Gmail for An­droid tricks

RYAN WHITWAM re­veals some of the app’s best hid­den fea­tures

Android Advisor - - Contents -

The Gmail app has been on An­droid lit­er­ally since the be­gin­ning, but it’s got­ten much more pow­er­ful over the years. To­day, the app does so many things, it can be hard to keep track of them all. Now, you don’t have to know ev­ery­thing Gmail can do in or­der to im­prove your ef­fi­ciency, so here are the six most use­ful Gmail fea­tures you prob­a­bly aren’t us­ing.

1. Gmail Smart replies

When Google’s In­box app came out a few years ago, it of­fered a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to email with var­i­ous ‘smart’ fea­tures like bun­dles, re­minders, and Smart Replies. Now Smart Replies is avail­able di­rectly in Gmail, and you might not un­der­stand how use­ful this fea­ture can be if you haven’t also used In­box.

Smart Replies ap­pear at the bot­tom of emails you re­ceive based on the con­text of the mes­sage. Not all emails will have them, and you have to scroll down through long mes­sages to find them. Smart Replies show up as three phrases in blue boxes. The phrases are sim­ple re­sponses like “You’re wel­come,” and “Sure, I’d be happy to chat”. Tap­ping on a blue re­ply won’t in­stantly send a mes­sage, so don’t be afraid to make use of them. The Smart Re­ply is dropped into a new email re­ply so you can add to it, or edit as you see fit. There are no set­tings to play with – Smart Replies are ac­tive for ev­ery­one.

2. Change de­fault swipe ac­tion to delete

Con­sider this two tips in one – there are swipe ac­tions in Gmail, and you can change what that swipe does. In your in­box view, just swipe left or right to act on a mes­sage. If you haven’t made any changes to the set­tings, swip­ing an email will ar­chive it.

Should you want a more per­ma­nent so­lu­tion, head into your Gmail set­tings and find Gen­eral set­tings > Gmail de­fault ac­tion. In this pop-up, you can choose be­tween ar­chive and delete. If you pick delete, all the con­ver­sa­tions you swipe away will be deleted im­me­di­ately. The set­tings also con­tain a tog­gle to turn off swipe ac­tions.

3. Gmail text for­mat­ting

Gmail on the desk­top in­cludes var­i­ous for­mat­ting tools, but you don’t need to run over to a com­puter to make your emails pret­tier. The Gmail app in­cludes for­mat­ting op­tions to – they’re just a bit hid­den. To for­mat a block of text, long-press to select it, and one of the op­tions in the popup should be ‘for­mat­ting’.

The for­mat­ting op­tion opens up a tool­bar above your key­board with all the stan­dard for­mat­ting tools in­clud­ing bold, italic, un­der­line, colour, and so on. This bar re­mains ac­tive as you com­pose the email, un­less you de­cide to close it by tap­ping the ‘x’ on the far right. So, the for­mat­ting op­tions don’t only ap­ply to the test you orig­i­nally se­lected. You can clear your se­lec­tion, pick dif­fer­ent text, and ap­ply for­mat­ting op­tions to that.

4. De­fault re­ply ac­tion

We’ve all made the mis­take of re­spond­ing to an email when we should have used re­ply-all. In fact, that’s usu­ally the right course of ac­tion when there are mul­ti­ple peo­ple in­cluded in an email chain. Chang­ing one set­ting in Gmail en­sures you’ll never for­get to re­ply-all again.

Open your Gmail set­tings and find ‘de­fault re­ply ac­tion’ un­der “Gen­eral set­tings’. It in­cludes op­tions for ‘re­ply’ and ‘re­ply-all’, with ‘re­ply’ be­ing the de­fault. Sim­ply pick ‘re­ply-all’ and the but­ton at the top of emails will au­to­mat­i­cally be­come re­ply-all when there are mul­ti­ple peo­ple in the con­ver­sa­tion. You can al­ways tap on the ad­dress field while com­pos­ing to re­move peo­ple.

5. Gmail text for­mat­ting

If you own some­one a few bucks, pay­ing them back is as sim­ple as send­ing an email. First, you’ll need to make sure you’ve set up an ac­count with Google Wal­let. You can fund Google Wal­let with a debit card or bank ac­count, but the Wal­let app re­ally isn’t needed at all for this Gmail fea­ture.

To send money, be­gin com­pos­ing a new email, and tap the ‘At­tach’ pa­per­clip but­ton at the top of Gmail. Select ‘Send money’ and in­put an amount. Gmail also in­cludes the op­tion to add a memo to your pay­ment. The money shows up as an at­tach­ment to the email, which you can edit by tap­ping. The at­tach­ment can be re­moved if you change your mind as well.

The re­cip­i­ent does not need to have a Wal­let ac­count ahead of time. They’ll be able to sign in with their Google ac­count and des­ig­nate a de­fault ac­count. Then, the money is cashed out. Fu­ture pay­ments will be de­posited au­to­mat­i­cally.

6. Cus­tom no­ti­fi­ca­tions

Gmail’s sys­tem of la­bels lets you metic­u­lously or­ga­nize your mail, but it can also help you cut down on ex­ces­sive no­ti­fi­ca­tions. You should set up a few la­bels in Gmail, but you can tweak no­ti­fi­ca­tions in the app even if you only use the de­fault la­bels. Open the Gmail set­tings and go to [Your ac­count name] > Man­age la­bels. Only the top few items in this list will be synced, in­clud­ing the Pri­mary la­bel con­tain­ing most of your mail. That’s also the one set to trig­ger no­ti­fi­ca­tions. You can dis­able the no­ti­fi­ca­tion on Pri­mary, and turn it on only for the la­bels you want, though. For in­stance, tap on ‘Im­por­tant’, turn on sync, and choose your no­ti­fi­ca­tion set­tings. You can make the same change for any cus­tom la­bels you’ve set up, too.

Other la­bels will still sync un­less you turn them off. Thus, the mes­sages will be avail­able when you open the app. If some of your la­bels are of par­tic­u­lar im­por­tance, you can also set them to no­tify on every new mes­sage in­stead of just once per la­bel.

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