gmail shortcuts

As you’ve probably gathered from previous posts, I’m a fan of keyboard shortcuts, but for some reason I haven’t used them in Gmail. I think it’s because I’m not accustomed to using shortcuts on the web (aside from the web browser itself). In fact, I can’t think of a single web site besides Gmail that has shortcuts.

In any case, I’ve started to use them, so I thought I’d run through a simple scenario of using keyboard shortcuts in Gmail. It’s probably a lot faster than using the mouse, plus it’s cool. (Note: If you’re a VIM user, they’ll make more sense)

Okay, so let’s say you’ve just logged in and you have some new messages to read. Notice the little arrow pointing at the top message? That indicates the currently selected e-mail (or conversation).

Just for kicks, hit ‘j’ a few times, then hit ‘k’ until it’s back where you started (make sure you have clicked somewhere on the browser window so it has focus). Those move the little arrow up and down. If you hit ‘s’, it will star the selected message (hitting ‘s’ again will unstar it) and ‘x’ will select and deselect a message in the same way.

Now, you probably want to read some of your e-mail. Just move the arrow to the one you want to read and hit ‘Enter’ or ‘o’. That will open it. Hit ‘j’ to go to the next e-mail, ‘k’ for the previous one. If you want to archive the e-mail you’re on, hit ‘y’ and you’ll be back at the inbox. If you don’t want to archive it, ‘u’ will just return you to the inbox.

Here are some shortcuts to use when you’re viewing an e-mail message. If there are multiple replies, you can navigate through them with ‘n’ (next) and ‘p’ (previous), then you can use ‘Enter’ to expand and collapse them. If the message is spam, use ‘!’ to flag it as such.

To write an e-mail, you use ‘c’ (or shift-c if you want it to open in a new window). Use ‘r’ to reply and ‘a’ to reply all.

To search, use ‘/’ to put the cursor in the search box.

Finally, there’s the handy ‘g’ option, which means go. For instance, if you want to go to the Contacts page, type ‘gc’. If you want to see all your All Mail, use ‘ga’. ‘gi’ will return you to the Inbox.

Now that you have the general idea, let’s go through a typical scenario from when you first login to Gmail.

Enter (to open the first e-mail)
j (go to next e-mail)
j (go to next e-mail)
j (go next e-mail)
y (archive that e-mail)
o (open the next e-mail)
u (return to the inbox)

And now you’re back where you began without your hands leaving the keyboard.

I don’t know if I’ll use shortcuts all that much, but it’s still nice to know them just in case.

You can read more about the shortcuts on the shortcut documentation page.

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