Gmail is an excellent way to communicate instantly with anyone in the world. Gmail is utilized by colleges, businesses, and is popular tool for personal email accounts. Most people know how the basics of Gmail work and are able to use the tool quite successfully. However, there are many settings and different ways to organize your email that can improve the experience greatly. Utilizing the tools that Gmail has developed for the user can make even the most cluttered inbox easy to navigate and look great. Gmail is something used every day, unlike a program with a more specific purpose, so why not know the ins and outs so you can be a Gmail pro!
Lynda.com created videos many useful videos, and through the Gmail Essential Training Chapter 3- Organizing and Searching Mails videos, I learned a lot about how to make an inbox as accessible as possible, visually pleasing, and technologically organized.
The first video, Working with multiple messages at a time, goes into details about the functions of the checkboxes that can be found next to all emails.
Checkboxes can be selected individually, or by category by using the checkbox on the toolbar. The options include none, all, read, unread, starred, and unstarred. This allows quick selection of numerous emails, and they will all be highlighted in addition to being checked. However, this only selects the emails on the page, not from your entire inbox.
Creating labels for messages and conversations, the second video, covers labels, a great tool to utilize. A label is a visible tag that you assign to an email and is a simple way to visually and physically organize your inbox. When an email has been selected, simply click on the tag looking button on the tool bar, with the name “Labels”, type a name, and select “create”.
The name can be anything, for example, you can mark all emails regarding your basketball team “Basketball”. Once a label is created, it is saved, and you can quickly select new emails and give them the same label. On the left side of the screen, all labels will show up under the different sections of the inbox.
You can also change the color of any label by hovering the mouse over the label name and clicking the drop down arrow and selecting “Label Color”. This is another excellent way to visually organize your inbox. You can quickly delete labels using the drop down arrow and selecting “Remove Label”, or rename the label by selecting “Edit” and typing in a new name. The change will be made to all emails with the labels.
Video three, Moving messages out of the inbox, teaches the physical moving emails from your inboxes to different labels. Labels, which we discussed above, are not only visual distinctions, but are like the folders of gmail. You can move any email to a label by selecting the check box and using the “move to”, and select your desired label. Once moved, the label on the email disappears because it is in the specific section for that label. You can do this to as many emails as you would like at a time. You can also select multiple emails, create a label, and move them at the same time.
To click and drag an email into a label, hover your mouse over the checkbox, and two rows of dots will appear next to it, and the mouse icon will change to a hand. Clicking then allows you to drag and drop your email into any label. Your email will not longer appear in your inbox, but in the label you selected.
The next video, Archiving and deleting messages, dives into the varying ways to archive or delete gmail. Gmail gives the user many gigabytes to use for storage, and the archiving option allows you to take advantage of that storage. Archiving an email moves it from your inbox and places it solely in the “All Mail” section. However, you keep the mail and can find it through the search bar or through exploring “All Mail”.
If you delete an email, it gets moved to the trash and will be permanently removed after 30 days. If you decide you want to move an email, you can go to your trash and move it back to your inbox.
The next video, Creating stars to visually organize messages, describes yet another way to physically and visually organize your inbox. Stars appear next to the checkbox, and a simple click stars your email. You will see the star go from clear to yellow. Starred is a label section on the left hand side along with your other labels. However, you can take starred further and create your own key with different type of stars.
To change, go to settings, and scroll to the star sections. You can select a variety of different colors as well as different shapes, such as an exclamation point of question mark. Gmail will not assign a key for you, so you get to determine your own key. A question mark can mean the email needs a response, where an exclamation point means it requires a timely response. This is a very useful tool within all labels and allows users to create their own key to their inbox.
The sixth video, Creating filters to automatically process messages, explains filters and the three different ways to create them. A filter is a rule to automatically process a message, such as add a star or a label, as soon as it shows up in your inbox. Creating a filter is easy. The first way is click the checkbox of the message, select more, and select filter messages like these. It will find other emails already in your inbox and ask if you would like these to be filtered as well. The second way is to search something in the search box and instead of hitting enter, use the down arrow at the end of the search bar and create a filter. The final way is to create multiple filters at once, by going to settings, and starting one from scratch. From this place, you can also delete and manage all your filters.
Managing labels, the next video, goes into even further depth into the label system. The settings of labels is found under the gear button, and it gives you the option to hide or show all labels, create a new label, edit the name, remove a label completely, show or hide label tags in the message list. It also gives you the option to show in the label list on the left side of the inbox, and also allow you to show if emails are unread within labels, which is helpful if your emails are filtered to labels automatically.
The eighth video, Searching your messages, explores various ways to search for emails in your inbox, labels, trash, and “All Mail” box. When you use the search bar, the words use will be highlighted in the emails that come up. If an email comes up with a tag, that will tell you where the email is located. No tag means the email has been archived and is only found in the “All Mail” box. You can refine your search to only a specific box or label, and if you type OR between keywords you are searching for, it will search for emails with either words, not both. Know that it only shows the twenty most recent emails, but you can scroll with the arrows under the tool bar to see all emails.
The final video, Advanced Searching with Operators, gives details about having a very refined and hopefully successful search within your Gmail account. Simple add from, to, subject, lab, has, is, or before with a colon afterwards, and enter what you are searching for. For example, entering From:Erdmann allows me to see all the emails from one of my professors.
You can also combine operations with a comma. For example, From:Erdmann, has:attachment. This allows you to fine a specific email you are searching for, regardless of what labels it has or if it had been deleted or archived.
Through watching this tutorial and writing this blog post, I learned so many new things about Gmail that can simply and enhance my experience with the program. I can now organize my inbox in ways I did not even know were possible!
To learn more about some Gmail features, check out Sydney Ryals’ post, Using Gmail Chat and Keyboard Shortcuts, at http://wp.me/p3TB5p-Q
Did you know about many of these features of Gmail? Share below on your take of these tools, whether they are new to you or you are a Gmail master!