This guide will show you the basics of Gmail as well as go through some lesser-known features that will really help your productivity.

Before you start

Before starting with Gmail, it is worth making sure you know the basics of Google Workspace for Education. Take a read of The Basics on our Google Workspace Guide.


You can access your Gmail account anywhere in the world from, by installing the Gmail app on your Android or iOS device and logging in with your college credentials or by adding your college account to the default mail app on your mobile device.

If you use the default mail app on your phone, when you add an account it will ask you what type of account. Simply select Gmail then follow the steps to add your account on. You will most likely only need to set it up using your college email address and password.

If you do stumble across any issues, please don’t hesitate to pop in and see us.


Email Address

What is my college email address?

Email addresses are in the form:

So a typical student email address will be like or

How do I email a member of staff?

Staff usernames are three characters. So Natalie Rushman could be NPR and Steven Rogers SIR. The best bet would be to start typing the person’s full name in the recipient’s box and the auto-suggestion will show you some similar names.

The middle character is normally picked at random and doesn’t always reference a middle name.

So a typical staff email address will be like or

How can I find a users’ email address?

All members of the college community are in the same address book. Gmail will look up the address for you, just start typing the name. Student surnames are in capitals and staff surnames have only the first letter as capitals.

These would be students: Bruce WAYNE, Richard GRAYSON, Selina KYLE

And these would be staff: Anthony Stark, Natalie Rushman, Steven Rogers

You only need to know a users’ name to send a message; the system will look it up in the address book. BUT BE CAREFUL there will be some people with the same names in the address book; make sure to get the correct one!! You will need to use Firstname, Lastname to find the user.

Selina KYLE is correct, KYLE Selina is incorrect.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Throughout the guide we might reference keyboard shortcuts on some features, we also have them here so that you can learn them. You don’t have to use them but you will need to turn them on if you do want to use them.

  1. Click the Settings icon.
  2. Scroll down to Keyboard shortcuts.
  3. Click Keyboard shortcuts on.
  4. Scroll down to the very bottom and click Save changes.

NOTE – This list is only a small selection of the keyboard shortcuts available in Gmail. To find the full list, in Gmail, on your keyboard press Shift + ?

Send and view email

To compose an email, either click the Compose button in the top left corner of the screen, signified by a colourful + icon. Or with Gmail open, and keyboard shortcuts on, just press c on your keyboard.

The image below shows the Compose window that you’ll see when writing a message. You can have it in Gmail or pop it out as a separate window.

As always, you have the To field and the Cc and Bcc buttons to allow you to enter who you want to send the email to. The subject line lets you put the title of the email, the ‘New Message’ text on the title bar will change to the subject so if you minimize the window, you can easily get back to it. Under the subject you can enter the text for the main body of the email. Your signature is at the bottom of the main body.

We’ve numbered the icons in the Compose window and will go through what each one is below:

  1. Minimize – Lowers the Compose window to a small block at the bottom of Gmail.
  2. Full Screen & Pop Out – Clicking makes the Compose window larger. Holding shift while clicking pops the window out of Gmail into its own window.
  3. Save & close – Closes the email and saves a copy of it under the Drafts label.
  4. Send – Send the email. ⌘/Ctrl + Enter.
  5. Formatting options – Opens the formatting menu above, allows you to change font, formatting and location of the text.
  6. Attach files – Attach an item straight from your computer.
  7. Insert link – Insert a link to your email.
  8. Insert Emoji – Insert an emoji in to the body of your email.
  9. Insert from Drive – Attach an item straight from your Google Drive.
  10. Insert a Photo – Add an image in to the body of the email.
  11. Confidential mode – Allows you to turn Confidential mode on for this email. More information about this feature is in the Extra features page of this guide.
  12. Discard – Completely deletes the draft email.
  13. More options – Lets you select or change extra settings with the email. Such as Print or set a label.

NOTE – There is no High Priority/Low Priority or similar options for emails in Gmail as there is with other email services. Instead you should use the word URGENT in the subject line of the email. This helps with filters and labels as well as keeping the inbox looking clean.

Schedule Send

Setting an email to send at a specific time is a great tool in any email application. With Gmail, it’s incredibly easy to do, simply write your message and set the recipients but before you click Send, click the little arrow next to the Send button and select Schedule Send.

