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7 best Gmail for Android tips and tricks

Gmail guide
Gmail guide (Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

We covered the basics of Gmail for Android in our beginner's guide, and now it's time to take a look at features that extend the functionality of the email client. Gmail offers a variety of tools aimed at managing your inbox clutter.

If you haven't already, you should enable two-factor authentication on your Gmail account. Two-factor authentication works by combining something you know (a password) with something you have (your phone), effectively doubling your account's security.

How to change sync settings in Gmail

Gmail automatically syncs emails for up to 30 days on your phone, but if that isn't sufficient, you can manually increase the sync duration from the settings.

  1. Open Gmail from the home screen.
  2. Tap the hamburger menu in the top left corner.
  3. Navigate to the bottom of the pane to find Settings.

Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)
  1. Select the Gmail account for which you want to change sync settings.
  2. In the account settings, navigate to Days of mail to sync.
  3. Enter the desired number of days in the textbox.

Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

How to use Action Confirmations in Gmail

Gmail on the desktop has an Undo send feature that comes in handy when you spot a mistake in your email the second after you hit the Send button. The feature isn't available on Android, and the closest you get to similar functionality is through Action Confirmations. With the setting enabled, you'll see a dialog box pop up every time you send, archive, or delete a message asking you to confirm the action.

  1. Tap the hamburger menu in the top left corner.
  2. Navigate to Settings.
  3. Select General settings.

Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)
  1. Navigate to the bottom of the page to see Action Confirmations.
  2. Select the checkboxes next to each corresponding action.

Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

How to use Auto-advance in Gmail

Gmail's Auto-advance is a great time-saver if you have a lot of unread emails. The feature lets you automatically move to the next unread email in your inbox after you've archived or deleted a particular thread.

  1. Tap the hamburger menu in the top left corner.
  2. Navigate to Settings.
  3. Select General settings.

Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)
  1. Tap on Auto-advance.
  2. Select between Newer, Older, or Conversation list.

Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

How to use the vacation responder in Gmail

Don't want to look at your inbox while vacationing? Set up vacation responder, and Gmail will automatically fire off a reply to all incoming emails, notifying senders that you won't be available until the set duration. You also have the option of limiting the responder auto-message to those in your contacts list.

  1. Tap the hamburger menu in the top left corner.
  2. Navigate to Settings.
  3. Select the Gmail account for which you want to enable an auto-response.

Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)
  1. In your account settings, navigate to Vacation responder.
  2. Toggle the setting to on to start filling out the start and end dates, as well as the body of the message.
  3. Tap Done to enable the feature.

Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

How to search in Gmail

If you're like me and receive hundreds of emails every day, it's no easy task to keep your inbox uncluttered. Thankfully, Gmail has an excellent search function that comes in handy when you're looking for a specific email. You can search for mail received on a particular date, filter messages based on the sender, look through mail that only has attachments, and much more.

  1. Tap the Search icon at the top right corner.
  2. Key in your search parameter.
  3. Gmail will surface emails that match the query.

Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

If you're interested in seeing all the parameters available, here's the full list. Labels and filters offer an easier way to categorize emails, but neither feature is available in the Android app. You'll have to use Gmail on the desktop to create filters and labels.

How to start or join a Google Meet call directly from Gmail

Who says the Gmail app is limited to written comms? You can attend a Google Meet conference call right out of Gmail for Android. I love this feature as it really highlights Google's efforts to streamline your workflow by emphasizing integration.

  1. Open Gmail on your Android phone.
  2. Tap the camcorder-shaped Meet icon at the bottom of the app.
  3. If there's a Meet event invite waiting for you, it will be displayed in this menu. Simply tap the invite to join the call.Source: Prakhar Khanna/Android Central

Alternatively, you can start an impromptu Google Meet call or join a meeting using a code from the same place. Check out our detailed instructions to join a Google Meet call with a code or to start a new Google Meet call all within the Gmail app.

How to add an alias in Gmail

Another way to filter messages is by creating an alias account. Add + after your Gmail username to create an alias that will forward all mail to your original account. For instance, if your username is doctorwhofan89@gmail.com, you can add doctorwhofan89+subscribe@gmail.com as an alias, and all mail sent to that account will be forwarded to your primary username. You can create alias accounts to subscribe to newsletters or promotions, and set up a filter so these messages automatically get sorted into a particular label.

