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The 20 Best Gmail Shortcuts to Supercharge Your Productivity

October 22, 2018


The 20 Best Gmail Shortcuts to Supercharge Your Productivity

Today we’ll show you how to supercharge your productivity by navigating Gmail using keyboard shortcuts. Most shortcuts only require you to remember one key, so we promise you’ll be whizzing through your inbox in record time without having to memorize too many tricky combinations.

How to enable Gmail keyboard shortcuts

You may or may not already have Gmail shortcuts enabled so we’ll show you exactly how to check.

Click on the ‘Gear’ icon in the top right of your Gmail. Then click on ‘Settings’.

This will bring up your settings under the ‘General’ tab. Scroll down and you’ll see ‘Keyboard shortcuts’. Make sure they are on.

Click ‘Save’ at the bottom of the page and you’re all done. You can now use keyboard shortcuts in Gmail. With practice, shortcuts can help boost your productivity and the speed with which you use Gmail.

1. Hit ‘C’ to compose a new message

If you want to compose a new message, instead of clicking ‘Compose’ in the top left, you can simply hit the ‘C’ key.

2. Tap ‘D’ to compose a new message in a different tab

If you want to open up a new Gmail Compose window in a new tab, simply hit ‘D’. This will give you an expanded draft view – perfect for those long work-related emails!

3. Use ‘Tab’ to select a recipient

After using ‘C’ or ‘D’ to bring up a new compose window, you’ll see that the cursor will be in the address bar. As you start typing in the recipient’s name, Gmail will bring up suggestions if it’s someone you’ve previously emailed or someone in your contacts. Instead of clicking on the person’s name with your mouse, you can select them just by tapping the ‘Tab’ key.

Once you’ve entered your recipient(s), you can move to the ‘Subject’ line using ‘Tab’ and then move to compose using ‘Tab’. Once you get the hang of this, it will save you quite a bit of time compared with using a mouse to click on each individual box.

4. Use ‘Tab’ to attach files, insert a link, select something from Drive and more

The ‘Tab’ key also comes in handy when you want to insert a link, add a picture or attach a file. Here are all the features that you can select using just the ‘Tab’ key without having to even touch your mouse.

  • When you’re done writing, press ‘Tab’ once to highlight the ‘Send’ button. Hit ‘Enter’ to send.
  • To attach a file, press ‘Tab’ twice to highlight ‘Attach Files’ and hit ‘Enter’.
  • To insert a link, tap ‘Tab’ three times to highlight ‘Insert a link’ and hit ‘Enter’.
  • If you need to insert an emoji, tap ‘Tab’ four times and press ‘Enter’ to bring up the full list.
  • If you need to insert a file from Drive, tap ‘Tab’ five times to highlight ‘Insert files using Drive’ and hit ‘Enter’

Further options such as ‘Insert a Photo’ and ‘Turn confidential mode on/off’ can also be reached by pressing the ‘Tab’ key. If this sounds confusing, there’s no need to count. Simply watch the highlighter flicking across the icons and hit ‘Enter’ to access the option you want.

5. Hold ‘Ctrl’ + ‘K’ to insert a link

If you’re anything like us, you will likely share many links via email. Most of the time, selecting a URL with your mouse and then pressing ‘Ctrl’ + ‘C’ to copy and ‘Ctrl’ + ‘P’ to paste into your email will be the easiest route. However, for well-known websites that both you and the recipient will know such as Forbes or Business Insider, typing the URL can be faster.

Press ‘Ctrl’ + ‘K’ will bring up the tab to insert a link. Type the URL into the box and hit ‘Enter’.

6. Use ‘Control’ + ‘Enter’ to send a message

When you’re ready to send your email, pressing ‘Control’ + ‘Enter’ can be a quicker way to send a message than reaching for your mouse and clicking on ‘Send’. Try it!

7. Use ‘J’ to move down your email list, use ‘K’ to move up

Let’s say you want to move through your emails quickly without having to scroll or open each one. The ‘J’ key lets you move down your email list, as shown below. To scroll up, simply use ‘K’. The little blue tab to the left of the email helps you track which email you are selecting.   

8. Hit ‘O’ to open an email

Once you’re confident zipping up and down your inbox using ‘J’ and ‘K’ respectively, simply tap ‘O’ when the blue tab is on the email you want to read. This will open the email without you having to use your mouse to click on it.

9. ‘G’ + ‘I’ to go back to your inbox

You’ve probably hit the back arrow or clicked ‘Inbox’ when you wanted to go to your inbox. Did you know that anytime you want to go back to your inbox, you can simply tap ‘G’ + ‘I’ at the same time?

This feature is super handy! Wherever you are in Gmail, these two keys will bring you back to your inbox at any time.    

10. Tap ‘X’ to select an email from your inbox

Sometimes you don’t want to open and read an email. Let’s say you want to mark an email as unread or delete it, how do you do that without touching the mouse?

With the blue tab on the email you want to select, tap ‘X’ to mark the checkbox. 

