Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.
Everyone loves Gmail, right? It’s one of the best email services, it’s completely free, and it works like a dream. But you’ll be surprised how little of Gmail’s plethora of features you are actually using.
Good old Gmail got a few exciting new features recently, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Several cool things in Gmail have existed for a long time without anyone bothering to use them. Let’s change that today.
Mute Group Emails to Stop Distractions
We’ve all been there. A group-wide email goes out, and everyone keeps hitting “Reply All”, causing a constant ping in your inbox. You need to deal with notification-based tech distractions, and Gmail has some help.
When you want to read these emails later but not be disturbed by the constant back-and-forth, you can mute an email thread. Just open the message, click the “More” button in the top bar, and choose “Mute“. It’s as simple as that.
Now you’ll get every message update in this conversation, but no notifications for it. Ah, peace of mind.
Right-click Emails to Archive, Delete, or Mark as Read
Your inbox can get overwhelming very quickly. Every productivity guru advises sorting your emails to manage them and reach the fabled inbox zero. When you’re sorting quickly, you need to be able to delete, archive or mark an unread email as read.
You’ll need to enable the “Mark as Read” button in Gmail Labs. Enable it by clicking Cog > Settings > Labs > Mark as Read Button > Enable > Save Changes.
In Gmail, it’s tedious to constantly select an email and then move your mouse to the buttons up top for these actions. But you don’t need to do that. The humble right-click has these three actions at the ready. Start getting used to this, you will sort your emails twice as fast as you used to do before!
Gmail Has a Preview Pane!
I’d be richer than Zuckerberg if I had a penny for every time someone said, “I like how Outlook shows the email list and opens the clicked email in a pane. I don’t like switching back and forth.” Yes, that reading pane makes it easy to blast through emails in Microsoft Outlook, but it’s in Gmail too!
Enable it through Gmail Labs by clicking Cog > Settings > Labs > Preview Pane > Enable > Save Changes.
In your main inbox view, you’ll find a four-line icon next to the Settings cog in the top-right corner. Click the drop-down arrow, and choose between “No Split” (no preview), “Vertical Split” (email list at the left, preview at the right), or “Horizontal Split” (email list above, preview at the bottom).
Bookmark Emails and Searches with Quick Links
I’ll never understand why Quick Links isn’t more popular. Saikat already talked about it in the 10 most underused Gmail features, but it bears mentioning again.
Enable it through Gmail Labs by clicking Cog > Settings > Labs > Quick Links > Enable > Save Changes. It is a simple Gmail Labs extension that sits in your sidebar. What does it do?
Well, for one, you can save any email with this. When you have an email open, just click the “Add Quick Link” button, give it a unique name, and save it. Next time you click that link, you’ll be transported back to that email.
Similarly, if you have searched for a particular query, you can bookmark that search results page through the same process.
Just note that you can’t add quick links if you have the Preview Pane on, so switch the pane off when you need to add a quick link.
URL Trick to Switch User Accounts
If you have more than one Gmail account, you can sign into multiple user accounts now. Whenever you want to switch, click your avatar in the top-right corner and choose the other account. It’s simple, but if you love Gmail’s keyboard shortcuts, then there’s a keyboard-friendly trick.
Go to the URL, and change between “0”, “1”, “2” to switch to the account you want. So for example:
Account 1: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox
Account 2: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/1/#inbox
Account 3: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/2/#inbox
Quick and easy, right?
Enable Personal Level Indicators
You can find anyone’s real email address with Gmail, but that also leaves you open to getting unsolicited emails. Personal level indicators are a great way to find emails that deserve your attention. You can enable it in Cog > Settings > General > Show Personal Level Indicators.
With that, a double arrow (>>) indicates emails sent only to you, and a single arrow (>) indicates emails sent to your email address and not a mailing list. A nice way to differentiate, right?
Sign Out Remotely to Stay Safe
Are you sure that you remembered to log out of Gmail from your office computer today? Could your friend still access your Gmail when you borrowed his laptop? The easy way to stay safe is to log out of other sessions remotely—after all, where you are using it matters, right?
Scroll to the end of your inbox and you will find Last Account Activity: x minutes ago. Click Details under it.
A pop-up window will show you all the other computers and places you are logged in to Gmail with. With one click, you can sign out of all of them. The next time anyone wants to use your email there, the user will be asked for a password.
Verify Emails from Big Services
You’re often warned of PayPal and other scammers targetting your inbox, but you also use those services regularly. So how do you know an email is authentic? Another Labs classic, Verified Senders will ensure you’re getting emails from the proper services and not scammers.
Enable it through Gmail Labs by clicking Cog > Settings > Labs > Authentication icon for verified senders > Enable > Save Changes.
Now, whenever you get an email from a proper service, you’ll see a little key icon to indicate it’s authentic. This way, you’re protected; if you don’t see that icon, play it safe and don’t download anything from that email or reply with any important or secure information.
Change What You See in the Sidebar
You want to see “Inbox” and “Important”, but don’t want to see “Chats” or “Sent Mails” in Gmail’s left-hand sidebar? Yup, that’s quite doable!
Go to Settings > Labels and you will see a list of System Labels. Click “show” or “hide” on any option depending on what you want to see and what you want to hide! It’s simple and it reduces the clutter in your sidebar.
You can also do that with Categories, Circles, and general Gmail Labels!
How Many Do You Use?
So, that’s our list of nine cool Gmail features that most people don’t know about. How many of these do you use regularly?
And yes, help us fill number 10 in this list with an unused feature not noted here, but one that you swear by!