Many people use Gmail as their personal email service, and it features in our guide to the best email providers. A premium version of Gmail for business is also available, and offers a useful system for small companies.
This comes as part of a subscription to Google Workspace, Google’s collection of productivity tools that also includes Calendar, Meet, Docs, and more. In this article, we’ll focus on Gmail and 10 of its most useful features.
1. Custom @yourcompany addresses
If you want to look professional, you shouldn’t be emailing customers with an address ending in @gmail.com. With the paid version of Gmail for business, everyone in your team can be given a custom address using your company’s domain, such as email@example.com.
You’ll need to already own the domain name, but it’s easy to link it with Gmail. You can also create custom mailing lists: for example, you could set up firstname.lastname@example.org and have this redirect to everyone in your sales team.
2. Easy migration
Gmail’s migration service enables you to transfer all previous emails from a range of services, including Outlook, Exchange, and Lotus. You can do this for up to 100 users, and an online guide takes you through the process step by step.
Attachments, folders, read state and priority flags are retained, so you won’t have to spend time rebuilding your organisational structure. It’s also possible to migrate emails from within a specified date range.
3. Email organisation
Gmail’s organisational tools are both powerful and unobtrusive. As with most email clients, you can sort mail into folders or use labels. An email can have more than one label too, so you can categorize emails while keeping them in your inbox if necessary.
You can also enable Gmail to do most of the categorisation for you via filters. These catch incoming emails based on sender, receiver or subject matter, and put them in specified folders or mark them as read.
It's also possible to recover deleted emails in Gmail using its built in tools. However, it's important to note that Gmail will only retain deleted emails for 30 days, after which point you'll need to go through Gmail's Support page.
4. Integration with desktop clients
The main Gmail interface is only accessible via web browser or mobile app: there is no desktop app available. However, if you prefer organising your email in a dedicated desktop client, it is easy to integrate Gmail with apps such as Apple Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird, and Microsoft Outlook.
The set-up process is straightforward, and once you get going, the synchronisation is seamless. Any changes you make to your organisational structure in the desktop client will immediately take effect in Gmail as accessed through a web browser, and vice versa.
5. Customisable spam filtering
Gmail has a powerful spam filtering system based on machine learning, which Google claims blocks more than 99.9% of spam, phishing, and malware. In practice though, we’ve occasionally seen legitimate emails accidentally end up in spam.
There are also useful administrator tools to customise spam filtering. You can set up an approved senders list or bypass spam classification for all mail from senders within your domain. You can also filter bulk email more aggressively or put all spam in quarantine for an administrator to review.
6. Calls and chat within Gmail
Two major features of Google Workspace are Chat, which enables text chat between individuals and teams; and Meet, which is for making calls using voice or video. Both are integrated into the Gmail web browser interface.
On the side bar, underneath your email folders, there are options to set up or join a meeting and to open up a text chat. So, if you’re emailing a client and want to check a related fact with a colleague, you can do so via text chat without having to leave Gmail.
7. Smart suggestions
Writing emails can take up a great deal of your time, but Gmail’s smart suggestions can speed up the process by predicting what you want to write. For example, if you start writing “My address is,” Gmail will load up your address. Simply press Tab to accept the suggestion.
There are also smart replies: if someone asks if you can attend a meeting on Monday, a possible reply offered will be “Monday works for me”. Its predictions aren’t always accurate, but you can edit the suggestions to add further information or personalise them.
8. 99.9% guaranteed uptime
Google has a substantial server infrastructure, which allows it to deliver a robust service. Gmail never has planned downtime and comes with a guarantee of 99.9% uptime—in other words, no more than 45 minutes of downtime a month.
If the monthly uptime goes below 99.9%, Google will add three days of service to the end of your contract - that goes up to seven days if uptime goes below 99%, and 15 days if uptime goes below 95%.
9. Undo send
We’ve all written and sent off an email in a hurry, only to immediately notice that we’ve misspelled the recipient’s name or got our figures wrong. In 2015, Google added the useful Undo Send feature to Gmail.
After pressing send, an option to undo appears on screen for a short while, during which time Gmail holds off on actually sending the email. You can set this length of time to five, 10, 20, or 30 seconds. After undoing, you can go back into your draft and make changes before resending.
10. Third-party app integration
It’s possible to integrate a range of third-party apps into Gmail. For example, with the DocuSign extension, users can sign documents sent to them and immediately create a reply with the signed document attached.
Another useful extension is Dropbox for Gmail, which allows you to share Dropbox files directly through Gmail and save received attachments to your Dropbox account. Other popular Gmail add-ons include Asana, Trello, Zoom, and Todoist.
If you’re looking for an email solution to suit your business’s needs, then Gmail is well worth considering, as it comes with an impressive range of features. Plus, it’s easy to migrate your emails from another system or synchronise your Gmail account with desktop apps.
For more information on getting the most productivity out of your email communications, check out our best email clients guide. Or, if you’re not a Gmail or iOS user and want to know about your options, you might like this best email client on Windows guide.
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Kieron Moore is a freelance writer based in Manchester, England. He contributes to Future sites including TechRadar and Creative Bloq, focusing on subjects including creative software, video editing, and streaming services. This work draws on his experience as an independent filmmaker and an independent TV watcher. He can be found on Twitter at @KieronMoore, usually when he’s meant to be writing.