Take Control Of Your Inbox
Here are some of the features and settings which most users are unaware of. Master these features and settings to become a Gmail power user.
Using Multiple Inboxes?
One of the most interesting parts of Gmail for business is Labs. Go to the settings page in your Gmail inbox and you will see Labs as one of the tabs.
Labs is the section of Gmail where Google puts in experimental features for users to check out. Don’t worry – you aren’t using any unstable features. Many of the features in Labs have been there for years and they work flawlessly. Open the Labs page and you will see an option for multiple inboxes. Enable it to start using it.
Multiple inboxes is a fantastic feature which allows you to control multiple email inboxes in one Gmail account. This feature can be a lifesaver if you use Gmail for business purposes. If you are managing multiple businesses or multiple roles in the same organization, then you probably have to deal with multiple email inboxes. This includes your personal account, your corporate account, and any other account you happen to be answering emails on, such as the customer support account.
With this feature, you can add all the accounts in one place and manage all your emails from one place as well. That’s not all – you can send email from multiple accounts as well. It will make your life much easier, and you will be much more productive.
Check Your GMail for Business
Many workplaces use a private email server, usually set up to use Microsoft Outlook. If you are used to Gmail, using the Outlook software can be a real pain. It seems slow and it is missing most of the features that you are now used to due to being a user of Gmail. This includes the excellent spam filter which pretty much removes all spam messages from your inbox.
The good news is that you can use Gmail to log into your other accounts as well, the ones that are not based on Gmail. Gmail has the ability to act like an email application with other accounts.
Using Gmail’s Accounts and Import Feature
Go to the “Accounts and Import” page in the settings and you will see an option to check mail from other accounts. Click on the Add a mail account and a pop-up window will open, asking you about the email address you want to add. You will need to know the POP3 or IMAP details of your account if you want Gmail to check it.
There are many other settings you can check too. You can tell Gmail to download all the email in your account, or you can tell it to only download emails that come from this point on. Note that you will need the POP3 or IMAP details, if you don’t know them then contact your company’s IT department. Your IT policies should also allow emails to be fetched by services outside of your network.
While normally this would not be a very secure practice, here it is perfectly safe because we are dealing with Google, and it is safe to assume that Google’s security measures are far superior to any security measures your company may have enacted. You can also tell Google to mark the messages it downloads as read, so they don’t show up as unread in your email software. This is the best way to get rid of clunky email software which don’t have any of the features you are used to.
Get G Suite
G Suite is the Gmail for business service. It is a paid service by Google. You may not have heard about it much because, well, Gmail is so powerful in its free version that people seldom need anything more from it.
The most powerful feature of G Suite is that it allows you to create email addresses on your personal domain. So if your company name is Example and you own the example.com domain, you will be able to create email addresses ending with @example.com.
This is different from the ‘Import Email’ option we talked about earlier. In that option, you need to have a mail server setup, and Gmail simply imports email from that account. When you get G Suite, you will not need to set up an additional email server – Gmail will be your default email server.
Get Business Level Support
Another great thing it provides you is 24/7 support. If you are using Google Mail for business purposes you should think about this. If you ever run into a problem while using the free version of Gmail and your business emails become inaccessible, it will cause business continuity issues, which is why it is nice to have 24/7 support available.
Create Customer Keyboard Shortcuts
Here’s another thing that you will find very helpful as a power user – you can create custom keyboard shortcuts to increase the speed at which you work. There is an option in the Labs section which allows you to do it. All you have to do is enable it from the settings page. Then you define the keyboard shortcuts you are most comfortable with.
If you are using Gmail for business, then you are probably running marketing campaigns through it too, which means that you receive a lot of email in return. The custom keyboard shortcuts allow you to take lots of actions quickly.
If you are running two marketing campaigns, you can simply create two different folders, to make sure that replies to each campaign go in the respective folder. Then you can create a custom keyboard shortcut for campaign 1, and then do the same for campaign 2. You can set this custom keyboard shortcut to send the email to the folder you created.
This way, you will be able to categorize hundreds of emails in a matter of few minutes. If you were to do the same thing using the mouse, it would end up taking you a lot more time than that.
Filters may just be the most powerful feature that exists in Gmail, and it can do wonders for Gmail business users. Filters are exactly what they sound like – they allow you to filter emails based on different properties. If you use filters right, you will never have a disorganized email inbox. If you are a Gmail business user, then you need to know how to filter your emails so you can deal with them accordingly.
Setting up filters is very easy. Open the settings page by clicking on the gear icon on the upper right side of your screen. Here, you will see an option called Filters and Blocked Addresses. Open this page and you will see an option to ‘Add a Filter’ on the bottom of the page. Click on this and a dialog box opens, asking you to create a filter. If you are using gmail for business, this is imperative.
These are the basic parameters on which you can create filters for your Google Mail. Note that by default there is a search button on the dialog box instead of a create filter button; this is because Google wants you to test the filter out and make sure it works before you apply it.
Creating a Filter
Now all you have to do is create the right filter. You can set it to filter email from a particular sender. So, for example, if your social media manager sends you reports about your social media pages every day, you can set up a filter and put his name or email address in the ‘from section’. This way, all the email from him/her will be filtered and then you can decide what to do with his or her emails.
You can also set it up to have a particular subject. You may have noticed that many job ads tell you to put in the position you are applying for in the subject. This is done because they can then filter the incoming resumes through filters.
So if your company has five different openings, you can just tell people to put their desired position in the subject, and all the applications that come in for that particular position will be filtered. You can also use the ‘has the words’ feature, or the ‘has attachment’ feature.
Once you click the search button, Gmail will show you exactly what emails the filter will catch. If you are satisfied with the result, click on the ‘create filter with this search’ option besides the blue search button. Now you get to decide what happens with the filtered emails.
Settings for filtered emails
Skip the Inbox
If you select this option, the email will skip your inbox and will be ‘archived’ in the folder Google thinks is the most appropriate.
Mark as Read
This will mark the new email as read automatically. This feature is really useful if you get a lot of marketing related emails.
Starring an email means marking it as important in your inbox. So if you apply this filter to your clients’ email addresses, you’ll make sure that no important email gets lost in the clutter of your inbox ever again.
Labels are another great way to categorize your email. You can create labels such as “HR”, “Admin”, “Marketing”, and then label your emails accordingly. Then you can view your inbox by label and see how different departments in your company are doing.
Forward / Delete
You can also set the filter up so that certain emails get forwarded to another email address. You can also set them up to be deleted the moment they reach your inbox – a great way of never receiving emails from someone without actually blocking them.
The other filters settings work in the same way. Test out the different options to get a proper feel for them.
Canned Responses are another great feature hidden in the labs option. These are Godsend if you answer marketing emails often, or if you are in some sort of a support role in your organization. You can save multiple ‘canned responses’ and then send them out with just a single click.
So if there is an issue people keep emailing you about, just create a canned response for it, and then send it when an email related to the issue comes up. You can also set these canned responses to go automatically through the filters option. You can set it up to send a particular canned response when it detects certain words in the email.
These are just some of the features that you need to use if you want to be a power Gmail business user. On the whole, Google Mail is still the best mail service around, and the new features that Google keeps adding to it means that your Google account just keeps getting better.
There are many other uses of Gmail too, and we haven’t even gotten around to the extensions yet. Gmail has many extensions made by other companies which end up adding even more features to it and making it even better to use for businesses and power users.