Gmail

Gmail has been my choice for quite a few years. Improvements in the first half of 2018 followed by others this year have made a great tool even better. But, many Gmail users are unaware of the new Gmail features. In this post, we look at 10 of them.

Smart compose. Gmail will help compose your text. As you write, notice the light gray text. Gmail is trying to predict how you will finish the sentence. If you like what you see, hit the Tab key. If you don’t, continue to write. On your phone, when you see the suggested text, swipe your finger over it to accept.

You may have to turn on this feature. In Gmail, go to Settings and to the “General” tab. Enable “Smart Compose” and “Smart Compose personalization.” While you’re there, you may wish to enable “Experimental Access,” “Nudges,” and “Smart Reply.”

Gmail settings
Enabling Smart Compose and other options

Smart reply. At times, an email only requires a couple of words for the reply. At the bottom of the email, Gmail suggests a reply based on the text of the email. This feature is especially handy for quick email replies on your phone.

Smart subject lines. People tend to be terrible when it comes to email subject lines. I always write the body of my email messages first. Then, I look at what I wrote and compose a subject line that sums up the gist of the email. It’s what I have recommended to others for years.

Now, Gmail automates the process. Write the body of the email. Then click in the subject line. Gmail may suggest one. My experience has been its suggestions are surprisingly accurate. If you like the suggestion, hit the Tab key. If you don’t, key in your own subject.

Snooze. Many people will love this one. Sometimes, you want an email to go away and return on a certain day. At the top of the email, just under the search bar, look for an icon that resembles a clock. Click it and choose a day and time for the email to return.

Gmail snooze
Snooze a message

Nudge. Do you sometimes neglect to respond to an email because it gets lost in the clutter? If you’ve read much of my work, you already know how to avoid that problem by getting email empty every day. But that’s another story for another day.

As a safety net, Gmail looks for emails in your inbox that look like they need a reply but have been sitting for a while. It puts them at the top of the inbox with a message suggesting you need to reply.

“Nudge” has another function. How do you keep up with whether other people have replied to your emails? Gmail looks for sent items that look like they should receive a reply but haven’t. Gmail returns them at the top of your inbox, tells you how long ago you sent them, and ask if you want to follow up.

Send later. This is my favorite of the new Gmail features. It’s one of the spring 2019 upgrades. A major complaint of employees is the boss or co-workers sending emails on holidays or during evening time with the family. The implication is that an immediate response is expected The sender may be merely sending the email before he/she forgets about it and has no expectation of hearing back during non-work hours.

“Send later” to the rescue! The “Send” button now has a drop-down arrow. Click it and choose “Schedule send.” Choose a date and time. Now, you can compose the email when it’s convenient for you. Have it delivered at the perfect time for it to be read and acted upon.

Gmail sendlater
Schedule a message to send later

Right-click menu. The right-click menu has traditionally been one for options that are logical based on what you’re doing at that time. Gmail’s right-click menu just got a big boost. While viewing the list of email in the inbox, right click on one of them.

Without even opening the email, Gmail provides quite a few helpful abilities. You can forward, reply, snooze, move to a folder, apply a label, or mute the conversation. The menu also allows you to search for other emails from that sender.

Gmail right click
The new right-click menu

Display Google Calendar. How many times do you find yourself working on an email and needing to refer to your calendar? With one click, you can open your Google Calendar in the right-hand pane of your email. Look for a small arrow in the lower right-corner of the email pane. Clicking it opens a sidebar.

Gmail Google Calendar
Show right side panel

You’ll see an icon for Google Calendar as well as Google Keep and Google Tasks. When you click on the calendar icon, the Google Calendar opens to the current day. You can only see one day at a time, but the sidebar allows for scrolling to different days. You can even add or change events from that sidebar.

Gmail Google Calendar
Display Google Calendar

Add to Evernote. If you’re an Evernote user, you likely often receive emails you want to save as reference information. Evernote is the perfect place to store them. Evernote Premium users can forward emails to Evernote with a special email address. But what about those using the free account?

This new integration allows anyone to save emails into Evernote. Go here to get the “Evernote for Gmail” add-on. This article from Evernote gives all of the details for setup and use on the Web, Android, or iOS. This short video that shows this feature in action. The video shows all of the capabilities, including specifying a title for the note, assigning a notebook, tags, and comments. If you wish, you can simply click the “Save” button and add the details in Evernote later.

Confidentiality Mode. Do you remember “Mission Impossible”? A message would self-destruct after so many seconds. This feature does the same thing…only without the smoke.

When you send an email in Confidentiality Mode, the recipient cannot forward, copy, paste, print, or download the email or attachments. The message expires after a selected time and cannot even be viewed. The option to send in Confidentiality Mode appears at the bottom of the email and to the right of the Send button. The icon resembles a padlock.

Gmail Confidentiality Mode
Using Confidentiality Mode

One word of caution…There’s nothing to stop someone from taking a screenshot of the email. So, don’t get too confident. But most of your town gossips aren’t tech savvy enough to figure that one out. The inability to forward, print, or indefinitely save a juicy email will frustrate the life out of them.

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Now that you’ve read about these 10 features, here’s my question for youWhich of the new Gmail features will help your productivity the most? Leave a comment.