When I first moved over to gmail (from outlook and a derelict hotmail account) “labels” seemed like a poor man’s answer to folders and “conversation view” felt gimmicky. It was better than hotmail , so I gave it a try. Very quickly, I found the cool beta features stored in gmail’s “labs”and I got used to the conversation format (in fact, I loved that it grouped series of emails in a single line, less clicking/less inbox clutter), PS if you still hate it you can turn it off.
It took me awhile to get used to the “Archive” button. In fact, 3 years passed before I even dared to click on it in 2007. A close friend informed me that I was missing out (thanks @sarahlyndsay) and forever changed my gmail experience.
Today, Knot PR runs on google apps and I consider myself a gmail ninja. Below I’ve listed some gmail tips and tricks that we rely on to keep Knot PR as efficient as possible.
I have about 70 labels. I colour code them. Each label has a three-letter code – so “Mark Fast” becomes “FST”, Family becomes “FAM”, Paws for the Cause becomes “DOG”, and so on. You can hide labels to minimize clutter. You can drag & drop labels as you compose an email or from inbox view. Really labels are more like tags, which is a scary word for most non-internety people. Tags are the best things since sliced-bread: they filter information in our post-information superhighway age (remember that?).
Consistently short labels allows for multiple tagging, i.e. a pitch to an editor may include several different client/project mentions. Therefore the labels that have been tagged to the email chain are an at-a-glance reminder of what’s inside. Think about this: the same email can be in so many different places at once (without having to copy/paste like the old days with Outlook).
Labels allow you to instantly gauge a workload, bolded numbers beside each label indicate number of pending unopened messages.
You can search by label: enter “label:FST” in the search bar to display all Mark Fast emails, for example. Or search: “label:FST is:unread” to see all unread messages in a given label. These helpful search tools are called operators, more on them below.
Nested Labels or ‘sub-labels’ (gmail lab)
I highly recommend this lab – you can add collapsable sub-labels, more info. When I send out press releases I always create a quick filter and have messages funnel into an existing label/client/project via a nested label.
Three Minutes to a More Efficient Gmail
Move Icon Column
This shows your attachments on the left instead of the right. I know right? PS Gmail why is this not standard?
Gmail has a wicked search tool but sometimes it’s hard to find a generic email if you can’t recall certain key words (i.e. you have lots of messages that have similar content). This is where advanced operators become useful. Complete list.
The basic operators I use are:
label:FST (as en example)
You can also use operators to search by date, cc’d recipients, file types, starred, subject line. I can sometimes find emails only by using operators DESPITE having unique keywords memorized (perhaps it’s related to the volume of emails in my accounts…not sure). In any case, it’s always a good idea to have as many qualifiers as you can, so get labelling!
Send & Archive Button
This adds a send & archive button as an option in compose message – it saves you a lot of clicks. If you’re not archiving you gmail, you should be. I actually don’t use “priority inbox” because I have good filters and I always archive. If something needs my attention it’s in the inbox.
This is genius but it does take more than 3 minutes to get going. I often need to include link-rich information on my projects and Canned Responses let’s me easily save golden email nuggets and recall them time and time again. You can even apply the content of several different canned responses in one email AND you can add a canned response to an email at anytime without overwriting content. AND – you’re not going to believe this – but you can create a filter to respond to emails with a canned response. Read about how to do this and more on this feature on the Gmail Blog.
Message Sneak Peek
Easily preview message contents by right-clicking it in your inbox. A new discovery for me that’s especially useful in the smartphone age where email chains consist of a series of short back-and-forths between parties. Best part: you can archive from the pop-up window. PS Doesn’t work for drafts. (see below)
Mark As Read Button
Very convenient, that’s all. (see below)
Things You May Not Know About Gmail
- You can pop-out an email just like you can pop-out a chat
- Get rid of ads from inbox view, go to settings tab > web clips > uncheck a box somewhere
- You can drag & drop attachments into emails
- As mentioned you can drag & drop labels onto emails
- You don’t need any periods in your address, gmail doesn’t recognize them or “+” signs, read about why this is useful on the gmail blog (hint: you don’t need that decoy email account anymore)
As I was writing this, I stumbled upon “Where My Nerds At” an awesome post by a Chicago-based gmail enthusiast.