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Gmail hacks: 15 ways to unlock Gmail inbox productivity

Gmail hacks: 15 ways to unlock Gmail inbox productivity

min read

Going through your daily mail can feel like a never-ending maze. You open one email after another, but you never reach inbox zero. Why? You need better Gmail management, and we're here to help you make that happen.

In this article, we share 15 Gmail hacks to help you master Gmail inbox productivity. No matter how full your inbox is, you can achieve inbox zero with this list.

<a href="#gmail-management" class="anchor-link">Gmail management</a>

  • <a href="#customize-labels" class="anchor-link">Customize labels and filters</a>
  • <a href="#display-icon" class="anchor-link">Display the unread message icon</a>
  • <a href="#activate-priority" class="anchor-link">Activate priority inbox</a>
  • <a href="#learn-shortcuts" class="anchor-link">Learn keyboard shortcuts</a>
  • <a href="#use-templates" class="anchor-link">Use templates for quick replies</a>
  • <a href="#access-offline" class="anchor-link">Access Gmail offline</a>
  • <a href="#smart-compose" class="anchor-link">Utilize the smart compose feature</a>
  • <a href="#desktop-notifications" class="anchor-link">Turn on desktop notifications</a>
  • <a href="#organize-labels" class="anchor-link">Organize labels with nested labels</a>
  • <a href="#multiple-inboxes" class="anchor-link">Manage Multiple Inboxes</a>
  • <a href="#undo-send" class="anchor-link">Enable undo send</a>
  • <a href="#mute-conversations" class="anchor-link">Mute conversations</a>
  • <a href="#schedule-emails" class="anchor-link">Schedule your emails</a>
  • <a href="#consolidate-accounts" class="anchor-link">Consolidate multiple Gmail accounts</a>
  • <a href="#connect-crm" class="anchor-link">Connect with CRM tools</a>

<a href="#transform-gmail" class="anchor-link">Transform your Gmail account with Streak</a>

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Gmail hacks: Inbox mastery

Here are a few Gmail tips to help you master your inbox and make it work on your terms.

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1. Customize labels and filters

It’s tough to be truly productive in a chaotic inbox. If you want to manage your mail better, you need to use Gmail's filters and labels.

Benefits of labels

When you create labels, you’re able to organize your messages and group them based on priority level. For instance, you could create a labeled folder for each of your customers or prospects, and choose whether you want their emails to show up in your Primary inbox or in a separate, less visible destination.

A screenshot of a window in Gmail Settings showing the Labels section

And the best part is you can customize each label according to your needs. Whether you want to group emails by project, client, or urgency is up to you, but it’s all possible through Gmail's sidebar. You can even create a spam folder, and throw all of your unwanted emails in there.

Benefits of filters

Filters save you the hassle of searching through hundreds of emails to find the one you want. Think of filters like rules that tell emails what labels to receive and where to go in your inbox without you having to do any of the heavy lifting. 

If you’re organizing your Gmail inbox for the first time and this is your go-around with filters, start by typing in the names of the most common people you communicate with or maybe by a project’s title, and create a filter that’ll send all of those past (and future) conversations to a folder specifically for those people or projects. Simply repeat this process until your inbox is organized.

A screenshot of the window that pops up when clicking the Gmail search bar menu

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2. Display the unread message icon

Do you want to know how many unread messages you have without opening your inbox every time? There's an easy hack here: enable your unread message icon through your Gmail advanced settings on a desktop.

A screenshot of Gmail Advanced Settings with Unread emails icon section enabled

Once you do that, you'll always know the number of unread messages you have by glancing at the Gmail icon in the header of your browser tab.

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3. Activate priority inbox

Did you know that you can bring your priority messages to the top with minimal effort? All you have to do is go through Gmail's settings and choose Priority Inbox from Inbox Type. Once you do that, Gmail will organize your messages into groups to help you get to them faster. For instance, it'll move all the starred messages to the top and leave all the spam mail down the list.

