Schedule Gmail messages for the future

Writing an email at 12am but don’t want it sent until a reasonable hour? Boomerang is a free plugin for Gmail that allows you to schedule messages to be sent in the future. It can also remind you to follow-up on the email after a set amount of time.

  • Install the browser plugin
  • Open Gmail and write your message.
  • Click the “Send Later” button and schedule your email.
  • If you want a follow-up reminder, check the “Boomerang this” box and choose when you want to be reminded.

Send an SMS (text message) from Gmail

SMS in Gmail

Need to send a message to someone but forgot your phone? Gmail offers a free way to send text messages to your contacts. Follow the steps below:

Turn on SMS messaging:

  • Go to Settings (the gear icon in the right corner of Gmail).
  • Go to the Labs tab.
  • Search for “SMS” and click Enable on the “SMS (text messaging) in Chat” Lab. Click Save Changes.

Send a message:

  • Sign into chat. Click on the “quote bubble” icon in the left corner of the page and then click “sign into chat”.
  • Enter your contact’s name in the “Search, chat, or SMS” box and select Send SMS from the options that appears to the right of your contact’s name.
  • If a phone number isn’t already listed, type one in, fill out your message and hit send.

Gmail gives everyone a credit of 50 free messages you can send. Although anytime someone responds back with a text to you, you will receive 5 more credits. Read more about credits here.

For more help, visit Google Support.

Gmail templates

Do you find yourself typing certain types of email messages over and over? Gmail Labs has a feature that lets you quickly send out common messages using templates you create.

Go to Settings > Labs and search for Canned Responses. Enable the feature and click Save Changes.

Compose a new email message you want to use in the future, click on the More Options arrow next to the Trash button, and go to Canned Responses > New Canned Response. Type in a title for your message and click OK. (You can close the compose window and delete the draft message you just created.)

In the future, create a new email draft, click on Canned Responses and choose the template you created. Your template will be inserted into your draft and you can edit it or just send away!

If you’d like to edit your template, insert the Canned Response into a new email draft as described above, then select your template name under Canned Responses > Save. This will overwrite your previous template.

Hide/show Gmail Labels

If you use a lot of labels in Gmail, the list in the left column can get quite long. There is a simple way to show only your most frequently used ones: underneath your list of labels on the left, click on “More”. You can click and drag any label from above the line to below it, or vice versa.

Another way to manage your labels is to go to Settings (the gear label in the upper right corner) and then click on Labels. From here you can click Show/Hide to choose which labels will be visible in your list.

Filtering your Gmail

Filters, like Labels allow you to organize your Gmail. You can set up rules that will automatically categorize or file messages depending on custom criteria you specify. For example, maybe you want emails from your Mom to be labeled “Family”, or you want emails sent from your boss to go directly in the Trash.

In Gmail’s search box, click on the drop-down arrow on the right. First find the messages you want to label or file: Type in a name or email address in the From box, and/or a word in the Subject box (i.e. Receipt, Itinerary). Then click on the “Create filter with this search” link. Now choose what you want to do with the messages you’ve specified. You have choices such as: Archive the message, Star it, Apply a label, Delete it, etc. Chose some actions and click “Create Filter”. If you want to apply this action to the matching conversations Gmail just found (see your Inbox), check that box first.

You can also set up email filters with:
Apple Mail
Thunderbird
Outlook
Yahoo

Gmail labels

If you use Gmail and don’t use labels, you must start immediately. Labels are a way of organizing your emails so you can quickly find what you’re looking for. For example, you may have labels for Trips, Receipts, Invites, Coupons, etc. And unlike folders (in most other mail clients), you can use multiple labels per email.

To label an email, open the message and click on the label icon (next to More, it looks like a tag). Choose an existing label, or type in a new one. Your labels will appear in the left column, and if you click on one you’ll see all the messages with that label.

Labels appear next to the subject of your emails in your inbox. If you want to change the color of your labels, click on the color box next to the labels in the left column and choose a different color.

Custom Webmail Themes

Many free webmail services allow you to customize the look of your mail in your browser. If you want to add a little more pizazz to your email, check out the instructions below.

Gmail: Log into your mail. At the top right of the screen, click on the gear icon and then Mail Settings. Click on the Themes tab and choose your favorite theme.

Yahoo: Log into your mail. At the top left of the screen, click on Options > Themes and choose your favorite photo to appear in the header area.

Hotmail (Windows Live): Log into your mail. At the top right of the screen, click on Options > More Options. Under Customizing Hotmail, click on Themes. Choose your favorite theme and click Save.

AOL Mail: Log into your mail. At the top right of the screen, click on Themes. Choose your favorite theme and click Save.

Gmail Shortcuts

You can use Keyboard shortcuts in Gmail to save time and energy. First, you need to enable shortcuts in your Gmail account. Click on the settings tab at the top of your browser window and choose Mail Settings. Enabling Keyboard shortcuts is the third option down. Scroll down and click Save Changes. Click back to your Inbox.

Hit C to compose a new message. Hit J or K to navigate between messages, and hit Return to open one up. You can also navigate between messages using J/K when an email is open. To navigate back to the Inbox hit G and then I.

More Gmail shortcuts »

Gmail Labs

If you look at the top of the screen in your Gmail account, there should be a little green beaker icon. Clicking on this will take you to Gmail Labs, a testing ground for fun and useful experimental features in Gmail. Some of my favorites include:

  • Adding Google Calendar or Docs widgets to your Gmail window
  • Changing your Send button to a Send & Archive button
  • Enabling Picasa and Flickr photo previews in your Gmail

Emailing large files

Have you ever tried sending a file to someone over email only to have it bounce back because the file was too big? Try YouSendIt. You can send large files to an email address for free with no registration!