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5 Easy Ways to Clean Up Your Messy Gmail Inbox

12 minute read

It’s alarmingly easy to let your Gmail inbox spiral out of control. Going too long without deleting messages could make it nearly impossible to sift through your overflowing email account.

There are, however, a few steps you can take to keep your inbox from becoming unmanageable. Here are a few tips:

  • Use Labels. If you have one primary Gmail account that includes all of your personal messages and work-related content, you’ll want to take advantage of Gmail’s labels feature. This allows you to organize emails into categories the same way you would put files on your computer into folders. To create a label in Gmail, click the “More” button on the lefthand side on your inbox and select “Create new label.”
  • Turn on Send & Archive. When you’re done with a conversation, there’s no need to give it precious real estate in your inbox. Gmail has a feature called Send & Archive, which automatically archives an email thread as soon as you reply to an email. Just click the small gear icon that appears in the upper right hand corner of the Gmail interface, press the “Settings” button, and look for the “Send and Archive” subsection. Click the bubble that says “Show Send & Archive button in reply.”
  • Add the “Mark as Read” Button. If you’ve got tons of emails coming in from friends and coworkers, you may not want to archive or delete them right away. If you want to quickly mark a batch of emails as read, you’ll probably want to add the “Mark as Read” button to your toolbar. To do this, navigate to “Settings” and click on the “Labs” tab. Then scroll down to the “Mark as Read Button” and click “Enable.”
  • Try a Third-Party App. Using features built into Gmail can only help so much when it comes to making your inbox as manageable as possible. Some third party apps take care of other pain points and inconveniences. Mailstrom, for instance, can identify bundles of related emails so that it becomes easier to delete unwanted messages in bulk. Unroll.Me consolidates newsletters, promotions, and other subscription emails into a single message to prevent your inbox from becoming too cluttered.
  • Purge Your Inbox in Your Spare Time. These tools and apps certainly make the process easier, but maintaining a clean inbox still requires some amount of effort. The best way to keep emails from piling up is to make the conscious effort to delete or mark emails as read as often as possible in your spare time. For instance, getting into the habit of sorting through emails when you’ve got 10 minutes to kill before a meeting can really make a difference.
  • Respond to texts without unlocking your phone

    You can respond to texts directly from your lock screen by pulling down on the notification drawer and swiping over to the left on the text notification. You’ll see a “Reply” option, and tapping it will let you type a response without having to unlock your iPhone.

    Respond to texts while you’re in an app

    If you’re in an app, you can swipe down from the top and access the notification drawer to answer a text the same way you would on the lock screen.

    See which apps drain the most battery

    Want to know why your iPhone battery is draining faster than usual? Head over to Settings >General >Usage>Battery Usage. This will tell you which apps are occupying the most battery power.

    View every photo someone has texted you, and vice versa

    There’s an easy way to view every photo and video you’ve sent someone. Just open the messaging thread in the “Messages” app and press the “Details” button in the upper right corner.

    Send audio and video messages that self-destruct

    You can send audio snippets and video messages that expire after two minutes. If you head to Settings>Messages and scroll to the bottom, you’ll notice a section for audio and video messages. You can choose to let them expire after two minutes or never.

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    Share your current location with a friend

    If you don’t feel like explaining where you are, you can simply send your location to another person via text message. Just tap the “Details” button in the upper right corner of your message thread and select “Send My Location.”

    Let your friends track where you go

    If you want your friends or a family member to be able to track you as you move, you can complete the same steps mentioned in the previous slide and choose the “Share My Location” instead of “Send My Location.” You can choose to share your location for one hour, until the end of the day, or indefinitely.

    Mute text messages

    You can mute text message notifications for individual contacts and conversations. Just head over to your messaging thread and switch the “Do Not Disturb.”

    Leave a group conversation

    Group texts can be effective for reaching many people at once, but also annoying. If you want to leave a group conversation, simply tap the “Details” button in the upper right corner of the group conversation and select “Leave Conversation.”

    Name a group conversation

    If you frequently chat with the same group or are talking with multiple people about a particular topic, naming a group conversation can be helpful. To do this, head over to “Details” in the message thread and fill in the “Group Name” field with an appropriate title.

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    Multitask within emails

    If you’re in the middle of an email, you don’t need to trash it to return to your inbox and browse other messages. As you’re composing an email, simply tap the top of the message where it says either “New Message” or the subject and drag it down to the bottom of the screen. This will push the message to the bottom so you can look at other emails. When you want to return, simply tap the email to keep editing it.

    Forward text messages to other contacts

    You can forward text messages to other contacts the same way you would an email. Just double tap the message you want to forward, press the “More” option that appears next to the text, and that specific sentence, word, or phrase will appear copy and pasted into a new message. Fill in the “To” field at the top to forward that message to someone else.

    Use Siri hands-free

    You don’t always have to hold down the home button to launch Siri. If you have the new iPhone 6S, just say the phrase “Hey Siri” to launch Apple’s virtual assistant (any phones older than the iPhone 6S must be plugged in to a power outlet for this feature to work). Just head over to Settings > General > Siri and turn on Enable Hey Siri first.

