copy.
Setting up canned responses is simple. Each time you write an email that you find yourself writing often, save it as a canned response.
It saves it as a draft that you can insert quickly into new emails and replies. Some good examples of canned response include the following.
- The “introduction and info” response for new lead form submissions for your services.
- The “follow-up” response for new leads that did not respond to your
introduction and info email.
- The “advertising rates and options” response for people who inquire about advertising on your blog.
- The “thank you” response when someone mentions you in a blog post.
- The “guest post rejection” response for posts submitted to your blog that are not relevant.
- The “say no” response for things people ask you to do, but you don’t have time to do them. (HINT: This one makes it much easier to say no when you need to.)
- The “here’s my answer” response for requests to contribute to a group interview or crowdsourced posts.
- The “here are my tips” response for people asking for help with a specific question that you are often asked .
- The “schedule a time with me” response for requests to have you on a podcast, do a consulting call, or other phone appointments. (BONUS: Use ScheduleOnce or similar services to make scheduling painless and have the info go straight to your Google Calendar.)
What’s even better than creating a canned response? Creating one that can be used in conjunction with a Gmail filter so you automate the process of answering common questions by email.
This approach is good only for impersonal responses.
What’s even better than creating a canned response that can be used with a filter?
Finding a way to use that canned response to get people on your email list. For example, I closed my guest post submissions almost a year ago, yet I still receive requests.
So I wrote a free ebook on guest posting and created a filter + canned response combination that promotes it to people who ask for a guest spot on my blog.
At the bottom right of your Gmail inbox, you’ll see a link for Details.
When you click on this, you’ll see the latest access activity on your Gmail account.
If you suspect that someone or something, like an app, has unauthorized access to your Gmail account, you can confirm your suspicions in your account details.
You can also use this screen to log out of all other sessions so you can change your password and sign up for alerts to unusual activity.
Gmail filters are like Microsoft Outlook rules.
They allow you to automate the handling of emails by labeling them, skipping the inbox, starring them, marking them as read, applying a label, forwarding them, deleting them, never marking them as spam, sending a canned response (if this option is enabled in Gmail Labs), always or never marking them as important and categorizing them.
Use advanced search operators to create general and highly specific filters to keep your Gmail organized.
Filter just about everything you can just to attach a label to it, even if it is supposed to come to your inbox.
That way, when you send a reply with the Send & Archive setting enabled, it will archive the email to the appropriate label.
Find Large Attachments
Google gives you 15GB of storage for free. If you send or receive large attachments in Gmail, the sizes of those files will contribute to the fulfillment of this space.
Free tools like Find Big Mail will analyze your Gmail account and help you locate those large attachments.
This tool will label emails with large attachments as FindBigMail > 1mb, FindBigMail > 5mb, FindBigMail > 10mb and FindBigMail – Top, the latter for your largest pieces of mail.
Delete these if possible to free up space when you are approaching your 15GB limit.
Alternatively, you can advanced search operators like size:5m or larger:5m to find emails that are 5mb or larger respectively.
Gmail for Business
If you want to use Gmail for your business email address (firstname.lastname@example.org instead of email@example.com) and have access to a suite of other Google applications for business, then you may want to consider Google Apps for Work.
In addition to the basic Gmail features, you get additional storage (25GB) for you and your employees. Pricing starts at $5 per user, per month, or $50 per user per year.
Google Calendar Widget
The Google Calendar Widget in Gmail Labs allows you to add your upcoming Google Calendar events below your labels in the left sidebar of your Gmail screen.
I use mine to notify me of daily Twitter chats for marketers.
Google Mail Checker
If you want to be notified when you receive a new email in your Gmail inbox, use the Google Mail Checker extension for Chrome.
It adds a simple button to your browser that will notify you of new emails.
Note that this isn’t the best tool to use if you want to focus on productivity, as it will make you want to check your Gmail more often.
But if you are expecting an important email, you can at least work on something else without refreshing your inbox obsessively.
Get advanced spell checking and grammatical proofreading for your emails using Grammarly.
This tool has a browser extension that will allow you to use their service throughout the web, including in your Gmail compose message window.
