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11 ways to make Gmail smarter

Gmail is great, but it's easy to make it even better. These tricks and add-ons can help you make the most of your e-mail.

Rob Lightner
Rob Lightner is a tech and gaming writer based in Seattle. He has reviewed games, gadgets, and technical manuals, written copy for space travel gear, and composed horoscopes for cats.
Rob Lightner
3 min read

Gmail comes packed with plenty of smart, sleek features, and smart users are discovering (or building) new ones every day. Here are some of our favorites:

Use keyboard shortcuts. Once you start using shortcuts to access commonly used Gmail tasks, you'll find them hard to give up. Ed Rhee covers some of the most useful ones, and includes a bonus shortcut that lets you add hypertext links to your messages.

Add hypertext to Gmail.
Add hypertext to Gmail. Screenshot by Ed Rhee

Sign in to multiple accounts simultaneously. Many users need more than one account. Maybe it's for work, maybe it's for juggling separate boy- or girlfriends, but it can be hard to remember which account you're using. This post lays out exactly how to keep multiple Gmail accounts open simultaneously on the same machine.

Access Gmail offline. Webmail has had one significant disadvantage over the years: limited offline access. Google rolled out full offline access for Gmail last year, though it's limited to the Chrome browser. Sharon Vaknin wrote a great guide explaining how to access Gmail while offline.

Manage Contacts. There are quite a few ways to make your Contacts shine. Learn how to sync Gmail and Outlook contacts, and how to merge Gmail and iPhone contacts. Nicole Cozma explains how to restore deleted Gmail contacts (a potential lifesaver), and then how to disable Gmail's automatic contact creation, which can reduce clutter and make your Contacts easier to use.

Restore deleted Gmail contacts.
Restore deleted Gmail contacts. Screenshot by Nicole Cozma

Secure your account. It doesn't take much to protect your account against hackers and other ne'er-do-wells who may want to snoop on you or use your good name to further their scams. Learn how to secure your Gmail account quickly and easily.

Schedule e-mails to be sent later. Jason Cipriani wrote this great post showing you how to use Right Inbox, a free service that lets you schedule e-mails to be sent whenever you want.

Customize mass mailings. Gmail does have some limits as to how many messages you can send at once, but there's a simple tool that can help you customize messages going out to large numbers of recipients. As long as you fly under Google's radar, this can make it easy to reach lots of people.

Customize mass mailings in Gmail.
Customize mass mailings in Gmail.

Make Gmail your default "mailto:" client. If you're sick of copying and pasting e-mail addresses from Web forms into Gmail, there's a simple change you can make in Chrome that sets up Gmail as your default e-mail client.

Add a whitelist. Have any important messages drifted into your spam folder? Nicole Cozma shows you how to add a whitelist to Gmail, which should help keep friends, family members, and clients in your inbox, where they belong.

Change the default font. You may not have as many options as you'd like, but the simple ability to change fonts in Gmail makes some of us absurdly happy. Nicole Cozma shows you how to change the default font.

Change default Gmail font.
Change default Gmail font. Screenshot by Nicole Cozma

Add autocorrect. These days, it's hard not to depend a little too much on autocorrect tools built into office and e-mail software. A great Chrome extension called ezAutoCorrect for Gmail adds this functionality to your favorite Web app. Rest easy!