I started writing this post about a week or two ago, I am finally finishing. Why the delay? Probably because I was busy checking my email. It’s a bad habit that I have. I check it ALL.THE.TIME. I can’t help it though.  I am always super paranoid that one day I was just going to miss THAT email. You know, the one you wait for for months. 🙂 So, now I make sure that I check my email consistently. Not really because I get that much real mail, but because the spam is out of control, and if i do not check my mail a few times a day, I might have 300+ spam messages to browse through to make sure that there is no real mail mixed in. So, lesson one in my post is…

1. Check your spam folder regularly. The GMail spam filter is really good, but sometimes it’s too good. So never make the mistake that I did and assume that you do not need to check it, you might be missing out on something. I had a period early last year where I was not really into checking email, I was not getting much “real” mail, I never checked my spam folder, stuff like that. I almost missed out on 3 great opportunities because I never saw the first email. Luckily, these were real business folks and they were persistent, so they followed up and emailed me again and it all worked out.

2. Use Filters & Labels. Filters are awesome. These put mail into separate “folders” according to a criteria that you select so that  you can keep track of things from mailing list, etc. I have a TON of filters, over 30 actually. Maybe too many, but it keeps my inbox nice and clean and i can look at the less relevant things when I want to. Filters can work in a few ways. You can automatically set a filter on a message and keep it in your mailbox when you receive mail, or manually set a filter on mail yourself. But, what I suggest is not only automatically setting a filter, but also skipping the inbox to keep your inbox clean. How do you do this? Simple.

The easiest thing to do is to check the box next to a type of message that you want filter. This can be based on From, or the Subject. Then click on More Actions–>Filter Messages Like These. On the Create a Filter screen, it will probably already have the From filled in. If you want to change that to the subject field, clear out the from field and type in your criteria. Click Next and it show you all messages found meeting that criteria. Check “Skip the Inbox (Archive It)”. Next check “Apply the label”: and choose one, or create a new one, and then check “Also apply filter to ___ conversations below.” Click on Create Filter, and you are done.  As you can see there are other useful options too. Once you have a label created, you can change the color so it stands out in your email. Try it out! You won’t be sorry.

3. Utilize the Starred option. When I get an email that I know that I need to take action on, but can’t do it right at that moment, I click the Star so I can come back to them later. Once I take care of it, I unstar it. This is kind of like an email to do list, and you won’t have to search back through your mail to make sure that you did not miss anything.

4. Setup a “pretty” email address. If you have your own domain for your biz or blog, go into your web hosting settings, setup your own email address me@mydomain.com. You can then set GMail up to send mail as that address. It looks more professional. Having a GMail address is cool, but sometimes you just want to look like you are really on your game. It bothers me when I go to a companies site and look up contact info, or someone gives me a biz card with contact info and they have an  @aol.com email address. For detailed instructions on this, click here. Dave Taylor did an awesome detailed write-up.

5. Setup your signature. You can do this in the Gmail settings themselves, or you may want to get fancy and check out Wisestamp. I use Wisestamp and I love it, but it is not really practical if you use more than one computer like I do. the signature is saved local in the browser only on that computer, so you would have to set it up on each computer that you use. If you set it up directly in your Gmail account, that goes with you.

6. Check out the Labs. There are several useful items in labs that you may want to enable on your account. They add stuff all the time, so check back often. Some of my favorites are:

Google Voice Player in Email. The name speaks for itself. Very useful if you use Google Voice
Insert Images. Again, speaks for itself… but it allows you to insert an image directly into an email without having to attach it.
Forgotten Attachment Detector. Notifies you if your message says something like “check out the attached file.” and you forget to attach it.
Multiple Inboxes. Gives an awesome view of more than one filtered folder at one time (if you are using filters).

What did I miss? What are some of your favorite things about GMail? What tips would you like to share?