Friday, January 23, 2015

5 Tips for Making Gmail Work For You

We have spent more than a few posts talking about Google discussing how to make it work for you as well as some of the cool things that they are working on.   We thought that we might want to take a step back and look at some of the more basic features of Google.  Besides from using Google to search the Internet, (if you want to know more about using Google search you can check out our past posts Becoming a Google Ninja Search Sensei Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3) Gmail is second most popular Google tool.  Gmail is a simple, easy to use, secure tool and best of all it is free, but there is  much more to Gmail than just email.  Here are ten tips that will make Gmail work even better for you.

Tip 1

Use labels to organize your email.  Most email programs use folders to organize your emails.  This is a similar system to what you use on your home computer.  You are use to it and it works alright, but Gmail want to improve the experience.  Instead of folders they will have you label your email messages.  Any message can be label with a variety of different label.  Unlike using folders where an email can only be put into one folder, you are able to put as many labels as you want on each email.  An email can be in several locations (Inbox, All Mail, Sent Mail, etc.) at once, making it easier to find later and you can search emails by label.  

To create a label that you can add to your Emails:

Click More under the label list on the left side of the page
Click Create new label.
Type the name of your new label and click Create.
You can also create a new label for a message in your Inbox by selecting the box next to the message, clicking the Label button above your message list, and then clicking Create new.
Add Labels to your Emails
Select the checkbox next to those messages, click the Labels button, and click the label(s) you want.
When viewing a message, click the Labels button to add a label to the message. You can also click and drag a label from the left side, and drop it on the message.
orWhen writing a new message, click  More options in the bottom right corner of the compose window, click Label, and then select one of your labels.

Tip 2

Use customized filter to help you organize your inbox
Using Gmail filters are a way for you to automate the handling of incoming messages.  You can set the criteria for each filter and what action you want Gmail to take with a message that meets your criteria.  If you get a ton of emails from a specific source you can tell Gmail to automatically archive any message that comes from that source so you never have to see them again if you don’t want to.

To set up a Gmail filter, follow these steps:

Click the tiny “Create a filter” link beside the large button that says “Search the Web” at the top of the Gmail window
Specify the criteria that you want to use to sort your incoming messages
Click “Test Search” to see the messages that meet your criteria.  If you’re satisfied, click “Next Step.”  If not, change your criteria and click “Test Search” again
Choose the action that you want Gmail to take when you receive a message that matches your criteria
If you want to apply this filter to messages that you’ve already received (which I generally do), be sure to check the “Also apply filter to X conversations below”
Click the “Create Filter” button

Tip 3

Archive your emails to clean your inbox without deleting an email.
Archiving removes messages from your inbox, but keeps them in your account so that you can always find them later. Archiving is like moving messages into a filing cabinet for safekeeping, rather than putting them in the trash can.
Archiving your messages will let you clean up your inbox by getting messages out of your way.  Archived messages stay in your account in case you need to find a phone number in someone’s signature or you become famous and write a memoir.  When you delete a message (instead of archiving), it will be automatically and permanently deleted after about 30 days.

Tip 4

Use Google Labs to add cool new features to your gmail
Gmail labs allow you try out some experimental new functionality to your current Gmail account.  You can add the ability to undo a sent message, move the Gchat box to the right side of the screen, and a ton of other cool features.

Here are the simple steps to enable Gmail Labs features.

Sign into your Gmail account.
In the top right click “Settings”
Click the “Labs” tab
Click “Enable” on any feature you want
Click “Save Changes” at the bottom of the page

We will have another post soon about our favorite Gmail Labs.
Please remember though If you're going to brave the Labs world, it's important to keep the following things in mind about these features: They may break at any time.  They may disappear temporarily or permanently.  They may work so well that they graduate and become regular features.

Tip 5

Using Google Tasks you are able to keep track of the things that you need to do. You can create lists of items, set due dates and notes, and even add Gmail messages directly to Tasks. Create a task about a Gmail message using the keyboard shortcut Shift + T, or by choosing Add to Tasks from theMore menu above your Gmail conversation.

Bonus tip  

Have other emails delivered to your gmail inbox
If you’re like us Tech Ninjas you’ve got more than one email address.    You don’t want to spend all day logging in and out of different email addresses.  Gmail allows you to set it up so your other email accounts show up in the From: field of your emails.  For example, you can send an email from your work email address using Gmail and have the work address shows up in the From: line.

Here are the steps you need to take to add another account:

Sign into your Gmail account.
In the top right click “Settings”
Click the “Accounts and Import” tab
Under “Send mail as:” click “Send mail from another address”
Enter your name and the email address you wish to send from
Choose “Send through Gmail” if you don’t mind people occasionally knowing you are sending your email through Gmail.  Use “Send through *** SMTP servers” if people must always think you are not using Gmail
For the Gmail setup, they will send you a verification email with a link to click