THERE are now more than 1 billion active users of Gmail, 75 percent of whom access their mail on a mobile device. As useful as mobile access is, however, it is on the desktop that Gmail shines, particularly if you take advantage of some of its more less well known features. Here are a few that can help you get the most out of Google’s free web-based e-mail service.
1) Turn on keyboard shortcuts. This is real old school, but all grizzled computer users will tell you that a keyboard shortcut will take you anywhere faster than a mouse. So go to Settings (it’s in the dropdown menu when you click on the gear icon) and in the General tab, scroll down until you find Keyboard Shortcuts and enable them. Don’t forget to scroll down some more and save your new settings.
Once the shortcuts are enabled, you can type Shift-? to get a help screen chockfull of useful shortcuts, including:
C = Compose a new message
R = Reply to a message you have selected
U = Refresh your inbox, or, if you have a message open, to go back to the inbox
G+I = Go to your inbox
G+T = Go to sent mail
G+A = Go to all mail
G+D = Go to drafts
Tab+Enter = Send a message you are composing
/ = Put the cursor in the search box
2) Get a preview pane. If you’re missing the preview pane that traditional e-mail clients such as MS Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird have, you can add one to Gmail by going to Settings > Labs and enable Preview Pane. With this feature enabled, a new icon to the left of the gear lets you toggle the preview pane on or off, and choose between a vertical split or a horizontal split.
3) Undo sent mail. Gmail gives you 30 seconds to take back an embarassing e-mail you didn’t mean to send out. Enable this in the General tab of Settings. With this feature enabled, a new Undo link will appear in the message saying your message has been sent.
4) See how many unread messages you have. Another feature you can enable with Labs, this gives you a visual reminder of the number of unread messages you have on the Gmail icon in its browser tab.
5) Use archive to keep your inbox uncluttered. You can store away messages you most likely won’t be needing soon by archiving them. This will take them out of your inbox, but they will still be in the All Mail link on sidebar.
6) Change the number of messages you see on a page. An option in the General tab in the Settings menu, Maximum page size lets you choose how many messages appear one page of your inbox. Choose among 10, 15, 20, 25, 50 or 100.
7) Quickly call up e-mail with one contact. To see every e-mail a person has sent you, hover over the sender’s name in the inbox or in a message, and click on the “Emails” link in the Contact card pop-up.
8) Use operators to speed up your searches. You can use operators in search to find what you need quickly. Here are a few useful ones:
email@example.com: – Finds any e-mail from that “firstname.lastname@example.org”
is:unread – Finds all unread e-mails
filename:pdf – Finds emails with PDF attachments (you can use other file extensions)
has:attachment – Finds all messages that have an attachment
after:2016/01/01 – Find e-mails sent or received after Jan. 1, 2016
larger:15M – Find e-mails larger than 15BM
9) Disable conversation view, if you don’t like it. When Gmail first hit the scene, it introduced conversation or threaded message view as a way of organizing the inbox. I’ve grown accustomed to it, but some people don’t like it. To disable conversation view, go to the General tab in the Settings. Chin Wong
Column archives and blog at: http://www.chinwong.com