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7 hidden Gmail features that make you an email pro

laptop Gmail 0395

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

Angela Lang / CNET

I spend most of my work day in front of my laptop with two separate Gmail accounts open and active. If you use Gmail daily on a computer for work or personal use, are you using 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 are seven tips to help you become a Gmail pro.

Turn off annoying noisy email threads

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

If you have an active group message and no longer care about following back-and-forth chats, you can opt out. Open the thread, click triple-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 cancel the conversation if you select it by opening the conversation and clicking X-button next to Turn off the label at the top of the page. Once turned off, the next time you receive a reply, it will appear at the top of your inbox.

Gmail mute

Screenshot of Matt Elliott / CNET

2. Snooze so you do not forget

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

3. Reading window for an Outlook-like look

If you have a large monitor, I encourage you to use your luxury screen properties and use Gmail’s reading window. It makes Gmail look and feel more 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 frame and select Right to the inbox or Below inbox to split the view horizontally or vertically.

g mail reading-box

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 your inbox. Or if you simply ignore all tabs other than your primary inbox, you can deselect all but Primary for a streamlined, tab-free Gmail experience. To save, scroll down and press Save Changes button.

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5. Activate automatic advance 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 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. You can change this behavior in settings, so that you move on to the previous or next message after deleting an open message.

Click in 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-Advance, you can choose to go to the next (newer) or previous (older) conversation. To save, scroll down and press Save Changes button.


Screenshot of 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 you have stored in Drive or simply send a link. For Google Drive formats – Documents, Sheets, Presentations and so on – the 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, so you can share files larger than Gmail’s 25 MB attachment size.

7. Hide in plain 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 attachment 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. This is how you can be sure Secure your Gmail account in four easy steps.

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