The Best Gmail Features You Should Know to Improve Email Experience

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You don’t see many major updates in the way of Gmail features. In a way, it’s been comfortably unchanging over the years while rivals like Outlook feel like they’ve been chopping and changing to the whims of an easily distracted designer. In this article, we show you how to increase your productivity by drawing on a series of lesser-known Gmail features during your emailing activities.

1. Snooze

We’re not encouraging you to put off replying to important emails until a later date, but sometimes you just have no choice! The Snooze function hides an email then bumps it back up to the top of your inbox on the day and time you specify.

New Best Gmail Features Snooze

To snooze an email, simply right-click it, click Snooze, then choose the time you want to snooze it to. If the listed times don’t suit your schedule, then you can change Snooze defaults in Google Keep. (They’ll also apply to Gmail.)

Go to Google Keep, click the cog icon -> Settings, then change the Reminder Defaults to whatever suits you.

2. Easy Email Formatting

This one tends to get overlooked quite frequently – you can quickly format the emails that you write on your phone with ease.

Seven Lesser Known Gmail Features Formatting

Simply open a new email, long-press on an empty space and then tap Format to bring up a menu of text formatting options that range from changing text color, underlying text, and more.

3. Smart Replies

I’ve been holding off the “Smart Reply” revolution on smartphones, but it seems that it’s popular enough to have made it over to the desktop version.

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For the uninitiated, Smart Replies are ready-made quick responses related to an email you received. It’s a neat timesaver even though there’s something dystopian and “death-of-language” about the whole thing.

4. Confidential Mode

Privacy is a big deal to many individuals, which is why Google has added a “Confidential Mode” to its Gmail app to give users control over emails containing sensitive or private information.

To access Confidential Mode on your device, open the Gmail app, then tap the Compose button in the lower-right part of the screen. Now, locate the three-dot menu in the upper right, tap on it and from there select “Confidential Mode.”

Seven Lesser Known Gmail Features Confidential Mode

Now you can set an expiration date for your message which ranges from one day to five years, after which the message will automatically self-delete. If you’re planning on sending an even more sensitive email, it would be a good idea to set a passcode/SMS passcode. These passcodes are generated randomly by Google and are sent securely to recipients.

5. Spam Management

There’s a lot of under-the-bonnet stuff that Google claims can combat 99.9% of scams and untrustworthy emails. (There’s no way to test that, but hey-ho.)

More tangibly, when you chuck emails into the Spam folder, Gmail will now ask whether you want it to try and unsubscribe you from the sender’s mailing list, which is thoughtful. Also, if Gmail detects that you’re never opening emails from certain regular senders, it will now ask if you want to block that sender.

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6. Set Custom Swipe Gestures

Gmail for Android easily allows you to assign different actions to your swipe gestures. Swiping left or right on a message will archive the message by default, but if you want to, you can change that.

Seven Lesser Known Gmail Features Settings

In your Gmail app, tap on the hamburger menu located in the upper-left corner, find Settings at the bottom, tap on it and select “General Settings.” From there, select “Swipe actions.”

Seven Lesser Known Gmail Features Swipe Actions

From here you can pair your swipes with one of these actions: Archive, Delete, “Mark as read/unread,” “Move to” and “Snooze.” Select whichever option suits your needs better.

Seven Lesser Known Gmail Features Configure Swipe Actions

7. Prevent Accidental Actions

It happens to all of us at one point or another – sending mail before it’s ready or accidentally deleting an email because we’re distracted. Fortunately, Gmail offers a way to prevent these small mishaps. It’s extremely helpful for those of us who tend to have our heads in the clouds quite frequently.

Following the path described above, make your way to “General Settings,” then look for the “Action Confirmation” option and have your pick from three options: “Confirm before deleting,” “Achieving,” or “Sending.”

Seven Lesser Known Gmail Features Action Confirmations Turn On

For example, when you want to delete a message, Gmail will ask you to confirm. Note that this trick only works when you delete emails the classic way – by opening one email at a time and pressing on the trash icon in the upper-right corner. Strangely, these confirmations don’t show up if you’re swiping to delete your messages. Although the option to undo the action pops up at the bottom of the screen immediately after you’ve deleted an email in this manner, you can get it back if you move quickly.

8. Forget Nudges

One Gmail feature is that it can automatically remind you to reply to emails you’ve received recently by suggesting to “Reply and follow up.” However, many users find this less than helpful and simply annoying. If you fall into the latter category, you should know that you can turn it off.

Seven Lesser Known Gmail Features Nudges Settings

To do so yourself, you need to head back to your Gmail’s “Settings -> Select your Google account -> Nudges -> Reply and follow up.” Tap on the feature and untick both options. You can now rest easy that you won’t be bothered anymore by Gmail’s less than subtle nudges.

Seven Lesser Known Gmail Features Turn Off Nudges

9. Quickly Set Out-of-Office Message

Planning to take a few days off? Set your own out-of-office message in Gmail without calling tech support. It’s pretty easy. Follow the same path outlined above, but instead, look for “Vacation responder” under General.

Seven Lesser Known Gmail Features Automatic Responder

Tap on the option and start adding your details, starting with the dates during which you will be away. Additionally, you can add a quick message to let people know you won’t be available for the aforementioned period of time and who they can contact in the case of an emergency. It’s super simple!

Want to keep unlocking more Gmail features? You may be interested in learning how to access Gmail from your desktop or enable and use Gmail offline.

Image credit: Google mail apps showing on iphone 6s by DepositPhotos

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Alexandra Arici Alexandra Arici

Alexandra is passionate about mobile tech and can be often found fiddling with a smartphone from some obscure company. She kick-started her career in tech journalism in 2013, after working a few years as a middle-school teacher. Constantly driven by curiosity, Alexandra likes to know how things work and to share that knowledge with everyone.

2 comments

  1. It’s handy to set up a second GMail account and set it to pull in copies of all emails arriving in your ‘normal’ account—a fallback if you either accidentally delete incoming email or get locked out of the first account. Google don’t limit how many free accounts you can have, donating 15 GB of cloud space to each single Google account on GDrive—that includes the account’s emails and attachments. Microsoft allots only 5 GB per account with their One Drive but, again, you can invent extra accounts. Both companies let you buy additional web space, too.

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