Do you have a GMail account? Of course you do. 7GB of space and a great interface make it a no-brainer. Even if you’re only using it as a throw-away spam-catching account, there’s little doubt that GMail is a great tool for private and business use.

However, GMail can be a little quirky and use terminology which is different to other email clients. Many people depend on pre-configured templates and automatic responders, but they don’t appear to be available in the default interface. Fortunately, they’re only a few clicks away…

Enable “Canned Responses”

Your first task is to enable “Canned Responses” in Settings > Labs:

GMail Canned Responses feature

Click Enable then scroll to the bottom and click Save Changes. That’s the hard part over with.

Using Email Templates

To create a new template, compose a new email and enter the text you require. When it’s complete, click the Canned Responses drop-down (below the Subject line) and choose New canned response….

GMail save email template

You’ll be prompted for the canned response name.

From now on, that text can be inserted at the cursor location by clicking the Canned Responses drop-down and choosing an item under Insert:

GMail use email template

Creating Email Auto-responders

Auto-responders automatically return a reply to people who send you a message. In GMail, they’re handled using filters — rules applied when a message is received.

To create an auto-responder, click Settings > Filters, then Create a new filter.

GMail email auto-responder filter

You can now define which messages should receive automatic responses. It can be from one or more addresses, domains, sent to a specific address, contain or omit text in the subject or body, or have an attachment. Click Test Search to view matching messages in your account.

Once you’re happy with the filter, click Next Step:

GMail email auto-responder

Tick Send canned response and select the response you require. Hit Create Filter and you’re done.

Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler

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  • EastCoast

    My tip for using gmail with regards to reducing spam/noise is to use its capability to use a ‘plus’ sign whenever signing up or submitting forms that require an email address.


    instead of

    you can use this and it will still get delivered to your inbox:

    This makes it easy to identify and filter any future email that you may get from a particular source.

    • kaf

      This is awesome! I can’t believe I didn’t know about it.


  • erkme73

    The only downside is that I’m sure every harvesting webbot and spammer out there knows that if it’s a gmail account, and has a plus sign in it, discard the plus and the content to the right, and you have the real email.

    Would be nice if they made it a “.” _ instead of a +… oh well…

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