Gmail Tip: How to Quickly View Unread Messages

If you’re like me, your inbox can get pretty cluttered with unread messages after being away from my computer for a day. Since I use multiple inboxes to split my Gmail inbox into several smaller inboxes, I can have unread messages all over the place on a particularly busy day.

In this guide, I’ll show you how to turn a handy Gmail search query into a dedicated Unread Messages button.

Step One:  In Gmail, go to Gmail Labs and enable Quick Links.

Be sure to click Save changes at the bottom of the page after you’ve clicked the Enable button.

Step Two: Type is:unread in the Gmail search bar and press enter.  This search query will display any unread message in your inbox.

Step 3: Locate the new Quick Links box on the left sidebar of Gmail.  Click Add Quick Link then give it a title.

That’s it!  You will now have a handy button to instantly view your unread messages.  This same technique can be applied to any Gmail search query to quickly view your messages.

How to Access Gmail Without an Internet Connection

gmail-offline-thumbWe all love the freedom and accessibility provided by keeping our email in the digital “cloud“, but an inevitable problem always arises: what do we do when we aren’t able to access the internet?  Or, as we recently discovered, what do we do when the our web-based email provider crashes?

One solution is to activate Gmail’s Offline mode, which allows you to store copies of your emails on your computer using Google Gears (Gears is an extension for Firefox and Internet Explorer that allows internet content to be stored and synchronized on your hard drive).  When connected to Gmail, Gears will store your emails on your computer and periodically check to make sure they are updated.  If you want to access Gmail offline, Gears will allow you to use it like normal (aside from the fact that you can’t send or receive messages until you connect).

Activating Offline Gmail

Step One: Login to your Gmail account and go to the Gmail Labs page.  Click the Enable button for Offline.  Click Save Changes.


Step Two: In your inbox, click the Offline button in the top right of the screen.


If you haven’t already installed Google Gears, you will be prompted to do so now.  Please take heed of the message that you shouldn’t install Offline Gmail if you’re using a public or shared computer.  Click the Install button and follow the procedures to install Google Gears.  You will have to restart your browser once the installation is finished.


Step 3: After you have installed Gears and restarted your browser, log back into your Gmail account.  You will now be prompted to allow Gmail to store messages to your computer.  Check the “I trust this site” box and click Allow.


You will also be given the opportunity to create shortcuts for Offline Gmail.


Offline Gmail will now be installed and will begin storing your messages on your computer.  This process will take some time (depending on the size of your inbox and attachments).  If you interrupt the downloading process, it will resume when you log back into Gmail.


A new Offline icon will be visible in the top right of your inbox (right next to the green Gmail Labs beaker).  The Offline icon will indicate current status of your local email copies and also allow you to enter “Flaky Internet Mode” if you’re having trouble connecting.

Now that you have Offline Gmail installed, you can access your email without an internet connection just by opening the shortcuts you saved to your computer.  You’ll have access to all emails stored by Google Gears, but you won’t be able to download new messages or compose messages until you connect to the internet.  Any gadgets you have activated will also be unavailable until you enter online mode again.

Offline Gmail is especially useful if you’ve got a netbook or laptop and need to access your emails on the go.  Offline Gmail saves 3 months of previous emails by default (which can be adjusted) and even stores copies of your attachments.  You can even continue composing new messages, they will just be stored in your Outbox until you have internet access.

Have any tips for staying connected when you’re off the grid?  Share them with us in the comments.

New Gmail Labs Feature Hides Labels, Shows Subjects Better

gmail_labs_hidelabels_badinboxI like using labels in Gmail, but they take up a ridiculous amount of real estate in your subject line (especially if you’re using labels as folders).  On a small screen like a netbook’s, labels can completely overshadow the subject line of your emails.

Gmail Labs comes to the rescue with the new Remove Labels from Subjects feature.  Once enabled, all labels in the subject line will be completely hidden, allowing you to read your email subjects without obstruction.  Labels will still be fully functional via the sidebar and search box.

To enable this feature, head over to the Gmail Labs page and click the ‘Enable’ button on Remove Labels from Subjects.

Hidden labels, visible subjects!

For even more label-hiding goodness, check out the Better Gmail 2 add-on for Firefox or the Hide Labels in Message Row script for Greasemonkey.  Not only do those hide the labels, they will automatically display the labels when you hover your mouse over a message.

