Tips, Tricks and Add-Ons for New GMail Version | Tutorial Freak – Online Tutorials

Tips, Tricks and Add-Ons for New GMail Version

Gmail is a easy to use and the best email client around. Did you know that it is filled with tricks, shortcuts, and time-saving tools you can use to kick the crap out of your other email providers?? Today, we’re going to let you know an exhaustive list of tricks. Even if you consider yourself a Gmail h33t (meaning elite/expert/ninja), I am sure you will discover something new which you have not heard about before.

Here’s a bird’s eye view of the tips I will be covering today:

  • Tweaking the new layout
  • Mouse shortcuts to make your life easy
  • Keyboard shortcuts to make your life easy
  • Advanced search options and filters
  • Some pretty useful settings you should consider enabling
  • Few gmail lab featires you should consider enabling
  • Add-Ons, Extensions and Userscripts
  • Manage all your email accounts from Gmail
  • Integrate gmail with your desktop

Hold-on to your seats while I through them one by one in detail!

Tweaking the new layout

The new gmail interface gives you a stronger control over personalising the looks of your inbox. Here are a few things you can do to make it look more attractive, neat and clean:

Change the Display Density: As soon as you enable the new look, you’ll probably notice that it isn’t quite as space-efficient as the old layout. It’s a bit easier to read if you have a big monitor. But, if you prefer the density of the old layout, you can get it back by going to the Settings button in the upper right-hand corner of your Inbox (the one on top of Inbox, and not on the grey toolbar at the top of the page) and choosing “Cozy” or “Compact” as your layout. “Compact” is very similar to the old layout, while “Cozy” is a happy medium between “Comfortable” and “Compact”. Note that if you have a small screen and your browser isn’t maximized, Gmail will automatically adjust the density accordingly.

Inbox Type: Google has added a new feature that lets you split your inbox into different blocks, so you can see your most important emails at a single glance. Go to the Inbox tab of Gmail’s settings to change it. Under “Inbox Type”, you will see few chioces, mainly to decide if any messages are shown above other messages in the inbox. You can choose to show starred, unread, or important messages in their own separate little box above everything else. You could also choose the Priority Inbox layout, which combines all the options, putting Important and Unread messages at the top, with the starred messages in their own box below that and the rest of your inbox under that. You can tweak these inbox sections by clicking the “Options” or “Add Section” button next to the section in question.

Mouse shortcuts to make your life easy

Continously checking off messages, archiving, deleting, or applying labels can seem like it is taking too much of your time. Gmail has few built-in shortcuts to make the inbox and your life easier. Here are a few of my favorites.

Drag and Drop Labels: Applying labels has become a bit more difficult in the newest version of Gmail. Now, you need to check a message, select the label from the “Labels” dropdown, and hit the “Apply” button at the bottom of the dropdown menu — which I always forget to do. A much easier way, if you’re a mouse user, is to just drag the label from the left sidebar onto the message itself. Alternatively, if you have keyboard shortcuts enabled, just hit “l” on your keyboard, type the first few letters of the label you want, and hit Enter — it will immediately apply that label to all checked messages.

Alternatively, you can drag a message from the left edge of its row to a label to remove it from your inbox and apply only that label, if you use labels more like folders.

Select Multiple Messages: If you want to select a big block of messages (example – while deleting spam messages), you do not need to check every box individually – just check the top-most box, hold Shift, then check the box at the bottom to select a large chunk of messages in just three clicks!

Keyboard shortcuts to make your life easy

If you prefer keyboard over mouse, then you are in for a delight. You can navigate nearly the entire Gmail interface without touching the mouse ever. To enable them, head to the General tab of Gmail’s settings and press “Enable Keyboard Shortcuts”. There are a lot of shortcuts, but these are some of the most useful ones:

Navigate Messages with “j” and “k”: From the inbox view, you can scroll through messages with “j” and “k” keys (j to scroll down, k to scroll up). Doing this won’t select the messages with a checkbox, but it will highlight them with a thin blue line on the left side of its row, showing you that it is ready to be actioned.

Open Messages with “o”: When a message is highlighted in the inbox, you can open it by hitting “Enter” or by hitting “o” on the keyboard. Once you open the message, you can continue to scroll through it with “j” and “k” keys.

Move To Next and Previous Message With “n” and “p”: If you want to view past messages in a longer thread, you can use “n” and “p” to highlight messages in a thread just like you use “j” and “k” to highlight messages in the inbox. Pressing the “n” key higlights the next message, while “p” highlights the previous message, and you can expand a highlighted message by pressing the “o” key—again, just like in the inbox view.

Select Messages with “x”: If you want to check the message’s box to add a label, move it to a new folder, or whatever — just hit the “x” key on your keyboard.

Apply Labels with “l”: You can apply a desired label to the message by hitting “l” key, typing in the first few letters of the label you want, and pressing Enter. You can do this when you’re viewing the message in question, or from the inbox if you’ve checked the message.

Star, Spam, Archive, and Trash Messages: You can star messages with the “s” key, mark them as spam with “!”, archive it with “e”, or delete it with “#”. You can do this either from the message view or after checking the message(s) in the inbox.

Compose, Reply, and Forward Messages: You can compose a new message by hitting “c”, reply to a message with “r” (or reply all with “a”), and forward it by pressing “f”. If you hold Shift while pressing one of these keys, it’ll open the compose view in a new window, which is handy if you want to write another email while replying one.

Bring Up the More Actions Menu with the Period Key: For your lesser-used actions, you can hit “.” to bring up the More Actions menu. This lets you mark all messages as read, or mark selected messages as unread, in addition to muting a specific conversation, adding it to tasks, or filtering messages just like it.

