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How to Use Keyboard Shortcuts in Gmail

Updated on November 17, 2012
Let's get typing... and productive!
Let's get typing... and productive! | Source

Advantages of Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are a great time saver as you respond to, organize, and compose emails using Google's Gmail. The key combinations save you from having to reach for the mouse, an action that lowers your typing speed and can cause you to lose your concentration.

How to Activate Gmail Shortcuts

The feature is not an automatic in Gmail. Turn on the option by clicking the gear icon in the top right-hand corner of your Gmail screen. From the drop-down menu, select Settings.

Under the heading Keyboard shortcuts, click Keyboard shortcuts on. Notice that the default setting is Keyboard shortcuts off. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save Changes. All ready to go with the shortcuts now!

Gmail Settings Page

Click "Keyboard shortcuts on" to enable the feature.
Click "Keyboard shortcuts on" to enable the feature. | Source

Common Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts

There are a lot of shortcuts available to you as an account holder. Rather than explaining every one, here is a list of ones you are likely to want to use quite often. Below is a list of individual key commands, followed by a list of combination key commands that are shortcuts.

Individual Keys

Use individual keys with the Shift or Control buttons for actions such as composing a new message, deleting correspondence, and replying to an email. The key commands are all case-sensitive; use lower-case for the individual letters.

"c" => Press "c" to compose new message. You can either press "c" while an email is open on screen or from general Inbox page. Press Shift + "c" to compose new email in a new window.

"s" => Press "s" + Control button to save an email as a draft when you are not finished composing it.

"n" => Press "n" to move you to the next message when one is currently open on your screen. You must be in Conversation View to enable this shortcut.

"p" => Press "p" to move to the previous message. You must be in Conversation View.

"r" => Shift + "r" keyboard combination opens up a new screen for you to respond to the email that was open at the time that the keys are pressed.

"a" => Shift + "a" keyboard combination opens up a new screen for you to Reply To All people included in the original email open at the time the keys were pressed.

"#" => Press "#" to move the open email to the trash. Easy!

"e" => Press "e" + Shift to move an open message to Archive location with the email program.

"v" => Pressing "v" opens the Folder drop-down menu. Move the open message from your Inbox to a Folder or other area of Gmail that appears on the menu.

Gmail Shortcut To Move Email to Folder

Press "v" to open Folder menu and move conversation from Inbox to Folder or other area.
Press "v" to open Folder menu and move conversation from Inbox to Folder or other area. | Source

Combination Keys

Press a combination of letters to toggle between screens while you are in the email program. Here are some well-used shortcuts you may find useful.

"g" then "c" => The combination moves you to your Contacts list.

"g" then "t" => Jump to your Sent Items screen to see all emails you have sent.

"g" then "i" => When an email is open, press this key combination to move back to your Inbox.

"g" then "s" => Press the two keys together to go to all of the items you have Starred on Gmail.

Tab + Enter => Send the message automatically as soon as you are finished composing it.

Additional References For Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts

Yes, the combinations listed above can be hard ones to memorize. Here are some places to look for reference when you need a reminder of the shortcuts.

Open Google Help Section

Do you want a cheat sheet? Google does provide one. Here is the link to the Keyboard shortcuts list for you to print out, bookmark, or even keep in a folder within the email program:

Press "?" in Gmail

Another way to bring up the Google cheat sheet is to press "?" while you are in Gmail. All shortcuts appear on the screen. You can also Disable or Enable the feature right from the screen.

Install KeyRocket App

Another option for trying to remember the key combinations is to install the KeyRocket App for Chrome. The app tries to help you learn the shortcuts. Each time you use your mouse in the email program, a pop-up appears that tells you which key combination you could have used to perform the same action.

Press "?" to Show Keyboard Shortcuts Screen

How the screen looks, overtop your email.
How the screen looks, overtop your email. | Source

The keyboard shortcuts save you time on Gmail, which is important if you have a busy day (work or personal) and receive many emails. Key combinations are available for all actions you perform with a mouse, from sending a message to transferring a message from your Inbox to a labeled Folder. Use some or all of the shortcuts to make your time at the computer more efficient.