This tool will proof your emails just like an editor that is available to you 24/7 for $29.95 per month, or, for the best deal, $139.95 per year.
If This Then That is a service that helps you automate tasks between 160 channels in their directory. You simply create a recipe that follows the format of IF [TRIGGER] THEN [ACTION].
Triggers for Gmail include the following.
- Receiving any new email in your inbox.
- Receiving an attachment in a new email in your inbox.
- Receiving a new email in your inbox from a specific person.
- Receiving a new starred email in your inbox.
- Receiving a new email in your inbox with a specific label.
- Receiving a new email in your inbox that matches a specific search query.
The only action for Gmail is to send an email from your account to up to five recipients.
So let’s say that you just launched your first course and you want to get a text message each time you make a sale to celebrate.
You should start by creating a filter for the emails that notify you of a sale and attach a specific label to them, but don’t make them skip the inbox.
Then, you can create a recipe with IFTTT that looks like this.
You can browse through the most popular Gmail recipes or try and create your own to see the many ways you can automate your Gmail activity with other tools which makes this a super powerful gmail trick.
There a bunch of ways IFTTT is used to help automate this blog.
Need to focus on something else besides your inbox?
If you follow the 4-Hour Work Week logic, you will only check your inbox one to two times per day. Inbox Pause is a free tool that will pause new emails from entering your inbox until the times you specify.
Essentially, what this tool does is put new email into a special label that will be moved to your inbox when you’re ready for them.
Of course, if you look at your All Mail folder regularly, then you’ll still see those emails and they’ll still be a distraction.
Keyboard shortcuts in Gmail simply allow you to do certain functions faster. In addition to the ones that are always on and likely familiar to you if you use Microsoft Word….
….there are also dozens more that can be activated in your Gmail settings. See the full list here.
You can work on emails while offline using the Gmail Offline for Google Chrome. Once you install this, you will be able to read, respond to and archive emails. Tasks will be completed by Gmail once you are online again.
You can also install the Gmail Offline Sync Optimizer extension for Google Chrome that will enhance the speed and efficiency of Gmail synchronization.
Gmail Plus Sign
Gmail doesn’t recognize plus signs or anything after them in your Gmail username. So let’s say that your Gmail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. You could use plus signs in the following ways.
- email@example.com as the email address you use when you sign up for free ebooks and mailing lists in general.
- firstname.lastname@example.org as your email address you use for emails from doctor’s offices, forums you joined to discuss health related issues and your gym.
- email@example.com as your email address for Groupon, Living Social and other deal of the day sites.
- firstname.lastname@example.org as your email address for newsletters only.
Why would you do this, you ask? Because of your filters.
You can use your special emails to filter out specific emails, like newsletters and local discounts, from your inbox with the Gmail plus sign.
You can also get specific with these email addresses to find out if you suspect someone is selling your email address to others
If you need support for Gmail, try the Gmail Product Forum.
This forum is Google’s official support center for Gmail where you can get answers to your questions.
Or for those who want to demonstrate their Gmail expertise, you can use this forum to do just that and find even more Gmail tips and tricks.
Quick links in Gmail Labs allow you to create links to areas in Gmail that you go to often to save you time.
These links are accessible in your left sidebar under your list of labels.
So let’s say you wanted a quick link that would show you all of your unread emails.
To create it, search for label:unread and then click Add Quick Link under your quick links. Name it Unread and now you will have a link that can show you all of your unread emails.
Use advanced search operators to find top client emails, emails about current projects and other emails you want to often access and create quick links to them.
Also use quick links to save a few clicks to your settings, filters, labs, contacts and other areas within Gmail.
Want to get the skinny on people whose email address you have quickly?
Try Rapportive. This free tool will pull social data about email contacts in just a few seconds when you hover over their email address.
Use this data to get some insights into the people you are about to have a conversation with via email. I
f you notice, for example, that the contact is from a Fortune 500 company, you’ll probably send them your premium rates for services versus what you would send to a small business owner.
Dates aren’t always helpful when it comes to letting you know how long it has been since something has happened, such as receiving an email.
