How to Use Gmail Automation

Gmail Automation: 9 Ways to Automate Gmail

Are you spending too much time on email? DIscover amazing ways to automate Gmail and reclaim all that time.

catherine heath

Last updated: April 13, 2023

10 mins read

If you’re using Gmail to manage your emails then you should know that it is packed with features that can help you automate your processes. You may be sending certain types of emails manually when you can actually use a handy automation to take the grunt work out of emails. 

Studies show that workers spend upwards of 20% of their time at work managing emails, which is a huge amount of time that could otherwise be devoted to more creative or productive pursuits. Moreover, having too many emails to handle can be draining for morale and result in burnout for some people. 

Although the dream of reaching inbox zero may remain that – just a dream – there is a way that individuals can get a handle on their emails right away. It’s not difficult or time-consuming either, so anyone can learn how to make their email inbox more manageable if they are using Gmail. 

Gmail automation makes it much simpler to manage your emails, so you no longer have to panic when checking your Gmail inbox. 

Ready to transform how you work in Gmail?
Teams love Keeping because you can collaborate on a shared inbox without ever leaving Gmail. It's not magic, but it feels magical.

What is Gmail automation? 

Gmail automation means using a set of rules to automate the management of emails coming into or exiting the inbox, which is available to anyone who has a Gmail account. For example, instead of manually replying to repetitive tasks that land in your inbox, you could set up a rule that sends an automated response to these correspondents. 

Gmail automation means you can keep your inbox organized without conducting so much manual work. These rules operate behind the scenes which you can set up once to trigger every time a condition is met. 

Read More: Creating Gmail Rules for a Clean Inbox

Tools like Keeping also extend the level of automation available with workflows that use simple if/then logic to automatically assign tickets, prioritize important customers, or ignore spam and promotional emails. Keeping is aimed at customer service teams that use Gmail to help customers, and who are looking for a way to work more efficiently. 

Being able to set up Gmail automations is a handy way to make managing emails more pleasant. 

The benefits of Gmail automation

Gmail automation saves time. Lots of it

Instead of manually devoting a large amount of time to processing your email, Gmail automations allow you to automate many tasks that would otherwise take minutes or even hours. It’s not always an option to ignore your email without the inbox becoming overwhelming, so managing email is an essential task for most workers. 

Email automation is an incredible time-saver to increase productivity that can take the place of hiring an assistant for administrative tasks. 

Gmail automation also enables faster responses

Correspondents who get in touch with you through email are often waiting for a response, and Gmail automations can enable you to reply to them much faster because you can trigger a message or forward their email to an assistant. Eliminating the need to manually respond to every email means every recipient can be assured that their email will be dealt with in a timely fashion. 

Quickly responding to anyone who emails you is essential for customer service in particular. 

Not to mention that by automating Gmail, you create a more organized inbox

Keeping every single email in the main inbox can often result in a significant need for organization which makes it hard to keep track of which emails have been dealt with. Automations means you can set up folders and labels to organize your emails and keep your main inbox as clean as possible. 

Grouping related emails together allows you to see at a glance the state of your inbox, and guide appropriate action. 

It all sounds great, but can you actually automate an email in Gmail?

Yes, you absolutely can automate an email in Gmail and there are several ways you can do it.

It all depends on what you want to do with your emails, since you can set up your Gmail to support your workflow and save more time. 

If you want to automate an email, you can set up filters and labels to categorize your email and filter messages. Alternatively, you can instruct Gmail to take an alternative action for new emails that arrive in your inbox. It’s possible to set up automatic replies so you can deal with emails that you receive without human intervention. 

That being said, there are only a limited number of ways to automate emails in Gmails without investing in third-party software like Keeping. If you choose Keeping, you can organize your incoming messages much more effectively to allow a team of agents to collaborate on customer service. 

Even without third-party solutions, Gmail offers a number of options to manage your emails through automation. 

9 Ways to Use Gmail Automation and Save Time

1. Set emails to automatically go to a folder in Gmail

In Gmail, the platform uses a system of labels to replace the concept of folders in your inbox. Labels allow you to sort incoming messages into different categories to give you a handle on the different types of mail coming into your inbox. 

Not only does Gmail allow you to use labels, but you can also automatically route your emails according to labels without manual intervention. You automatically sort emails into labels using filters, which are easy to set up using Gmail. This method keeps your inbox clear of emails that don’t necessarily need your immediate attention. 