See new email

New email is highlighted in bold text and a white background. Read email is not bold and with a greyed background. In the example below, the top email is unread and the bottom email has been read. Simply click an email once to open it.

Inbox Types

There are 5 different types of inboxes available in Gmail, you can easily change it when you need to. Each person will find a different type will work best for them and not all types will work for each person but you can find the best one for you. The 5 types are listed below:

Default – Google scans the content of an email and puts it into one of 5 categories so you can easily find the type of email you need. Categories are Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates and Forums. These categories will be shown as tabs along the top of your email list. Click here to see how Categories work.

Important first – Arranges your inbox so the people you email most are at the top.

Unread first – Puts all your unread emails right at the top of your inbox.

Starred first – Puts all your starred emails at the top. Learn about Stars later on in this guide.

Priority inbox – Gives you important unread emails and Starred emails together at the top. NOTE – Important unread is any important email that is unread, not all unread emails.

Each type will show different results and may not always show all of your emails. For example, when testing with the Unread inbox type I had 37 unread emails but when changing to the Priority or Important types, I only had 3 unread emails.

You can change this in the Settings menu, by doing the below:

  1. In the top right, click Settings > Settings.
  2. In the Inbox tab, change the Inbox type to your preferred option.
    1. In this area you can also remove the categories from the Default Inbox type.
  3. At the bottom, click Save Changes.

Or, when looking at your inbox you can simply hover your mouse over the inbox button, click the little arrow that appears and select your preferred inbox option here. This method is perfect if you want to quickly switch between two different types. Hovering your mouse over an inbox type gives a description of that inbox on the right.

Preview Pane

By default the Preview Pane toggle is hidden, you can show it by following the steps below:

  1. In the top right, click Settings > Settings.
  2. In the Advanced tab, locate Preview Pane and click Enable.
  3. At the bottom, click Save Changes.

Now with the Preview Pane options enabled, you can turn on the Preview Pane itself. There will now be a new icon added next to the Settings icon in the top right of the screen.

Once you’ve enabled the Preview Pane, another useful setting becomes available. You can stop emails from marking themselves as read as soon as you click on them. This is beneficial if you want to have a quick read of an email but keep it marked as unread so you remember to action it later.

To enable this, follow the steps below:

  1. In the top right, click Settings > Settings.
  2. In the General tab, scroll down to Preview Pane and select your preferred settings for marking a conversation as read.
  3. At the bottom, click Save Changes.

Conversation View

By default, replies to email are grouped into conversations. Keeping all email together in a thread makes it easier to keep track of them and saves space in your inbox.

If you prefer to separate your existing email from future email as it is in GroupWise, you can turn off conversation view.

Turn off conversation view:

  1. In the top right, click Settings > Settings.
  2. In the General tab, scroll to Conversation View and select Conversation view off.
  3. At the bottom, click Save Changes.

Reply to email

To reply to an email you need to have the email open in Gmail and either press the R key on your keyboard or press the Reply button displayed as a left pointing arrow in on the right hand side of the page.

You’ll then get the reply compose window at the bottom of the screen as you can see to the right. You will have all the same options as a new email but with the email address you are replying to at the top and two extra options on the left.

Firstly, if you click the little downwards arrow next to the reply icon you can opt to forward the message, change the subject of the message or pop out the reply to a seperate window.

Just above the Send button you will also find three horizontal dots, clicking this will let you see the original email below yours.


The Snooze feature allows you to delay an email and forget about it for a while until a time that is more suitable for you. The email will disappear from your inbox until the time you selected then reappear at the top of your inbox.

If, after snoozing an email you want to read it before it is due to come back, you can select the Snoozed label on the left toolbar.

To snooze an email, hover your mouse over the email in the inbox and click the little clock icon. You can then select one of the default options that Google suggest of click Select date and time to select your own custom time.

You will also find the clock icon at the top of the screen if you have opened the email.


Organise your Inbox

The image below will help you understand what you see when looking at your inbox and help organise your inbox. We’ll be going through many of these features throughout this guide.

