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Digital Spring Cleaning

Five easy ways to declutter your SCU Gmail

Marc Ramos from Technology Training shares tips on making Gmail work for you.

Our tools for email communication have changed dramatically over the last few years. But for many of us, the way we interact with our email has not evolved as quickly. As your emails build up over time, your inbox could become unwieldy. Use these “spring cleaning” solutions to increase email efficiency.

1. Use filters to skip the inbox entirely. Let Gmail’s filter tools be your personal assistant. Select an email and choose the “Filter Messages Like This” option from under your “More” menu. If you wish, you can create a filter that diverts all incoming mail from a specific person, group, or subject from the inbox. The filter can then apply a label to the message, auto reply using a canned response, or maybe someday auto forward it.

2. Hide labels unless there’s an unread message. The real estate for your labels is relatively small. One solution to avoid cluttering this space is to hide labels entirely until needed. Take a quick visit to your email settings. Locate the tab called “Labels.” Display options for labels include show, hide, or only show if unread.

3. Use Inbox Tabs to auto sort important emails. Gmail’s tabbed inbox categorizes your incoming emails into several categories: Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates, and Forums. A tabbed inbox helps you focus on emails that are high priority, and disregard the fluff. Navigate to your settings and select the “Configure Inbox” option. Select the tabs you would like to use, drag and drop emails to move them from one tab to another, and finally sit back as Gmail categorizes all of your new messages going forward.

4. Archive instead of delete. Gmail’s search function is a powerful tool for locating old emails. Next time you open a message and can’t decide how to label it, simply select the archive button near the top of your message. Once your message has been archived it will be sitting under your “All Mail” label. Need to find it again someday? Enter any search term from the email and select the “Search Options” drop-down arrow to the far right of the search field. Search by sender, subject, attachment, size, date range, or keywords.

5. Send and Archive. After replying to emails the original email will still take up room in your inbox. An inbox filled with emails that have been replied to may make us feel productive at the end of the day, but a clean inbox is even more rewarding. The “Send and Archive” feature does exactly as its name says—immediately archiving an email after you’ve replied to it. To enable this feature navigate to your general settings and select the “Show Send & Archive” button.

Need to get a better grip on your email? Visit Santa Clara University’s Technology Training schedule for upcoming workshops.

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