[HOW TO] Become a Gmail Jedi: Tips and tricks for managing your mail

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I don’t know about you, but I have five Gmail accounts. There’s something about a Google mailbox that just works – from the endless storage space to the fact that you can track deliveries or unsubscribe from annoying mailers without having to read through a whole email, there’s always something new happening in Gmail.

Search smart

You probably already know about the myriad of shortcuts you can type into the Google search bar. From mathematical equations to translating common phrases, tracking flights, and being depressed by the exchange rate, Google does it all… and so does Gmail.


Gmail has many search operators built into its mailbox that will help you find what you’re looking for without setting up a more complicated search.

For example, if you type “size:1000000”, all the messages bigger than 1MB in your inbox will show up. “size:25000000” will display messages (mostly with attachments) greater than 25MB and so on.

Size isn’t the only search operator that works when searching for anything in your inbox. Other helpful words to plug into that search bar include “from” (when you’re looking for a message from a specific person) – “to” and “subject”.

For the whole list of all Gmail’s search operators, click here.

Keyboard tricks

Who needs a mouse anyway? Before you can use Gmail’s handy keyboard shortcuts, they need to be enabled in your settings. To do this, click the gear icon in the top right and select Settings, then the tab marked Labs. Then find the “Keyboard shortcuts” section and select Keyboard shortcuts on. Next, click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.


Here are five of our favourite keyboard shortcuts to use in Gmail:

  1. Press Shift + C to compose a new message in a new window
  2. When viewing an email, hit to reply, A to reply all, or F to forward
  3. When you’re in an email, simply press to archive. If there’s already a label applied, the email will archive into that folder
  4. To move a message to the trash, type #
  5. When you’re in an email thread, type and P to move among newer and older conversations. Hit O or Enter to expand a conversation

For a printable list of all Gmail’s keyboard shortcuts, click here.

Email regret

Having second thoughts on an angry mail you just sent? Did you copy instead of blind copy someone into a message? For anyone who has experienced accidental email regret, its time to enable Gmail’s Undo Send feature. Head to Settings and under the Labs tab, enable Undo Send.



So if you’ve accidentally hit send, you can now click Cancel immediately, Undo when it appears or press Z (if you have keyboard shortcuts enabled.) But be quick, you only have 10 seconds to take back that mail…

Label it

The one thing missing from Gmail is traditional email folders.

Labels, however, are a useful tool for keeping your messages organised. They actually work better than folders in many ways, primarily because you’re not limited to one folder per message – a single email can be labeled with as many things as you’d like.

(But keep in mind that Gmail only supports a maximum of 5 000 labels, including sub-labels and IMAP keywords.)


What’s more is that only you can see your labels, so whether you mark a message with “Missed deadline” or “Don’t reply” the sender will never know. You can also edit which labels appear under your inbox, as well as the name of each to customise your Gmail to your liking.


Tiana Cline

Tiana Cline

Tiana Cline is a business tech magazine and website editor with a penchant for cats, cooking and violent video games.