3 Simple Gmail Tips to Boost Email Productivity

Dec 9, 2012 - 13 Comments

Simple Gmail tips to boost productivity

Gmail is one of the most popular email services around, and if you use the web-based email client as your primary email app too then you’ll undoubtedly benefit from these three simple tips to boost productivity. No, they won’t end the email onslaught and 100 new email messages a day that we all suffer from, but they will help you get in and out of your inbox quicker in several completely different ways, and that’s a big help.

1) Use Drag & Drop for Quick Attachments

Did you know you can drag and drop anything into a Compose window and it’ll automatically attach itself to that email? Just as if the web-based Gmail client was a desktop app, drag & drop attachments are supported, and this tip alone will boost your productivity by making it easier and faster to attach files. There’s not much to it:

  • Open a new Mail composition or reply to an existing message
  • Drag a file from the Desktop or Finder into the Gmail browser window to create an attachment

Drag and drop GMail attachments

A little progress bar appears in the Gmail composition window as the file uploads as an attachment, when finished send it off like anything else. Standard file attachment size rules will apply.

2) Set Gmail as the Default Email Client

This will cause Gmail to launch in your default web browser, and it carries addresses and subjects forward from email links to the browser just like it would if Mail or another app is the email client. The exact process to set this up is slightly different per web browser, here’s the instructions for Chrome:

  • Launch Chrome with a new browser window
  • Open Chrome Javascript console by using the keyboard shortcut Command+Option+J and then pasting the following text:
    navigator.registerProtocolHandler("mailto", "https://mail.google.com/mail/?extsrc=mailto&url=%s","Gmail");

  • Accept the confirmation and you’re done

Gmail as your default email client

If you don’t use Chrome as your primary web browser, here’s how to get it working in Opera, Firefox, and Safari too.

3) Add a “Sent from my iPhone” Signature

Say what? Why on earth would you want that Sent from my iPhone signature on all of your desktop emails too? This may sound weird strange at first, but hear me out: that little iPhone signature is synonymous with brevity, and as a result, nobody expects a lengthy reply from anyone on a mobile device. This also means that short emails don’t come across as rude or inappropriately brief, and in return you can send shorter emails that get straight to the point. Here’s how to add a signature in Gmail:

  • Open Gmail and click the Gear icon in the upper right corner and choose “Settings
  • Scroll down to “Signature” and select the email address to change, then just type in the familiar “Sent from my iPhone” signature
  • Continue to scroll down and choose “Save Changes”

Create a Gmail signature

If you think this last tip is goofy, try it out for a week and allow yourself the freedom to just crank out quick one sentence replies rather than paragraphs and paragraphs. If you’re not spending significantly less time replying to and writing emails, I’d be surprised. While we’re on the topic, f you disabled it on your iPhone at some point, I would highly recommend re-enabling it.

Got any other worthwhile tips to boost your email productivity? Let us know!


Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Tips & Tricks


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  1. Mike says:

    Great tip!

    Sent from my Newton

  2. iGnome says:

    Since the new compose window was introduced dragging and dropping photos puts them in the body of the email rather than as an attachment with no option to ‘send as attachment’ Really really poor because if you are attaching jpegs from multiple locations the find file to attach way is so boring. One work around is to drop the photo along with another file such as a word doc at which point it does attach the jpeg and then delete the word doc. But what a faff that is

  3. macguynyc says:

    sorry to admit this, but still use AOL as my primary e-mail among friends. How would I set up AOL as my e-mail client in Safari, similar to what you propose for using gmail?

    thank you

  4. vdiv says:

    Here’s a tip. Stop using email for one line responses! Especially those that are shorter than your freaking signature.

  5. Koolmagicguy says:

    The signature tip is a good one.

    But any snoopy or suspicious person could view the details of the email and determine which browser sent it.

  6. Thé windwaker says:

    The drag and drop thing does not work anymore with the new gmail interface for new mail

  7. Michael says:

    All my iOS devices say, “Sent from my mobile device”. That way, it’s universal, it’s not marketing and it’s the truth. If I want to market, I use my gmail at home on my Mac or I launch my gmail from within google chrome on my iPad which has two hyperlinks in my signature.

  8. Peter says:

    Anyone know if the Nexus and Android phones have signatures like that too? Is that a normal thing on all mobiles now? I remember the iPhone email sig was initially almost a snobby marketing thing, but I can definitely see how it would let you spend less time on emails.

    • Ceveces says:

      Yes but the message variea

    • Robbertvdd says:

      Yes, other devices also do this. A friend of mine has a Sony and his emails end with “Sent from my Sony [Whatever it’s called. I forgot the model name of his phone.]”

      In my opinion those signatures are only annoying and I only see them as advertisements. I immediately disabled it on my iPhone.

      I also don’t expect people to use any excuses when they send a short reply. I don’t see a reason why they should use more words than necessary.

      For me using a mobile also isn’t a reason to send shorter replies. I send short replies from my Mac, but I also send very long emails from my iPhone. I just don’t care which device I’m using. I just say whatever I need or want to say. No matter if I’m using a desktop or a mobile device.

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