Reply Now is a Google Chrome extension that changes the actual dates of emails in your inbox into the time that has passed since you received them.
Knowing that an email has been sitting in your inbox for five days will take the guessing work out whether it needs a response.
24 hours is an ideal response time to demonstrate professionalism. Best of all this tool is free.
Whether you would admit it openly or not, some people are more important than others.
SaneBox is a tool that analyzes your email activity and determine the importance of email senders based on your past interaction with them.
SaneBox is an inexpensive tool, with prices ranging from $7 to $36 per month.
It also has similar scheduling features as Boomerang for Gmail, such as scheduling an email to return to your inbox or send later.
Send & Archive
In your general settings, toggle the option to show the Send & Archive button.
Clicking this button when you send a reply to an email will automatically archive the email to which you replied.
It just saves you one click, but that can amount to a lot when you a replying to one email after the next.
Formerly GetSignals, Sidekick by HubSpot is a tool that notifies you when people read your emails and click on the links in your emails.
What separates it from typical read receipt tools is that it notifies you when people reopen your emails.
If you have followed up with them once with no response and you see that they open your email a week or a month later, it gives you the perfect opportunity to follow up with them again.
You can also find out what your contacts are interested in. If you have an email signature that has links to your freelance services and premium training course, seeing that someone clicks on your services link will allow you to follow up with them specifically about your services.
In addition to helping you identify prime times to follow up with email recipients, Sidekick also has the ability to show you social profiles for email contacts (similar to Rapportive) and detailed information about companies on the web.
Sidekick is only $10 per month for unlimited email tracking and contact profiles.
Sales teams can choose the business $50 per month plan to create email templates and access a database of 12 million searchable email contacts for companies.
There are lots of ways to use stars in Gmail. One of my personal favorites is to star an important email in a long thread of emails.
Typically, if you click on the email, it will open to the starred message. If it doesn’t, you can collapse the email thread and quickly find the starred emails within it.
Enable Undo Send in your general settings to get a thirty-second window to cancel sending any email.
You may not need this option often, but it never hurts to have the option enabled for that one time you do need it.
Marketers tend to subscribe to a lot of email lists, especially when there are freebies involved. (We also get subscribed to a lot of email lists that we weren’t interested in too – think LinkedIn contacts.)
Unroll.me is a free service that will help you manage those subscriptions by allowing you to unsubscribe in bulk and combine the rest of your subscriptions into one digest email.
Periodically use this tool to purge email subscriptions that you no longer need or never signed up for in the first place.
Did you know you could turn a casual connection on to your business through the use of a professional email signature?
WiseStamp will help you promote your website and social channels automatically each time you compose a new email.
You can also use their apps to promote your latest piece of content using your blog’s RSS feed, which automates another portion of your content promotion strategy.
Pricing for WiseStamp starts at $4 per month, billed annually.
Zapier is a service similar to IFTTT that that helps you automate tasks between 300 apps in their directory.
You simply create a zap by choosing a trigger app and trigger and then choosing an action app and action.
Triggers for Gmail include the following.
- Receiving any new email.
- Receiving an attachment in a new email.
- Receiving a new email from someone you have never received an email from before (since connecting to Zapier).
- Receiving a new email in your inbox.
- Receiving a new email a thread.
Actions for Gmail include the following.
- Creating a new draft email.
- Sending an email from your Gmail account (up to 500 per day).
- Creating a new label.
The two main differences between Zapier and IFTTT are that Zapier connects to more business tools (GoToWebinar, Trello, Freshbooks, etc.) and Zapier has better filtering.
Unlike IFTTT, which is always free. Zapier is free for up to 5 zaps performing up to 100 tasks per month. Pricing after that starts at $15 per month.
You can browse through the most popular Gmail zaps or try and create your own to see the many ways you can automate your Gmail activity with other tools.
Wrapping It Up
I hope these Gmail tips and tricks have helped you to discover new ways to get more out of your Gmail experience.
What tools, hacks and tips would you offer to those who use Gmail?
Please share your personal Gmail tips and tricks in the comments!