Are You A Gmail Ninja?

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After three and a half years of doing the Gmail Podcast, the features of this web application are really starting to add up. Some are fairly simple and some are more complex. This past week, Google posted their collection of features to teach you to become a Gmail Ninja. I’ll post a link on the Gmail Podcast web page.

The tips are organized in to categories according to rank. For example, a Gmail white belt gets a few messages a day and uses stars to indicate special conversations, uses labels to organize messages, perhaps spices up their environment by applying a theme, and archives instead of deleting.

A green belt might use video chat, use tasks, create filters to further organize email, preview attachments without downloading them, avoid email gaffes with the Undo Send labs feature, use the Google Chat status to tell their friends what they are up to, and use the vacation responder to let people know when they are away.

A Gmail black belt, uses more advanced features like keyboard shortcuts to navigate quickly through the interface, use more advanced search operators, use the plus sign to create personalized email addresses for later filtering, use Gmail offline, use canned responses, and “EOM” in the subject to avoid the warning message of having no text in the body of a message.

And finally, the highest level of Gmail Ninja is the Gmail Master. A master does things like bring Google Docs and Calendar in to Gmail using the sidebar widgets, knows how to sign out of another computer remotely, personalizes their own web clips, always uses https to access their email securely, and hosts their own domain email using Gmail.

Which level of Gmail Ninja are you? If you’ve been listening to the Gmail Podcast for a while, my guess is you are a black belt or master. If not, keep listening or go back in the archives to get specific instructions on these, and other, great tips.

Tip:

Here’s today’s quick tip. Use the Gmail Labs feature “Send and Archive” to add a button to the bottom of the message compose screen that lets you send your response, and archive the conversation in one step. You can add this feature from the Labs tab in the Settings screen – use this and you’ll be one step closer to being a black belt Gmail Ninja.

Finally, I have one commentary on a recent feature added to Gmail. I love the features that Google has provided in the Gmail application, both desktop and mobile. This past week, they tweaked the mobile application, as I said they were likely to do in the last Gmail Podcast, to include a finger swipe motion from left to right or right to left at the conversation index that brings up an archive button. I tried this a couple times, but realized it was one of those features that just isn’t for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPod Touch and use finger motions all the time. In fact, I can’t live without them. This particular addtion to the Gmail interface seems like it was done just to see if they could do it. You see, if you use the checkbox for a message, the floating button bar comes up immediately allowing you to archive, delete, or other actions. Is a finger swipe and a button push any faster than two finger taps? I’m not sure. What I am sure is that I often operate on multiple messages, in which case, the finger swipe to archive five messages is much slower (a total of 10 finger motions) than tapping the checkbox five times and hitting the archive button (6 finger motions). Am I being picky? Perhaps. Use what you feel is more comfortable. I’m just offering my opinion about a feature that doesn’t add any value to me. Maybe this is a sign that Google will be adding more finger motions to the interface in the future.

Link to the Gmail Ninja page: http://www.google.com/mail/help/tips.html#master

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