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7 hidden Gmail features everyone should know


These lesser-known tips can save you from irritation and emails falling through the cracks.

Angela Lang / CNET

If you use Gmail every day on a computer for business or personal use – or both with me at the same time – are you getting the most out of Google’s email client? Gmail has a variety of features to help you better manage the constant flow of messages to and from your Gmail inbox.

I’ve rounded up my top seven tips to get you started on becoming a Gmail professional. If you’re already using them all, congratulations. If not, try to include at least one or two in your routine, if not the entire package. You will thank them in the long run.

1. Mute annoyingly noisy email threads

Getting stuck in a group email thread can be just as annoying on a laptop as having group text on your phone. You have enough distractions during the work day, especially when you are to work from homethat you don’t have to see group email constantly ringing you at the top of your inbox when new replies come in.

If you have an active group email and no longer want to hear the back and forth chatter, you can unsubscribe. Open the thread and click Three-point button above and click Mute. The conversation is moved to your archive, where it remains even if more replies are received.

Later, if you get curious about what you’ve missed, you can always find it in Gmail’s All Email view, which has your archived messages in it. You can then unmute the conversation by opening the conversation and clicking X button next to the Mute the label at the top of the page. Once you unmute it and next time you get it, it will show up at the top of your inbox.


Screenshot by Matt Elliott / CNET

2. Sleep so you don’t forget

Just like the snooze button on your alarm that you use when you’re not ready to get out of bed, Gmail has a snooze button for messages that you don’t want to reply to but that you don’t want to lose from your inbox. Hover over a message in your inbox and click the little item Clock button Select a later time and date on the right – later today, tomorrow, next week, or at a specific time you specify – to reappear at the top of your inbox.

3. Reading area for an Outlook-like look

If you have a large display, I recommend taking advantage of your luxurious screen real estate and using Gmail’s reading area. This makes Gmail more like Outlook, where you can view and reply to messages without leaving your inbox. Press the Gear icon Scroll down in the upper-right corner to open the Quick Settings panel Reading area and select Right to inbox or Below inbox to split your view horizontally or vertically.

Gmail Reading Pane

Screenshot by Matt Elliott / CNET

4. Select your tabs

Gmail does an admirable job of filtering your inbox so that the messages you care about get into your inbox while the rest are directed to the Social or Advertising tabs. Press the Gear icon and then click Show all settings. On the Settings page, select inbox and in the Categories At the top, you can choose which tabs you want to appear at the top of your inbox. If you just ignore all tabs but your primary inbox, you can turn off all but Primary for a streamlined Gmail experience without tabs. Scroll down to save and press the button save Changes Button.

Look at that:

Tips and tricks for using Gmail


5. Activate automatic forwarding and thank me later

I spend a large part of the beginning and end of each work day deleting unwanted email. I prefer to open each email before deleting it so I can at least look at it briefly before discarding it. By default, when you delete an open message, Gmail sends you back to your inbox instead of the next message. This will take more clicks and time to clean up your inbox. However, you can change this behavior in the settings so that after you delete an open message, you move on to the previous or next message.

In Settings, click Advanced and you will see Auto advance above. Click the radio dial on the right for Activate to switch on. And when you go back Settings> General and scroll down to Auto advanceYou can choose to switch to the next (newer) or previous (older) conversation. Scroll down to save and press the button save Changes Button.

Gmail auto advance setting

Screenshot by Matt Elliott / CNET

6. Email large attachments using Google Drive

There’s a small drive icon at the bottom of the Gmail builder window. Here you can attach files that you have saved in Drive or just send a link. For Google Drive formats – documents, sheets, slides, and so on – you can only send one link to the file. For other types of files – PDFs, Word documents, pictures – you have the option to send them as an attachment or a drive link so you can share files larger than Gmail’s 25MB attachment size limit.

7. Hide in sight: Advanced search

With Google behind Gmail, it’s no surprise that Gmail has powerful search tools. You’ve probably used the search bar above your inbox to search old email by keyword or sender, but it can do a lot more. Click the little down arrow on the right side of the search bar to open Gmail’s advanced search box, which lets you search by date ranges and attachment sizes, subject line, and other filters.

Need More Gmail Help? Here are 15 Gmail Shortcuts You Should Know and Six Gmail Tricks to Minimize Regret, Frustration, and Spam. To be sure, you can do so Back up your Gmail account in four easy steps.

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