How to Organize Gmail
Does it sometimes feel that the Gmail notification badge on your phone never goes away? If so, you need to familiarize yourself with essential tips on how to organize your Gmail. Since its launch in 2004, Gmail has seen countless feature updates, and the free email service developed by Google now has a whole host of excellent email management features many of its users don’t even know about.
1. Label Your Emails
Labels are like folders on steroids. A single email message can have multiple labels, making labels much more flexible than traditional folders. Gmail allows you to add colors to labels to make different kinds of emails distinguishable at a glance.
To create labels in Gmail:
- Open Gmail in your favorite web browser.
- You might be asked to log in. If so, enter your email address and password.
- Select an email by clicking on the checkbox to the left of it.
- With an email message selected, click on the label icon located right below the search bar. The label icon looks like an arrow pointing to the right.
- A drop-down menu will appear. Click the “Create new” button located near the bottom.
- Enter a new label name.
- You can nest the new label inside of another label, which is the Gmail equivalent of placing a folder inside of another folder.
- When you’re done, click the “Create” button.
- The new label will automatically be assigned to the email you’ve selected.
- All your labels are listed in the menu on the left. To display all emails with a specific label, simply click on the corresponding label.
You can create as many Gmail accounts as you want and for free, so there’s absolutely no reason not to have multiple Gmail accounts to separate personal and work emails. Gmail even comes with an incredibly useful feature that gives you a unified inbox for managing multiple email accounts, called Multiple Inboxes.
- To turn on Multiple Inboxes, go to the Advanced tab under Settings.
- Click on Enable right next to Multiple Inboxes.
- Click Save Changes and wait for Gmail to reload.
- Go to the Multiple Inboxes tab under Settings to customize the Multiple Inboxes feature to show email sent to your other address.
3. Archive Emails You No Longer Need
All Gmail users enjoy 15 GB of free storage space. With so much space for emails and attachments, it doesn’t really make sense to delete each and every email just to keep your inbox clean. Instead, you should use the Archive feature, which basically hides emails from your inbox without deleting them. You can still view all archived email by clicking on the All Mail label located in the menu on the left. To archive an email message in Gmail:
- Open Gmail.
- Click on an email message.
- Click the Archive button in the toolbar under the search bar.
To unarchive an email message in Gmail:
- Click on the All Mail label.
- Select the email message you want to unarchive.
- Click the Move to Inbox button.
4. Make Unread Emails More Visible
Many people who receive multiple emails every day wonder how to organize Gmail inbox to make unread emails more visible. Nobody wants to receive an angry email from a boss, coworker, or client because of a missed email message that’s been buried 10 feet deep under a pile of newer emails. Fortunately, Gmail allows you to put unread emails on top, and all you have to do is change a single setting:
- Open Gmail.
- Go to Settings.
- Click on the Inbox tab.
- Change Inbox type from Default to Unread first.
You can also change it to Important first, Starred first, or Priority first.
5. Learn Gmail’s Keyboard Shortcuts
You can save a lot of time by navigating Gmail using keyboard shortcuts. Yes, it will take some time to memorize them, but you’ll thank yourself for making the effort once you discover just how easier it is to organize Gmail with keyboard shortcuts. Just keep in mind that keyboard shortcuts work differently on PC and Mac computers. On PCs, you'll use Ctrl instead of ⌘. Here’s a short list of some of the most popular keyboard shortcuts:
- Previous message in an open conversation: p
- Next message in an open conversation: n
- Send: ⌘/Ctrl + Enter
- Bold: ⌘/Ctrl + b
- Italics: ⌘/Ctrl + i
- Underline: ⌘/Ctrl + u
- Archive: e
- Mute conversation: m
- Report as spam: !
- Delete: #
- Reply: r
6. Use Dots in Your Gmail Address
You might have noticed that a misplaced dot in a Gmail email address doesn't cause the message to return to the sender undelivered. The reason why this happens is simple: dots don't matter in Gmail addresses.
From the point of view of Gmail, the following three email addresses are identical:
You can use this Gmail quirk to your advantage by giving different email addresses to different people. For example, you can use the cleanest version of your email address for work, a version with a dot between your first name and your last name for communicating with friends
Even though Gmail ignores dots in email addresses, it's aware of their presence, so you can create filters to automatically separate different versions of your email address when they arrive and assign them colorful labels.
To filter a specific version of your email address:
- Click the small triangle inside the Gmail search bar.
- Enter the email address in the To field.
- Click the Create filter button.
- Choose what to do when a message that matches your filter arrives.
- Click the Create filter button again.
Note: You cannot place dots in the domain name, which is the part of your email address that comes after the @ symbol.