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    • Meisjunk profile image

      Jennifer Kessner 3 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I could accomplish everything so much quicker with this! Thanks so much. Bookmarking as a reference.

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 3 years ago from Georgia

      There is so much information that unless someone writes about it, some things we would never learn. I, too, would have to tape the shortcuts to the computer until I used them enough to learn them. Thanks for sharing something new and useful.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 3 years ago from California

      Wow--I feel like I should tape these next to my computer

    • TotalHealth profile image

      TotalHealth 3 years ago from Hermosa Beach, CA

      This is awesome, thanks! I rarely visit the "Settings" section in Google email, so naturally I was unaware this option to set up shortcuts was available. I can see how this option will definitely save me lots of time, especially since I spend an exorbitant amount of time sending/receiving/managing email communications.

    • learner365 profile image

      Saadia A 3 years ago

      Very nice. I was unaware about this useful feature of Gmail. I am sure your Hub will come in handy for me for better understanding of the keyboard shortcuts . Thank you for sharing.

      Voted up and Useful !!!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Very informative and useful hub!

      When I started writing Online, I did not know much about it. Then gradually I learnt so many things. This hub again taught me further.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 3 years ago from Dubai

      Informative and useful hub, thank you for sharing this information.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi Rolly, thanks for stopping by!

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 4 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Christy... find something new each day... I will be heading over to the application now and seeing if it works the same on the Mac...

      Hugs from Alberta

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Great to be helping you pstraubie48 :)

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 5 years ago from sunny Florida

      this was very helpful. I had no idea these options were avaiailable. I will be giving these a try. Thank you for sharing :) ps

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks dwachira! I value your opinion given your own tech hubs.

    • dwachira profile image

      [ Danson Wachira ] 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Hi ChristyWrites,

      I use Gmail a lot, in fact i like applications from Google including Google Chrome since they are a bit faster. While i like Gmail because of its efficiency, these added short-cuts will make navigation and handling of tasks even better in Gmail. Voted up, useful and more.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi Alocsin, I am glad to share the tips here. I like teaching readers new things and happy to hear that is what is happening! Thanks for the votes.

      Sunshine :) You're welcome and I appreciate your share too.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Most of my email correspondence is done via my phone, but I had no idea about all these shortcuts. Thanks Christy!

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      As much time as I spend in Gmail, I was not aware that it contained keyboard shortcuts. Thanks for providing a list and I'll try some of them out. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank-you everyone and I'm glad you find this information useful! I was not sure how many people know about the feature so glad to show it here. I like explaining concepts and appreciate the feedback.

    • profile image

      IntegrityYes 5 years ago

      That is informative and I definitely voted up.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      For my slow computer mind I am going to bookmark this for later and continued reading. I always appreciate your hubs on computer and internet issues. I have them all saved and in my feeble way I manage to understand. You write clearly and I am grateful for your help. Voting up+++ and sharing on facebook and twitter.

    • howlermunkey profile image

      Jeff Boettner 5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      Great Hub Christy! I LOVE shortcuts, and have been using gmail for years, glad I have this as a reference. Up and Sharing.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Another great piece of information, Christy. I am going to check this out. Either I will become faster in communicating or absolutely mad and incomprehensible!

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      I had no idea that Gmail had this feature! Thanks for the great resource.

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      So cool! I didn't know gmail had keyboard shortcuts. Thanks!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Christy, you ALWAYS write the most helpful blogs. I adore you! Shared all over.

    • flashmakeit profile image

      flashmakeit 5 years ago from usa

      Amazing! How do you learn so much about the internet? I never would have thought of keyboard shortcuts for gmail until I read your hub.

    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 5 years ago from US

      Wow this sure looks interesting. I have never trusted Gmail since you have to agree to let them snoop all through your stuff, unless that has changed. Might be worth looking into. My son is a technical writer, I will ask him about it, see what he knows. Sure looks like a winner. Thanks for sharing.