7 hidden Gmail features to make your life easier

Gmail has several features that increase productivity and make for a better email experience, and they are only a few clicks away.

Google has spent years optimising Gmail’s user experience and recently rolled out a substantial update to the interface.

Some great features are not enabled by default and require you to dig around through the menus to discover.

MyBroadband has selected seven of the best hidden Gmail features that will make your life easier.

Reading pane view

Reading pane lets you quickly view and switch between messages, similar to the experience you would get with a desktop mail client like Microsoft Outlook.

To enable this feature click on the gear icon on the top right of the interface to open the settings panel, scroll down to the reading pane section in the menu, and select your preferred view.

gmail reading pane function
Gmail inbox reading pane function (Click to enlarge)

Snooze reminders

If you receive an email that you need to take some time to consider before replying, it’s easy to forget about it altogether.

Gmail’s snooze function lets emails reappear at the top of your inbox after a set amount of time has passed.

To use this function hover over the specific email and click on the clock icon. On mobile you must select the email, click on the three-dot menu, and select snooze.

gmail snooze function
Gmail inbox snooze function (Click to enlarge)


Instead of returning to your inbox every time you delete or archive an email, the auto-advance function opens up the next email when you dismiss the one you are looking at.

To enable auto-advance click on the gear icon to open the settings panel, select “See All Settings”, and in the full settings menu go to the “Advanced” menu tab where you can enable auto-advance.

gmail auto advance function
Gmail inbox auto-advance function (Click to enlarge)

Auto-enlarge typing space

The small writing window on Gmail can be useful and make for quick emailing, but if you write long emails on a daily basis it could get annoying to scroll up and down constantly.

With the “Default to full screen” function, every email you compose will be in a larger window.

To enable this feature compose a new email and select the three dots menu at the bottom of the writing window, then select “Default to full screen”.

Whenever you would like to use the smaller writing window you can click on the two inward-facing arrows in the top right of your new message to reduce the window’s size.

Gmail large typing window function
Gmail large typing window function (Click to enlarge)

Extend “Undo send” timer to 30 seconds

By default, you can only stop an email you’ve clicked send on if you catch it in the first five seconds.

To extend the “Undo send” timer click on the gear icon in the inbox view, then select “See all settings”. A dropdown is available on the general settings pane to set the send cancellation period.

Gmail undo send to 30 seconds option
Gmail undo send extended to 30 seconds in settings (Click to enlarge)

Advanced search

Gmail’s advanced search function lets you search using a variety of filters, from date and time range, to attachment size.

To use the advanced search click on the arrow on the search bar at the top of your inbox and select your filters.

Gmail advanced search function
Gmail advanced search function (Click to enlarge)

Mute noisy email threads

You can choose to mute noisy email threads to prevent them from distracting you while trying to focus.

To mute a thread click on the thread, then select the three-dot menu and select mute.

Gmail mute thread function
Gmail mute thread function (Click to enlarge)

Now read: Google is hiring in South Africa

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7 hidden Gmail features to make your life easier