10 Gmail Hacks To Keep Your Inbox From Ruining Your Life

Illustrated by Madelyn Somers.
Summer’s coming to an end, which means it’s time to get back to the daily grind. If you were lucky enough to take one last vacation — or at least a long weekend — you’re probably returning to an overflowing inbox. And, that’s pretty much the worst.
The average “knowledge worker” (if you sit at a desk, that likely means you) spends roughly 28% of her day reading and responding to email. That adds up to several months of your life every year devoted to sifting through your inbox.
Want to reallocate a few of those hours to drinking margaritas on the beach, or doing just about anything else? We thought so. Check out these tips for turning your inbox into a productivity powerhouse.
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The Techtress is R29's column for smart, personal tech support — whether you're gadget-savvy or not. Emily Price is a tech reporter who has contributed everywhere from Mashable to Reuters to USA Today.
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Illustrated by Madelyn Somers.
Learn To Turn Back Time
After carefully crafting an email to your boss for the past hour, you press send and immediately notice you managed to misspell her name. Oh god. Wouldn’t it be great if Gmail had an unsend button? It does! To enable unsend, press the gear icon on the top right of your inbox and then select Settings followed by Labs. Scroll down until you find “Undo Send” on the page, and then highlight the dot beside it marked Enable.

Now, whenever you send a message, an undo button will appear at the top of the page for a few seconds, like a giant net with which you can catch your errant email before it causes peak embarrassment.
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Illustrated by Madelyn Somers.
Give Everything A Label
We all get a million emails, only some of which are important. Scroll down to Categories on the left side of your inbox, and then select Create New Label from the available options. From there, you can create a tag for everything, from “Needs Response!” to "Stalker: Ignore" to something personalized for each friend.

Next time you receive an email you need to respond to (but can’t that instant), open it and then click on the icon that looks like a price tag and select the label you just created from the choices. All subsequent messages from that sender will show up with a label in your inbox. You can view all the messages in a particular category by clicking on the category name from that left toolbar.
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Illustrated by Madelyn Somers.
Learn To Speak Gmail
You know a coworker sent you the file you need for your big meeting tomorrow; the only issue is they’ve also sent you roughly 400 emails since then, making it a huge pain to find the message you’re looking for. You can bring up just email messages with attachments by adding “has: attachment” to your search criteria at the top of the page.

Another favorite — “in:inbox is:unread” — sorts for everything you haven’t opened. Search for everything from a particular sender by adding “from:” before their name, and look for things from a particular time by adding “newer_than:” or “older_than:” to your search. For instance, you might type “older_than:1y” to find a message you know was sent over a year ago. Mind blown? There's a whole list of these trick here.
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Illustrated by Madelyn Somers.
Create Secret Inboxes
Did you know you can turn your single Gmail address into a thousand different inboxes? Gmail doesn’t recognize the period or plus sign, but you can use them whenever you pass your email address out to others. For instance, your inbox might typically be yourname@gmail.com, but you can pass it out to prospective clients as your.name@gmail.com.

You’ll get those emails along with all the others, but you can set up a filter to sort them out.
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Illustrated by Madelyn Somers.
Take The Lazy Path
Do you find yourself sending the exact same email over and over again? Gmail lets you create canned responses that you can add to any message, cutting down on the time you have to spend typing things out. To create your own, click the Gear icon at the top of your inbox, select Settings and then Labs. Scroll down the page until you see Canned Responses, and then click the Enable button beside it.

Now, when you start to respond to an email, a small arrow icon will show up at the bottom of the message box. Click it to add a new canned response, or select a response later from those you’ve already created.
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Illustrated by Madelyn Somers.
Keep An Eye On Your Calendar
Never toggle back and forth between your inbox and your calendar again! Instead, merge them.

Click the Gear icon at top right of your inbox and then select Settings followed by Labs. From there, scroll to the “Google Calendar gadget” listing and click enable beside it. Boom. Your calendar will show up in the left column of your inbox.
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Illustrated by Madelyn Somers.
Make A To-Do List
Does your boss like to send you a thousand small requests every day? Keep track of them all by creating a to-do list from your email messages. When you have a message open, click the More tab at the top of the page followed by Add to Tasks.

The email will be added as a to-do on a list within Gmail. Access the list by clicking on the Gmail icon at the top left side of the page and selecting Tasks from the drop-down menu.
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Illustrated by Madelyn Somers.
See Where You're Headed
Another great Gmail integration makes planning your day a little easier by showing you where you’re headed. To get a Google Maps preview of any address sent to you via email, click the Gear icon at the top right of your inbox and then select Settings followed by Labs from the drop-down menu. Click Enable beside the “Google Maps previews in mail” listing to have a map show up any time Gmail detects an address in any of your messages
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Illustrated by Madelyn Somers.
Hit The Snooze Button
Sometimes, an important email comes at the worst time. Rather than have it get buried in your inbox, why not snooze it and have it come back a little later? Google is rumored to be creating its own snooze button for Gmail. until it arrives, you can use a plug-in called Streak on your desktop or mobile app Mailbox to snooze important messages and have them come back when it’s a bit more convenient.
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Illustrated by Madelyn Somers.
Take Your Friends With You
Found a new job? Congrats! If you’ve made great contacts at your current gig, make sure you don’t lose them by backing up your inbox. While logged into your account, click here to go to Google Takeout and then press the Create Archive button on the page to create a backup of your Contacts, Mail, and even Google Drive information.
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