Labels (Not folders)

Gmail doesn’t use folders like GroupWise or Outlook, instead you have Labels. This allows you to categorize your email. Labels are like folders, but with a twist- you can apply several labels to an email then later find the email by clicking any of its labels from the left panel.

You can keep the emails in your inbox with a label or you can move emails in to a label, just like moving emails into folders.

You can also:

  • Open a label in the left sidebar to see all emails with that label.
  • Nest labels within labels. 
  • Search for all email with a label.
  • Customize labels with colours to easily identify an email.
  • See labels on email in your inbox to easily identify an email.
  • Use labels like email rules and move emails automatically.

Labels – Create

There are two methods to create or manage labels in Gmail, both can be seen below:

Create a label:

  1. In the top right, click Settings > Settings.
  2. Click the Labels tab.
  3. Scroll to the Labels section and click Create new label.
  4. Enter the label name and click Create.
  5. You can also create nested labels, which are like subfolders

Add a color to a label:

  1. In the left panel, point to a label and click More.
  2. Point to Label color and choose a color. Or, click Add custom color.
  3. The change instantly applies to all email with that label.
  4. (Optional) To remove a label color, point to Label color and click Remove color.
  5. (Optional) To see all email with a particular label, in the left panel, click the label’s name.

Create a label from an email:

  1. From an email, click Labels > Create new.
  2. Enter the label name and click Create.
  3. (Optional) Click Nest label under and choose an existing label to place it under.
  4. The new label automatically applies to your email.

Labels – Apply & Move emails

Apply a label to an email.

  1. In your Inbox, tick the boxes next to the email you want to apply a label to.
  2. Click the Labels icon.
  3. Tick the boxes next to the labels you want to add and click Apply.

Alternatively, with an email open click the Labels icon and select the labels, then click Apply.

Move email out of your inbox to labels the same way you did with folders.

  1. In your inbox, tick the boxes next to the email you want to move into a label.
  2. Click Move to, indicated by a folder icon with an arrow inside.
  3. Click the label you want to move your email to.


You can use filters to automatically manage your inbox and add labels to emails so you don’t have to do it yourself. They work just like rules in other email services.

Follow the steps below to do this and you can see our suggestions for filters below the instructions.

  1. Open Gmail and in the search box, click the Down arrow.
  2. Add any of the filter criteria that appears.
  3. Click Create filter.
  4. To automatically move email fitting your filter criteria out of your inbox, tick Skip the Inbox (Archive it).
  5. To apply a label, tick Apply the label, then click an existing label or create a new one.
  6. Click Create filter.
    1. If a new label is created, the new label appears in the left sidebar.

Here are some of our suggestions:

E.g. – What you want to achieveFilter criteriaSuggested label

Add a label to email from anyone outside of Barton From:

Add a label to all internal email From: *

Label email from a specific personFrom: (Example –

Add a label to promotional materialHas the words: category:promotionPromotion

Mark emails as urgentTo: (Example –  – Urgent

The + addition to the email is called Task Specific emails, we will cover this and more in the Extra Features section of this guide.


If you want to flag an important email, click the Star icon next to the email in your inbox. It will give you a gold star next to that email and you can use the Starred label in the left sidebar to view all your starred email.

Types of Star

You get the gold star as default but you can have up to 12 different stars, 6 of these aren’t actually stars but rather icons that you can use to flag an email.

To enable the other stars, follow the steps below:

  1. In the top right, click Settings > Settings.
  2. Scroll down in the General tab and locate Stars.
  3. Drag the stars you want to use up to the In use section and any you don’t want to the Not in use section.
    1. (Optional) Click the 4 stars preset or the all stars preset to use one of these suggestions.
  4. Scroll down to the bottom and click Save Changes.

The screenshot here shows the Stars section of the Settings menu. As you can see, there are 6 alternative stars including exclamation marks, ticks and question marks.

Once you’ve enabled the stars, simply keep clicking the Starred icon on the email until you find the one you want. They will rotate in the order their shown in your settings and you can drag and drop the stars to change the order if there’s one you want to use more than others.

Archive & Delete

To Archive an email in Gmail is to simply remove all labels for that email. It won’t be shown in the Inbox or under any other labels.

Once an email has been Archived it can only be found by searching for it, or you can find it in the list by enabling the All Mail label.

