As some of you may be aware, I permanently switched from Outlook (having used it for many years) to Gmail at the end of last year. My main reason was because, as I seem to be doing a lot of traveling lately, I wanted to be able to access my email on the go, especially from my laptop as I take it with me when I travel.
Making the switch was a big learning curve for me and, initially I got frustrated that I couldn’t do some of the things in Gmail that I used to easily be able to do in Outlook. However with a bit of perseverance and re-thinking the way I worked, I found some great Gmail productivity tools that allow me to do pretty much the same as I used to do in Outlook. And today I’m going to share them with you!
1. Email Signatures
Problem: One of my biggest frustrations at first was that Gmail didn’t put my email signature at the bottom of my messages; instead it put it at the bottom of the conversation thread. If there were several emails within the conversation thread, this meant that my signature appeared way down at the bottom.
Solution: If you go to your Gmail settings and click on Labs, scroll down until you find the Signature Tweaks Lab and enable it. This means that my email signature now appears at the bottom of my email message instead at the bottom of the conversation thread. I also have different email signatures set up for different email accounts, and Gmail automatically puts the right signature for the right account.
2. Email Templates
Problem: For those repetitive emails I used to have email templates created in Outlook, so I just chose the template I wanted and away I went. I couldn’t find this same functionality in Gmail initially, so was copying and pasting from Outlook into Gmail each time I wanted to use an email template.
Solution: Again, if you go to your Gmail settings and click on Labs, scroll down until you find the Canned Responses Lab and enable it. Voila! I can now create email templates in Gmail in the same way I used to create email templates in Outlook. So I simply took all my Outlook templates and copied and pasted them into new canned responses in my Gmail account.
3. Mail Merge
Problem: One of the things I loved about Outlook was the ability to create mail merges, i.e. send personalized emails to a group of people by using the Mail Merge feature in Word. It would automatically send them to my Outlook as emails.
Solution: This was a harder one to solve and took quite a bit of digging around to find the solution … but I felt sure it had to be there. And it was! Here’s a link to a video tutorial that shows you exactly how to create mail merges using Gmail. It requires you download a spreadsheet and save it in your Google docs, but it’s such a huge timesaver.
Click Here to watch the Mail Merge Video:
So there you go … my top three favorite Gmail tools to increase my productivity. And if you know of any others do let me know. I’m still on my learning curve!