Mark Items as Important with the + and – Keys: If you use Priority Inbox, you can mark messages as important with the “+” key (or rather, the = key, since you don’t need to hold shift when pressing it) and mark them as unimportant with the – key. This helps Gmail understand what is and isn’t important to you, so Priority Inbox can have more accurate filters.

Switch Views: To quickly switch to a different part of your inbox — such as Starred messages, Drafts, All Mail, Contacts, or more — you can hit the “g” key (for “Go”) and one of the following keys immediately afterward:

  • i goes to your inbox
  • s goes to your starred messages
  • t goes to Sent Messages
  • d goes to Drafts
  • a goes to All Mail
  • c goes to Contacts
  • k goes to Tasks
  • l then the label name goes to that label

These are just a few of our favorite shortcuts. There are a ton of other keyboard shortcuts, and you can see them all in one handy cheat sheet by hitting Shift + / on your keyboard (also known as typing the “?” key). It might take a bit to get used to some of the keyboard shortcuts, but once you do, you’ll be able to navigate the inbox a lot faster.

Advanced search options and filters

While many of you may be used to traditional email folders — where you file away messages into categories for easy retreival — Gmail has opted for a more search-based philosophy, in which you can perform very advanced searches throughout your entire inbox using operators. For example, to search for a message from Jessica with a subject containing the words “office snaps”, you would type this in Gmail’s search bar:

from:Jessica subject:”office snaps”

You can perform these searches on the spot, or create advanced filters that apply labels, archive, or otherwise act on email as soon as it comes in.

Some pretty useful settings you should consider enabling

Apart from mastering certain skills, you can enable a few settings in Gmail’s preferences to really get the most out of your inbox. Here are some of our favorites (all of which are under the General tab of Gmail’s settings):

Always Use HTTPS: Checking this ensures that Gmail uses a secure connection always, which protects you from people sniffing around your email.

External Content: Gmail doesn’t load images in email automatically, which can be kind of annoying when you want to see them, you have to click “load images” every time. Marking this setting will automatically load images in messages from any address to whom you’ve sent email twice (“trusted senders”), somewhat negating this annoyance.

Superstars: Superstars lets you use multiple colors and types of stars to differentiate starred messages from each other. It’s good if you want to mark multiple messages as important, but as having different kinds of importance—whether it’s just “more important” or whether one means “follow up” and one means “to do”. Just drag stars from the bottom row to the “In Use” row, and every time you star a message, you can cycle through the in use stars by clicking on the star icon next to the message.

Personal Level Indicators: This displays a small arrow next to messages sent to a mailing list, and a double arrow next to messages sent specifically to you. That way you can see, at a glance, which emails might be more important or personal because they were sent to you and not a group of people.

Few gmail lab featires you should consider enabling

If you head to the Labs section of Gmail’s preferences, you can enable a bunch of new, experimental features created by members of the Gmail team. There are a ton of great labs in there. Few of my favourites:

  • Canned Responses
  • Quick Links
  • Multiple Inboxes
  • SmartLabels
  • Unread Message Icon
  • Undo Send

Add-Ons, Extensions and Userscripts to enhance your GMail Experience

While Gmail contains loads of customizations in its own settings panel, you can tweak it even further using extensions for your browser. Few of my favourites listed below:

Better Gmail 2 and Its Associated Userscripts: These tweaks—which you can grab as a single Firefox extension or as individual userscripts that work in Firefox, Chrome, and Safari—add a number of features to Gmail to make your inbox easier to browse. Whether it’s adding attachment icons to your inbox view, highlighting messages as you mouse over them, or hiding the Chat box, you’re bound to find a tweak or two in here that you like.

Minimalist Everything for Chrome: This extension contains tweaks for all your favorite sites, including Gmail—and it’s still the best Gmail tweaker I’ve seen yet. It can remove ads, hide the chat box, change the links at the top of the screen (that lead to other Google Services), display desktop notifications, and even set Gmail as your default mail client (so clicking on an email address in Chrome will open up Gmail instead of another service). If you use Chrome and Gmail, this is a must-have extension.

Manage all your email accounts from Gmail

Gmail is a superb mail client, and even if some of your accounts aren’t Gmail accounts, you can still manage them from Gmail’s powerful, configurable inbox. To do this, you just need to set up Gmail fetching and Gmail’s “send as” feature. But if you have multiple addresses, this makes managing them a bit easier. Plus, couple it with the Multiple Inboxes lab, and you’ve got yourself a powerful, multi-account inbox view.

Integrate gmail with your desktop

Gmail does almost everything it needs to right from the web, but it could use a few extra things for when you’re not in the browser. “Minimalist Everything for Chrome” extension can send desktop notifications, as well as set Gmail as your default mail client. Similarly, Firefox’s web protocol handler will do it automatically (by asking you if you want to use Gmail whenever you hit a mailto link). However, if you want a bit more system-wide coverage, you can install one of the following applications:

Google’s Gmail Notifier: Google has created their own Google notifier for both Mac and Windows, which sends you notifications for new email, as well as letting you set Gmail as your default mail client. It’ll run in your system tray or menu bar, notify you of new messages, and take you to Gmail whenever you hit a “mailto” link.

Gmail Growl: If you use the Growl for Windows notification system, the Gmail Growl program will not only notify you of new messages, but also set Gmail as your system-wide mail client. Mac users with Growl can add the Google+Growl program to the above Google Notifier for Growl integration as well.

That is it for this time, I will post some more tips when I get my hands “deep-dirty” into Gmail the next time.

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Sagar – who has written posts on Tutorial Freak – Online Tutorials.

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