How To: Get Organized with Multiple Inboxes in Gmail

gmail_multipleinboxes_thumbmaybeIf you want to get a better grip on your Gmail inbox (whether it be to handle multiple email accounts or simply to organize messages better), you may find Gmail Labs’ Multiple Inboxes feature useful.  Multiple Inboxes splits your Gmail window into separate inboxes, allowing you to apply unique filters to each one.

Multiple Inboxes provides a great way to separate multiple email accounts, allowing you to keep your personal inbox clean without losing messages from your other accounts.

Using Multiple Inboxes

Step 1: Activate Multiple Inboxes in Gmail Labs.


Step 2: By default, you will have multiple inboxes for starred messages and drafts only.  To change these or add new inboxes, click Settings (located in the top right) then click the Multiple inboxes tab.


You can now specify up to four additional inboxes to be displayed in Gmail.  To choose which messages are displayed in an inbox, you can enter standard Gmail search queries in the ‘Search query’ box.

Here are a few examples of search queries:

  • To create an inbox that displays only messages with attachments, use the query:  has:attachment
  • To display only unread messages:  is:unread
  • To display messages from a specific sender:  from:SENDER’S_ADDRESS (replace with a real email address)
  • To display messages with a specific label:  label:YOUR_LABEL
  • If you’re using multiple accounts, you can display account-specific messages by using:  to:YOUR_ACCOUNT_ADDRESS
    • In my case, I wanted to sort all messages to @techerator email addresses.  To do this, I used the query  to:* (the * denotes a wildcard).


At the bottom of the settings page, you can configure how many messages per inbox are displayed (the default is 9) and where the multiple inboxes are displayed.

Step 3: (optional) Now that you have multiple inboxes configured, you may want to remove redundant messages from your primary inbox which can be achieved easily using Gmail’s filters.

Click the Create a filter link, located at the top of your Gmail inbox (to the right of the ‘Search the Web’ button).


Configure the filter to be the same as the query (or queries) you used for your multiple inboxes.  In my case, I want all messages to addresses hidden from my main inbox and displayed in my multiple inboxes.  To do this, I entered * in the To: field.

If you want to see what the filter captures, click the ‘Test Search’ button.  When satisfied with your results, click the Next Step button.


In the next screen, check the Skip the Inbox (Archive It) button and then click the Create Filter button.  If you want this action to be applied retroactively to current messages that meet your filter criteria, click the ‘Also apply filter to…’ box.  Messages that apply to your filter will no longer be displayed in your primary inbox, but will be displayed in your multiple inbox instead.

gmail_multipleinboxes_skipinboxMultiple Inboxes for Gmail provides a great solution to getting your inbox organized, and helps keep important messages from getting lost in the noise of your everyday correspondence.

Have a good email configuration?  Share it in the comments!  [Gmail Multiple Inboxes]

Gmail Labs Adds Google Web Search, Never Leave Gmail Again

Let’s face it: Gmail is fantastic and Gmail Labs keeps adding features we didn’t realize we couldn’t live without.  New to Gmail Labs this week is the Google Search “experiment” which allows you to perform a Google web search through a sidebar widget – all without ever leaving Gmail.  The next time you’re in the middle of writing an email and can’t remember the definition of the word ‘Luddite’, you can easily look up the answer without missing a step.

For those of you that are new to Gmail Labs, they are additional features that Gmail offers on an experimental basis with the disclaimer that they may “change, break, dissapear at any time”.  However, most of these features are so useful that they will no doubt be included in future versions of Gmail.

Adding Google Search in Gmail is very easy.  Head over to the Google Labs tab under Settings (you’ll have to log in to Gmail) and scroll down to the “Google Search”  experiment.  Click the Enable button and select Save Changes at the bottom of the page.


Once Google Search has been enabled, you will now have access to the Google Search sidebar widget (shown below) anywhere in Gmail.


When you perform a Google Search using the sidebar widget, the results will load in a Google Chat-esque box which displays in the corner of your screen and can be minimized or moved into its own separate window.


Each result contains a drop-down box that gives you options based on what you are currently doing in Gmail.  If you’re reading an email, you can choose to begin a reply to that email with a link to the search result.  If you’re writing a message (as shown above), you can paste the result in the email or past just the URL.  If you’re currently in Google Chat via Gmail, you can send the result through chat.

One additional tip: If you’ve added several Google Labs features to your sidebar, you may find it getting pretty cluttered.  To deal with this, you can enable the “Navbar drag and drop” feature in Gmail Labs which allows you to easily drag-and-drop widgets anywhere you like in the sidebar.

What are your favorite Gmail Labs features?  What are some features you’d like to see in the future?  Tell us about it in the comments.