Gmail is an excellent email program, and you can customize it to make it work more efficiently and effectively for you.
Let’s begin by looking at some of the features of Gmail
With Gmail, to change the spacing between emails, click on the gear icon in the upper right corner, and then click “Display density.” Then “Choose a view” by clicking on one of the three choices. The “Default” spacing between emails provides the most spacing. The “Comfortable” spacing provides a little less space between emails. And the “Compact” spacing provides the least spacing between emails. The less spacing between emails, the more emails shown on a page.
If you want your Inbox to list the emails by categories, then click on the gear icon, and click “Configure inbox.” All of your incoming emails will be in one category when “Primary” is the only tab that is enabled. When you click on the other tabs to enable them, then all of your emails will still show under “Primary,” but you can also see your emails broken down into the following categories: Social, Promotions, Updates, and Forums. When you move your cursor over a tab, you will see a description for that tab. Then you can decide whether you want to enable that tab, which you do by clicking on the square to the left of the tab name.
To edit Gmail settings, click on the gear icon, and click on “Settings.” The first tab in Settings is the “General” tab, in the upper left corner. This is where you set your language, country, maximum number of emails per page, and the “Undo Send” setting. For “Undo Send,” you can change this setting to give you 5, 10, 20, or 30 seconds of time to stop the sending of an email that you just sent. So if you have second thoughts about sending the email that you just sent, you can stop it within the time frame you set here.
Also under the “General” tab, you set whether your email reply goes to the one person who sent you the email or to all of the people included on the email. You click “Reply” for your reply to only go to the person who emailed you. You click “Reply All” to reply to all of the people included on the email. What you set here is the default setting, but when you reply to an email, you can always change “Reply” to “Reply All,” or “Reply All” to “Reply.” This will not change the default, but it will change how that specific email is sent.
The next important setting under the “General” tab is “Default text style.” This is where you set the font type, the font size, and the color of your text. When you modify these settings, you will see a sample of what the modified text will look like, before you save the change. If you are not happy with the look, just keep modifying the text until it is just right. Further down the page is “Desktop notifications.” This is where you indicate whether you want to have a notification pop up on your computer when you receive a new email, or you can indicate that you don’t want any notifications.
The next setting is “Stars.” You can use stars to categorize by importance the emails that you received and sent. You can pick multiple colored stars to indicate different levels of importance. Once you have marked an email with a star, you can find that email and other emails that you marked with a star, by scrolling down the left side of Gmail until you see “More.” Click on “More,” and then you will see “Starred.” When you click on “Starred,” all of your starred emails will be shown. Another way to view all the starred emails is to click on the drop-down arrow that is above the emails, on the left side, to the left of “Refresh.” Then when you click on “Starred,” all of the starred emails will be highlighted in blue. To no longer highlight the starred emails, just click on the drop-down arrow, and click “None.”
To star an email in your Inbox, click on the star icon to the left of the sender’s name. If you decided to use more than one star color, then to get to the color you want to star this email, just keep clicking on the star until that color appears. To add a star to an email in your “Sent” folder, or in “Trash,” or in any other folder, open the email, and click “More,” which is listed above the email. Then click “Add star.” To un-star an email, just click on the star until it no longer has a color.
The next important setting is “Signature.” By default, there is No signature. To create a signature for one of your email addresses, just pick that email address from the drop-down list below “No signature.” Then type in the signature you want. If you add your website URL (www._____), you can link it to your website by highlighting the URL, and then clicking on the link icon, which is a circle with a line in the middle. You can also add a photo or logo by clicking on the two mountains icon; then click “Upload.” Now click “Select a file from your device;” then click on the image you want to add. Finally, click on the image that was uploaded, and you will have the option to make the image Small, Medium, or Large, or to Remove it. You can then drag the image to a place where you want it displayed.