Here’s how to do it: 

  • Select the icon to the right of the search bar in Gmail. 
  • This opens a drop-down menu with a number of fields you can fill in to create your filter. 
  • Enter the text you like into the fields including From, To, and Subject. 
  • Select the button “Create filter”. 
  • In the screen that opens, select the option to “Apply the label” and select “Choose label”. 
  • Select “New label” and enter the name of your label in the field that appeals. 
  • Select “Create” to set up your new label and then select “Create filter”.

You have now created your new filter in Gmail and all new emails in Gmail will be categorized with the appropriate label. This helps keep your inbox organized. You can even choose different colors for your labels to give it more of a visual distinction in the inbox. 

2. Automate an email list in Gmail

In Gmail, you must use Google Contacts to automate a Gmail list. A contact list contains a list of contacts that you have selected such as “new subscribers” or “customer service team”. Using this method enables you to automatically send an email to many recipients at once instead of having to manually add them to your email. 

This automation can be helpful if you regularly send email to a particular group of respondents and want to save time. As long as the person is saved in your contacts, you will be able to add them to your contact list. 

Here’s how to do it: 

  • In the left-hand menu in Google Contacts, select “Create label” and a new screen will open. 
  • Name your contact label something descriptive and then select “Save”. This will create your new label in the sidebar. 
  • In order to add your contact to the list, select the checkbox next to the contact name, select the label icon from the menu at the top and choose your label. 
  • Alternatively, you can drag the selected contacts onto a label in the sidebar. 
  • Navigating to the toolbar above the label, you can select “Manage labels”.  
  • If you have a list of contacts you want to import, navigate to the sidebar, and select “Import” to import a CSV or vCard file that contains a list of external contacts. 
  • When you are in the import window, choose the custom label that you want to apply to each imported contact.

When you want to include a mailing list from Google Contacts to your email recipients, just find the label name by typing it in the “To” field in Gmail. In this way, you will be able to send mail to multiple contacts without searching for them manually. 

3. Create Gmail templates and canned responses

In Gmail, it’s possible to set up email templates that you can use to reply to repetitive emails. It’s a waste of time to write out the same email repeatedly, or it takes an extra step to copy and paste a response from Microsoft Word. 

There is a way to save canned responses that you can select and insert into an email using just a few clicks. It’s very simple to save an email template within Gmail that you can save and use every time you need it, eliminating the need to type out a response every time manually. 

Here’s the way to do it: 

  • Enter Gmail and open the “compose” window. 
  • Type the email you want to save as a template and select the three dots at the bottom of the window. 
  • Go to “templates” and select “save draft as template”. 
  • This process will save your new email as a template for next time. 

Next time you compose an email in Gmail, follow the same process by going to “templates” and selecting the template you would like to insert into your email. Choosing your template automatically inserts the pre-written text into your email, which you can then send as normal to your recipient. 

4. Set up an auto-response

If you’re like many busy workers, you may want to set up an auto-response in your Gmail inbox to automatically deal with incoming mail. This is especially useful if you are a customer service team using Gmail and you want to alert your customers about opening hours and average response times. 

In Gmail, there is a way to trigger an auto-responder that is sent to all emails that arrive in your inbox. You can set this up once and it will automatically reply to all incoming mail. Gmail controls the schedule so that it is only sent once every four days, so even if your respondent emails you multiple times they won’t be overwhelmed with auto-responders. 

Here’s how to do it: 

  • In the top right-hand corner of Gmail, select the gear icon to open Gmail settings, and then navigate to “See all settings”.
  • In the screen that opens, scroll down to the “Vacation responder” section which is just at the bottom of the screen.
  • Toggle the “Vacation responder on” to turn on your vacation responder.
  • Enter the range of dates, subject line, and message in the fields provided.
  • You can check whether you only want people in your contacts to see your vacation responder. 
  • Select “Save Changes” to set up your vacation responder.

Now, any time you receive an email in your Gmail, the sender will automatically receive an auto-response letting them know you have received it. You can include all sorts of relevant information such as your business hours, or an emergency contact. 

5. Schedule emails for later

Did you know that in Gmail it’s possible to delay the sending of an email to a time that suits you better? This works when you want to write your emails in batches but you want your recipients to receive them at a more appropriate time of day. 

Sending an email at different times of day makes it more likely you will receive a response. It might suit you to compose an email at midnight, but you would rather it be one of the first emails your correspondent receives at 9am in the morning. This works if you want to give the impression of particular business hours but you want to write emails in your own time. 

Without this Gmail automation, you would have to write a draft and then remember to send it at the appropriate time. You can remove the chance of human error by scheduling a send in Gmail. 