Other mentions

  • Gmail doesn't parse dots in the email address, so a username like doctorwhofan89@gmail.com is the same as doctor.who.fan.89@gmail.com.
  • You should probably start learning Gmail's keyboard shortcuts. They work on the desktop as well as the Android client when paired with an external keyboard.
  • If you're using Gmail on the desktop, it's time you enabled Undo send. The feature is more useful than you think.

A more efficient inbox

Who doesn't love the efficiency of using Gmail from one of the best Android phones? With these helpful tips and tricks, you'll be mastering Gmail for Android in no time!

Updated February 2022: Added instructions on how to start or join a Google Meet call directly from Gmail.

Namerah Saud Fatmi
Namerah Saud Fatmi

Namerah Saud Fatmi is a contributing writer for Android Central. She has a passion for all things tech & gaming and has been an honorary Goodreads librarian since 2011. When she isn't writing, she can be found chasing stray cats and dogs in the streets of Dhaka or slaying dragons in the land of Skyrim. You can reach her on Twitter @NamerahS.

24 Comments
  • Another handy use for Aliases. If you use an alias when registering with online forums, blogs, etc.. It's handy to use an alias. So when you start receiving spam from an unknown site, and the email address it was sent to was "joeuser89+mobilenations@gmail.com", then you know which dastardly site leaked or sold your email address to spammers.  
  • That is an excellent tip. Thanks!
  • I recently heard about this myself and wondered if said dastardly sites might know about this themselves and eliminate the "+" and everything that follows when they spam you...
  • Unfortunately, some sites don't consider the email address valid if you include the "+" in it. For those, playing around with the embedded "."s can help, but it's limited by how long your username is.
  • I just use my special spam email for all forums etc. That thing gets like 1 email per minute
  • On my S7 Edge VZW, I get two notification from both stock email and Gmail. So I uninstall Gmail and go with stock email which will suffice. And I did not find the option to set Gmail as a default app.
  • Just delete the account from the stock email app if you want to use gmail. There's no reason to set up the same email account on two different apps.
  • I find Gmail a horrible app, for my needs I find Mail Ru a really good App, https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https2F2F...
  • I don't think it's horrible. But I also don't use it at all, on any device. For my phone I choose the BlackBerry Hub. https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https2F2F... Flicked via the BlackBerry keyboard on my Nexus 5X
  • In the sync settings, is there a way to set it to forever? I prefer having all the emails in my inbox available. Personally, though, I use BlackBerry Hub on my PRIV.
  • All that looks like it's done on a pc. This being an android forum, that is hardly useful...
  • One downside for the "aliases" is that some sites don't consider an email address valid with "+" in it.
  • Hey I finally found the email from my boss years ago that he says he sent me and I called him liar and he fired me because I couldn't find it. I found it in spam folder and then I called him n he says I'm not getting my job back still. Oh well I guess I will be looking in spam folder now.
  • Fake ass Gmail that you can't even select all with one tap and mark unread or whatever. Straight up disabled and instead use the BlackBerry Hub. There's no comparison. BlackBerry knows how to make a productive email app.
  • Useful info
  • I use Undo Send so many times a day!
  • How do we turn off conversation view (for the primary Gmail inbox)?
  • Aargh. Why do we have to open the web version of gmail to work with labels?
  • Is there a way to automatically send an email while you're asleep?
  • This is good info, I'm not a big fan of the app but love the PC web version. This will help with efficiency on your phone
  • I just want to be able to mass delete all my emails. I get alot of junk. I rarely look at any of my emails. And I need to delete several thousand. I don't want to do it one by one. Can anyone tell me if it's possible. Last I read, it wasnt. I don't know why they would leave off this feature.
  • Also Deskun extension might be handy (deskun.com), with it you can see the exact date and time your email was read, and there's also an option to send emails later or snooze them.
  • Um...what?...
    "Gmail doesn't parse dots in the email address, so a username like doctorwhofan89@gmail.com is the same as doctor.who.fan.89@gmail.com." So if my emails is johndoe@gmail.com, i will also get john.doe@gmail.com's emails too? Or people will send me (johndoe) emails and they'll go to someone else (john.doe)??
  • To Google, they are the same. If you already have johndoe, nobody else could get john.doe@gmail.com.