5 Gmail tricks that helped me save time

gmail tips and tricks

If you are anything like me, you like to find ways to save time and simplify your life. Since I spend hours with Gmail each day, it is in my best interest to be as efficient as possible with it. While I am always looking to improve my time management, I haven’t mastered the GTD system and would call myself a huge work-in-progress. I am in no way a Gmail master, but these are 5 simple things I have implemented that help save me time, each day when using Gmail.

So, if you are a pro-Gmail user, just skip this one, because you probably know these already. If you are like most Gmail users, who just want to make things a little bit quicker and easier, keep on reading.

1. Add a “Waiting for a Response” Label

gmail tips and tricks

I often send out emails that it is important that I get a response back, but after a couple days go by I will have forgotten about it. The best way I have found to combat this was to create a specific label that I titled “0 – Waiting for a Response”. After I send off an email and I need to follow up until I get a response, I just add this tag to it. I click on the label each day to see what responses are still outstanding. I have to say that the system has been working quite well so far.

Oh, and you might be wondering why the label title starts with a “0” and the answer is that I want it to show up at the top of my list of labels. Putting a number in front of it puts it at the top of the alphabetical list.

2. Eliminate forgotten attachments

If you pop open your Gmail account and click “Settings”, then “Labs” you will find a bunch of fun little features you can turn on. One of these is a “Forgotten Attachment Detector” which will do just what the name suggests. When you hit send on an email that you mentioned attaching something, it will check to see if you did indeed attach a file. If not, it will pop up a little window to verify that you want to continue sending anyway.

I guess it hasn’t saved me that much time, but it has helped me save face many a times.

3. Using “Quick Links”

This is another feature that needs to be activated under the “Labs” tab. Once you do it will then add a box to the left column that gives you 1-click access to any bookmarkable URL in Gmail. You can use it for saving frequent searches, important individual messages, and more.

I find it particularly useful for quick access to emails that I regularly come back to and for saving templates and keeping them within quick reach.

4. Keyboard Shortcuts

A while back Gmail gave away free keyboard stickers to help you master the keyboard functions. I must say that being able to use the keyboard to navigate through Gmail saves quite a bit of time over using the mouse. You should give it a try. Start with these three…

  1. Use “E” or “Y” to archive the email you are currently viewing
  2. Press “Tab” then “Enter” to send an email that you just finished
  3. Or press “C’ from the homepage to compose a new message

For a whole bunch more shortcuts you can either press “Shift” + “?” in your Gmail inbox or you can read this article.

5. Using filters

Filters are a wonderful way to save time. If you have emails that regularly come in that you want to save, but don’t need to see a filter is the perfect solution. On the right hand side of the top search box, there is a link that says “Create a Filter” this will get you started. You can set up filters to bypass the inbox, to automatically apply labels, to get forwarded to another email address, and more.

While filters greatly minimize the number of emails I have to process each day, I suggest unsubscribing to as many emails that you don’t need to see as possible. Pretty much every email subscription has an unsubscribe link at the bottom of it.

What about you? Do you have any great Gmail hacks? I would love to hear about them!

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  1. Nate @ Debt-free Scholar

    Great tips! I also like the delayed sending labs feature. When you send a message, this feature will wait five seconds before really sending it. If you change your mind in the meantime, you can “undo” the “sending”.

  2. Jason @ One Money Design


    Thanks for the tips. I use Outlook at work and recently wrote a post about how I’ve taken advantage of the organization rules to help manage the volume emails I receive. I was wondering if there was a similar feature for Gmail since I use it for personal emails, so I’m excited to give this a try. Thanks again.

  3. Tom

    Nice list. I would like to share the tecnique which I am using.
    I use gmail as a simple task manager, todo list, items/contacts to remember,to keep track of my spending etc.
    This how I am doing this. I have created a numeber of labels like: todo, remember, ideas, bills etc. And then created filters such that mails received from my personal/company email id with specific subjects will be applied with the corresponding label. for eg, if I send a mail with subject: bills – landphone bill for oct09 and added my bill as an attachement it will go to the bills folder/label.so it is very easy to follow up.
    This will not take much effort at all for me since my mail client is always open during office hours. whenever i come across some thing, can just compose a mail with proper subject and sent to gmail.hope this will be helpful.

    • Bob

      nice idea!