Using Gmail on Your Mobile Device
On your mobile device, Gmail may look a bit different from what you're used to, but most of the functionality is still there. You can send, receive, and reply to messages, and you can even archive and apply labels to messages.
Your Google Account is your mobile lifeline. Any new number you add will automatically get synced to the account, as will any app purchases you make. So any games or apps you buy will be able to be re-downloaded again (for free) when you get your next Android phone and you won’t ever have to manually back up your contacts again. This is your Android phone ID, or licence plate number.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll automatically start receiving emails sent to this address too. Gmail on Android is fast, well integrated and works like a dream.
This comprehensive guide covers all of this.. we’ll take you through Gmail on Android (why it’s awesome and why you should use it) and everything else as well.
Gmail for Android - Navigating the Inbox, Reading and Writing Emails
Once you’ve finished setting up your Android phone you ought to start receiving emails right away. New emails will appear in the notification bar at the top of your phone. You can drag the notification bar down and open them from here or simply tap the Gmail app icon on your homescreen to check new messages. Your emails will appear in a long threaded list from where you can easily open, star, and check multiple emails for archiving, labelling or deleting.
If you’re in the main Gmail screen and you’ve not checked the tick boxes of any items, the main menu (see below on right side) will be displayed.
From here you’ve got six options.. Compose, Search, Go to labels, and Refresh.
Most of these are self-explanatory-
Refresh refreshes the email feed to catch any new or incoming mail. Google automatically pushes emails to your Gmail inbox, but it’s useful to refresh manually, if a colleague or friend has just sent you a new email.
Compose jumps you straight to the Gmail composer, allowing you to draft a new email.
Go to labels allows you to jump to your drafts, outbox, spam, trash and notes folders as well as quickly move to everything you’ve starred in your inbox as well as everything you’ve sent.
Search allows you to comb your entire Gmail inbox for anything; a contact, an email heading, a specific word or phrase. Extremely useful if your inbox is overflowing and you forgot to star something that you saw earlier, but you’ve a vague recollection of the subject line, title or who sent you the email, but can’t remember exactly.
Speaking of the Search Tool ...here's a list of commands:
- from: Find messages from particular names or email addresses (from:[email protected], from:dave).
- to: Find messages sent to someone, whether by you or in another email you were copied on (to:dave).
- has:attachment, filename: Bring up only emails that contain attachments, and specify a search for an attached file you're looking for (from:dave has:attachment, from:dave filename:presentation).
- -, "", (): Context tools for specifying "not" certain results (hyphen), exact phrases (quote marks), and use an AND-type requirement (parentheses) (hamburgers -mcdonalds, from:dave "birthday party", from:dave (birthday party July)).
- is: Follow with "read," "unread," or "starred" to specify status (from:dave is:unread).
- after:, before: Specify a date. You have to write the date in numeric, non-U.S. style—year/month/day (from:dave "birthday party" after:2010/06/20).
Muting a convo won’t delete it, it will just temporarily remove it from the inbox. Sadly, there’s no easy way to unmute message you’ve silenced. But by using the Gmail search tool and entering ‘is:muted’ as a search term, Gmail will pull up everything you’ve muted in a new thread. From here, simply check the green box, tap ‘Labels’ and select ‘Inbox’ from the menu to return the muted email(s) to your inbox.
Gmail for Android - Reading and Writing Emails
There’s a few pointers to take on board when reading and writing emails in the Gmail app.
When you open up a new email you ought to see an arrow top right next to a star, and four controls at the bottom of the screen marked ‘Archive’, ‘Delete’, 'Label' and 'Mark (un)read' in your inbox.
Tapping on the curved arrow in the top right automatically sets up a reply email for you, allowing you to quickly respond to people.
Tapping on the 3 dotted icon next to the arrow pulls out further options for Reply to all (in the case of multiple recipients) and Forwarding emails. From this toolbar, as you can see in the pic below, you can automatically star an email if you wish.
Viewing an Email
Most of these functions should be pretty familiar to experienced email users. The unique Gmail features are the labels listed up top (this message only rates a standard "Inbox" label, a "Star" button offered near the top-right, and the "Archive" button at the bottom-left.
