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8 Gmail Tips and Tricks for Power Users

John Brandon

Check out these little-known features that will seriously boost your productivity.

Quick, name an app used by 1.5 billion people. Did you immediately think of Gmail? Or did you one of the social media or video apps? For business users, Gmail is like the old reliable coffee machine in the break room or the Toyota Camry you drive to work. It's incredibly dependable, has powerful features and does exactly what you need it to do every single day.

Yet, for those who rely on Gmail, there are a few clever features you might not know about that could improve your productivity. Since Google recently updated the app with a new interface and features, here are eight pro tips.

1. Get serious about tasks.

Gmail now has a sidebar called Tasks where you can keep your to-do list. It's handy because these items are only a click away. To show the menu, click the arrow on the lower right to show the side panel.

As a pro tip for power users, you can drag and drop any email to the Tasks panel to create a new task, say, to follow up on an email a co-worker sent you asking about a project.

2. Snooze an email.

The newest version of Gmail lets you hover over any email. (Astute users will realize some of these features come from the now-defunct Google Inbox app.) Power users might not realize there is a new Snooze feature that appears on the right side of this hover bar. It's fantastic, because it helps you clean up your inbox quickly, and you won't lose important messages.

Click the Snooze icon and then select the time period you want before the email. The email will reappear in your inbox at the scheduled time.

3. Control your notifications.

Ever get tired of seeing a popup message on your desktop or phone for every email? Gmail power users will find a better way. Under Settings, Desktop Notifications, there's a setting to only see a notification for messages considered high priority. (Pro tip here as well: Gmail determines whether an email is important based on how often you communicate, how often you reply and a few other factors.) Seeing notifications only for important messages declutters your inbox.

4. Send an email that expires.

Yes, you can send a self-destructing email. Confidential mode means you can set an expiration date for any email. Compose a new message, then click the icon on the lower row of icons on the right (it looks like a lock with a timer). Set the expiration date you want to use, such as one week. You can also set the email to require a passcode.

5. Start a new message in a window.

If you press Shift before clicking the compose button, the new email will pop up in a new window instead of the normal new message popup. The advantage of this trick is that you can then switch back to your inbox or other tabs, but the email window will stay open no matter what.

6. Hide the left panel.

Another power tip is to hide the left panel (the one with your inbox and other labels). Google calls it the "hamburger" icon – three lines just to the left of the Gmail logo. Click it to make the left panel smaller so you have more space for the task sidebar and your inbox.

7. Add recipients to an email.

There's a super helpful way to add a new recipient to an email. You can type + then the name of the person you want to add, then select their name from the popup list. This will add the person as a CC in the email without requiring you to move your mouse or do an email search again.

8. Mute an email.

One last power tip for those who like to work efficiently. You can now mute any email thread by pressing M on the keyboard. This means when you receive a new message for that thread, it won't appear as a new message. Use mute if you don't care as much about additional messages on any given thread and want to ignore it. Unmute in the dropdown message menu.

Image Credit: KC Jan/Shutterstock
John Brandon Member
<p>John Brandon is a technology expert, business advocate, and columnist. He has written over 12,000 articles in 16 years. His first articles appeared in LAPTOP magazine in 2002.</p>