10 Ways to Use Gmail Like a Pro

How to use Gmail- 10 Secrets that will change your life!

How to Use Gmail and Make it Work For You

For years email and I were at war.

I avoided it, blamed it for productivity hassles and wished it would disappear like other relics from the past.

I was so wrong. Email wasn’t the problem, I just didn’t use it correctly.

Like any tool, it’s all in how it is used. I had to learn how to use it like a pro to appreciate what a great resource I had at my fingertips.

Today I’ll teach you how to set up your priority subscriptions, how to automate record keeping, find a lost phone, reach inbox zero and more.

Ready to make Gmail work FOR you instead of the other way around? Awesome. Let’s dig in!

1. Program Email to Send at a Later Time

Automate your email with Boomerang for Gmail 

Boomerang  is amazing. You can Schedule your email  in advance so your colleagues don’t realize you are a workaholic and draft email at 2am. (What? I’m not judging. I know how it is!)

You can also program specific email to show back up in your inbox at a certain time/date if the respondent hasn’t replied. This is perfect for those of you who live by inbox zero and can’t handle having email clutter.

How to program your Gmail to send an email at a certain time. (Tweet it!)


2. Save all your Gmail Attachments to a Dropbox Folder

Save all gmail attachments to dropbox

Are you familiar with IFTTT? If you are, you know the magic it holds. If not, SIT DOWN. Seriously, your world is about to turn upside down.

IFTTT (If this, then that) is a website & brilliant iPhone app that allows you to create “recipes” that essentially tie together different apps and social media and all kinds of different things. You can tailor these recipes just for you…for example, if you favorite a tweet, you can have that tweet sent directly to a google doc. Or to your email. Or to Evernote.  Whatever you like.

Or perhaps you’re a big Netflix fan; you can have IFTTT email you when they have a new release. You can have stuff delivered to your kindle, or program it to say, “Happy Birthday” to you every year. The sky’s the limit.

This is such a time saver.  I use IFTTT to have all of my email attachments saved automatically to a Dropbox folder; no more searching the inbox. It’s all in dropbox, ready to rock.


3. Research and Catch Up on your Contact’s Social Network Data inside Gmail

Rapportive- social network information all inside gmail on the sidebar

 Rapportive pulls in up social network information in Gmail’s sidebar. It will show you your email contact’s LinkedIn profile, last five tweets, and their Facebook Page, and all kinds of relevant info about your contact. It will  help you know if the person sending you an email is legit or a scammer.

It’s like that good friend who whispers in your ear while you’re at a party, reminding you that you met Carol at a business meeting last fall and that she tweets about the Yankees a lot. (Note to self- Don’t invite her to any Red Sox games. Awkward.) 

Bonus trick: Something else that Rapportive does is it helps you guess just about about anyone’s email address.


4. One Inbox to Check All Your Email

Do not- I repeat- DO NOT check multiple email accounts. This is a huge waste of time. The most efficient way to manage multiple email accounts is to combine them into one smart master inbox.  You can adjust the settings so the reply email address is automatically the same one that the email was originally sent to.

The best tutorial on how to set up  is here- How To Access All Your Gmail Accounts With One Log In

5. Undo Send

How to use gmail- Undo send

We’ve all sent an email and then noticed we made a horrible mistake. A typo, an incorrect auto population of the ‘To’ field, a dreaded ‘Reply All”…  There are so many way email can go downhill fast. Here’s how to catch your mistakes and turn back time. Gmail has a labs feature that allows users to have a grace period of a few seconds after sending an email to undo send. I’ve used it no less than a gazillion times.

Here’s how to turn it on:

  1. Click the gear icon on the right side of your inbox.
  2. The settings area should pop open.
  3. Choose Labs from the row of tabs that will go across the screen.
  4. Scroll down and enable Undo Send.

Here’s how to Undo Send in Gmail! (Tweet it!)


6. Organize Your Receipts Automatically on a Google Docs Spreadsheet

Organize receipts with an ifttt recipe for Gmail and Google drive

We are back to our friend IFTTT.  This is a great way to keep your receipts organized.  Gmail will automatically search for email with “order” or “Receipt” and add a new row with the first  attachment to a receipts spreadsheet.  You’ll thank me come tax time.


7.  Go From Inbox Overload to Inbox Zero the Easy Way

Take your inbox to zero with a gmail hack

Use the Mailbox iPhone app to take your out-of-control inbox (and email hoarding tendencies) and take it all to zero magically. Before I used Mailbox I had over 60K email floating around in my inbox. (Hey, I’m being honest here. I know, I know…I had a problem. I did admit earlier that I used to be at war with email!) Gmail doesn’t have a mass delete and after a few years of email for multiple companies/projects/etc. I was drowning in email and had thrown my hands up.

Then came Mailbox. I archived all my old email safely out of my inbox so I could start over with a clean slate.

(Sidenote- I spend $20 a year for over 80GBs of space for my email backups and Drive storage space so I never worry that I erased something I may need. So far, I’ve never needed anything from my archives but knowing I have everything just in case I ever do  is worth the 20$ a year.)



8. Send an Email Note to Yourself with a Phone Call

How to do a note from self with ifttt and gmail

IFTTT will email a transcription and an MP3 recording of your note to self.  This is perfect for when brilliance strikes while you are on the go!



9. Use Gmail to call your phone when you can’t find it

Find a lost phone with Gmail

Yes, IFTTT again. If you lose your phone, just email yourself with the #LostPhone hashtag and it will call your phone. How awesome is that?

Lose your iPhone in the couch again? Here’s how to email it and make it ring. (Tweet it!)


10. Control your Inbox with Tabs

Gmail has gone and redone our inboxes again.  Some people love it, some people hate it.

