15 Gmail shortcuts you didn't know you needed

Gmail's lesser-known shortcuts are also the most useful.

Matt Elliott Senior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Expertise Laptops, desktops, all-in-one PCs, streaming devices, streaming platforms
Matt Elliott
3 min read

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Spend a large portion of your day using Gmail ? If you send and receive the majority of your Gmails on a computer, keyboard shortcuts can save you hours of time. There are dozens of Gmail keyboard shortcuts; presented here are the most useful to this Gmailer. 

Gmail splits its keyboard shortcuts into two groups: those that are always on and those that need to be enabled. To see all of the keyboard shortcuts that Gmail offers, hit Shift-? when viewing your Gmail inbox. Here are my favorites.

Always-on Gmail keyboard shortcuts

Open a message

You can use the up- and down-arrow keys to move through your inbox; you'll see a thin, blue, vertical line move along the left edge of your inbox as you hit the arrow keys. To open a message, hit Enter.

Navigate a conversation

When you are viewing an email conversation, hit the N key to move to the next message in the conversation and the P key to move to the previous message. Hit the Enter key to expand and collapse messages in a conversation.

Need-to-enable Gmail keyboard shortcuts

To enable the following shortcuts, click the gear icon in the top-right of your inbox and choose Settings. On the General tab, scroll down to Keyboard shortcuts and click Keyboard shortcuts on.  To finish, scroll to the bottom and click the Save Changes button.


Learn these lesser-known Gmail shortcuts.

Derek Poore/CNET

Compose new message

Hit the C key to compose a new message. Use Shift-C to compose a message in a new window. Or hit the D key to compose a message in a new tab.

Move to next or previous email

When you have an email open, hit the J key to move to the next email in your inbox and the K key to move to the previous email.

Refresh or return to inbox

Hit the U key to refresh your inbox or return to the inbox view if you have an email open.

Select a message

To select a message from your inbox view (that is, check its box), move the vertical blue line to it and hit the X key.

Mute conversation

Select a conversation and hit the M key to mute it. Muting archives a conversation and keeps all future replies to it out of your inbox. If a message from the conversation is sent or cc'd directly to you, then it'll still appear in your inbox.


If you write a lot of emails, commit these tips to memory.

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Trash or archive

With a message or messages selected in your inbox, hit the the # key to move it or them to the trash. (# = Shift-3). To archive instead of trashing a message, hit the E key.

Hit the snooze button

Select a message in your inbox and hit the B key to snooze it. It gets removed from your inbox and will pop back up at the top of your inbox at a later time and date -- later today, tomorrow, next week or a specific time you set.

Star conversation

When viewing your inbox, hit the S key to star a conversation. You don't need to have a conversation selected to star it; you need only to move the thin, blue line next to the conversation. Hit S again to remove the star.

Slash to search

When viewing your inbox, hit the / key to move your cursor to the search box at the top of the page.

Reply, reply all and forward

When you have a conversation open, hit the R key to reply to it. Hit the A key to reply all. Also, the F key lets you forward a conversation. Press Shift with any of these commands and you'll reply, reply all or forward in a new window.

Send it

Hit Tab-Enter to send a message.

Go to commands

There are a number of commands using the G key. The most helpful are these six:

  • G+A -- go to all mail
  • G+I -- go to Primary inbox
  • G+S -- go to Starred messages
  • G+D -- go to Drafts
  • G+T -- go to Sent mail
  • G+C -- go to Contacts list (it opens in a new tab)

Asterisk commands

There are a number of commands using the * key, which is Shift-8 in practice. The most helpful are these three:

  • *+A -- select all mail
  • *+N -- deselect all mail
  • *+U -- select all unread mail

I use this last keyboard shortcut combo all the time. If I had to name a favorite, this would be it. It's so handy to be able to select all of the unread messages in my current inbox view and be able to mark them as read or move them to the trash.

For the complete list of Gmail shortcuts, see this Google support page.