One shortcoming of Gmail, or so I’m told by people considering making the leap to the Gmail-only lifestyle, is the seeming total lack of a way to have multiple signatures at once.
This is a shortcoming, to be sure, and one we’ve addressed before. Saikat wrote about 5 ways to create custom multiple email signatures in Gmail, and his list is a good one. In fact, the only problem with this list is that all the solutions he lists all depend on some sort of browser-based plugin in order to work.
That’s fine if you primarily access your email from the same computer, but I jump from computer to computer constantly. As such, I’ve been looking for a way to manage multiple email signatures from within Gmail. I didn’t think I’d ever find one until I started playing with the Canned Responses plugin found in Gmail Labs.
Canned Responses is intended to save you time by allowing you to instantly send messages you seem to send a lot. Mark explains more in his article about saving time with Gmail email templates using Canned Responses.
But email signature templates isn’t all Canned Responses is good for; it also makes a pretty good killer tool for managing multiple Gmail signatures. Best of all, because it’s built into Gmail you don’t need a browser-based plugin to use it.
Using Canned Responses For Signatures
You’ll find Canned Responses in the “Labs” section of your Gmail preferences. You can enable it by clicking the “Enable” button followed by the “Save” button at the top or bottom of the lab list.
Once you do enable it, you’re ready to create your email signatures. Doing so can be a touch confusing, but don’t worry: it’s simple once you get used to it. Click “Compose Mail.” Simply write your signature where you’d normally write your email text. When you’re done that click “Canned Responses” followed by clicking the “New Canned Response” button seen under “Save.” You’ve now saved your first signature; repeat the process as many times as necessary.
As you can see, I’ve got five different signatures that I use depending on who I’m writing to. You can add as many signatures as you want.
Inserting a signature is easy. Once you’re done writing an email all you need do is click “Canned Responses” and then click your signature of choice under “Insert.” Voila; you’ve added your signature.
Conclusion: It Works But…
The canned responses plugin in Labs makes a great email signature manager, but it seems kind of sad that I have to resort to what amounts to a hack in order to achive this functionality. Gmail is by far my favorite email client, but I wonder how it is that such a great service lacks signature management by default?
Sure, with this trick you can have the functionality, but I still think Google should put together a more “official” signature manager that feels less like a hack and more like a feature. For now, however, I’m more than happy with this solution.
What do you guys think? Is canned responses a good way to achieve multiple signatures, or are you having trouble with it? Can you think of a better way to achieve this without resorting to browser-based extensions? If so please share, because I want to hear from you!