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advanced gmail tipsHave you been using Gmail for a while, but you’re still overrun by an overflowing inbox? Time to sort you out! There’s a few simple tricks pro users use to make very good use of Gmail. We’ll make it clear for you.

Most of us here at MakeUseOf use Gmail, whether we then import that mail to a client on our computers or not. The point is, Gmail makes things easy for us “” especially by doing a lot of work before our email even gets to our eyes. I personally can’t imagine life without Gmail’s spam filter “” I’d probably give up on email altogether without it.

Let’s take you through some of Gmail’s most awesome features and how you can become a pro user by making use of them.

1. Filters, Filters, Filters

Gmail’s priority inbox Gmail's Priority Inbox Solves The Bacn Problem Gmail's Priority Inbox Solves The Bacn Problem Read More might be enough for some people, but others prefer to keep track of their own filtering. This involves filtering email How to Set Up Email Filters in Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Outlook How to Set Up Email Filters in Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Outlook Email filtering is your best tool in keeping your inbox neat and organized. Here's how to set up and use email filters in Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Outlook. Read More into relevant folders (for when they do want to read them) and archiving so that the email doesn’t clog up their inbox.

advanced gmail tips

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Set up filters for everything you refer to or need to separate from everyday reading (basic instructions here How to Set Up Email Filters in Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Outlook How to Set Up Email Filters in Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Outlook Email filtering is your best tool in keeping your inbox neat and organized. Here's how to set up and use email filters in Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Outlook. Read More ):

  • Filter and archive out your bacn.
  • Filter and archive out social networking notifications and blog responses.
  • Filters to highlight work email.
  • Filters to highlight email which requires an immediate response.
  • Filters to highlight email from your partner, family and friends.
  • Other cool filters, like grouping together family photos sent to you, funny emails, recipes or links to read later.
  • While you’re at it, set up filters to teach Gmail’s priority inbox: set some things as high priority, some as low priority and add stars to things you will want to refer to later.

Most importantly, you need to keep adding to these filters. If some bacn finds its way to your inbox, the only way to stay on top of it is to set up a filter to remove it straight away. Else, next time you see your inbox it will be full of email that could already have been filtered out. Just do it whenever you process your email.

2. A System To Process Email Regularly

advanced gmail searchWhether you archive email after reading or simply leave it as read, you still need a system for noting that you’ve read your email. That, and you need to do it regularly “” once per day is good. Pro users know this processing is a pivotal point and ensure they do so religiously.

Personally, I make sure I read all of the email arriving in my inbox briefly. I either respond straight away and do any associated tasks, or I label it as “@To Do” for later (usually after sending a quick message saying it will be done soon). Yes, this means also having a system to process the email labelled as “@To Do”, but I don’t want to have important unread email sitting around.

advanced gmail searchAlso make good use of Google Calendar tie-ins 10 Awesome Google Calendar Features That You Should Try Out 10 Awesome Google Calendar Features That You Should Try Out Read More , and enter dates into your calendar straight away. Don’t forget to also use Google Calendar features like “Find a Time 10 Awesome Google Calendar Features That You Should Try Out 10 Awesome Google Calendar Features That You Should Try Out Read More “.

3. The Best Labs Features & Add-Ons

Gmail has some amazing Labs features and add-ons which you can use easily to make your life more simple. Here’s some pro user favourites.

RTM Gmail Extension Or Gadget

For those who organise their To-Do list with Remember The Milk, it would be a potential problem to leave another to-do list hanging around in Gmail. So, try using the RTM Firefox extension to automatically add tasks to RTM whenever you label an email as “@To Do”. Saves headaches!

advanced gmail search

If you don’t use Firefox, try using the Labs RTM Gadget and setting up a filter or a “canned response” (also in Labs) to forward mail to RTM as a task.

Whatever you do, your life will be much easier if you keep your tasks together.

Multiple Inboxes

advanced gmail searchThere’s a labs extension which allows you to view multiple inboxes (to use, enable it in labs settings, then you’ll get your own settings area for multiple inboxes). I thought I would never need such a thing, until I considered the searches I could use for each inbox.

Make good use of OR statements (using “|”), brackets and the is:unread search.

For instance:

label:professional AND is:unread
(label:family | in:inbox | label:@to-do) AND is:unread
label:!-blogs---networks AND is:unread 

advanced gmail settings

I find this set-up keeps me from worrying that I need to check the filtered-out labels too often, since I can see if the last nine emails to fit the criteria are pretty mundane. It also allows me to quickly spot work email if I’ve been away from my email for a while.

Google Translate

If you ever get email in a language you don’t normally speak, Google Translate in Gmail is a life saver. In settings, language is the first option. Choose: Enable Translation.

advanced gmail settings

Then, whenever you get an email which might need translation, you have a handy link within the email to translate it. Then you can even toggle to the original and back. This is incredibly useful when you’re new to a country or still learning a language.

advanced gmail settings

Google Docs & Google Calendar Labs Widgets

If you refer to Gmail more often than Calendar or Docs, it’s handy to have these gadgets showing in Gmail which give you quick access to your agenda and latest documents (find them in Labs).

advanced gmail tips

Pro Users Always Look For More Tips & Tricks

There’s always plenty more pro user Gmail tips and tricks to be found around here.

Let us know your favourite Gmail tricks and Gmail Labs uses in the comments!

  1. @stephenhau
    November 28, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    There's also "Undo send" in Labs that gives you up to 30 seconds after you hit Send to re-edit the message.
    And settings>general>browser connection>always use https

    Tip 1, filters - I completely agree. I've seen friends' inboxes clogged with 1000s of unread notifications and mailing lists. Filters to the rescue!

    • Angela Alcorn
      November 29, 2010 at 1:50 am

      Yeah, "undo send" comes in handy way too often. :)

  2. @stephenhau
    November 28, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    There's also "Undo send" in Labs that gives you up to 30 seconds after you hit Send to re-edit the message.
    And settings>general>browser connection>always use https

    Tip 1, filters - I completely agree. I've seen friends' inboxes clogged with 1000s of unread notifications and mailing lists. Filters to the rescue!

  3. venkat
    November 27, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Priority inbox makes it easy for even pro users that only shows important messages, and other unneeded messages goes to everything else section. Best feature in Gmail so far.

  4. Tina
    November 27, 2010 at 12:40 am

    The first two strategies are universal, regardless of where you read your eMails. Great article!

    • Angela Alcorn
      November 27, 2010 at 4:12 pm

      Very true!

  5. Guest
    November 26, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    GMail, your personal IMAP server :-)

  6. Steve Campbell
    November 26, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Looks like I'm a pro Gmail user :) Great article, Angela, thanks!

  7. Sudarsh Bhat
    November 26, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    Good one. But missed some important ones like the Email address changing. Not many know that someone@gmail.com is same as someone+facebook@gmail.com or someone+anything@gmail.com. That will help one create filters easily. There are lot of such tricks that you can use.

    • Angela Alcorn
      November 29, 2010 at 1:52 am

      There are indeed lots of great Gmail tricks like this. :)

    • Aibek
      November 29, 2010 at 9:32 am

      that one feature is one of my favorite things about Gmail

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