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How to Use Gmail Shortcuts (Productivity for Programmers #2)

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Published on Oct 11, 2014

A lot of programmers I know get stuck in their email inboxes when they want to be programming.  But when people go through their email inboxes, they're doing it pretty slowly.  In this episode, we're going to deal with emails faster using keyboard shortcuts.

So let's boot up Gmail and get to work.

The first thing we need to do is actually turn on the shortcuts, since they aren't enabled by default.  To do this, click the gear in the top right corner of your inbox and click on "Settings".  Then scroll down to keyboard shortcuts and click "keyboard shortcuts on", then scroll down to the bottom and click "Save changes".

Now we're ready to roll.  You might not notice it right away, but there's actually a blue ribbon that you can use to select an email.  You can move this thread with the up and down arrows.  Then, when you found the email you want, hit Enter, and it will open.  To archive, press "e".

Another thing you can do when in your inbox is to select the email without having to read it first.  To do that, scroll to the conversation and select it by pressing "x".  You can then delete the email by pressing "#" (shift + 3).  You can also delete an email with "#" when in the email view.

Now let's reply to email.  We can do this by opening up the email and pressing "r".  We then type our reply, and send the email by pressing "Cmd + Enter" (or "Ctrl + Enter" for Windows users).

What do you do after you reply?  Well you could press "e" to archive and then press "u" to go to your inbox and then select the next message and go again.  But an even faster way is "yo" in combination.  You press "yo", and it automatically archives the conversation and moves onto the next one.

Now, "r" is for reply to the sender.  But what if you want "reply to all"?  Pressing "a" will get you to "reply all".

Now, let's say you're typing your message and you don't want to send it yet.  You want to save it as a draft.  To get out of your email typing, you can press "Esc", and then you're free to use another shortcut, like archiving or moving back to the inbox.

Lastly, let me tell you how to write a message.  You can do this from the inbox by pressing "c".  You'll then get the box open to write an email.  You'll automatically be put into the to field where you can type your recipient, and then press "tab" to cycle to the subject box to set the subject, and then "tab" again to write the message, and then "Ctrl + Enter" to send it.  You'll then be back in your email inbox.

This concludes the basic gmail shortcuts that cover 99% of what you may want to do.  If you ever need a handy review, press "?" (Shift + /) and you'll get a box that shows you all the keyboard shortcuts you can use.  You can see that there's actually a lot more keyboard shortcuts you could be using to supercharge your email usage even further.  But we'll save those for another time.

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