Gmail tips and tricks

Arniv Sharda (CA Final) (3006 Points)

19 November 2011  


Gmail is the best thing that happened since sliced bread. That may sound like an over statement. If you really think about it, Gmail definitely has changed the way how we manage emails. Without Gmail, I cannot imagine processing 100′s of emails effectively every day without breaking a sweat.

In this article let us review 15 awesome Gmail tips and tricks that will help you to manage your emails effectively.


                                      Gmails Tips, Tricks and Hacks



1. Attachment Alerter: Never Forget an Attachment

“Oops, I forgot the attachment in my previous email. Here it is” — I’m sure you would’ve either sent an email with this message to somebody  (or) received an email with this message from somebody.  When you are sending emails in a hurry you may forget to send attachments. It will look unprofessional when you are sending a very important business related email and forgot the attachment.

The cure is Gmail’s Attach Alerter. If you have the word ‘attach’ in the mail content, and did not attach anything, you will be alerted by Gmail before sending that email.  To enable this feature, do the following.


Fig: Attachment Reminder

Fig: Gmail Attachment Reminder

  • Click on “Settings” link,
  • Click on “Labs” tab,
  • Select “Enable” option button in “Forgotten Attachment Detector”
  • Click on “Save Changes” at the bottom

This will help your message recipient not to receive inevitable follow-up emails with attachments.

Attachment Tip: Attach before composing

It is good idea to attach the file before start typing the message. This way Gmail will be uploading the file when you are typing the email.  When you are done with your email typing, the attachment is already uploaded and you can send the email immediately.

You can delete an attachment by deselecting the check box in front of the file name.

Attachment Tip: Attaching multiple file names

You can attach multiple files in Gmail by selecting the multiple files in your file browser by holding shift or control key for contiguous or different files.

2. Forwarding All Emails Automatically

If you wanted to forward all emails to another account you can do the following.

  • Click on Settings link
  • Click on Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab
  • Click on the radio button “Forward a copy of incoming mail to”, and then give an email id in the text box.
Fig: Setup email automatic forwarding

Fig: Setup email automatic forwarding

You also have the option of deciding what to do with the emails in the original account after forwarding it. Following are the three options available.

  • Keep Gmail’s copy in the inbox
  • Archive Gmail’s copy
  • Delete Gmail’s copy

Now all the mails will be forwarded to the specified email id.

3. Forwarding Selective Emails Automatically Using Filter

If you don’t want to forward all the mails, then you can forward particular mails by creating filter.

  • Click on “Settings” link
  • Click on “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” tab
  • Click on “Create a new filter”
  • Set the filter criteria (for example, emails only from John Smith), and in the next step specify the email id to where the mail should be forwarded.

4. Emails Folders? — What is it? Use Labels Instead

The days or organizing the emails using folders are over. I still remember the good old days when I was having at least 50 folders in my yahoo and hotmail account. I’ll organize the folders based on projects, people etc.

Not having to organize emails in a folder is a total freedom.  Labels are like tags. You can create multiple labels and attach it to emails. Later it becomes easier for you to retrieve emails. If you are used to delicious bookmarking, you’ll have no problem using the Gmail labels effectively.

Creating Labels

  • Click on “Settings”
  • Enter label name in “Label” part and Click on “Create”
  • Created Labels will be listed in your labels list. i.e Right below the ‘Spam’ folder on the top right side.
Fig: Use Gmail Labels to organize emails

Fig: Use Gmail Labels to organize emails

Assigning Labels to an Email

  • Select the email message or conversation
  • Drag and drop it to the particular label to which you want to move. When moving you will see a tip message like “Moving 1 Conversation”.
  • (or) You can also select the message using the check-box in front of it and click on Labels drop-down list on the top and select multiple labels using the check-box.

5. Searching in Gmail

Since search and indexing is the core business of Google, there is no surprise that Gmail’s search feature works like a charm. The search will bring you the relevant email very fast every single time.

Search All Emails

Entering search word in Gmail search box will search for all the messages including chat messages, emails in sent, drafts, inbox and all the messages that are archived and labeled.

Searching Emails in Particular Folders

“Searchtext in:foldername” will search for the given text in the specific folder which you specified.  For example, following will search for keyword geek in the Sent Folder.

geek in:sent

Search Specific Type of Messages

Types of messages in Gmail

  • Starred - messages which are Considered as an important
  • Unread - messages which are unread
  • read - messages which are read
  • chat - Conversation messages

“is:starred”, “is:unread”, “is:read” and “is:chat” will search for the messages that are starred, unread, read and chat messages respectively.

For Example, the following will give you the list of starred messages in Inbox folder.

in:inbox is:starred

Use OR Operator

You can search messages based on either-or condition. For example, following search gives the message which has ramesh as recipient or sender, after 2009/01/01

from:ramesh OR to:ramesh after:2009/01/01 
from:ramesh | to:ramesh after:2009/01/01

Note: OR is case sensitive and must be in upper case.

Advanced Gmail Search

You can also use advanced options in search by clicking ‘Show search option’ that is located next to the Gmail search box. Advanced search provides search based on the following:

  • from – specify sender
  • to – specify recipient
  • subject – search words in subject
  • Folder – Folder to search
  • Include and Exclude the search words
  • Message has/hasn’t attachment
  • Age of the message

6. Turn-Off or Turn-On Search Highlighting

By Default, Gmail highlights the searched words in search results. i.e When you do a search, Gmail returns a list of messages matching the search criteria. You can select any of these messages to view, and Gmail automatically highlights the word/words you searched for.

Fig: Gmail turn on or off highlighting

Fig: Gmail turn on or off highlighting

Sometimes, you might feel it’s distracting.  You have the ability to turn OFF/ON the highlighting by clicking on the “Turn off Highlighting” link on the top right column. Clicking it again turns highlighting back immediately without reloading the page.

7. How to Attach an Executable (exe file) in Gmail

You cannot attach an executable file like a normal file.  Gmail will display the error message –  “FILE is an executable file. For security reasons, Gmail does not allow you to send this type of file”.

To overcome this issue, do the following as a sender of the email.

  • Rename the file without an exe extension,
  • Compress it with any compression utility and then attach it.

Now it will get attached, and uploaded successfully. The receiver of the email should uncompress the attachment and rename it again with exe extension.

8. Import Your Contacts

Gmail provides feature to import the contacts from Yahoo, Orkut and Outlook. You can also import contacts from CSV file.

How to Import Contact from Custom CSV

Your CSV file should be formatted as a table and must include a header that defines the fields in your table. Gmail accepts many common header fields (Firstname, Lastname, email address, Phone etc.)

Fig: Import contacts to Gmail

Fig: Import contacts to Gmail

  • Click on “Contacts” link
  • Click on “Import” tab,
  • Browse the CSV file which you want to import
  • Click on “Import”

You can also select the contact-group to which you want to add the imported contacts.