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5 Tiny Gmail Tweaks That Make an Enormous Difference

Tweaks That Make an Enormous Difference


It’s the little things.

Gmail is full of little tweaks that change how the service works.

We’ve been experimenting with Gmail lately, trying out its configurations, experimental features, and add-ons.

We found a lot of changes that helped. Below are our top five.

All are 100% free. We think you’ll find them helpful too:

1. Preview Pane

Love Outlook’s preview pane? Did you know Gmail has a similar feature?

To enable it, go to Settings (the gear icon), then “Labs” and look for “Preview Pane.”


Once enabled, you’ll see a toggle switch in the upper right of your inbox. Click it to use the preview-pane.


Note: preview pane is a Google Labs feature, which means (technically) it could go away at any time. But it’s been available for awhile. We don’t think it’s going anywhere.

2. Show Only Unread Emails

By default, Gmail shows your 50 most recent emails. It displays them in the order received, whether you’ve read them or not. If you get a lot of email, it’s easy to lose unread messages to the second or third page this way.

To keep your unread emails front and center, go to Settings (the gear icon), then click “Inbox.”

In the first drop-down, select “Unread first” to tell Gmail you want unread messages at the top.


3. Auto-Advance After Archive

Working toward inbox zero? Auto-advance is a configuration change you should make ASAP.

By default, open an email, then archive or delete it, Gmail bounces you back to the full list of messages in your inbox.

Auto-advance changes the sequence.

Once enabled, when you click the archive button, Gmail immediately opens the next message in your inbox.

This little tweak lets you process your inbox with half the clicks it takes with Gmail’s normal configuration.

You can enable auto-archive under Settings > Labs > Auto-Archive.

4. Canned Responses

“Email for the truly lazy” says the description within Gmail labs.

Canned responses are a bit like form letters. Write them, save them, then use them for common responses. Once enabled, you can find canned responses in the composition box:

5. Slack-Style Chat

We’re biased, but this one is our favorite.

Slack is a fantastic chat tool. But it’s annoying.

We all use email. By adding Slack, you fragment your communications.

Did you send the document in email? In a Slack message?

cloudHQ’s free Gmail Label and Email Sharing Chrome extension puts all your communications in one place inside Gmail—instead of in separate applications. This way, you and your team can privately discuss an email before any reply is sent out.


Once installed, you’ll have a simple, Slack-style chat window in Gmail, ready for you to use any time you need it.


Install Gmail Label and Email Sharing
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