A screenshot of Gmail Settings menu with Priority Inbox selected

As a bonus, you can customize the groups in your priority inbox according to your needs. For example, you can move all past and incoming messages from a certain client to the top.

Gmail hacks: Efficiency boosters

Let's move on to the inbox efficiency boosters that will win you some time back.

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4. Learn keyboard shortcuts

Learning keyboard shortcuts is well worth your time; you’ll fly through your Gmail messages at lightning speed. Without lifting a finger or making a click, you'll be able to compose new emails, parse through your messages, and quickly sort your inbox.

A screenshot of the mail General Settings with Keyboard shortcuts section enabled

Here are some common Gmail keyboard shortcuts you can use:

  • C to compose a new email
  • E to archive unimportant messages
  • K to go to new messages
  • J to scroll down to old messages
  • A to reply to all
  • R to reply individually

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5. Use templates for quick replies

Instead of writing a new email every time you reply to someone, you can use saved email templates (or Streak snippets) to boost speed and efficiency. All you have to do is write an email and click Save Draft as Template. Then, whenever you need to use it again, you can get it from the Templates section in your settings.

A screenshot of Gmail Compose showing an email draft and windows for saving the draft as template

As a bonus, you can also use these drafts on Google Docs without opening your inbox at all. Type the @ symbol in your document, and choose Email Draft from the menu that’ll appear. Compose your email, type in the recipient's email address, and then click send.

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6. Access Gmail offline

Did you know that you can use Gmail without an internet or cellular connection? It's called Gmail Offline, and you can use it to archive, reply, or check new messages if you don't have WiFi.

A screenshot of Gmail Offline Settings with Enable offline mail section turned on

That said, you'll need to install the Chrome extension first and check Enable offline mail while connected to the internet so that Google can download your data and make it available to you offline.

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7. Utilize the smart compose feature

Gmail has a Smart Compose feature that can save you time and energy as you write new emails. This predictive text feature predicts what you’ll want to say and suggests phrases to complete your sentences. In addition to saving time, you'll be able to maintain a consistent tone throughout your replies.

A screenshot of Gmail Settings with Smart Compose writing suggestions and personalization enabled

You can unlock this feature by opening your Gmail settings and choosing Smart Compose from the general tab.

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8. Turn on desktop notifications

Monitoring your emails regularly can be a pain, especially if you have a ton of tasks on your plate. To make it easier for you, you can turn on your Gmail desktop notifications. This way, you’ll know the moment a new email arrives, and you won't have to open your Gmail tab to see who it was from.

A screenshot of Gmail General Settings with Desktop notifications section enabled

To turn on this feature, go to your Gmail settings, choose General, and then move the toggle next to Desktop Notifications.

Gmail hacks: Smart organization

Now that you’ve got your inbox de-cluttered and know a few efficiency tricks, here are a couple of pieces of advice to level up your organization game.

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9. Organize labels with nested labels

Nested labels are sub-labels that you nest under a parent label, and lucky for you, Gmail allows you to create them to organize your inbox. Using nested labels, you can create hierarchical structures for your messages and categorize them into groups and sub-groups. For example, you may have one parent label titled “2023” and underneath it, sub-labels for each month. Or maybe you have a parent label titled “Cold Leads” and underneath it, sub-labels for each cold account.

A screenshot of Gmail Label Settings showing a window for creating a label and organizing with nested label

This feature lets you navigate effortlessly through your inbox and reach important tasks with their sub-tasks faster than usual.

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10. Manage Multiple Inboxes

If you're juggling multiple roles or projects and have separate emails for each, you'll love the Gmail interface option for Multiple Inboxes. It lets you customize your inbox to display multiple panes, each focusing on a specific label. This way, you can keep an eye on various categories without switching between different views.