  1. In the top right, click Settings > Settings.
  2. Click the Labels tab.
  3. Scroll to the Labels section, locate All Mail and click Show.

Select the All Mail label in the main Gmail window and it will show every email that hasn’t been deleted. If you want to move an email out of the Archive, locate it, right click on it and click Move to Inbox.

If the Archive system doesn’t fit in with your style of work, it might be best to create your own Archive label and use that instead.

Deleted email move to the Trash label and will be permanently deleted after 30 days.


Your signature will need to be set following the Barton branding, with your name, job title and contact information. Ensure you are always using the most up to date version of the college signature, maintaining a professional look. If you are unsure, speak to the Marketing department.

  1. In the top right, click Settings > Settings.
  2. In the General tab, scroll to Signature and create your signature.
  3. At the bottom, click Save Changes.

To create multiple signatures you will need to use Canned Responses which you can learn about on the Extra Features tab of this guide.

You can find the current signature by emailing and further instructions on how to set it up at this link.

Out of Office (Auto reply / Vacation rule)

If you’ll be away from your email for an extended period, such as on holiday or during college breaks, you should set up your Out of Office to automatically notify people that you won’t be able to reply right away.

  1. In the top right, click Settings > Settings.
  2. In the General tab, scroll to Out of Office Reply and turn it on or off.
  3. If turning on, enter the dates you’re away and add a message. Then select who should get a response.
  4. At the bottom, click Save Changes.

If your Out of Office is on and you log in to Gmail you will see a banner across the top of your inbox that shows the subject of the Out of Office. Click End now if you want to turn it off or ignore it to leave it on.

You’re email signature will display in the bottom of your Out of Office.

Your vacation reply starts at 12:00 AM on the start date and ends at 11:59 PM on the end date, unless you end it earlier. In most cases, your vacation response is only sent to people the first time they message you.

Here are the times someone may see your vacation response more than once:

  • If the same person contacts you again after four days and your vacation reply is still on, they’ll see your vacation response again.
  • Your vacation response starts over each time you edit it. If someone gets your initial vacation response, then emails you again after you’ve edited your response, they’ll see your new response.
  • If you use Gmail through your work, school, or other organization, you can choose whether your response is sent to everyone or only people in your organization.

Note: Messages sent to your spam folder and messages addressed to a mailing list you subscribe to won’t get your vacation response.

Integration with Calendar

You can view your daily Google Calendar schedule in your Gmail window just by clicking the Calendar icon in the right toolbar. From here you can see your day planner or just your appointments in schedule format. The image on the right shows Schedule view.

In Day View you will see all the hours of the day showing your free time and your appointments in their timeslot. You can simply click on an empty time slot to create a new appointment then in that window you can set the title, times, description and invite guests.

If you click on a calendar appointment you will have the option to edit or delete the appointment and email all guests.

Daily Agenda Email

With Gmail and Calendar you can start each day with a Daily Agenda email in your inbox. Follow the steps below to enable this:

  1. In Calendar, click Settings > Settings
  2. On the left under Settings for my calendars, click your name and go to General notifications.
  3. In the Daily Agenda field, click the Down arrow next to None and select Email.

The setting is automatically saved.

Integration with Keep

Just as you can do with Calendar, you can see your Google Keep notes in the right toolbar.

At the top of the Keep toolbar you can create a new note or new list and simply click on a note to edit it.

You can also Archive, Delete or Pin your Keep notes.

Integration with Tasks

Google Tasks is a small app built within the G Suite apps, it’s designed as a To Do list that links up with Gmail and Calendar for example.

To create a To Do list, you can start using Tasks and view it straight in your Gmail window. Click the Tasks window and start making a list that you can tick items off. You can also add sub tasks to split bigger jobs down into smaller chunks.

Google Tasks can only be used on a computer in the G Suite apps, including Calendar, Docs or Sheets etc, or on a mobile device using the Android or iOS apps. The apps can alert you to tasks that have reminders or due dates set on.

You can create a task from an email in Gmail. With an email open simply click More then Add to Tasks. You’ll then have the Tasks window automatically open and the email added as a task, you can see that it is signified by the email icon under the task itself. Click the email icon to open the email at any time.

