Almost everyone is using Gmail, but how many of us know all the tricks and features Google has added to its email platform over the last 17 years? How many neat options on the web and mobile remain undiscovered? For example, Google will now apparently let you delete yourself from customized ads. You can also download extensions that may improve your experience. But for now let us bring you up to speed with some of the most useful Gmail features you might not have found yet.
1. Recall Sent Emails
One that many people will find important. If you find yourself needing to recall sent emails in Gmail, you can set a longer time to recover your errors... although half a minute is the maximum. In the Settings pane for Gmail on the web, you can set the undo send delay from 5-30 seconds under the General tab, and that change is then applied across the web and the mobile apps.
2. Schedule Emails
Let’s start with one of the newer (and basic) additions: You can now schedule emails to be sent tomorrow morning, tomorrow afternoon, or whenever you like, something Google says is intended to “be considerate of everyone’s downtime.” When you’re composing a message on the web, click the arrow next to the Send box to find the Schedule send option.
3. Offline Mode
The way that offline Gmail works has changed down the years, but right now you can type “mail.google.com” into a Chrome tab to see a cached version of your inbox even when there’s no connectivity. You do have to enable the feature under the Offline tab of Gmail’s settings on the web first though, and you can choose how much email gets synced locally.
4. Drag Emails Between Tabs
If you’ve got Gmail on the web set up with separate tabs or categories (like Primary, Social and Updates), did you know you can drag conversation threads between them to recategorize your messages? Even better, Gmail will then ask you if you want to treat all emails from the same sender in the same way in the future, saving you time.
5. The Power of a Right-Click
Another more recent update lets you do more with a right-click (Ctrl+click on a Mac) on a conversation thread... as in, a lot more. Move emails across tabs, snooze emails, mute conversations, open emails in a new window, find messages from a specific sender, and do just about everything you could want to do from the main Gmail view on the web.
6. Fit More Emails on Screen
If you’re using Gmail on the web, you might not have noticed the three different density views you can choose from—you can see them by clicking the Settings cog up to the top right. Default gives you plenty of space, with attachment previews under email headers, Comfortable hides the attachments, and Compact squeezes everything up even further.
7. Enable Confidential Mode
Confidential mode lets you limit message copying and downloading, and can add an optional expiration time, too. Find it via the menu button (three dots) on mobile or the padlock symbol on the web when composing an email. It works seamlessly inside Gmail, and in other clients will link to your original email on the web to keep tabs on how it’s used.
8. Let Google’s AI Compose Your Emails
Gmail’s Smart Compose can write your messages for you, with a little machine learning help. From Gmail Settings, open General, then tick Writing suggestions on next to Smart Compose (the change applies to all the devices where you use Gmail). The option below lets Gmail tweak the predictions based on what it knows about your writing style.
9. Get Notifications for Certain Emails
You don’t have to get buried under a mountain of notifications from the Gmail mobile apps. On iOS or Android, go into the Gmail app settings, select your email address, then choose Notifications. You can set alerts to appear for “high priority” emails only, and this works separately from the notification settings configured at the Android or iOS level.
10. Mix Up Your Email Stars
You don’t have to settle for the standard yellow stars when it comes to highlighting emails, because plenty more colors and symbols are available. Go to General and Stars in the Gmail Settings pane on the web to see what’s available. You can find stars with searches like “has:green-star” on the web, though all star types get lumped together in the mobile apps.
11. Enable the Preview Pane
By default Gmail on the web just shows you a long list of your conversations, but if you prefer a more desktop client-style look to your inbox, you can enable a preview pane. Click the Settings cog up in the top right-hand corner of the interface, then look under the Reading pane—you can have previews to the right of your messages or underneath them.
12. Save to Google Drive
Any attachment that shows up in your inbox can be saved to Google Drive with a tap or a click, which is perfect if you spend a lot of your digital life inside Drive and don’t want to clutter up your local computer with files. The Drive icon appears on top of attachments when viewed on the web or inside the Android app, and when you open attachments in the iOS app.
13. Open the Side Panel
Have you found the new side panel that Google has pushed out to live alongside Gmail on the web? If you can’t see the Google Calendar, Google Keep, and Google Tasks icons on the right, click the arrow down in the lower right-hand corner. It’s the perfect way of using two Google apps in tandem together, especially if you’re working on a widescreen monitor.
14. Search by Date
This is one of the oldest and most useful Gmail tricks, but a lot of people still don’t know it exists: You can type “before:2021/1/1" into the Gmail search box to see all messages from before 2021, or “after:2021/1/1" to see messages from this year, or mix and match the two (change the dates as required).
15. Translate Your Emails
Google Translate is built right into Gmail. Open a message on the web and if you don’t see the translate bar, click the menu button (three dots, top right) and choose Translate message—you’ll then be able to select the source language (if it isn’t detected automatically), and then the language you want the message translated into.
16. Gmail-ify Your Other Email Addresses
Add another email address to Gmail via Add a mail account under Accounts and Import in the online settings. During the setup process you can opt to Gmail-ify it as well, which gives you the same spam protection and auto-sorting for your other accounts as well as your Google one. It’s available when linking accounts on Android and iOS, too.
17. Auto-Advance Through Your Inbox
A neat feature called auto-advance shows the next message in your list automatically when you archive or delete the current one. You can enable auto-advance from the Advanced tab in Gmail Settings on the web, or from the Auto-advance entry in General settings in the Gmail app settings for Android. The feature hasn’t yet rolled out to iOS.
18. Organize Email With Sub-Labels
Many of us are using labels to keep our Gmail inboxes organized, but did you know you can create sub-labels too? You have to be on the web to create them, but they can then be accessed from anywhere. Click the three dots next to any label in the navigation pane on the left of the Gmail inbox, then choose Add sub-label to do just that.
19. Sync Up Your Emails
The Gmail apps will sync 30 days of emails to your phone by default, but if you want to save space or make more messages available on your local device, you can change this. On iOS (pick Sync settings from your email settings), the available range is 1-60 days; on Android (pick Days of emails to sync from your email settings), the range is 1-999 days.
20. Bookmark Your Emails
If you use Gmail on the web a lot, you might want to think about bookmarking some of the most useful URLs to get around your inbox faster. You can link directly to your drafts, your sent emails, and all of your messages. When you run searches in your inbox and highlight specific labels, you can bookmark those URLs in your browser for easier access as well.
21. Change the Look of Gmail
Gmail has a theme option which lets you drastically change the look of the email client in your browser—it’s like using a whole new app (almost). Click the Settings cog in the top right-hand corner, then choose View all next to Theme to pick something new. If you aren’t in love with any of the options, click the My photos link to create something yourself.