The next important setting is “Personal level indicators.” By default there are No indicators. If you click on “Show indicators,” then Gmail displays arrows next to messages in your inbox so you can tell if a message was addressed to you, a group, or a mailing list. A single arrow (>) appears next to a message when it is sent to you and other people. Double arrows (>>) indicate that a message is addressed only to you. Arrows won’t appear next to messages sent to a mailing list.
“Vacation responder” is the next important setting. By default, the vacation responder is off. You can turn it on by clicking on “Vacation responder on.” Then fill in the “First day” and “Last day” of your vacation and the “Subject.” Now type a message in the rectangular box. Then during your vacation, when anyone emails you, that person will get an automatic reply, and they will see the message that you typed into the rectangular box.
When you have finished making changes in the “General” tab, click “Save Changes” to save all of the changes you just made in the “General” section in Settings.
Now click on the “Labels” tab in the upper left corner, to the right of the “General” tab. The first grouping is “System labels.” This is where you show or hide the labels that are folders for storing emails on the left hand side of Gmail. The labels are “Inbox, Starred, Snoozed, Important, Chats, Sent, Scheduled, Drafts, All Mail, Spam, and Trash.” You certainly want to show “Inbox, Sent, Drafts, Spam, and Trash,” as these are the folders that you are going to go into on a regular basis. If you star an email, then you will want to show the “Starred” label. You may want to show the “Important” label, and use it as a folder to keep emails that are important. The “All Mail” folder shows all of your emails in one place.
The next group under the “Labels” tab is “Categories,” and this is where you show or hide “Categories.” The “Categories” are “Social, Updates, Forums, and Promotions.” If you want to show any of these categories, you need to click “show” to the right of the word “Categories.” Then you can decide whether you want to show any or all of these categories. If you decide to show a category, Gmail will automatically put all emails in that category that it thinks belong there. If you want to try this out to see what happens, then show the categories. Then click on each category on the left side of Gmail to see which emails Gmail put into each category. All of these emails are still in your other folders, such as “Inbox,” “Sent,” etc., and they are also shown here.
The last group under the “Labels” tab is “Labels.” This is where you create additional labels. I created labels for organizations that I volunteer with, clients that I email a lot, and a folder for emails that I want to save for the long term. So for example, when I get an email from a client that I created a folder for, once I have finished with reviewing and responding to that email, I drag it to that client’s folder. Then I can find it easily if I need to. To make a new label, click on “Create a new label” box, and type in the name of the label. You will also see here that you can nest the label under a different label if you want to.
The next tab in “Settings” in the upper left corner to the right of “Labels,” is the “Inbox” tab. Listed first is “inbox type.” This is where you set the order of your inbox emails. “Default” puts your emails in order by arrival date and time. Your other options are to order your inbox emails by “Important first, Unread first, Starred first, or Priority inbox.” If you pick “Important first,” your inbox emails will be ordered based on which emails are the most important, and Gmail will decide which emails it thinks are important. If you pick “Unread first,” the emails that have not been read will be shown first in your inbox. If you pick “Starred first,” the emails that you starred are listed first in your inbox. If you pick “Priority inbox,” Gmail will list first in your inbox, emails from individuals or organizations that you interact with the most.
Below this is “Categories.” By default, “Primary” is checked. If you check other categories, then Gmail will create tabs for those categories in your inbox, and it will sort your emails into those categories, which are “Social, Promotions, Updates, and Forums.”
Below this is “Importance markers.” If you are going to allow Gmail to determine which emails are important, then you have the option of having Gmail put a colored marker in front of those emails it deems as important. You do that here by clicking on “Show markers.”
When you have finished making changes in the “Inbox” tab, click “Save Changes” to save all of the changes you just made in the “Inbox” section in Settings.
Accounts and Import Settings
The next tab is “Accounts and Import.” This is where you can change your password, import email and contacts, and do other important things. Under “Send mail as:” you can add other email addresses to send your email from. Then you decide which email address is your default email address to send from, but when it comes time to send an email, you can always change which email address the email is going to come from. So for example, I have my business email address as my default email address to send from, but when I send an email to friends, I just change the email address that I am sending from to my personal email address.