Extra Features

We’ve got 9 extra features here for you to learn about and use in your work. These are:

  • Confidential Mode & No Forward
  • Task specific email addresses / Aliases
  • Undo sending an email
  • Canned Responses
  • Automate your emails
  • Smart Reply
  • Smart Compose
  • Mute Conversations
  • Newsletters

Confidential Mode

You can send confidential messages and attachments using confidential mode in Gmail to help protect sensitive information from unauthorised access. You can set an expiration date for messages and revoke access to the message at any time. Recipients of the confidential message will not be able to forward, copy, print or download the message.

NOTE – Although confidential mode helps prevent the recipients from accidentally sharing your email, it doesn’t prevent recipients from taking screenshots or photos of your messages or attachments.

Add confidential mode

To add Confidential Mode to an email, follow the steps below:

  1. Click Compose.
  2. In the bottom right of the window, click Turn on confidential mode.
    Tip: If you’ve already turned on confidential mode for an email, go to the bottom of the email, then click Edit.
  3. Set an expiration date and passcode. These settings impact both the message text and any attachments.
    1. If you choose “No SMS passcode,” recipients using the Gmail app will be able to open it directly. Recipients who don’t use Gmail will get emailed a passcode.
    2. If you choose “SMS passcode,” recipients will get a passcode by text message. You need to finish writing, then send the message before you are asked for their telephone number. Make sure you enter the recipient’s phone number, not your own.
  4. Click Save.
Remove access early

You can stop your recipient from viewing the email before the expiration date.

  1. On the left, click Sent.
  2. Open the confidential email.
  3. Click Remove access.
Open an email sent with confidential mode

If the sender used confidential mode to send the email:

  • You can view the message and attachments until the expiration date or until the sender removes access.
  • Options to copy, paste, download, print, and forward the message text and attachments will be disabled.
  • You might need to enter a passcode to open the email.
  • Open the email.

The steps below will help you reading an email:

  1. If sender does not require a SMS passcode:
    1. If you use the latest Gmail apps (web or mobile), you will directly see the email when you open it.
    2. If you use another email client, open the email, click on the link View the email and sign in with your Google credentials to view the message.
  2. If sender requires a SMS passcode:
    1. Select Send passcode.
    2. Check your text message for the passcode.
    3. Enter the passcode, then select Submit.

Turn an email in to multiple task specific addresses

We learned a little bit about task specific email addresses back in the Filters section of this guide. With Gmail, you can simply add a + then another word after your username, before the @ sign and emails will still reach you but you can use this to sort your emails easier.

For example, sign up to newsletters by using or get quotes sent to

Just like in the Filters section, you can ask Gmail to automatically put these emails in to your own Labels. Get the +news emails sent to a News label. When you’re ready to read them, click the Label to find them.

Follow the steps below to use the task specific addresses with filters.

  1. Open Gmail and in the search box, click the Down arrow.
  2. Add any of the filter criteria that appears.
    1. In the To field is where you would want to add the full + email address, such as
  3. Click Create filter.
  4. To automatically move email fitting your filter criteria out of your inbox, tick Skip the Inbox (Archive it).
  5. To apply a label, tick Apply the label, then click an existing label or create a new one.
  6. Click Create filter.
  7. The new label appears in the left sidebar.

Undo sending an email

Make a typo in your email? Forget to add a recipient? Change your mind about sending an email?

Take back an email you just sent using the Undo Send feature.

Undo sending email

  1. Send your email.
  2. Click Undo at the bottom of the page.

Depending on your settings, there’s a limited amount of seconds to click Undo before it disappears.

Adjust the Undo Send cancellation period

  1. Click Settings > Settings.
  2. On the General tab, scroll to the Undo Send feature.

Select a different cancellation period and click Save Changes.

Canned responses & Automate your replies

Canned Responses allow you to save chunks of text or a whole pre-written email and bring it all back in just a couple of clicks. Canned Responses are great for a couple of different scenarios, we’ll have a look below.

Firstly, since Gmail only allows you to have one signature set up, you can use Canned Responses to have multiple signatures, for different types of emails.

Secondly, if you regularly send an email with the same text in then you can save it as a Canned Response and the next time you need to send it, you don’t have to type it out. You can then send it in just a few clicks.

