Going Fast With GMail's Keyboard Shortcuts November 16, 2011

I’m frequently surprised by how many people don’t know about the awesome GMail keyboard shortcuts that are built in to the web application. (And yes, this is the 1 billionth google hit on this topic, but the battle against ignorance is won post by post!)

I use them constantly, and they really help churn through the inbox efficiently and effectively.

First, you need to turn them on:

  • Settings (Gear icon) -> General -> Keyboard Shortcuts On

Click the link above to see the overall list, but the basics I always use:

  • x => select a message
  • e => archive a message
  • j/k => Move to next/previous conversation

Just those 4 keys will let you BLAST through conversations that don’t apply to you. I often end up doing (x,j,x,j,x,j,e) (select 3 conversations, then archive the lot of them in one swoop.) If it’s spam, or something I know I’ll never need again, replace ‘e’ with ‘#’ (delete)

  • # => delete selected conversation

Ok, so sometimes you actually need to read a conversation:

  • o => open the conversation under the cursor for reading

Our good friend ‘x’ will pop you right back to the main view, with the current message selected. So if there’s a lot of messages I need to read, (o,x,j,o,x,j,…. e) will be reading through them all, then archiving the bunch.

If it’s one of those conversations that you think will go on for a while and isn’t relevant, the wonderful m (mute) will pre-archive the rest of the conversation, without you having to deal with it popping back up later! (I have to imagine there are some monster and interminable threads that happen in the googleplex.)

  • m => mute the conversation

And then there’s replying! Using shortcuts gets you another gorgeous side effect, way lower risk of accidentally reply-all’ing.

When you have a message selected

  • r => reply
  • a => reply-all
  • f => forward

Boom. Tasty efficiency.

Update: @naydichev reminds me of the most important shortcut of all:

  • ? => help (show all commands.)