While there is no shortage of email services available, businesses and individuals alike still flock to Gmail. With a track record of reliability, a reasonable amount of storage space, device compatibility, and new features coming out of Google’s Lab all the time, Gmail remains a popular choice for millions of users around the world. Whether your goal is the coveted “Inbox Zero” or you just want to get a firm handle on your daily email, these tips can help even the most connected users get the most out of their Gmail platforms.
1. Divide Up Your Inboxes
The longer you keep your @gmail.com email address, the more likely it is to be bombarded with advertisements, coupons, social network notifications, and more. Since many people choose to use their email accounts for both personal and professional reasons, it can quickly become hard to catch important messages in the mess. A great feature coming out of Google Labs allows you to split your inbox into groups.
For example, after configuring this new setting, you’ll be able to set up three separate inbox views based on search criteria. Set one to pull in email from your co-workers, another for anything mentioning Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, and a third for work-related email only. This allows you to focus only on the email you want to prioritize.
2. Connect Other Email Accounts
If your goal is to spend less time on email, you might ask why it makes sense to connect other email accounts to Gmail. Simply put, you probably have a bunch of email accounts other than Gmail and it takes time to check them all. After importing these additional accounts into Gmail, you can easily apply labels to these messages or place them in one of your shiny new inbox views, as mentioned above.
3. Let Filters Do the Work
If you are also a user of Google+, you can find messages from friends in your circles quickly and easily. In the sidebar on the left, you’ll find a drop down menu for your Google+ circles.
By selecting any one of these, Gmail will show you only messages from those individuals. By creating circles for colleagues, friends, brands, and more, you can have powerful control over who can get in touch with you.
5. Create Aliases Based on Your Email Address
If you’re hesitant about giving your email out to newsletters or businesses, creating email aliases might put you at ease. Place a period anywhere in your Gmail address or add a keyword after your name, and you’ll instantly create a new alias that will forward messages right to your original inbox.
For example, let’s say your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. By adding a period anywhere in the email address, you’ll have created an alias. If someone sends a message to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, those messages would all reach your inbox. Additionally, placing a +keyword after your username will produce the same results. Firstnamelastnameemail@example.com would also get to you without any additional setup on your part.
While this doesn’t prevent spam from reaching your inbox, you can quickly determine where your alias email address was used and determine whether this email address was passed on to other businesses without your knowledge. Combining this tip with filters and rules, you can make sure these types of messages are placed in the proper folder or sent right to the trash.
6. Get Out of the Conversation With Smart Mute
We’ve all been the victim of the dreaded “reply all” in email conversations. Another feature out of Gmail Labs — Smart Mute — is here to help. After enabling this feature, you can effectively opt out of receiving further messages in the conversation.
Taking it a step further, Smart Mute will make sure that if someone in the thread addresses a message only to you, or if you are specifically added to the “To” or “Cc” fields, you’ll be notified.
7. Let Gmail Decide What Messages Are Important
A relatively new feature in Gmail is known as “Priority Inbox.” With this feature selected, Google will try to determine what messages are important and separate them from the rest of your email messages in a separate area found above your inbox.
The feature is intelligent and gets better over time as you use it. For each email you receive after activating Priority Inbox, you can select a yellow (+) or a white (-) to denote important messages versus normal messages. Think of this feature as comparable to rating a song on a music service like Pandora or Spotify, where the application eventually gets to know and understand your tastes.
8. Grant Access to Others
If you’d like to give someone else the task of managing or monitoring your inbox, Gmail offers a safer way than simply giving that person access to your email password. With email delegation, you can specify another individual with the appropriate permission to manage incoming and outgoing messages on your behalf. At any point, you can quickly revoke this access and keep your personal information safe and secure.
These are just some of the available tips that can help you get your Gmail account under control. Be sure to configure Gmail Labs for even more detailed tips and tricks, and to keep up with the latest features and product improvements.
What’s your favorite Gmail tip? Let us know in the comments!
John Burke: John is a technology and social media enthusiast (as well as a self-proclaimed Apple fanboy). Before joining the Sprout team, he wrote for TUAW, DownloadSquad and AppStorm. John has been working in social media strategy for a number of years and manages accounts for higher education, organizations and non-profits. A graduate of Syracuse University, John currently lives in New York City where he is pursuing a career in aviation. You can follow him on Twitter or add him on Google+.