47 Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts to Start Using Today

Spend less time on email—and save your wrists, too—with these helpful Gmail shortcuts you’ll wish you knew sooner.

Did you know that you can read, compose, archive, and manage your Gmail on your computer without ever touching a mouse? With a few simple keystrokes, you can give Gmail the same commands you would with a mouse. For example, if you want to reply to an email, instead of having to find your cursor, then move your mouse to get the cursor to the upper-right corner of the screen, and then point and click on “reply,” you can simply type the letter “R.” You never need to lift your fingers off the keyboard or change your visual focus. And that’s just one of the many Gmail shortcuts you’ll end up using all the time.

This sort of accessibility is particularly helpful for some people who have mobility or vision impairments, as well as for those who are prone to repetitive stress injuries caused by mousing. Keyboard shortcuts also shave one or two seconds off dozens of frequent Gmail tasks. That might not seem like a lot, but it adds up. By one estimate, you save 64 hours per year if you use keyboard shortcuts at a full-time desk job. (Check out this definitive list of what those F1-F12 keys do.)

Enabling shortcuts

A handful of Gmail keyboard shortcuts are always available, but most of them need to be turned on first. Here’s how to do that: With Gmail open, click on Settings (it’s that little gear-shaped icon at the upper right of your screen), then “See All Settings.” When you’re brought to the next screen, go to the menu bar at the top and click “Advanced.” Scroll down to “Custom Keyboard Shortcuts” and click “Enable.” Then click “Save Changes” at the bottom. This will turn on most formatting shortcuts, as well as a handful of navigational time-savers.

But many, many more shortcuts are available. When you have Gmail open, type a question mark. This opens a window with a complete list of available shortcuts, including those that still need to be turned on, which is as simple as clicking “Enable.” This window also serves as a handy cheat sheet when you can’t remember a specific shortcut.

Some shortcuts use the Command/⌘ (Mac/iOS) or Ctrl (Windows/Android) keys. When keys need to be pressed simultaneously, a plus sign (+) is shown. Commands are shown here using capital letters, but shortcuts are not case-sensitive.

Shortcuts that are always on

To use the following keyboard shortcuts, select a message or conversation on Gmail, either by ticking it with your mouse or using the up/down arrow keys until the thin blue line on the edge of your inbox is aligned with the target message. Then press the following keys to achieve the desired actions. If these don’t seem to be working for you, press ? (Shift + /) to pull up the entire list of shortcuts and see which ones still need to be enabled on your computer.

COMMANDACTION
O or EnterOpen conversation
Shift + IMark as read
Shift + UMark as unread
ZUndo last action
EArchive
] or [Archive conversation and go to previous/next
JMove to previous/older email
KMove to next/newer email
URefresh email (or return to inbox from an open message)
⌘/Ctrl + EnterSend
⌘/Ctrl + KInsert link
⌘/Ctrl + Shift+7Insert numbered list
⌘/Ctrl + Shift+8Insert bullet points
⌘/Ctrl + BBold
⌘/Ctrl + IItalicize
⌘/Ctrl + UUnderline
Use arrow keysMove up/down/left/right

All other shortcuts will require enabling, as described above.

Shortcuts for common email actions

No more scrolling to the top or bottom of an email thread and then clicking on a drop-down menu to find the most appropriate action. From the main Gmail screen, you can simply type the key indicated. Don’t worry—your typing won’t show up in any messages.

COMMANDACTION
CCompose new email
Shift + CCompose in new window
DCompose in new tab
RReply
AReply to all
FForward
# (Shift + 3)Delete
EArchive
!Report as spam
/Move cursor to search box

You’ll want to make good use of that delete shortcut when you get a load of spam emails. (Here are the alarming things hackers can do when they have your email address.)

Shortcuts for email selection

Sometimes it’s helpful to find all mail with a certain status. Use these shortcuts to make bulk actions quicker.

COMMANDACTION
Use arrow keys to move thin blue line next to the target email, then type XSelect a single email
* (shift + 8) + ASelect all mail
* + NDeselect all mail
* + USelect all unread mail
* + RSelect all read mail
* + SSelect all starred mail
* + TSelect all unstarred mail

(Learn how to delete 99 percent of your digital footprint.)

Shortcuts for navigation

If you find yourself frequently navigating between different folders in your inbox, use these keyboard commands.

COMMANDACTION
G + AGo to all mail
G + IGo to primary inbox
G + SGo to starred messages
G + DGo to drafts
G + TGo to sent mail
G + CGo to contacts list
G + KGo to tasks

(Here are 10 tricks to make your computer run faster.)

Shortcuts in conversation view

If you work in conversation view, you’ll appreciate the following shortcuts.

COMMANDACTION
NMove to next message in conversation
PMove to previous message in conversation
;Expand entire conversation
:Collapse entire conversation
MMute conversation
Shift + NUpdate conversation

(Discover the history behind keyboard letters.)

Customize keyboard shortcuts

Just because Google decided on certain keystrokes to represent certain actions, that doesn’t mean you have to keep them that way. If you’d rather use, say, the $ symbol instead of the / for search, you only need to make a small change in your preferences. From the main Gmail window, go to Settings and choose “Keyboard Shortcuts” from the top menu. (This menu item will only appear if you’ve already enabled keyboard shortcuts.) Then simply delete the key that’s currently mapped to the action in question and type in the key(s) you’d rather use. Then click “Save Changes” and you’re done!

Sources:

  • LifeHack: “How Not Using Keyboard Shortcuts Makes You Lose 64 Hours Every Year”
  • Gmail Help: “Keyboard shortcuts for Gmail”

Next, check out this Windows cheatsheet for PC keyboard shortcuts.

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