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Gmail Productivity Tips: Shortcuts and Search

The popular Gmail is one of the best email clients. You can use the ubiquitous @gmail extension or set it up to work with your own unique domain, like name@yourdomain.com. And it’s free!

Google engineers are forever tinkering with the product, providing us with new tools and shortcuts to improve functionality for an optimized user experience. Here are a few:

Keyboard shortcuts

The user interface in Gmail is pretty streamlined and intuitive, but you can speed up the process with keyboard shortcuts. First, enable “Keyboard Shortcuts” in your Gmail settings.

Here are a core few that are very useful:

/ – Search across all emails
c – Compose a new email
p – Previous message
n – Next message
r – Reply to current email
# – Move message to trash
f – Forward the email you’re viewing
j – go to the next email
k – go to the previous email

For a full list of shortcuts, go to your Gmail settings and click on “Keyboard Shortcuts”. There are over 50 shortcuts! Trying to learn them all is counter productive. Instead. choose a core five to ten that cover the functions that you use frequently. Note that you can substitute the default shortcut keys with your own.

Search

The robust search functionality is another feature that sets Gmail apart. It has gotten me rather lazy about deleting or assigning labels (folders) to emails. However, if you’re searching for a popular term across thousands of archived emails, it can be a less than productive experience. Here are a few advanced search features to help you hone in on relevant search results:

from:kelly – search emails where “kelly” is the sender.
subject:”cloud computing” – search emails with the subject heading containing the words “cloud computing”

You can combine the two functions to further narrow your search:

from:kelly subject:”cloud computing”

And if you have a pretty good idea of what you’re looking for and wish to narrow the search even further, add a date restriction:

after:2011/01/12

Or, if you’re looking for a document, add:

has:attachment.

These are just a few Gmail tools and shortcuts for a more streamlined and productive email experience. If you have others, please share in the comments below.

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