Tips and Best Practices

These 5 Gmail shortcuts will make you an email wizard

This is a weekly series to help you get to know your computer better by learning the shortcuts that help you move faster across or within the apps you know and love. It takes practice, but habit forming shortcut usage can add up to days worth of time savings in a year. View my last post here.

Image source: loudtechie.comGmail has over 1 BILLION monthly active users and has become an amazing communication tool for small, medium, and large businesses alike with their growth with Google Apps for Business. We use it and love it—and of course, as soon as I moved to Gmail for business (from Outlook), I had to learn all the shortcuts to make the most of my emailing needs. 

So let's look at 5 amazing time-saving Gmail shortcuts that will make you an email wizard.

First off, did you know there are keyboard shortcuts you can enable for Gmail? No? You can go to your settings and enable shortcuts in 3 clicks. 

3 clicks to enabled Gmail shortcuts

Woohoo! Now you've got shortcuts enabled, let's rock & roll.

Gmail Shortcut 1-3: 'Archive', 'Mark as Unread', and 'Star'

I'm not completely 100% on Inbox Zero, so many times I use my inbox as a method to track follow ups I need to do. I'm not ashamed to admit it. That means it's super important to move the clutter out of the way and mark my most important tasks as unread (or bonus: starring/flagging really important messages). So in your Inbox view, here are some awesome shortcuts:

  • Marking an email as unread is as easy as selecting the emails you want to mark and hitting Shift + u:

Gmail shortcut: Mark a message as unread, archive, or star

  • Want to archive emails you've already read? Just select the emails you want to archive and press e.
  • Bonus: Star emails by selecting emails and pressing s.

Note: You can also archive an email thread (or mark it as unread) from within the thread by using those same shortcuts. This Gmail shortcut is an absolute must.

Gmail Shortcut 4: 'Reply'/'Reply all'

If you need to reply to an email, it's really easy to reply to any email in the thread (not just the latest email). Did you know that if you mouseover any email in a thread and hit r (reply) or a (reply all), you can reply to just that email?

Gmail shortcut: Reply to a message by typing r or a

Gmail Shortcut 5: 'Compose' a new email

Last but certainly not least, the act of writing a new email—why click that pesky "Compose" button whenever you need to write a new email when there's a perfectly good shortcut? By typing the letter c (note: whenever you're not editing a message), you can pop open a new email to compose a message.

But that's not all! Here are a couple of other tips when composing a new message:

  • Hitting Shift + Command (Control on PC) + c when composing or writing a message will pop open the CC option.
  • Hitting Shift + Command (Control on PC) + b when composing will pop open the BCC panel.
  • Ready to send that message? Just hit Command (Control on PC) + Enter to send it!

Feeling like an email ninja yet? Gmail is an amazing tool for managing your email, and now you're even more well equipped to conquer your inbox with some amazing Gmail shortcuts. For folks that rely on email for business getting done (read: everyone), getting valuable minutes can be really meaningful to productivity! Not to mention you don't have to constantly click around!

Shortcuts and getting to use your keyboard a little bit better can have a big long-term impact on how you work. It also reduces your frustration in getting small tasks done and enhances the relationship between you and the device you use every day at your job. Use shortcuts! 

Have an idea for the next Mac shortcut you want the world to know about? Post about them in the comments and I'll cover it in subsequent week's post. :-)

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