How to Use Templates and Auto-Responders in GMail

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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 BucklerCraig Buckler
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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 created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.

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