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  • Writer's pictureDave Norris

Gmail has some awesome features

GMAIL IS ONE of the most powerful and most popular email services available, and there’s a reason why. However, many of its best features are buried in the app’s dense settings pages. You’d be forgiven for missing some of the many powerful tools that are sitting right under the surface. We’ve got some of the best ones here to save you time and help you get back to the work you need to do.

Change Undo Send Time Limit

By default, Gmail will wait five seconds after you hit Send to actually send your email. This gives you a moment to realize that you forgot to add an attachment and recall the email. However, five seconds isn’t very much time to catch a mistake. To make this window last a little longer, head to Settings > See all settings > Undo Send, where you can raise this timeframe up to 30 seconds. It’s still not a very long time (anything longer than that and you might want to schedule emails instead), but every second helps.

Confirm Actions on Mobile

When you’re checking or responding to emails on mobile, it can be easier to tap in the wrong place and accidentally delete the wrong email, or send a reply before you’re ready. Fortunately, the app can ask for confirmation before certain actions. In the mobile Gmail app, head to Settings > General settings > Action Confirmations and you’ll find settings to confirm before deleting, archiving, or sending emails. Enable whichever ones you want, and from now on Gmail will confirm you’re absolutely sure before sending that email.

Unread Message Icon

If you keep your Gmail tab open throughout the day, there’s an easy way to find out when you’ve got a new email. Head to Settings > See all settings > Advanced and enable “Unread message icon.” This will update the icon in your Gmail tab with a number, indicating how many unread emails you have. If you get a new email, this will update. This is extremely useful to stay up to date on any emails you get, without having to tab back to Gmail so often.

Enable Multiple Stars

You’ve probably used Gmail’s stars to mark a particular email that you want to be able to find later. But did you know Gmail has more than just one star? To turn them on, head to Settings > See all settings > Stars. Here, you can see an assortment of other stars and icons that you can add to your rotation. Drag the ones you want from “Not in use” to “In use.” From now on, when you click on the star icon in Gmail, you’ll apply the regular star, but if you continue clicking on it, you will cycle through the other stars you added.

Send and Archive with a Single Click

Most of the time, when you send an email, you’re safely done with that conversation until you hear from the other person again. So, if you want to shave an extra click off every email you send, there’s an option for that. Head to Settings > See all settings > General and enable “Send and Archive.” With this active, your default Send button will now both send the email and archive the conversation at the same time.

Customize Your Keyboard Shortcuts

Gmail’s shortcuts are one of the best tools you can use to save time, but they don’t have to stay on the defaults. If you’d rather change your shortcuts to be more convenient for your workflow, first head to Settings > See all settings > Advanced and enable “Custom keyboard shortcuts. You’ll have to click “Save changes” to apply the change and reload Gmail. Once you do, head back into the Settings page and you’ll see a new sub-tab called “Keyboard shortcuts.”

Here, you’ll find the existing shortcuts for a long list of actions you can take in Gmail. Most of them already have a keyboard shortcut assigned, but you can change the default one, or add a second, custom shortcut of your own. Just be sure that any new shortcuts you create don’t conflict with the other ones that already exist before you apply them.

Switch to Reply All by Default

By far the most dangerous custom tweak in Gmail, you can change the app so that when you reply to an email, it will automatically send the email to everyone on the chain. You’ll still have the option to reply to just one person if you want, but the Reply All button will be more prominent, and in some places, you might have to click through to an overflow menu in order to find the regular Reply button.

This tool can be extremely handy if you routinely email multiple people in chains every day, but be careful. This will also make it easier to accidentally send an email to everyone CC’d on a chain, embarrassing yourself and annoying everyone else. If it’s worth the time you save every day, go for it, but make sure you’re careful from that day forward.


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