Over the years, Google has invested in various high-profile failures and technological dead-ends, from the unwieldy Google+ social media platform to the irrelevant Catalog Search facility. However, when Google does get things right, they tend to lead the way for other brands. The Google-developed Android operating system dominates the smartphone market, Chromebooks have reinvigorated laptops, and Gmail is a leading email package.
By offering 1GB of storage at a time when the average email inbox only required 4MB, Gmail was a future-proofed package underpinned by Google’s powerful global servers. Today, 27 per cent of all emails are opened in Gmail inboxes, and 61 per cent of 18-29-year-olds have a gmail.com or googlemail.com address. Following widespread adoption and abuse by spammers in the late Noughties, Gmail’s spam filter has also become exceptionally effective.
Tricks of the trade
Gmail can be run through a standard email package like Thunderbird or Outlook, bringing the various technical functionalities of these packages to bear. However, there are also numerous Gmail tricks incorporated into this world-leading email package. These are some of the functions and services you might not be aware of:
1. Recall sent messages.
Ever clicked ‘send’ and felt a pang of regret? Gmail allows you to cancel the dispatch of a sent item within 30 seconds. Undo Send is activated once a time limit has been established in the Settings > General > Undo Settings menu.
2. Save messages locally.
Cloud hosting is all well and good, but some users prefer the permanence of PST folders. It’s possible to export Gmail messages as a PST (or various other file formats) using packages like SysTools Gmail Backup.
3. Schedule emails to send later.
Gmail tricks like this can benefit business users, enabling messages to be sent overnight or at designated times during a holiday or period of absence. However, it does require a freemium plugin known as Boomerang.
4. Prevent unauthorised message use.
On June 25th, Google introduced Confidential Mode. This enables message senders to ensure unauthorised recipients can’t copy, print or forward emails. Messages may even be set to expire at a specific future date.
5. Add associations.
It’s possible to place coloured stars and boxes beside certain messages, differentiating their subjects. This allows small businesses to identify topics and themes – blue squares for new order emails, red stars for complaints, etc.
6. Prepare canned responses.
The Canned Responses feature is one of the most useful Gmail tricks on offer. It enables users to save any sent message and reuse it as a template. That’s ideal for scenarios where the same response is required on multiple occasions.
7. Create a unified inbox.
Email programs like Outlook often support multiple inboxes, but the Gmail web browser also does this. It creates a single inbox, with the option of which account to send outgoing mail from. It’s easy to add a non-Gmail account.
8. Silence group discussions.
If you’re caught in a lengthy email chain, it’s possible to Mute further notifications. Messages will be transported to archives rather than inboxes, so they’re still stored. You can instantly unmute new messages at any point.
9. Abolish categories.
The default five-tab inbox is handy if you receive equivalent amounts of social, promotional, forum, update, and direct messages. Otherwise can be a pain. Disable irrelevant folders in the Settings > Inbox > Categories menu.
10. Send large attachments.
Webmail services set attachment file size limits, and Gmail’s 25MB limit is generous but occasionally restrictive. Larger files may be ‘attached’ from the cloud by clicking the Google Drive icon beside the paperclip symbol.