    Have Siri read anything

    You can enable Siri to read articles on websites, books, text messages, and more thanks to one of the iPhone’s lesser-known accessibility features. Head over to Settings > General > Accessibility > Speech. Then turn on “Speak Screen” and “Speak Selection“. Now, when you swipe down from from the top of the screen with two fingers, Siri will dictate the content of whatever is on the screen.

    Tell Siri how to pronounce names

    You can also teach Siri how to pronounce names. First, launch Siri and ask her to say the name in question (i.e. if it’s your name, ask “What’s my name?”). When she answers, tell her that she’s not pronouncing it correctly. Make sure you use her pronunciation so that she knows which word you’re talking about. Siri should then ask you how to correctly pronounce the name. Once you do, she will present three ways to pronounce the name. Choose the correct one, and Siri will remember it.

    Via iMore

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    Control your iPhone by simply moving your head

    This is another feature buried in the Accessibility section. Navigate to Settings > General > Accessibility and then scroll down to the Interaction subhead and tap “Switch Control.” Tap “Switches” and “Add New Switch.” Select “Camera” and choose “Left Head Movement” or “Right Head Movement.” Then pick an action under the “System” menu, which essentially tells you what task your head movement will trigger. I chose Siri, so each time I tilt my head to the left it automatically launches Siri.

    Via BGR

    See everywhere you’ve been

    You’re iPhone tracks each place you’ve been, and there’s a way to find it by digging into your phone’s settings. Press the Settings icon and head to Privacy > Location Services > System Services. Then, scroll to the bottom and select “Frequent Locations” and look at the History section.

    Via BuzzFeed

    Save battery by putting your phone in grayscale mode

    If you’re running low on juice and just need basic functionality from your iPhone, try switching it to grayscale mode to save power. Just head to Settings > General > Accessibility and tap “Grayscale.”

    Tap the home button twice to move app icons and other content toward the bottom of the screen (iPhone 6 Plus only)

    If you’re using the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus with one hand, you can double tap the home button to schootch content down toward the bottom of the screen. Apple calls this “Reachability Mode.” Remember to tap the home button, don’t press it or else it’ll launch the app switcher.

    Access emergency medical information directly from the lock screen

    If you set up a Medical ID in the Health app that comes with iOS 8, you can access medical information without having to unlock your iPhone. Tap the “Emergency” button that appears with the keypad for entering your passcode and you’ll see the Medical ID button on the lower left corner.

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    See your iPhone’s actual signal strength

    There’s a clever trick that shows the actual signal strength on your iPhone rather than just the dots or bars you usually see in the upper left corner of the screen. Business Insider’s Steven Tweedie explained it to us.

    First, you’ll need to access a hidden app on your phone called Field Test Mode. To do this, you’ll need to open up your Phone app and dial the following number, *3001#12345#* , including the asterisks and hashtag, and tap “Call.”

    This opens up Field Test Mode, which is mostly filled with menus of cell signal jargon that you don’t need to worry about. What you’re interested in is the tiny number in the upper left-hand corner of your iPhone, which should have replaced those cell signal dots. While that number can vary anywhere from -40 to -130, it will always be negative, and the closer that number is to zero, the better your cell signal. The best signal you can get would be -40, and no signal at all would be -130.

    Business Insider’s Steve Tweedie explains how to find it here.

    See who’s calling you even if a phone number isn’t in your contacts

    With iOS 9, Apple added a new feature that displays the possible name of an unknown caller. If you’re receiving a phone call from someone you’ve emailed, and that person’s email address is associated with his or her phone number, it’ll pop up as a suggestion when he or she calls you.

    Use Siri to skip filter photos on your iPhone by date or location

    You can now ask Siri to show you photos from a certain time period or location. For instance, if you wanted to view photos taken two years ago on vacation, you could say something like, “Show me photos from 2013 taken in Jamaica.” It saves a lot of time since you no longer have to scroll through your whole photo library to find older images. This only works if your iPhone is updated to iOS 9.

    Have Siri remind you to read a text message or email at a later time

    If you just received a text or email but can’t take the time to read it right now, you can ask Siri to remind you later on. When you receive the notification, just ask Siri to remind you to read it later. This works with Messages, Mail, Notes, and Safari as long as your iPhone is running iOS 9.

    Launch a music app just by plugging in your earbuds

    If you listen to music at the same time every morning, your iPhone will automatically know that it should launch the music app as soon as you plug your headphones in. This is another feature that’s new with iOS 9.

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    Use Low Power Mode to make your phone last longer

    Low Power Mode, which is also a new addition with iOS 9, tells your iPhone to cut down on certain features to lengthen its battery life. This means it’ll stop refreshing apps in the background, pushing email, and other tiny things in order to keep your battery going.

    Search for anything in the Settings menu

    You no longer have to dig through the iPhone’s settings menu to find what you’re looking for. If your iPhone is updated to iOS 9, you’ll notice there’s a search bar at the top of the settings menu that helps you quickly jump to any given setting.

    This article originally appeared on Business Insider

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