Archive is how Gmail would prefer you discard messages you're done with—they get dropped from your inbox, and go into a kind of filing cabinet, not in your way, but easy to pull up again with a search.
Trash just deletes things. Messages remain in your trash automatically for up to 30 days before permanently discarded.
Labels will organize your emails into selected folders, that you can set up however you like. Example... Saved, Work, Receipts, Important and so on. Selecting an email or opening an email and hitting the label button will allow you to place that email into a separate (or multiple) folders to your liking. Think of it as a filing cabinet.
Mark (un)read is simply what it sounds like.
Star marks a message for easy finding later on or quickly reply to just the sender. Press the arrow to the right of the reply button, and you'll get an expanded list of options:
Reply messages back just the single person in that field.
Reply-all as you probably know from your overzealous coworkers, sends a message back to everyone the original sender included in their original message.
Forward sends it along to whoever you'd like.
Threaded messages in the Gmail app
When you're looking at a message that you or another recipient has already replied to, your Gmail app, like Gmail on the web, groups together the messages into a single email, but one with multiple "threads." They're visualized as paper-like tabs on top of the current message, as if you were thumbing through a series of memos in reverse chronological order. Click on that "X read messages" tab, and the messages expand for scrolling reading. (below)
Tapping the green area (left side) will show all conversations within that email (right side)... from there, you can tap on an individual conversation to view it.
Google Profiles Appear in Gmail App
As you can see, senders who have Google profiles set up, or that you've assigned pictures to, will show up with those pictures in their messages. But those thumbnail icons do more than show off your gang's great looks. Click on a sender icon, and you get a list of contact options for them, just as if you had a shortcut icon for them on your home screen.
Gmail for Android - Priority Inbox
Opening up Gmail and pressing Menu, opens up three options - Settings, Label Settings, Help and Send Feedback.
The Settings menu allows you to change things such as the notification tone, vibration settings, your signature and the message text size. Most of the settings and options here are fairly basic and don’t need much explaining. There are a couple of things that we’ll look at in depth however.
Priority Inbox is a neat little feature that you can enable to stop all and every little email getting pushed to the notification bar.
If you’re the kind of person who routinely checks every new email notification and are dismayed to see that it’s something mundane like a Facebook or LinkedIn friend request/follow then this setting might be for you.
Priority Inbox is essentially your VIP Room for the Gmail app. Enabling this automatically filters communications with regular contacts (and anything that you designate as important) into a separate inbox away from the clutter. So anything to do with work or your regular contacts should automatically end up here.
Gmail already has a good idea of what contacts, types of conversation and emails you rate as important are. But you’ve also got the option to directly influence what appears in your Priority Inbox as well.
Remember the second menu that we talked about before? The one which gave you the option to check/uncheck messages as important? Doing this enables you to add anything from your regular Inbox to the Priority Inbox that you think should be in there.
It works both ways too - if Gmail has pulled something in to the Priority Inbox that you don’t think belongs there then check the tick box, tap Menu and select ‘Not Important’. Gmail will remember this and bar this contact/type of email from wandering into the VIP Priority Inbox.
In one of the latest Gmail updates (4.2.1) brought along a gesture feature to swipe left or right to archive, unlabel or delete a message without having to use the tick box and manually moving it. That option can be found in the Settings Menu as well, to where you can customize its actions to your likings.
Gmail for Android - Sync Settings
As well as the option of setting up the Priority Inbox, you can also edit the sync settings of your Gmail folders from this menu. Tapping on ‘Labels’ will take you to a menu from where you can edit the sync parameters of individual folders.
For example, Gmail will automatically sync messages from the last four days by default in your Inbox, the Priority Inbox and the Sent folders.
Starred emails can be synced automatically, as can emails marked Important. There’s also separate folders for Work, Travel and Personal should you wish to use them.
Editing the sync parameters here can be useful if for example, you wanted to check that an email you sent last week did go out to all the recipients. From this menu, tap on the inbox drop down and you’ll see that there’s an option to sync from the last four days or to sync all emails in your inbox.
Tapping in the Duration drop down at the top of the screen will allow you to change the four day sync period to whatever you want; one day, four days, a week, fourteen days.
Be wary that the wider the sync period you specific, the more information Gmail will have to process, requiring more battery power and more of your data plan.