Skip to Content
© Dimarik16 | Dreamstime.com
Technology

10 tricks to manage your Gmail inbox like a pro

Google has just announced that it’s enabling a range of new settings that users can easily adjust on the fly. Dubbed “Quick Settings,” these options let you adjust the look and feel of your inbox without ever needing to leave or hunt through sub-menus.

It’s a long-overdue set of features, but it’s an update that users will absolutely appreciate. This comes right on the heels of other successful updates, such as being able to forward messages as email attachments. Tap or click here to see how to use this feature.

But quick settings aren’t the only thing worth adjusting in Gmail. Here are our favorite Gmail inbox settings you can use to make your email experience even more productive.

1. Activate Quick Settings

Quick Settings are the latest update for Gmail from Google, and they can be found on the far right-hand side of your inbox window. Inside the dropdown menu that appears, you can easily change your theme, inbox layout and other options all without leaving your messages. You can even activate in-window previews of messages before you read them.

This feature is currently rolling out to Gmail users individually, so if you haven’t gotten access yet, expect it by June 22.

2. Unsend messages (and give yourself more time)

You don’t have to despair if you sent an email you regret. Gmail actually gives you the ability to completely recall messages within a specific time frame.

To do this, follow these steps:

  • After sending a message, in the bottom left, you’ll see “Message sent” and the option to “Undo” or “View message.”
  • Click Undo.

You can also adjust your window of opportunity to give yourself more time to unsend:

  • In the top right of the Gmail menu, click the gear icon, followed by Settings.
  • Next to “Undo Send,” select a Send cancellation period of 5, 10, 20, or 30 seconds. We recommend 30 seconds, so you’ll have as long as possible to decide.

3. Skip the inbox, use filters instead

Filters can be automatically applied to incoming emails to categorize and organize your inbox. This means you can send emails you want to read later away from your main inbox without having to lift a finger. Here’s how:

  • In the search box at the top, click the Down arrow.
  • Enter your search criteria. If you want to check that your search worked correctly, see what emails show up by clicking Search.
  • At the bottom of the search window, click Create filter. 
  • Choose what you’d like the filter to do.
  • Click Create filter.

Keep in mind that this will only affect new emails that come to your inbox, and won’t apply retroactively.

4. Make an alias on the fly

Unlike many other email systems, you can easily make an alias for your Gmail account without having to adjust any settings. When signing up for another platform or subscribing to something, you can type in your username like “[email protected],” which will automatically deliver emails from this source to your junk inbox.

But it’s not just limited to junk. Any labels or mailboxes you have set up can apply. All it takes is the stroke of a key.

5. Use tasks to create reminders, and add your emails to these tasks

Gmail makes it easy to set reminders right in the app. Here’s how:

  • On the right, click Tasks, which looks like a blue circle icon.
  • Click Add a task.
  • Enter a task.
  • To add details or a due date, click Edit.
  • When you’re done, click Back.

If you wish to add an email to an existing task, just right-click the email and select Add to Task. This will integrate the message as part of your reminder.

6. Find the perfect layout

Gmail offers several different layouts you can use that change the priority of the messages you see. If you’d rather see only your most urgent messages first, you might want to adjust your layout. Here’s how:

  • Open the main Gmail menu
  • Click Settings, and select Scroll to Inbox type.
  • Select from the following options: Default, Important first, Unread first, Starred first, Priority Inbox, or Multiple Inboxes.

Each of these will display your emails in a different order than simply date and time. And if you grow tired of a specific layout, you can always follow the same steps to change it back.

7. Make it easy to search for what you’re looking for

Whenever you have an email that you think you may need to pull up in the future, you can actually forward the email to yourself and add a few unique, memorable keywords or sentences. You won’t end up changing the information you need, and you’ll now have new search criteria you can index much easier.

Now, instead of trying to fiddle with Gmail on date parameters and senders, you can just type in your keywords/sentences and the email you’re looking for will pop up. How’s that for a lifehack?

8. Use themes to choose your favorite color options

The white, red and gray color scheme Google adopts isn’t for everyone. Here’s how you can change your theme to something more “you”:

  • In the top-right menu, click the Settings icon.
  • Click Themes.
  • Click a theme. You can make changes to some themes by clicking Text Background, Vignette, or Blur. These are purely aesthetic choices, and won’t affect how your Gmail functions.
  • Click Save.

9. Use keyboard shortcuts like a power user

Did you know you can use keyboard shortcuts on Gmail just like the rest of your computer? Here’s how you can master your keyboard to speed through your messages:

10. Make Gmail your one-stop inbox for multiple accounts

You can actually use Gmail as a hub for other email accounts you own. What’s more, you can actually use these addresses to send emails right from your inbox. All you need to do is add the accounts to your Gmail setup:

  • From the top right, click Settings, followed by Settings.
  • Click the Accounts and Import or Accounts tab.
  • In the “Send mail as” section, click Add another email address.
  • Enter your name and the address you want to send from.
  • Click Next Step, followed by Send verification.
  • For school or work accounts, enter the SMTP server (for example, smtp.gmail.com or smtp.yourschool.edu) and the username and password on that account.
  • Click Add Account.

All you’ll need to do is select the account you want to use by clicking the “From” label when you send a message. It’s that easy!

Bonus: Get experimental features with Google Experiments

Google sometimes grants early access to upcoming features via its Experiments program. Using them can make Gmail more convenient, but be warned: Not all these features are 100% stable yet, and you may experience some glitchiness.

  • In the top right corner, click Settings, followed by Settings again. If you haven’t started using the new Gmail yet, click Try the new Gmail. 
  • Under “General,” scroll to Experimental Access.
  • Click the box to Enable experimental access.
  • At the bottom of the page, click Save changes.

Currently, there aren’t any experimental features that are active, but if you enable Experiments, you’ll get priority access as soon as there are. These include cool options like “verified” icons next to verified senders, canned replies and Google Voice recordings in-message.

So the next time someone says their email system is more flexible than Gmail, you can point and laugh. Then again, some of the alternatives are getting pretty advanced. Whether it’s worth switching is another story altogether. Tap or click here to see our favorite Gmail and Google alternatives.

Ask me your digital question!

Navigating the digital world can be intimidating and sometimes downright daunting. Let me help! Reach out today to ask your digital question. You might even be on my show!

Ask Me