Can you remember the last time you actually sat down with a pen and piece of paper to write someone a letter? Me neither.
Emailing became the new way to communicate in the '90s, and we haven't looked back. Even though you've sent thousands of emails over the years, you probably haven't put much thought into special features that email service providers offer.
There have been tons of improvements to the emailing process over the last few years that you might not know about. Whether you use Gmail, Outlook, or even Yahoo still, there are some cool tricks to take advantage of.
That's why we're going to tell you about five essential email hacks that you'll wish you knew sooner.
1. Stop the creepy tracking
Whenever we receive a call from an unknown number, there's a chance that it's a robocall. If you answer, whomever is behind the call knows that you've picked up and that your phone number is valid. This could lead to an obnoxious number of additional calls.
Emails can work in a similar way. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, email marketing software lets marketers track those mass emails that get sent out from a generic list. If you get one and open it, they know that you've opened it.
That's just one reason you'll want to block these types of tracking services. The easiest way to block them is to make sure your email client doesn't automatically display external images in messages.
Trackers often hide tiny images inside the body of an email and are able to detect when it's been downloaded. That tips them off that you've opened the email, and now you can expect more to come.
Here's how to stop images from automatically being displayed:
Open your Gmail Settings. Then, under the Image section, select "Ask before displaying external images." Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save Changes. It's that simple.
Open Settings >> tap Mail >> toggle the button to the left next to Load Remote Images.
Go to your account in the Gmail app >> tap Images >> select Ask before showing.
2. Protect recipients' privacy
There are times we might need to send a message to a group of people. Maybe you are planning a surprise event.
You don't want the people who receive the email to see the complete list of recipients. That could be a breach of their trust and privacy.
There is a way to send a mass email without recipients being able to see who else is getting it. You just need to create an Undisclosed Recipients email.
Here's how to do it:
Click Compose >> in the To field, type Undisclosed recipients followed by your own email address inside angle brackets (<>) >> click Bcc >> type the email addresses of everyone you want to send the message in the Bcc field >> enter the message >> click Send.
For some email services, you need to create an Undisclosed Recipient Contact before sending these types of messages. Yahoo and iPhone Mail are a couple of them. (Note: You only have to do this the first time. Since the contact will already be created, you can send Undisclosed recipient messages without redoing this step in the future.)
Open Yahoo Mail >> select the Contacts icon at the top of the screen >> click New Contact >> type Undisclosed in the First Name field >> type recipients in the Last Name field >> type your Yahoo Mail address in the field next to Email >> click Save.
Now you can send an Undisclosed recipients email. Follow these steps:
Open Yahoo Mail >> tap Compose >> click To at the top of the new message to open contacts >> scroll to Undisclosed recipients and select it >> click Done to return to the message >> click CC/BCC >> enter all desired recipients in the BCC field >> enter message >> click Send.
Begin by creating an Undisclosed recipients contact. Remember, you only need to do this first step once. Here's how:
Open Contacts >> tap + >> tap First Last >> type Undisclosed under First >> type recipients under Last >> tap Save >> tap Add new Email >> enter your own email address under Email >> tap Save >> tap Save again >> press the Home Button.
Now you can send and undisclosed recipients email. Follow these steps:
Start with a new email message in iPhone Mail >> tap + in the To: line >> select Undisclosed recipients >> tap CC/BCC >> tap BCC >> enter desired recipients >> enter message >> tap Send.
3. Block addresses that send annoying emails
I'm sure we can all agree that our inbox is full of annoying emails from time to time. Whether your address has made it onto a mailing list that sends out umpteen spam messages a day, or you have that one old friend who bombards everyone's inbox with forwarded junk that you don't want to see, it happens.
The good news is you don't have to keep taking it. Just block those email addresses by setting up a filter. (PssT! Read the bonus section below to learn how to ensure that you always get the important emails.)
Open a message in Gmail from the email address you want to block >> click the More button (it's the three vertical dots next to the Reply arrow) >> select Block "the person's name who sent the email"
Open Yahoo Mail and select the Settings gear icon in the top right corner >> select More Settings >> select the Security and Privacy category on the left of the screen >> in the Blocked addresses section click + Add >> type the unwanted email address in the Address field under Add an email address to block >> click Save.
Open a message in Outlook from the address you want to block >> click Sweep in the Outlook Mail toolbar >> verify that Delete all messages from the Inbox folder and any future messages is selected on the menu that appeared >> click Sweep >> click OK.
That email address is then added to the blocked list and you shouldn't see any more messages from it. They will be sent directly to the deleted folder.
4. Time-saving keyboard shortcuts
Most of us know the standard keyboard shortcuts for things like copy, paste and delete. However, Gmail has its own keyboard shortcuts, catering to email users that you might not know. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even create your keyboard shortcuts.
Here’s how to find them:
- Go to Settings
- Under the General tab, scroll down until you see "Keyboard shortcuts"
- Select the circle next to Keyboard shortcuts on
To create your own keyboard shortcuts in classic Gmail, you will want to find the "Labs" tab. In the latest edition of Gmail, look for the "Advanced" tab.
Select whichever one you need and scroll down on the page until you find "Custom keyboard shortcuts." Enable those and then save the changes. The page will refresh, and when it's done go back into your settings and find the new "Keyboard Shortcuts" tab on the far right of the top banner.
Click on that, and a window with numerous options will open. Choose a shortcut (or create a new one), then save the changes when done. From that moment on, you will be able to implement the shortcut whenever you need it.
5. Don't miss out on any important emails ever again
Like junk mail has made getting snail mail less important, spam can sometimes make checking your email less than fun. Sure, spam filters can save you from the coupons and advertisements you don’t care about, but what if they weed out emails you don’t want to miss?
That is what whitelisting emails is for.
Whitelisting is the opposite of blacklisting; when you blacklist an email address, you are saying you never want to get messages from them, no matter what. When you whitelist an email address, you are saying any message from this contact, even ones that might trip the spam filter, should be available to read in your inbox when they come in
Tap or click here to find out how to create whitelists for popular email services. Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Outlook and Comcast email services are all included in this helpful article. Check it out now while you're thinking about it.