A screenshot of Gmail Inbox Settings showing the option for Multiple Inboxes

You can unlock the Multiple Inboxes view from the Inbox > Inbox type section in your advanced settings.

Gmail hacks: Power user features

If you're an advanced Gmail user, here are two smart hacks that can make your life easier.

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11. Enable undo send

Ever regret hitting the send button too soon? With the Undo Send feature, you can reclaim that moment of hesitation. This feature is a favorite Gmail hack of ours, and you'll find it in the General tab inside your advanced settings. After turning it on, you can set a grace period before the undo option expires.

A screenshot of the Gmail General Settings with Undo end section enabled at 5 seconds grace period

Ideally, you should choose 30 seconds as your send cancellation period to give yourself enough time. The default is five seconds, which is too short to notice what the email is missing and undo sending it.

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12. Mute conversations

If you're immersed in group discussions or active email threads that don’t pertain to you, you can use the Mute feature to give yourself some peace of mind. It'll mute these conversations and stop the consistent pings of email notifications. This way, you can remain focused on the emails that matter.

A screenshot of whats inside the received email in Gmail with the three-dots window's Mute feature enabled

To mute a conversation, scroll to the message thread, and click the three little dots to be taken to the More menu. Then, choose Mute from the options.

Gmail hacks: Integration and automation

Using Gmail's integration and automation capabilities can drastically improve your inbox management skills. Here are three hacks to try in your Gmail account.

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13. Schedule your emails

Whether you're working with people across time zones or want to optimize the timing of your communications, you can schedule messages and take better control of your email delivery.

Gmail has a straightforward scheduling feature that lets you customize emails in advance and choose the perfect time to send them. This ensures your messages land in each recipient's inboxes at the most opportune times for them.

A screenshot of Gmail's Compose featuring the Schedule Send feature so you can send your email to your recipient at the most opportune time

To leverage this feature, simply compose an email, and then click on the “up” arrow next to Send. Next, click on Schedule send and choose the date and time you want this email to go out. 

Please note: Gmail will base this send time off of your time zone only, so you’ll need to do a little mental math if you’re sending across time zones.

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14. Consolidate multiple Gmail accounts

If you have more than one Gmail address, you’re not alone. Many people manage an account for personal matters and an account for work. The good news is, you can check all of your emails at once if you’d like and manage them from one place. This not only reduces the hassle of switching between accounts, but also centralizes your communication hub, making it easier to stay organized and responsive.

A screenshot of the Account and Import Gmail Settings featuring the Import mail and contacts section which enables you to consolidate multiple Gmail accounts in one central place so you can check all your emails at once and stay organized and responsive

Through your Gmail settings, click on the Accounts and Import tab. Then, choose Import mail and contacts, and complete the requested steps. Not only can you consolidate Gmail inboxes using this feature, but you can also import emails from different service providers.

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15. Connect with CRM tools

Integrating your Gmail account with a CRM tool is a game-changer for productivity and efficiency. It lets you streamline your workflows by using different views and auto-syncing your contacts and email information right to account records. Luckily, Gmail supports multiple CRM tools, including our personal favorite, Streak.

A screenshot of the Streak page featuring the different workflows you can manage to make your work easier

If you use Streak in your Gmail, you’ll ensure all of your email communication aligns with your broader customer or project management strategy, helping you drive business growth.

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Transform your Gmail account with Streak

Streak is a powerful ally that’s elevating the Gmail experience for more than 750k happy users. It seamlessly integrates with Gmail and unlocks a myriad of functionality to help you streamline workflows.

With features like Streak's pipeline view, you can visualize your tasks and track their flow in one tab. There's also an email tracking feature that gives you insight into recipient engagement, link clicks, exact open times, and more. Plus, Streak offers snippets for speedy email template insertion and mail merges that let you personalize and track mass email sends.

If you're ready to transform your Gmail experience, try Streak for free. Best of all, it'll only take you 30 seconds to get started.

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