Advanced Gmail

Most people have a Gmail account, but Gmail has far more capabilities than most people use. This session will demonstrate techniques to organize and automate the Gmail inbox. Topics will include Gmail inbox types, advanced email search, using email filters, and canned responses.

Inbox types

Gmail can sort your mail in a number of ways. You can change your inbox view by clicking the Gear icon, selecting Settings, and then clicking the Inbox tab. Click the drop-down box to select your Inbox view.

Default (categories): Mail is divided into category views.

Choose which tabs you want to use; if you want to see all your messages in one list, go into Inbox settings and uncheck all tabs.

Important First: This style brings mail from the contacts you email most often and other important mail to the top of the page; everything else is in its own section at the bottom of your inbox.

Unread First: Unread mail stays at the top; everything else is at the bottom.

Starred First: Starred mail stays at the top; everything else is at the bottom.

Priority Inbox: Over time, Gmail "learns" what is important to you and arranges your mail accordingly. Messages classified as important and unread are in the top section, then starred messages, then everything else; and each section can be customized further; Priority Inbox provides you with more control over your inbox.


Instead of sorting email into folders, consider using Labels. An email can be stored in only one folder, but can have multiple labels. To create a new label, click More in your navigation menu and then click Create new label (see left photo below). You also may check an email you wish to label, click the Label icon, and select Create new (see right photo below).


*Note: Google cautions that creating more than 5,000 labels could cause problems.


Gmail Help: Advanced search operators

Gmail search operators:

Desired search

Search format

Sample search

Emails from specific sender

from:(email address) OR from:contact name



Emails prior to a certain date

before:search term


Emails after a certain date

after:search term


Emails in a certain mailbox


in:sent hccms

in:anywhere park

(in:anywhere searches all boxes, including Spam and Trash)

Starred emails

is:star color



filename:file OR extension

filename:sales contract





Email filters

Filters can help to automate your inbox. To create a filter, either go into Settings and Filters and Blocked Addresses, or check an email in your inbox, click the More button, and select Filter messages like these. Choose the parameters Gmail should look for in a new message and then specify what Gmail should do with messages that fall into those parameters.

gmail advanced search

create gmail search filter

Canned responses

Enable Canned responses

1.       Click the Gear icon, then click Settings.

2.       Click Labs.

3.       Scroll down and enable Canned Responses, then click Save Changes.

Create a canned response

1.       Compose a new email.

2.       Click the down arrow in the lower right corner of the Compose window, then click Canned responses, and then New canned response. Give your new canned response a title.

Using a canned response

1.       Either reply to an email or compose a new one.

2.       Click the down arrow in the lower right corner of the Compose window, then click Canned responses, and then insert the desired canned response.

3.       Make any desired changes before sending.

*Sample Canned Response text from Emailing Parents: How to Avoid Unintended Consequences by Sarah Brown Wessling.