#11. Hit ‘Shift’ + ‘U’ to mark an email as unread

Occasionally you’ll be reading an email and realize you need to come back to it. A quick way to mark it as unread without clicking on it with your mouse is to hold down ‘Shift’ + ‘U’.

If the email is open, this shortcut will take you back to your inbox and the email you were reading will be marked as unread. You’ll notice that the text is black to indicate it is unread.

You can also mark an email as unread from your inbox but you’ll need to select it first, by tapping ‘X’.

12. Tap ‘E’ to archive a message

If you are reading an email and want to archive it, simply tap ‘E’. Just like marking an email as unread, you can do this with the email open or from the inbox by selecting it with the ‘X’ key first.

13. Press ‘#’ to delete emails

With a message open or selected, you can tap the hash key (‘#’) to delete the message. The exact location of this key varies between keyboards. Some keyboards have a dedicated key while other keyboards place hash as a secondary function of the number 3 key. In this case, hold ‘Shift’ and ‘3’ to delete emails.

14. Tap ‘S’ to ‘Star’ an email

If there’s an important email that you need to highlight, you can ‘star’ it by tapping the ‘S’ key once. This is much quicker than trying to click the little star with your mouse. You can remove the star easily by pressing ‘S’ again.

Unlike other actions such as marking an email as unread or deleting it, you don’t need to select the email with ‘X’ before adding a star. Simply move up and down your list with ‘J’ and ‘K’ and use the blue tab to the left of the email as a guide.

15. ‘G’ Followed by ‘S’ will take you to all your starred emails

Tapping ‘G’ followed by ‘S’ (not at the same time, one after the other) will bring up all your starred emails. This can be a handy way of finding those important emails you wanted to come back to. 

16. Use ‘N’ and ‘P’ to quickly sort through a conversation

Long conversations can be quite confusing in Gmail but there are shortcuts to help here too! When you’re trying to sort through an email conversation, use the ‘N’ and ‘P’ keys to move up and down the list. To expand a certain email, hit ‘Enter’.

17. ’G’ followed by ‘D’ will bring up all your draft messages

Have you ever started typing an email and then become distracted? You can quickly head back to your draft messages with this combination. Instead of clicking on ‘Drafts’ with your mouse, you know that you can bring up all your drafts simply by tapping ‘G’ followed by ‘D’.

18. Go to your tasks with ‘G’ + ‘K’

A really cool shortcut that will help you stay productive is ‘G’ + ‘K’ – this will bring up your tasks. From here, you can create or manage your tasks easily and simply without having to reach for the mouse. To move a conversation to Tasks, just press ‘Shift’ + ‘T’.


19. Tap ‘B’ to snooze an email thread

You can’t be productive if you’re constantly being disturbed by new emails. Did you know there’s a shortcut for that, too? Tap ‘B’ once on any open or selected email and the options for snoozing the email thread will pop up.


Instead of clicking on the option you want with your mouse, you can move up and down the list with your keyboard arrows and hit ‘Enter’ to select your preference.

20. Select a label with ‘G’ + ‘L’

Last but not least is one of our favorite shortcuts, the labels shortcut. Labels are one of Gmail’s most powerful yet least understood features. You can manage and find any email you want by adding a label to it. We’re not saying that folders are old-fashioned – Gmail has those too and you can move emails into folders if you wish – but labels are far more convenient. Try them and see!

How to label a conversation

If you’re not using labels yet, it’s easy, don’t worry. When you are reading a conversation or have it selected from your inbox, simply tap ‘L’ and you can type in anything you want for the label, or select an existing one.

To search for all emails with a certain label, tap ‘G’ and ‘L’ at the same time.

Use BitBounce + Labels

You may have noticed from our screenshots that we have a Gmail extension called ‘BitBounce’ installed.  If you haven’t heard of it before, BitBounce is a Gmail add-on that helps filter out spam email.

After easily adding it to your Gmail, all of your contacts will be automatically added to “your whitelist”. These contacts can email you normally as they always do. However, anyone else outside of your list (such as companies, marketers and spammers) will be sent an autoreply asking them to pay a small fee to contact you. Their emails will be ‘bounced’ out of your inbox, helping you to stay focused and productive. 

So, where do those emails go?

This is where labels come in handy. BitBounce creates a new folder called ‘Unpaid’ in your Gmail and places any bounced emails in there. These emails will only be moved to your inbox if the sender decides to pay you a fee. You can set whatever fee you want, depending on how valuable your inbox is. If you want to check your ‘Unpaid’ folder easily, use ‘G’ + ‘L’ to bring it up.

BitBounce will save you a ton of time from dealing with spam emails and will help keep you productive.


In this post we focused on work-orientated, productivity shortcuts! If you’d like to discover all Gmail shortcuts, see the official Google Guide here. We hope you find ours useful but feel free to let us know in the comments below which ones we missed. If spam email is killing your productivity and you want to try out BitBounce, sign up here: