The best keyboard shortcuts help you get computing tasks done at a faster pace, with no need to reach for a mouse or trackpad—and when it comes to managing an overflowing and chaotic email inbox, any kind of productivity hack is going to be useful.
How to turn on Gmail keyboard shortcuts
Perhaps they’re less well known because you have to enable them first: With Gmail open in a browser tab, click the cog icon (top right), then See all settings. Under the General tab, make sure that you’ve selected Keyboard shortcuts on.
If the ones we’ve picked out below aren’t enough, you can create your own. From the main Gmail settings screen, click Advanced, find the Custom keyboard shortcuts option, and select Enable. Click Save Changes, and a new Keyboard Shortcuts tab will be added to the settings page. You can use that tab to edit existing shortcuts or create new ones.
C: Compose a new email
- Tap the C key anywhere in Gmail and a new compose window will pop up in the corner of the screen, with the cursor in the To: field of the new email.
D: Compose a new email in a new tab
- You don’t necessarily want to obscure your current Gmail view with a new message, and the D key will start a new email in a new browser tab.
Backslash : Run a search
- Tap the / key anywhere in Gmail, and the cursor will fly up to the search box at the top, ready for you to type out some search terms and dig into your archive.
Period: Open the More menu
- The More menu (which may show up as three dots, depending on your settings), holds options including the ability to mark emails as read and mute threads.
V: Open the Move to menu
- The Move to menu (which may appear as an arrow inside a folder icon) lets you quickly apply one of your Gmail labels to the current message.
L: Open the Label as menu
- Use the Label as menu (which may be display as a bookmark-like icon) if you want to apply several labels to a message simultaneously.
Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+C: Add CC recipients
- Ctrl or Cmd+Shift+C, (depending on if you’re using Windows or macOS, respectively) is the shortcut for adding carbon copy (CC) recipients to your email—contacts who are copied in along with the original recipient.
Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+B: Add BCC recipients
- This does almost the same task as the previous shortcut, only blind carbon copy (BCC) recipients can’t see which other email addresses have been BCC’d in.
Ctrl/Cmd+Enter: Send an email
- Once you’re happy with the way your message looks in the compose window, you can use this shortcut to immediately send the email.
Ctrl/Cmd+K: Insert a link
- Use this if you need to refer the recipient to a website address. You can either highlight the text to link from first, or enter the URL in the dialog that pops up.
Shift+Esc and Esc: Shift focus
- These shortcuts switch focus between the compose box and the main Gmail window, so you can sift through your inbox while you’re writing.
Ctrl/Cmd+M: Open the spelling suggestions
- Gmail comes with its own spell-checker, and this shortcut will bring up replacements for words that look incorrectly spelled.
X: Select a conversation thread
- With a list of messages on screen, you can use the cursor keys to move between them, and then the X key to select one or more of the emails.
- Once you’ve selected one or more emails, or if you currently have a conversation thread open, tap E to move them (or it) from your inbox to the archive.
S: Add a star
- As with the archive shortcut, tapping S adds a star to any selected or open emails. If you have several star types set up in your Gmail settings, repeated taps will cycle through them.
- With one or more emails selected (or open), you can use M to mute the conversations, so new messages in those threads don’t bring them back to the inbox.
R: Reply; A: Reply all
- These shortcuts can be used when an email thread is open, and if you add Shift in front of either of them, the reply will opens in a new pop-up window on your screen.
# : Delete emails
- In Gmail, the # key isn’t used to apply hashtags, but to send any selected or open emails directly to the trash folder, ready to be deleted.
G, then I: Go to your inbox
- Several shortcuts help you jump around the interface, and you can press G, followed by I (in succession) to go to the inbox from wherever you are in Gmail.
G, then S: Go to your starred messages
- Pressing G, followed by S will take you straight to the messages you’ve starred for later reference.
G, then D: Go to your drafts
- If you’re ready to carry on working on an email you already started at some point in the past, tap G, then D to open your drafts.
G, then T: Go to sent messages
- The G and T shortcut (tap them one after the other) is the one to use if you want to review the emails you’ve recently sent from your Gmail account.
G, then N: Go to the next page; G, then P: Go to the previous page
- Whatever view you’re in, from your inbox to the drafts folder, these keys will let you move through pages of conversation threads.
U: Go back to the conversation list
- If you’ve opened an email from one of Gmail’s views (like starred or sent messages), tap the U key to go back to the previous list of emails.
Asterisk, then A: Select all conversations
- Tap *, then A (in succession, not together) to select all of the conversation threads currently on your screen in whatever view you have open.
Asterisk, then R: Select read conversations; Asterisk, then U: Select unread conversations
- Tapping R or U after * will restrict your selection to just read or just unread threads.
Shift+N: Update a conversation
- Sometimes you’ll have a thread open and a new email will appear in it (indicated by an alert in the corner). Shift+N will refresh the thread.
[Related: 4 tips to bring your Gmail inbox to zero]
] or [ : Archive the thread and move on
- Tapping ] or [ will archive the thread you’re currently viewing and move to the previous or next one in your current Gmail view.
Underscore: Mark an open thread as unread
- If you’re viewing a thread but want to mark it as unread again, tap _ to do just that and return to the previous view.
Semicolon or colon: Expand or collapse the entire conversation
- The ; and : keys are handy for expanding or collapsing all the messages in the thread you’re currently viewing.