How to configure Gmail

Gmail settings that are often overlooked, even by experienced users. Get more done with these Gmail settings on desktop.

Tip 1: Find an Inbox type that works for you

The inbox settings have the most visual impact on Gmail. Each option is a different way of using Gmail.

Priority Inbox

Try out the priority inbox if you receive a lot of email. It’s not perfect, but Gmail is getting better at predicting which emails are important.

My inbox setup

For my personal setup, I follow the "Inbox Zero" method. That means you go to 0 emails each day and process them immediately. If an email includes a task, the task is moved to my to-do system and I have a clear inbox. If this is not for you, that’s OK.

If you don’t use this and have a lot of emails in your inbox, definitely checkout the inbox setup to see what works for you. This setting is impactful because it affects Gmail every day you use it.

Tip 2: Choose between New view of Old view

Main menu: New view - Use Mail, Chat, Spaces and Meet in their own streamlined view

Tip 3: Sort Your Emails Into Categories

This adds separate tabs inside Gmail.

Tip 4: Auto-advance

With auto-advance, once you send or archive an email you go to the next email instead of back to the inbox. This saves a click and also makes it easier to answer email with only using your keyboard (which is also faster). It’s a small feature, but I use this many times every day.

Go to the General Gmail Settings, scroll down and select ‘ Go back to the previous (older) conversation.

Tip 5: Send and Archive: Show "Send & Archive" button in reply

Go to the General Gmail Settings, scroll down and select ‘Show “Send & Archive” button in reply’.

Tip 6: Increase time for “Undo Send” to 30 seconds

This has saved me so many times - The ‘oh shit, I forgot the attachment’ days are over (if you’re quicker than 30 seconds)

Go to the General Gmail Settings, scroll down and select ‘Show “Send & Archive” button in reply’.

Tip 7: Default reply behaviour: Reply all

Consider if this is necessary, but personally I think it’s quicker to remove people than to add them.

Tip 8: Use snooze emails

If an email is not actionable at the moment, you can snooze it to a later date. I do this with tickets or other PDFs I need on a specific date.

Tip 9: Schedule Email Sending

Tip 10: Use labels to properly organise your inbox

These are the labels I use:

  • Action for Ewoud -> tasks & to do's
  • FYI -> For Your Information. If I'm in CC or other less important emails, I check these once a week
  • Action for Soraya -> Soraya is my assistant and this is a label for her to keep track of things she's working on
  • Invoices -> skipped the inbox & sent to the bookkeeping software
  • Newsletter -> a lot of newsletters as inspiration end up in this folder. Newsletter skip the inbox and I read them whenever I'm looking for inspiration
  • Waiting for -> if I want a reminder for emails that I’ve sent out, I can check if I’ve gotten a response.

Hide Unused Labels

If you use labels for a longer period of time, things can get a bit cluttered. If there are too many labels, hide them from Labels settings

  • Show - always visible
  • Hide - Hidden from the side panel, but you can still use them
  • Show if unread - if an unread email has the label, it’s shown. This is great for labels you don’t use that often
Chapter continues below
Ewoud Uphof avatar

I hope you enjoy reading this free chapter.

Read the full guide by clicking here.

Tip 11: Use project management tools for updates instead of emails

Use a project management tool like Asana to share updates and to see the status of tasks, including dependencies. Personally, I use Notion for all my task management.

Tip 12: Automatically add events from Gmail

The Google suite works together nicely. Events, reservations, meetings or travel dates can be synced from Gmail into Google Calendar.

  1. In Gmail General settings, turn “Smart features and personalisation in other Google products:” ON
  1. In Google Calendar settings, you can adjust the privacy settings for Events from Gmail

Learn more on the Google support page about Smart features & controls in Google products.

Tip 13: Go over the settings tabs and see what works for you

Gmail has a lot of great features - including experimental ones. Play around with them. An updated version of Gmail was launched in August 2022, check out the settings & features if you’ve been using it since before August 2022.

List of my preferred settings in Gmail

  • Main menu: New view - Use Mail, Chat, Spaces and Meet in their own streamlined view
  • Maximum page size: Show 100 conversations per page
  • Undo Send: Send cancellation period: 30 seconds
  • Default reply behaviour: Reply all
  • Hover actions: Enable hover actions - Quickly gain access to archive, delete, mark as read and snooze controls on hover.
  • Send and Archive: Show "Send & Archive" button in reply
  • Images: Always display external images - check with your email administrator if this is allowed
  • Dynamic email: Enable dynamic email - Display dynamic email content when available.
  • Grammar: Grammar suggestions on
  • Spelling: Spelling suggestions on
  • Smart Compose: Writing suggestions on
  • Conversation view: Conversation view on
  • Nudges:  Both ‘reply to; and ‘follow-up on’ on
  • Smart Reply: Smart Reply on
  • Preview Pane: Mark a conversation as read After 3 seconds
  • Smart features and personalisation: Turn on smart features and personalisation
  • Smart features and personalisation in other Google products:
  • Desktop notifications: Mail notifications off (or important only)
  • Stars: Drag the stars between the lists. 
  • Keyboard shortcuts: Keyboard shortcuts on
  • Create contacts for auto-complete: When I send a message to a new person, add them to Other Contacts so that I can auto-complete them next time.
  • Personal level indicators: Show indicators - Display an arrow ( › ) by messages sent to my address (not a mailing list), and a double arrow ( » ) by messages sent only to me.
  • Show snippets - Show snippets of the message (like Google Web Search!)
  • Out-of-Office AutoReply: turned off
Productivity for marketeers ebook

Premium guide available

You're reading the free version of this guide that will 2X your productivity. Do you want to get even more done?

10X your productivity with the full guide 'Productivity for Marketers'.

Bundle of 5 premium guides

PDF version & online access

Checklists & to-do's to get you started

Resources & templates to implement faster

SEe PRODUCT

About Ewoud

Ewoud Uphof

Ewoud Uphof is an experienced Growth Hacker, certified funnel optimiser and investor.

In the past decade he has co-founded multiple companies. As Head of Growth he has helped grow 50+ companies ranging from start-ups to multinationals. He has worked for Camptoo, NU.nl, Sophia Mae, Koffievoordeel and many more.

More About Ewoud
Productivity for marketeers ebook

Buy the ebook

You're reading the free version of this guide that will 2X your productivity. Do you want to get even more done?

10X your productivity with the full guide 'Productivity for Marketers'.

Bundle of 5 premium guides

PDF version & online access

Checklists & to-do's to get you started

Resources & templates to implement faster

read more about ebook