Thursday, December 27, 2007


At the moment I am working on a project that requires a lot of e-mail to be handled. I hate to open my messages more that necessary. So I made a new label in Gmail: Done!

The label has a unique, fresh colour so handled mails stand out visually in the Gmail user interface. Because I can add as many labels as I, the label can be used next to that of the project label.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Prepare your Gmail for a 'quickie'

The Quick Contacts part of Gmail offers two qualities:
- it shows which contacts that also have Gmail are online and available for chat;
- by clicking on the name, Gmail composes a ready to write message to that person.

By default the Quick Contacts part shows other Gmail users in your contact list first. Most frequently used contacts are presented first. Non Gmail users appear after them, even if they are your most frequently used contacts. If you have many contacts, some will not appear at all. Life sometimes hurts!

There is a solution: change the default settings. Go to the Contacts list. On the right side of all contacts you will see 'Auto':
- change 'Auto' to 'Never' if you don't want certain Gmail users to appear in the Quick Contacts part;
- change 'Auto' to 'Always' if you want certain non Gmail users to appear in the Quick Contacts part.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Things to do-list in Gmail

There are many ways to generate a things to do-list in Gmail. Is use this one in which I use only the subject line to describe my tasks. And here's a to do list that will help you to use it too.

1. Make a new contact See also this message. As a contact name, choose an easy but unique set of keystrokes. Something like 'qqq'.
2. Make a label. If you want it top of the label list, use some special signs. I use [ plus ] plus 'to do': [] todo.
3. Make a filter that attaches this special label to all mails sent to Also let these messages skip the inbox.

Now start using your to do list. Use shortcut keys!
1. c (for 'compose')
2. qqq + Enter (for getting the address in the To-field)
3. Tab (to go to the subject line)
4. Write a subject line like 'call the dentist for an appointment' or 'return my library books'
5. Tab + Tab + Enter (for sending)

If you don't have a signature, Gmail will ask you if you really want to send an empty message. So, make a signature, for instance just with something like --.

Save files up to 20 MB

Need temporary backup for important files? Use Gmail! Simply compose a mail to anyone (yourself), attach your file and save it as a draft. When you no longer need the file, just discard the message.

Gmail allows you to get hold of the file anywhere, as long as there is an internet connection. And files maybe up to 20MB in size.

New order for your labels

Gmail offers only alphabetical order for your labels. If you want some labels to be higher in hiearchy (to get more of your attention) there is a simple to force Gmail to think out of the box: just use special characters as first symbols to change the order.

Some suggestions for special labels in the order Gmail will present them are:
_ example
[] example
{} example
@ example
1 example

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The miles saver

Using keystrokes instead of the mouse is a clever thing to do. Be clever whenever possible. Gmail offers Keyboard Shortcuts that can save you many miles of mouse movement a year, lots of small bits of valuable time and RSI like complaints. First, turn the shortcuts option on in the Settings section.

My favorites are:
c - compose a new message
] - archive the open message/conversation in your inbox and move on to the next one
g - go to; combine this with for instance c (for contacts) or i (for inbox)
y - archive
/ - puts the cursor in the Search field

Of course the Help pages of Gmail offer a complete list of shortcuts. To get a popup-screen with alle shortcuts within Gmail, just type ? (only works with shortcuts option on).

Friday, November 16, 2007

Plan your work with labels

Generally speaking receiving mail messages means receiving work to be done. A simple rule to follow is that if that work will take more than two minutes, plan to do it later, make a note of that somewhere in your agenda (or Google Calendar of course) and move on to empty your inbox.

A suggestion: make a label for every working day. If you receive a message that contains something you can do best on tuesday, label it 'Tuesday'. Then archive it. Now when you arrive on Tuesday, spend an hour or so doing all jobs that are labelled 'Tuesday'. How does that work for you?

-l:^i l:^u

Isn't that the strangest blog message title you have ever seen? Is this some sort of surrealistic ASCII-art? An emoticon for 'confusion'?

Don't worry. It's just a collection for add-ons in the search query you can use in Gmail t help you find even more specific messages. Together they help you find all messages that are not in your inbox but have not yet been read.

You can try this at home safely. Just use l: for 'find all messages that...' and -l: for 'skip all messages that...' Then add one of these codes:

^u -> are 'unread'
^i -> are in my inbox
^b -> are chats
^f -> have been sent
^k -> are in my trash
^r -> are still drafts
^s -> are spam
^t -> are starred

Multiple addresses in Gmail

A big plus in Gmail: the fact that you can use a plus to create an unlimited number of e-mail addresses in one account. Just add a + and a unique word between your username and the @-sign.

If you use something like '' the next step can be to make a filter that adds a label automatically to all mail send to this specific address. Or let them skip the inbox. Or stick any other action you can think of to it.

Also the + can help you to trace the bad guys in advertising. If you subscribe to a newsletter with, and after some time you get a lot of spam on this address... hey, gotcha!