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20 Aug 2020

Gmail tips and tricks: six simple ways to conquer your inbox in 2020

We've rounded up some handy Gmail features that you might not know about

Google's Gmail is one of the most-used email clients around and, 16 years on from its launch, it's still being treated to regular updates that aim to improve the user experience.

If you use Gmail almost every day and want to manage your inbox better, take a look at our top tips. We've got advice on how to organise your most important messages and explain how you can recall emails you didn't mean to send.

With a better understanding of what the latest version of Gmail has to offer, you can automate dull tasks and cut down on your screen time. Read on for the details.

Which? Tech Support - our experts will help you tame your tech

Six Gmail features you need to try

1. Schedule an email

Gmail rolled out its scheduling feature last year, which means you can write an email and have it sent out automatically later on. This comes in handy if you're going to be on holiday and need to remind somebody of a task, or you have a friend's birthday coming up that you don't want to forget.

To use Gmail's scheduling feature on a PC:

  1. ClickComposeto open up a blank email window
  2. Clickthewhite arrow next to theSend button, thenSchedule send
  3. Select one of the default options, or click Select time and date

The process is exactly the same if you are using the Gmail mobile app on your smartphone or tablet, except that the Schedule send option is accessed by clicking the three dots icon that you will find next to the Send button.

2. 'Undo' sending a message

Sending an email to the wrong person can land you in an uncomfortable position. To help prevent any accidents, Gmail has an option that lets you delay your outgoing messages, giving you time to cancel the send.

The default cancellation period is just five seconds - but you can extend this in just a couple of clicks. When you cancel the email, it will reopen your first draft so you can make any adjustments or delete it altogether.

To set up Gmail's undo feature on a PC:

  1. Click thecog icon, thenSee all settings
  2. UnderUndo send, select your cancellation period using the dropdown menu
  3. Now, when you clickSend on an email, you'll be able to clickUndo for a short period

3. Organise your emails using labels

The labels tool built into Gmail will be a real help if you're managing lots of different work projects over email. By assigning emails related to a specific topic with a matching label, you can quickly identify those messages in a crowded inbox.

To create a new email label in Gmail on PC:

  1. Right-click an email in your inbox
  2. Scroll down toLabel asand selectCreate new
  3. Name your label and then click Create

Once you've made a label, a link to all the emails tagged with that label is created. You can find that link on the left side of your Gmail inbox. If you hover over the link and click the three dots, you can assign the label a new colour. From the same menu, you can also delete the label or quickly create another one.

4. Get to grips with Gmail shortcuts

Gmail lets you use a selection of familiar keyboard shortcuts. For example, Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V let you copy and paste, while Ctrl + B, Ctrl + I or Ctrl + U will make text bold, italic or underlined.

There are some other unique shortcuts built into the Gmail app on PC. Ctrl + Enter will send a message, for instance, and you can use 'jumping' shortcuts by pressing the G key followed by another letter. Pressing G then I will take you to your inbox, for example.

To see a full list of Gmail's shortcuts, click in empty space in your inbox and then hold down Shift + ?.

5. Add a second email inbox to Gmail

If you have two separate Gmail accounts (one for work and one for personal emails), you should know that there's a way to have messages for both appear in the same window. This will save you from having to log out and log in every time you need to swap between them.

To add another Gmail account to your current inbox on PC:

  1. Click your profile picture in the top-right corner of your screen
  2. SelectAdd another account
  3. Enter the email address for your second account and follow the on-screen instructions

Now that you've entered your details for that second account, you can swap back and forth whenever you need to. Just click your profile picture in the top-right corner and select the account you want to access.

6. Make sure your inbox is secure

If you suspect somebody else has access to your Gmail account, there's a simple way for you to check. By visiting the security page for your Google account, you can monitor login attempts.

To check the security settings for your Google account on PC:

  1. Click your profile picture in the top-right corner of your screen
  2. SelectManage your Google account
  3. Click Securityfor an overview of your current settings and recommendations

From your account security page, you'll be able to see any security issues that Google has flagged as critical. The same page also lists the devices used to log into your Gmail - if you don't recognise a device on that list, revoke access and change your password right away.

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Additional reporting by Tom Morgan.