Gmail for business

The business user’s guide to Gmail

Whether you're new to Gmail or just want to make the most of its many layers, this in-depth guide will turn you into a Google email pro in no time.

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Gmail shortcuts and time-savers

You could devote an entire separate article to Gmail shortcuts and time-savers — and, in fact, I have! — but here are a few quick possibilities worth considering as part of your Gmail basics orientation:

  • Gmail has a huge set of helpful shortcuts that'll let you zip around the interface without ever moving your hands off your keyboard. To enable them, go back into Gmail's settings and scroll down the screen until you see the "Keyboard shortcuts" option. Change its setting to "Keyboard shortcuts on," then scroll down all the way to the bottom of the screen and click the Save Changes button. Once you're back in your main inbox view, hit the question mark key on your keyboard to see a list of available options.
  • Gmail's built-in snoozing function is a fantastic way to get messages out of your hair and then have 'em come back when they'll be most relevant — or even to change the order of emails in your inbox, if you want to put the system to creative use. To snooze an email, click the clock-shaped icon in the toolbar at the top of the screen while you're viewing a message or after you've selected any number of messages in your inbox view.
  • In addition to selecting messages and then using the commands at the top of the screen in your inbox, you can right-click on any message in that same list to pull up a menu of options for functions such as archiving, labeling, forwarding, and yes, even snoozing.

Whew! Almost done. Before we call it a day, though, there's one more critical area of the Gmail experience you'll want to think through.

The Gmail mobile differences

By and large, using Gmail from your Android or iOS phone is fairly similar to using the service on a computer — but you'll notice a handful of significant differences.

First, to be clear, you'll almost certainly want to use the Gmail Android app or Gmail iOS app to manage your email on the go. The Gmail mobile website is a weirdly dated mess, and the apps provide the superior experience (by an almost laughably large margin).

The only asterisk is that the Gmail phone apps won't allow you to create or edit labels, work with filters, or modify any of the service's more advanced settings. Any changes you make on those fronts will still apply in the mobile environment, but in order to configure them, you'll have to access Gmail via the desktop website.

That aside:

  • To find text formatting commands while composing a message in the Gmail mobile apps, press and hold your finger onto the text area. On Android, you'll see a "Format" option right then and there that'll reveal a full text-formatting panel; on iOS, you'll first have to select a specific section of text, after which you'll see basic options for bolding, italicizing, or underlining within the system-level pop-up menu.
07a gmail for business android text formatting JR Raphael/IDG

Text formatting options are available in the Gmail mobile apps — including on Android, shown here — but you have to poke around a little to find them.

  • To switch between multiple Gmail accounts connected to your phone — if, for instance, you have both a work and a personal address associated with the device — tap your profile picture or icon in the upper-right corner of the main inbox interface to see a list of options or swipe up or down on that picture or icon to move quickly from one account to the next.
  • To configure custom swipe actions for your inbox — commands that'll let you quickly archive, delete, or snooze a message as well as mark it as read or unread and move it to another label or inbox category — tap the three-line menu icon in the app's upper-left corner and then find and tap "Settings" in the menu that comes up. On Android, tap "General settings" followed by "Swipe actions"; on iOS, tap "Mail swipe actions" within the main settings menu.

And with that, your Gmail orientation is complete! Next comes the fun part: fine-tuning the Gmail interface, teaching yourself smarter shortcuts, and ingesting other advanced Gmail knowledge.

Choose your own adventure, and before you know it, you'll be a full-fledged email efficiency master:

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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