10 Awesome Gmail Hacks That Make Life Easier

12/10/2014 06:38 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

These top-secret ninja moves will help you take control of your inbox and become a Gmail expert. I'll show you how to save time, avoid mistakes, and add a bit of style to your inbox. Read on, grasshopper.

GMAIL HACK #1 UNSEND

Have you ever pressed send only to regret it moments later because of a misspelled word, a forgotten attachment, or something communicated in the heat of the moment? Don't worry, we've all been there. But, some of us know this hack that allows us a few precious moments to recall an email after it's been sent.

Go to your email settings by clicking on the gear in the upper right of the inbox. Now click on Labs. Now scroll down to Undo Send and enable it. Save your changes at the bottom of the screen.

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Now go back to your email settings by clicking on the gear in the upper right of the inbox. Click on General. Scroll down to Undo Send and toggle the time limit to something you think works best for you. Save your changes.

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Now, when you send an email, you'll have up to 10, 20 or 30 seconds to recall it before it's released into the wild.

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GMAIL HACK #2 YOU COULDA' BEEN A STAR

Some messages are too important to be lost in a crowded inbox. That's where the Gmail stars come in. Most people know that you can click the star next to a message to flag it. But, I'll show you how to unlock a whole bunch of options.

Go to your email settings by clicking on the gear in the upper right of the inbox. Under the General tab, scroll down and click on Stars.

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You can drag stars from the bottom line to the top to make them active. Save your changes at the bottom of the page. You could use question marks for emails that need clarification, red stars for problems, gold stars for good news, etc.

GMAIL HACK #3 INBOX TALLY

Are you stalking your inbox? Do you check every five minutes just because somebody, might have sent you something, that requires your immediate attention? Well, relax and let Gmail do the work by enabling the Unread Message Icon lab.

Go to your email settings by clicking on the gear in the upper right of the inbox. Now click on Labs. Now scroll down to Unread Message Icon and enable it. Save your changes at the bottom of the screen. And.... boom! The number of unread emails will show in your browser tab.

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GMAIL HACK #4 SEARCHING FOR A NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK?

Looking for something? There are lots of ways to narrow down your search and make it easier to find a specific message. You could use special search terms and advanced operators if you know how to do that sort of thing, or you could try this method.

Click on the drop-down arrow in the far right corner of the search box. Now select your variables, and go!

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GMAIL HACK #5 MAKE IT YOUR OWN

Gmail Themes can make your standard inbox look spectacular. To try out themes, go to the gear in the upper right corner of your inbox and choose Themes. Click on a theme icon to make it live. Easy!

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You can also choose a custom theme which allows you to upload your own background picture, and choose between a light or dark-colored themes. Your theme will look the same from every computer, so you'll know your logged in to the right account at all times.

GMAIL HACK #6 NOT AGAIN... CANNED RESPONSES

Have you ever had the same question asked over and over again? Have you ever had the same question asked over and over again? Just a little joke, read on.

Parents that want the details of an upcoming field trip, marketing inquiries or sales pitches, or maybe just one of your thousands of loyal fans seeking an autographed picture? No matter what the topic, canned responses can make it quick and easy to send a thoughtful response with the click of a button.

Go to your email settings by clicking on the gear in the upper right of the inbox. Now click on Labs. Now scroll down to Canned Responses and enable it. Save your changes at the bottom of the screen.

If you start a new message (or respond to a message), you can click on the arrow in the lower right of the compose new message window to see the Canned Response menu.

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From here, you can create a new canned response and label it for future use. Once you have created a canned response, you can use it to save you time when responding to common inquiries.

GMAIL HACK #7 OUCH! MY EYES... MAKE IT STOP!

Have you ever copied and pasted text into an email? If so, you know that Gmail keeps all the original formatting. Size, font, color, links, etc. You'll be glad to know that with the click of a button you can remove the formatting and convert the message to plain text.

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GMAIL HACK #8 COPY AND PASTE IMAGES

Did you know you can skip the insert photo button when composing an email? Gmail allows you to drag and drop photos from your desktop directly into the compose window. Also, you can copy and paste directly from the web. Seriously.

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GMAIL HACK #9 WANT A SECRET EMAIL ADDRESS?

Gmail addresses can be modified with periods and + signs. So, if I send an email to grasshopper@ninja.edu, it's the same as grass.hopper@ninja.edu, or grasshopper+parentcontact@ninjas.edu Cool, right? The email goes to the same destination regardless of the dots and plus sign.

Why is this something you should care about? It gives you the ability to filter email addressed to those specific addresses. For example, let's say I give out teacher+parents@school.edu as my email address during open house night. Later in the school year, I can apply a filter and a label that will pick out emails sent to that specific address and treat them differently than other emails. If you're confused about this, don't worry. It's black belt stuff that only Gmail nerds will truly appreciate.

GMAIL HACK #10 GIMME THE GOOD STUFF

Filters help you to handle an email in specific ways before it even hits your inbox. You can archive, delete, or label incoming messages and make Gmail do all the heavy lifting. Stay close and watch carefully.

Start by choosing the type of message that you want to filter. For this example, we'll filter all my incoming messages from Education Week. A fine magazine for sure, but there are an awful lot of emails clogging up my inbox at the moment. Let's move them all into their own folder and avoid taking up valuable Inbox real estate.

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Step 1 - Open an email from Education Week and click the drop-down arrow on the right. Choose "Filter messages like this" from the menu.

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Step 2 - Create a filter with this search by clicking on the link in the lower right corner.

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Step 3 - Select Skip the Inbox and Apply the label. Then choose New label...

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Step 4 - Give the new label a name and click Create

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Step 5 - Be sure to select "Also apply filter to all matching conversations" and then click the Create Filter button.

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Your filter is now active! All my Education Week emails will now end up labeled and waiting in my Gmail archive. They are available, but no longer cluttering my inbox. That's it!

Please share this resource with your friends, family, co-workers, and even that strange guy in the parking lot. As always, look for me at K12Ninja.com