4 Amazing Gmail Features You Never Knew Existed

by Ali Parr

It's hardly a secret that we all have an unhealthy, slightly codependent obsession with Google, but what if I told you how to make your relationship even better? No, this isn't an ad for Loveline with Dr. Drew, and you're not being Punk'd; I merely want to use my 6+ years of experience with Gmail to help you help yourself. (I'm extremely altruistic like that.) Start using these 4 underappreciated Gmail features and watch yourself transform from an Andy Dwyer to an Olivia Pope in no time:


Super easy pop quiz: Would you rather have an ugly, basic inbox, or a beautiful, colorfully organized inbox like this:

"Damn, that's a beautiful, colorfully organized inbox, I bet the owner is incredibly in control of her life!" you're thinking. Why yes, she is. Besides being aesthetically pleasing, labels are majorly helpful when you're trying to find a specific email from last May; they prevent you from wasting time digging through thousands of emails or fruitlessly searching key words like "friends" and "pizza." And let's not forget about sub labels: break down the label "Jobs" into "interviews," "references," or "please hire me I'm so broke and want to buy shoes." To enable this magical feature, simply go to "Settings" > "Labels" > "Create new label" and go nuts! You can even hide labels once they're no longer relevant, without deleting the entire label. (Byeeeee, French class 2011!)


Hey, remember that time I told you guys how amazing and life-changing labels were? Seriously, it was 10 seconds ago, you should remember. Well hold on to your hats, because your world is about to be rocked again. Allow me introduce you to my dear friend the Gmail filter:

Step 1: Open the desired email and select "Filter messages like this" from the drop-down menu

Which will bring you to this screen (Step 2):

Step 3: Where you can pick your relevant search terms, and then click on "Create filter with this search," which will lead you to Step 4:

Here you can choose what to automatically do with each incoming email: star it, forward it, apply a label (yay labels!), or even delete it. (Note to my editor: I do not have your emails set on automatic delete. Please do not fire me.)


You wouldn't buy just one donut, would you? So why should you treat your inbox any differently? Give it some friends to hang out with! (Yeah I just compared donuts to friends, what of it?) Enabling the "Multiple Inboxes" lab is like throwing a slumber party for your Gmail account and inviting all of the popular girls in its class, and okay, I think my analogy is falling apart now. ANYWAY. Look at this and tell me it doesn't seem cozy as hell:

Easy on the eyes, huh? Once you've enabled this feature you can customize it to your liking by playing with the layout and filtering (yay filters!) what you want to see. AIN'T LIFE GRAND?!


As the great prophet Beyoncé once astutely asked, "Who run the world?" But running the world can be seriously time-consuming, so we have to take shortcuts where we can. If you receive dozens of emails a day from your employees, family, admirers, etc., it can be hard to respond to every single one. Enter: Canned responses! Enable this lab and blissfully spend your newfound freedom napping or catching up on AHS. Sounds great, right? Let's walk through this:

Write up the reply you'd like to save for future use, highlight it, and go to the "Canned responses" option on the drop-down menu.

From there, you can name and save this response – Easy as donuts! To use it again, simply click "Insert" and you're good to go. But I've saved the best for last: remember those filters I was so enthusiastic about? Well, turns out you can set said filters to automatically send out canned responses. Yeah. YEAH. Not only do you not have to bother your fingers with that exhausting "typing" business, you don't even have to stress your eyeballs out by doing that "reading" thing.

Take it from a former disorganized mess, life is better on the other side.

Images: Lea Latumahina/Flickr, Ali Parr(7)