7. Create Email Aliases in Gmail Using the Plus Sign
You can also create additional versions of your email address by appending the plus sign and any combination of words or numbers after your Gmail username. For example, you can modify the email address firstname.lastname@example.org in the following three ways:
There are two major advantages to using email aliases in Gmail. First, you can easily filter email messages from different senders. Second, you can instantly tell who leaked your email address when you suddenly start receiving a lot of spam.
All you need to do is create a unique email alias each time you sign up for an online service. We recommend you make your email aliases as self-explanatory as possible so that you immediately know which email alias is used for what purpose.
It's also a good idea to set up a filter to automatically label email addresses to your email aliases when they arrive in your inbox. Read the first tip in this article to learn how to create Gmail labels and automatically assign them to email messages.
8. Pick the Right Inbox Type for You
Gmail lets you customize your inbox in a number of different ways. Click the cog button in the upper-right corner and select the Display density option. You can now switch between three different views:
- Default: The default view displays the names and file types of attachments under subjects. It lets you open attachments directly from your inbox.
- Comfortable: This view indicates the presence of an attachments with a small paperclip icon, but you can't click on the icon to open the attachment it indicates.
- Compact: Use this few if you want to see more email messages at the same time.
With your preferred view selected, click the OK button to save your choice. Next, click the cog button again and select the Configure inbox option to choose which message categories you want to show in your inbox as tabs. By default, Gmail shows a tab for person-to-person conversations and messages that don't appear in other tabs, a tab for messages from social networks, and a tab for promotional emails.
Finally, click the cog button one last time and select the Settings option. Go to Inbox and decide which inbox type you want to use. You have six options:
- Default: This is the layout you see when you create a brand-new Gmail account.
- Important first: Using its own prediction algorithms, Gmail will decide which emails you're likely consider to be important and place them at the top of your inbox.
- Unread first: All unread messages will be displayed before read messages.
- Starred first: All starred messages will be displayed before all other messages.
- Priority inbox: By analyzing your email usage habits, Gmail will learn which emails you open and respond to the most and place them at the top of your inbox.
- Multiple inboxes: Let's you add up to 5 custom sections that you can view alongside your inbox.
9. Use Hashtags Inside Your Emails
We've already explained how to organize Gmail using labels, but you can go a step further and use hashtags inside your emails to enable granular email filtering. All you need to do is include as many hashtags as you want in the body of your email message. Their placement doesn't matter, but we recommend you put them at the very end so they are not too distracting.
For example, you could include the following hashtags when emailing your client important project details: #follow-up, #project-details, #name-of-the-project. Gmail's powerful search functionality can quickly scan your entire inbox and track down all emails with the hashtag you're searching for.
10. Explore Gmail Add-Ons and Extensions
Gmail has many useful email organization features, but there's still a lot that it can't do, and that's where Gmail add-ons and extensions come in. By installing the right Gmail add-ons and extensions, you can make Gmail even more powerful than it already is and organize your Gmail inbox in ways you never thought were possible before.
Here are three Gmail add-ons and extensions all users should know about:
- Inbox Pause: This simple Gmail add-on allows you to pause your Gmail inbox until you're ready to receive more emails. It's perfect for those who often feel overwhelmed by the number of email messages they receive and would like to check email only a few times a day to boost productivity.
- Checker Plus for Gmail: This Chrome extension lets you get instant notifications for multiple Gmail inboxes directly in your web browser. You can read or delete emails without opening Gmail, and the extension even has a built-in text-to-speech engine so you can listen to your emails and continue working on your task.
- Auto Text Expande: Tired of typing the same phrases over and over again? Auto Text Expander can save you keystrokes by replacing shortcuts with phrases or entire sentences.
Bonus: Automate Your Gmail Management with Clean Email
As useful as Gmail’s email management features are, they pale in comparison with Clean Email, a popular bulk email cleaner that automatically organizes all of your emails into easy-to-review bundles, called Smart Views.
If you’ve ever wondered how to organize Gmail by sender so you could apply actions to multiple emails from the same person, you’ve just found the answer. With a single click, Clean Email organizes your Gmail inbox using rules and filters to simplify email management, allowing you to remove, archive, move, or label groups of emails instead of selecting them one by one.
Any action you apply with Clean Email can be applied automatically in the future to new email messages just by ticking a single box that adds it to the Auto Clean process. And just as easily, it’s possible to block unwanted senders or unsubscribe from unwanted emails thanks to the Unsubscriber feature.
It doesn’t take much effort to learn how to organize Gmail inbox like a pro, and the amount of time you can save just by taking advantage of some of Gmail’s many email management features and bulk email organizers like Clean Email is significant.