Gmail Tip of the Year

If you’re using Gmail and not using the keyboard shortcuts that go along with it, then you’re not harnessing anywhere near the power of Gmail that you think you may be.

I’ve been using Gmail for years now, since when you needed a friend with an invite to get in. And even with that, it’s only in the last few months that I feel like I’ve finally put together the tips and tricks I’ve needed to be truly be fluent in Gmail. The key to that is to become keyboard capable. If you’re still point and clicking with your mouse in Gmail, then you’re not using nearly as much of the app’s power as you could be.

You can start with the bare basics: j/k bring you up and down, just as they do in so many UNIX programs, going back to the days of keyboards without arrow keys. x selects a conversation. Y archives it. c composes a new email.

Right there, you’ve just increased your efficiency and productivity with email 100x, if you were a sole mouse user before using this.

But here’s the biggest help that I didn’t even know about before hearing Merlin Mann mention it on the latest episode of Mac Power Users podcast:

**?** gives you a HUD with a list of all the shortcuts. It’s the greatest cheat sheet on the web. It is awesome.*

Look at that every day and start using a new keyboard shortcut. You’ll get to the stage where you use the awesome g / l combination much faster than I did. And that’s a quick shortcut that ramped up my efficiency by another exponential increase just this this year.

After that, we can talk about how to best use labels and archive mails and sort things and answer emails and all the rest. I don’t have all the answers to that, but I’ve definitely developed a system that I like and that makes email less of a chore on a daily basis for me. We’ll save that for another time. For now, that ? thing is a miracle helper.

If you want more stuff like this and you’re on a Mac, I can also recommend Cheat Sheet, a neat (free!) app that lets you hold down on the command key to have a screen pop up with a list of keyboard shortcuts for the current application you’re using. Nifty! It doesn’t work with all applications, but it hits enough to be useful.