And third, you can use Canned Responses with Filters to automatically reply to emails that contain certain information. This can also be used as an alternative to an Out of Office message, you can use a filter to automatically reply to a person with your out of office message and use that same filter to forward the email to a colleague to action.

Enable Canned Responses

  1. Click Settings > Settings.
  2. At the top, select the Advanced tab.
  3. In the Canned Responses (Templates) section, select Enable.
  4. At the bottom, click Save Changes.

Create canned response

You’ll need to write the email or text you want as a canned response before you can create it.

  1. Click Compose.
  2. In the Compose window, enter your text and format it.
  3. Click More > Canned responses > New canned response.
  4. Enter a name for the canned response and click OK.
  5. Continue composing and send your message, or close the Compose window to use your another time.

NOTE  It’s worth noting that saving a canned response will save all the text in an email, including your signature. It is recommended to remove your signature from the Compose window before you create your canned response, this is because when you next come to use the response, your signature will appear in the new email and then it will be added again when you add a canned response.

Send email with canned response

  1. Click Compose and compose your message.
  2. Click More > Canned responses, and under Insert, choose a saved canned response to insert in your message.
  3. Click Send.

Automate your emails

To automate your emails, you’ll need to use Canned Responses with Filters. You would need to write some Canned Responses that are replies you send regularly, then create and apply a filter to send that response each time an email comes in that matches the filter criteria.

  1. In the search box, click the Down arrow.
  2. Enter your search criteria, then click Create filter.
  3. Tick the Send canned response box and select one of your saved canned responses.
  4. Click Create filter.

Smart Replies

If you get an email that needs only a simple reply, choose one of Gmail’s suggested Smart replies.

Smart replies are based on the text of the email you received. For example, if you’re asked to attend a meeting at a certain day and time, you can choose options such as:

  • “Sure, that works.”
  • “I’m not available at that time.”

It’s simple to do,

  1. Click the email thread you want to reply to.
  2. At the bottom of the thread, suggested phrases appear.
  3. Click the phrase you want to add.
    1. You can then edit the email to add more text if you want.
  4. Click Send.

Smart Compose

Smart Compose suggests complete sentences in your emails so that you can draft them with ease. Because it operates in the background, you can write an email like you normally would, and Smart Compose will offer suggestions as you type. When you see a suggestion that you like, click the “tab” button on your keyboard to use it.

Smart Compose helps save you time by cutting back on repetitive writing, while reducing the chance of spelling and grammatical errors. It can even suggest relevant contextual phrases. For example, if it’s Friday it may suggest “Have a great weekend!” as a closing phrase.

Mute / Unmute Conversations

If you’re part of an email conversation that’s no longer relevant to you, mute the conversation.

Muting keeps future responses to that thread out of your inbox so you can focus on important messages. You can still find them by searching for them but they won’t be shown where you don’t want them.

Mute a conversation

  1. Select the conversation you want to mute.
  2. Click More and select Mute.

After you mute a conversation, it’s removed from your inbox and archived. You can still see the conversation in All Mail with a Muted label applied.

View muted conversations

  1. Follow one of these options:
    • In the search box, type is:muted. Your muted conversations appear with a Muted label.
    • Select All Mail on the left. Your muted conversations appear with a Muted label.

Unmute muted conversations

  1. Open the email and choose one of these options:
    • Click Remove label X next to Muted.
    • Select the email and click More > Unmute.


Creating a Newsletter is more of a Google Docs thing, but you then use Gmail to send it.

  1. In Google Docs, click Template Gallery.
  2. Click the newsletter template you want to use.
  3. Make any changes to the template and add your newsletter text.
  4. Tip: You can personally address your newsletter to each recipient so they see their name, such as Dear Cassy. In Google Docs, click Add-ons > Get add-ons and then search for mail merge.
  5. Click Edit > Select all.
  6. Click Edit > Copy.
  7. In Gmail, compose a new message and paste in your copied newsletter.
  8. For the recipients, enter the emails you want to send the newsletter to.
    1. Sometimes, for data protection reasons, it may be more sensible to add your recipients email addresses in to the Bcc field of the email and then in the To field, use your own email.
  9. When you’re ready, send your email.