9 Ways to Make Gmail Better

January 19, 2016 Jiordan Castle


  1. Use Tasks to make a to-do list from your emails.

If you wake up to a slew of emails all requiring attention, don’t panic — create a to-do list. When you’re in the regular reading view of Gmail, you can select the email you want, select “More” above your inbox, and then “Add to Tasks.” A Tasks box will appear on your screen (which you can keep minimized within Gmail for easy access) with links to the corresponding emails and boxes just waiting to be checked.

  1. Apply filters.

Filters have the power to keep spam at bay, alert you to emails from specific people, and even tell you what kind of email you’re about to read. It just depends how you choose to use them. From “Settings” in Gmail, selecting “Filters” opens up a world of possibilities; you can automatically mark emails as read and/or archive emails, among other things. When you create a filter, you can even apply it to messages already in your inbox — not just future emails.

Bonus: While the periods in a Gmail email address don’t actually matter, plus signs do. Say you have to subscribe to a newsletter in order to be entered to win a new TV (we’ve all done it); simply enter your Gmail address exactly as you would, plus a plus sign and a word or two before the @ symbol. (E.g., whatever.your.email.address.actually.is+TV@gmail.com.) Create a filter that automatically archives emails sent to that specific email address and you won’t have to worry about them cluttering your inbox.

  1. Label things.

Labels help you differentiate between sender, type of email, etc. The trick to label wisely; remember that not every single email deserves its own unique label. Once you’ve created a label, you can color-code it by selecting the down arrow next to it on the left side of your inbox and assigning it a color.

You can also show or hide labels at will once they’ve been created. You can actually hide labels to conserve space and still see when they contain unread emails by going to “Settings,” and clicking the “show if unread” link beside each of your labels.

  1. Turn on 2-step verification.

There’s no reason you shouldn’t jump on the bandwagon for increased security. Two-factor authentication has been around for a long time and it’s still one of the easiest, best ways to better secure your stuff on the internet. With Gmail’s 2-step verification process, it takes more than just a password to get into your email. Once you’ve entered your password, you’ll be sent a code to your phone; enter the code in Gmail, and you’re in. Learn how to set it up here.

  1. Undo a (hastily) sent email.

Once a mere Labs hack, the undo send feature is now a standard part of Gmail for the web (not for the Gmail app, though Gmail is reportedly planning to roll it out for mobile eventually). In “Settings,” you can check the “Enable Undo Send” box and set a cancellation period (30 seconds is the default) — meaning you can give yourself an impressive 30 seconds to retrieve a GIF-riddled email intended for someone else. Once you’ve enabled the feature and sent an email, you’ll see a link to undo it alongside the typical “View message” link… like magic.

  1. Get the Unsubscriber app.

This is a time-saving one for the Gmail app crowd. Like Tinder for email clutter, with the Unsubscriber app, you can easily unsubscribe from newsletters and mailing lists with a simple swipe. All you do is swipe left to unsubscribe or swipe right to keep your subscription. From there, you can delete emails you’ve unsubscribed from with one tap. (Note: This is only for mobile, not for the web.)

  1. Get the Gmail Offline Chrome extension.

Do everything you’d normally do with Gmail while you’re offline. You can search, archive, and read email; responses you craft can be sent once you’re back online.

  1. Color-code stars.

You may already star certain emails to indicate their importance, a follow-up, etc. But did you know you could color-code them? Much like with traditional labels in Gmail, assigning colors to stars can help better organize your most important emails. Though you’ll have to remember what the different colors mean to you, it’s an easy system to put in place and customize.

  1. Multiple inboxes.

If you use Gmail for work and haven’t yet discovered the miracle of multiple inboxes, today’s your lucky day. Gmail comes with a primary mailbox, but you needn’t stop there. You can create and personalize multiple inboxes in Labs. I have a second inbox just for emails I’ve starred — things to follow-up on at a later date, heartwarming dog videos on YouTube… Simply put, multiple inboxes make it easy to make sense of an otherwise overwhelming email experience.


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