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7 hidden Gmail features that everyone should know about


These lesser-known tips can save you from the annoyance and emails that fall through the cracks.

Angela Lang / CNET

If you use Gmail daily on a computer for work or personal use – or both at the same time as me – do you make the most of Google’s email client? Gmail has a host of features that can help you better manage the constant flow of messages to and from your Gmail inbox.

Here’s my top seven tips to get you started on becoming a Gmail pro. If you already use them all, congratulations. If not, try to integrate at least one or two into your routine, if not the whole package. You will thank yourself in the long run.

Turn off annoying noisy email threads

Getting stuck in a group email thread can be just as annoying on a laptop as a group text on your phone. You have enough distractions during the workday, especially if you are working from home, that you really do not need to see a group email constantly calling you at the top of your inbox when new replies arrive.

If you have an active group email and no longer care about following the chat back and forth, you can opt out. Open the thread, click on triple-dot button at the top and click Speechless. The conversation is moved to your archive, where it will remain even when more answers arrive.

If you later become curious about what you missed, you can always find it in the All Mail view in Gmail, which contains your archived messages. You can then mute the conversation if you want by opening the conversation and clicking X button next to Turn off the label at the top of the page. When the sound is muted, the next time you get an answer appears at the top of the inbox.


Screenshot by Matt Elliott / CNET

2. Snooze so you do not forget

Just like the snooze button on your alarm that you use when you’m not ready to go to bed, Gmail has a snooze button for messages that you are not ready to respond to but do not want to lose track of in your inbox. Hold the mouse pointer over a message in your inbox and click on the small clock to the right and select a later time and a date – later today, tomorrow, next week or a specific time you set – to have it displayed at the top of your inbox.

3. Reading window for an Outlook-like look

If you have a large screen, I encourage you to use your luxury screen property and use Gmail’s reading window. It makes Gmail look like Outlook, where you can view and reply to messages without leaving your inbox. click gear icon in the upper right corner to open the Quick Settings panel, scroll down to Reading box and select Right of the inbox or Below inbox to split your view horizontally or vertically.

gmail reading window

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 go to your inbox while the rest are moved to the Social or Campaign tabs. click gear icon and then click See all settings. On the Settings page, select Inbox and in Categories at the top you can choose which tabs you want at the top of the inbox. Or if you simply ignore all tabs other than your primary inbox, you can deselect all but primary ones for a streamlined Gmail experience without a tab. To save, scroll down and press Save Changes button.

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5. Activate automatic advancement and thank me later

I spend a great deal of time at the beginning and end of every workday deleting unsolicited emails. I prefer to open each email before deleting it so that I can at least take a quick look at it before discarding it. By default, Gmail sends you back to your inbox instead of the next message when you delete an opened message, which requires more clicks and time to clear your inbox. However, you can change this behavior in the settings so that you move on to the previous or next message after deleting an open message.

Click in the settings Advanced and you will see Auto-advance on top. Click on the radio knob to the right of Enable to turn on. And if you go back to Settings> General and scroll down to Auto-advanceyou can choose to go to the next (newer) or previous (older) conversation. To save, scroll down and press Save Changes button.

gmail-auto-advance setting

Screenshot by Matt Elliott / CNET

6. Email large attachments via Google Drive

There’s a small Drive icon at the bottom of Gmail’s writing window. It allows you to attach files that you have stored in Drive or simply send a link. For Google Drive formats – Docs, Sheets, Slides and so on – your only option is to submit a link to the file. For other file types – PDF files, Word documents, images – you have the option to send them as an attachment or a Drive link, which allows you to share files larger than Gmail’s 25 MB attachment size limit.

7. Hiding in sight: Advanced search

With Google behind Gmail, it’s no surprise that Gmail offers powerful search tools. You’ve probably used the search box above your inbox to dig up an old email based on a keyword or sender, but it can do so much more. Click the small down arrow button to the right of the search bar to open Gmail’s advanced search panel, where you can search by date range and document sizes, by subject line, and with other filters.

Need more Gmail help? Here is 15 Gmail Shortcuts You Should Know and six Gmail tricks to minimize remorse, frustration, and spam. To be sure, this is how you can Secure your Gmail account in four easy steps.

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