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Two tips for faster email reading in Gmail: Part 1

Two tips for faster email reading in Gmail: Part 1

If you are anything like me, most of your communication happens through email. This can be a time consuming task, so I am always looking for ways to make things more efficient. In this post, I am going to outline two of the things that I use to spend a little less time dealing with email and a little more time getting things done.

Use Keyboard Short-cuts!

I have found that the people I know are pretty much divided into two groups: the mice and the anti-mice. The mice have one hand on the mouse as much as possible. Click to view a message, click to reply, click to send, click to view the next message, and so on. The other group does everything possible to avoid using the mouse. If you are in the latter group, then most likely you are already using this tip. If not, this is a way to speed up your Gmail experience.

Here is what you will need to do to get started:
    Keyboard shortcuts are not enabled by default, so you will have to turn them on. Choose Mail Settings from the gear menu. Under the general tab, you will find the setting to enable keyboard shortcuts.

    Turning on keyboard shortcuts
    Once you return to your inbox, you will have quite a few more options, however these options will not be immediately apparent. To find out what you can do, type "?".

    Whoa, that's a lot of shortcuts!
    Hopefully, you are still reading after looking at all of those shortcuts! I will break this down a little bit, and give you what I think are the most useful shortcuts.
    • j, k, o, u, e
    J and K are right there on your home row, and will move between messages both in the message view, and when you are reading an email. If you normally read each email, then click the next or previous buttons to go to navigate through your messages, these shortcuts can help speed up your reading. Open a message, then press "j" to go to the next message, or "k" to go to the previous message. Pressing "e" in the message list will archive that message, removing it from the inbox.

    If you usually click on each message in the inbox, then return to the inbox to read the next message, these short cuts can also help. When you are viewing the inbox, you will notice that there is a small arrow in front of the current message. If you have just opened your inbox, it should be in front of the first message in your inbox. Try pressing "j" and "k" now. The arrow should move down to the previous message for "j" and up to the next message for "k." Once you are done reading, you can press "u" to go back to the message list. If, however, you like to keep things tidy by archiving messages you have read and no longer need to take action on, you can press "e" while viewing a message to archive it, and return to the message list.

    • r, f,
    What if you have a message that does require action? While you are reading a message, you can press "r" to reply or "f" to forward. As soon as you do, you are able to start typing your message, no mouse needed. You may be wondering how you will be able to send the message, since any keys you press are used to type the reply or forward. It's quite simple: Press then press . Presto! Your message is sent.

    There are many, many more short cuts that you can use, but I find that it is best to get used to using a few shortcuts rather than trying to memorize a huge list. Just remember that you can press "?" any time to view all of the shortcuts available. You can even close the help window with a shortcut: Just press !