Here’s the thing about why this change is such a hassle for people like me who save our best information for email- it may make it harder for readers to actually find the information they requested!

So far. I like using the tabs. My strategy is to star the emails that are important in my Promotions tab and that redirects all email from that sender to go to my Priority inbox. Because, I’ll be honest, it could take a few days before I ever open the other two tabs. 

Howe to use Gmail- Star it and you'll see it


Another Tip- You can also drag an email that is in the Promotions tab over to your Primary tab. This will help you see email that could get lost in the Promotions tab.

If you don’t like the tabs, here’s your answer: How to Get Rid of Gmail’s New Tabs (And Why You Should)


Speaking of email tricks, here’s why you should make sure all email from me gets a star and goes to your Priority inbox-


Free productivity course Next week I’m starting a free course of my favorite productivity tricks. These are some of my favorite tips and tricks that will not be published.  I normally save great tricks only for my coaching & consulting clients.

As a thank you for being part of the VIPs, I collected 8 weeks of great tips for you as a way to say thank you for all the ways you have shared the articles with friends and how you’ve helped spread the word.

Here’s how the free course will work-

Each week you will receive an email with one of my favorite tech tricks and handy workarounds explained for you.

The 8 week productivity course is free and will be sent automatically to all VIP newsletter subscribers, you just need to make sure that you move all email from me into the Priority tab.

Otherwise, you may miss the free productivity tips that are coming your way.



Your Turn-

If you are already signed up for the VIP newsletter, be sure to go click the star next to an email from me so it will show up in the Priority inbox.

If you need to sign up for the free 8 Week Secret Productivity Tricks course be sure to sign up in the space at the end of this article.


Share with your friends-

Learn how to automate your inbox like a pro. (Tweet this!)

How to achieve inbox zero, program automated record keeping and undo send all with these Gmail tricks. (Tweet it!)


Join in!

Do you use any of these Gmail tricks?

How to do manage your inbox?

What is your favorite IFTTT recipe?


  • Erica Mueller

    I feel like I need to set aside a day to completely revamp my email experience! I’m still in the fighting with my email phase and I don’t like it. I have my own system, and it’s OK, but it sure could use some improvement.

    And why did I not know there were add-ons for gmail?

    Also, IFTTT makes my head spin, but I need to try it again.

  • Brad Patterson @ Kwaga

    Great tips, Alli, and I think I’m using almost all of them as I’m a super gmail geek as well.

    I’m a big fan of keyboard shorcuts in gmail to process even more quickly to the famous zero inbox. There’s even a cool little chrome plugin called keyrocket that’ll remind you of the shorcuts until you’ve got them down. Last tip of mine would be the app my team’s developed which I think you’ll enjoy checking out to auto-update your address book. Stop by and let me know what you think.


    • Qwurpy

      Keyrocket seems like a cool, “learn as you go” shortcut tool. Another option for anyone who just needs a quick list of shortcuts, simply type a question mark while you are in your inbox and gmail will provide a keyboard shortcut reference list. Keep in mind, that if you’re composing an email at the time, you will need to click outside of the compose window for this to work, otherwise, you will type a question mark in your email.

  • Jackie

    These are great tips. I am going to try #4 right now (says the person with 5 gmail accounts). Thanks!

  • Melissa Mashburn

    Oh my golly…there was so much techy goodness in this one post I had to send it to Evernote so I could go through it piece by piece. Thanks so much for all the amazing tips Alli! Love it! ~ Melissa

  • Tammy Munson

    Great tips Alli! To my surprise , I’m already using a couple of them! (go me! ) I’m with Erica — I think I need an entire day to revamp my email. Mailbox is the best email app ever , me thinks!

  • Shaswat

    Thnxxx!!!!! Wanna try #4 & #5…………….

  • Sally Fienup

    “I spend $20 a year for over 80GBs of space for my email backups and Drive storage space so I never worry that I erased something I may need.” What storage do you use? Dropbox, cloud? I’m interested.

    • Qwurpy

      I know that Sally’s post was a year ago, but I thought I’d leave this for anyone who comes across this page and has the same question. Google actually offers extra storage at pretty reasonable prices. They have changed their storage plans/prices a few times over the years, but as of today, you can get 100GB extra storage to share across Google Drive, Gmail, and Google+ Photos for $1.99/month (USD). They also have 1TB, 10TB, 20TB and 30TB plans. You can find the price breakdown at (or if they ever move that page, simply search “google storage plans”)

  • Roni Weiss

    Very impressed by this post. Kudos.

  • Babak Golshahi

    Wonderful thank you!

  • Vickie

    Too much for me. I was looking for some simple directions. The way I handle my inbox is the recognize/don’t recognize/delete method – Simple.
    I want to know how to get a shortcut to gmail on my desktop.
    I want to know how to get all my favorites (bookmarks now, I guess) in one place and not split up into separate files that I don’t.
    I want to know how to compose group email lists in gmail.
    stuff like that………………..

  • Kimber Lee

    Awesome tips! My email is a disaster.

  • greggT

    I prefer the built-in “multiple inboxes” feature to tabs because it shows you the first X conversions in each category without having to click. Gear -> Settings -> multiple inboxes. [you may have to enable it first via Gear -> Settings -> Labs -> type “multiple” -> enable.]

    you configure a few other “inboxes” with criteria like is:starred, or from a person/group or anything you’ve set up with your filters (is:ads detects my “ads” tag). i tend to split my incoming mail via filters and tag each one, then reconstruct my displayed inboxes from those tags.

  • jacob wallace
  • MIchael Demsey

    Step-by-step process on how to schedule and send Gmail emails with Google Spreadsheets.

    Do not use any third-party services as you will have to grant access of your mailbox to them. Using spreadsheets is safe, free, and easy to implement also.

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