This is also where you can indicate to Gmail that it should check additional email addresses for email. I use Gmail for personal emails, and I use a different email program for my business emails. But I have Gmail check my business emails, and add them to my inbox, so that I can see all emails in one place.
Filters and Blocked Addresses Settings
The next tab is “Filters and Blocked Addresses.” This is where you can see all of the email addresses where you set up filters. You can edit or delete the filters you set up here. To search for a particular email address, click “ctrl f”, and then type in the full email address or just some of the letters in the email address, to search for all filters that are set up with those letters in the email address.
So what are filters? You set up filters to indicate to Gmail what it should do with emails that you receive. Every time that I receive spam email in my Inbox or in Spam, I create a filter to indicate to Gmail that this email should automatically be sent to Trash. I will explain how to set up filters later when I review the options you have once you have opened an email.
The next tab is the “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” tab. This is where you can set up the forwarding of your email to another email address. When you have finished making changes in the “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” tab, click “Save Changes” to save all of the changes you just made in the “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” section in Settings.
The next tab is “Add-ons.” This is where you can add applications that extend the functionality of Gmail. The final tab is “Chat.” If you turn Chat on, then you can chat from Gmail.
Now that you have finished making changes in “Settings,” let’s look at “Themes.” After you click on the gear icon in the upper right corner, click on “Themes.” This is where you set the background photo for Gmail. Scroll through the photos and background images here. If you want to see additional images, click on the “More Images” photo. Then click on whichever photo or background image you want to be the background for Gmail. Or if you prefer, you can click on “My photos” in the lower left corner, and pick a photo from here.
At the bottom of the screen, you will also see an “A”. This is where you can change the background behind the emails from Light to Dark. To make the corners of your background image darker, click on the circle in the square icon, and slide the circle to the right. To blur your background image, click on the dotted image icon, and slide the circle to the right.
The next areas of interest are the tabs that show after you open an email. You will see above an opened email the following tabs: Back, Archive, Spam, Delete, Mark as unread, Snooze, Move to, Labels, and More.
When you click on the “Back” tab, the email that is open will now close, and you will see all of the emails in your Inbox. When you click on the “Archive” tab, the email will disappear from your Inbox, but it will still be shown in the “All Mail” folder on the left of your screen.
When you click on “Spam,” the email will move to your “Spam” folder. When you click on “Delete,” the email will move to your “Trash” folder, where they will remain for 30 days. After 30 days they will be automatically erased by Gmail. When you click on “Mark as unread,” the email will now show in your Inbox with a light background as if it has been unread.
When you click on “Snooze,” you can indicate the day and time you want the email to reappear, and the email will disappear until that time. When you click on “Move to,” a box will open up where you can indicate which folder you want the email moved to. Once you click on the folder, the email will be moved to that folder.
When you click on “Labels,” you can pick whichever folder you want the email assigned to. The email will now appear in that folder as well as the Inbox. When you delete the email in the Inbox, it will remain in the other folder you assigned it to.
When you click on “More,” there are a few things you can do. You can mark the email as unread, important, or starred. You can add it to tasks or create an event. If you mute the email, it will only show in “All Mail,” and any future emails in response to that email will only show in “All Mail.”
For me, the most important thing you can do in “More” is to create a filter. I create a filter whenever I receive an email that is spam. To create a filter for spam, click on “Filter messages like these.” Then click on “Create filter,” “Delete it,” and “Create filter.” As a result of this, when you receive an email from this email address, the email will not show in your Inbox, but will automatically go into the Trash folder.
When you right click on an email that is in one of your folders, you have the same options no matter which folder the email is in (Inbox, Sent, Drafts, All Mail, Spam, or Trash). The options are: Reply, Reply All, Forward, Archive, Delete, Mark as unread, Snooze, Move to, Label as, Mute, Find emails from this sender, Find emails with this subject, and Open in new window.