Here’s how to do it:  

  • Open the Compose window in Gmail to write a new message. 
  • Enter the recipient, the subject, and the text you want to include in your email. 
  • Next to the “Send” button, select the down arrow and select “Schedule send”. 
  • Select “Pick a date and time” to determine when you want your email to be sent, and enter the fields that open. 
  • Select “Schedule send”. 

It’s much more convenient to schedule an email at a time the respondent is more likely to open it, but allowing you to write the email when it suits you. 

6. Set up automatic forwarding

There could be times when you want to automatically forward an email to someone else in Gmail, when someone emails you but you think the message is more appropriate for someone else. This could be when you want to send a request to your assistant, or your customer service team wants to forward inquiries to the billing department, for example. 

You can use Gmail filters to sort the emails you would like to forward which means you don’t have to organize them yourself. 

Here’s how to do it: 

  • Select the icon to the right of the search bar. 
  • Enter the “From” address if relevant, or enter “Subject” with the appropriate terms for the email you want to forward. 
  • Select “Create filter” to open a new window. 
  • Select the option to “Forward it” and “Create filter” to forward the relevant emails to a new email address. 

It’s important to remember that to set up a forwarding address you have to add it to the “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” section of Gmail settings.

7. Automate email sequences with third-party software

In Gmail, there is no native way to automate an email sequence – and by email sequence, we mean follow-up recurring emails if a certain condition is or is not met. To achieve this functionality, you’ll need to use a tool like Right Inbox which is a free add-on for Gmail. First you have to install Right Inbox before you can create a sequence. 

In Right Inbox, you can create an email sequence for your outgoing messages depending on whether an email has not been opened, the link not clicked on, or the email not replied to. To create a sequence, select “Sequences” and hit “Manage Sequences”. You can select an amount of time that has elapsed for the follow-up email to be sent. 

These sort of email sequences are very useful if you are regularly emailing recipients who need to respond, such as a high-performing sales team. You can save time from manually having to follow-up with people who have already been emailed. 

Utilizing email sequences enables the hard work to take place in the background while you get on with more productive tasks. 

8. Use smart compose

In Gmail, it’s not exactly possible to create an auto-generated email, which is an email created by AI instead of a human. What you can do in Gmail is take advantage of predictive AI (or what Gmail calls Smart Compose) which suggests phrases and sentences as you type an email, saving you valuable time in composition. 

The big advantage of Smart Compose is that Gmail suggests text for you personalized to the way you normally write, so its helpful hints are specific only to you. It’s about the halfway point between an entirely AI auto-generated email and one that’s been written by a human. 

At the moment, Gmail can’t use AI to write the email for you, but you can use tools like Flowrite which uses artificial intelligence to create emails for you based on minimal input. In Flowrite, you make bullet point suggestions for what you want to include and the platform writes the email for you. 

Machine learning is developing to a point where soon emails will be composed artificially. 

9. Hide all promotional emails from your inbox

Most of us receive far too many newsletters and promotional emails. Of course, many of these are relevant and interesting. But we still don’t need to be sorting through them every time we open the inbox.

Luckily, you can set Gmail to detect those messages and hide them from view.

Here’s a quick hack to help you do it. It focuses on one aspect of all promotional emails – By law, these emails are required to allow users to unsubscribe. And so, as a result, they all contain the word “unsubscribe” in them, and usually, that’s a link to the unsubscribe page.

To quickly filter for those images, set up a filter that looks for all emails with the word “unsubscribe” in them.

Then, set the filter to send those emails to a specific label AND skip the inbox (or archive them.)

That’s it. From now on, all marketing emails will immediately be stored in the label you’ve created.

This means that you can still go through all those emails. But you won’t be seeing them in the inbox all the time.

Pretty cool, right?

Wrapping up

When you use the power of Gmail automations you will find your work-life transformed. These handy tips and tricks are essential if you want to stay on top of a bucket load of emails without simply ignoring or deleting most of them. 

Having a more organized inbox is one of the keys to staying more productive and devoting more time to the work that really matters. Not every email you receive requires personal attention and yet you probably want to send it to a particular part of the inbox. 

Gmail automations enable much better email management and increases the likelihood you’ll get to inbox zero. 

To automate emails in Gmail, you don’t need to leave the Gmail interface. These features are native and can be used by any Gmail user. If you want to extend the capabilities of Gmail, you can consider software like Keeping to take your customer service to the next level. 

catherine heath

Catherine is a content writer and community builder for creative and ethical companies. She often writes case studies, help documentation and articles about customer support. Her writing has helped businesses to attract curious audiences and transform them into loyal advocates. You can find more of her work at https://awaywithwords.co.

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