If you spend most of your time checking/replying to emails on Gmail, the service has several keyboard shortcuts built into it, which you can use to perform those operations quickly and efficiently.

best gmail keyboard shortcuts

However, unlike shortcuts for other services, Gmail shortcuts are hardly discussed. Plus, Google requires you to enable these shortcuts on your account before you can use them.

But fret not, as we’ll show you all there’s to know about Gmail shortcuts on the web, everything from how to enable the shortcuts to all the best Gmail keyboard shortcuts you can use and the steps to create your own custom Gmail shortcuts.

How to Enable Gmail Shortcuts

Google, by default, doesn’t have all the shortcuts enabled in Gmail on the web. So, if you wish to use them, you must enable them first.

Here are the steps to do this:

  1. Go to Gmail and log in to your account.
  2. Click Settings (gear icon) in the upper-right corner of the screen and select See all settings under Quick settings.
  3. In the General tab, scroll down to Keyboard shortcuts and select the radio button next to Keyboard shortcuts on.
    gmail keyboard shortcuts on option
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save Changes to apply the changes.

Best Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts

Once you’ve enabled keyboard shortcuts on your Gmail account, you can start using them for various tasks. Google has shortcuts for pretty much all kinds of operations. Almost all of these shortcuts will work in any desktop web browser.

Below is a list of some of the most useful Gmail shortcuts you can benefit from greatly. We’ve categorized these shortcuts by action type so that it’s easier to navigate.

1. Navigation Shortcuts

Using a mouse or trackpad for navigation is a natural choice. However, Gmail also lets you use your keyboard to navigate through your emails. It’s a faster option between the two since it doesn’t require you to take your hand away from the keyboard—over to the mouse or trackpad—every time you need to navigate through the items on the screen.

Access newer conversation
Access older conversation
Access previous message in a conversation
Access next message in a conversation
Open a conversation
o or Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac)
Go to next Inbox section
Go to previous Inbox section
Go to next page
g + n
Got to previous page
g + p
Go to Inbox
g + i
Go to Starred conversations
g + s
Go to Snoozed conversations
g + b
Go to Sent messages
g + t
Go to Drafts
g + d
Go to All mail
g + a
Go to Tasks
g + k

2. Shortcuts for Composing and Sending Emails

If your work involves going back and forth with people over email, then knowing keyboard shortcuts for basic actions like composing an email, replying to an email, or forwarding an email can be quite helpful. Here are a few such shortcuts you must start using right away:

Compose a new email
Compose in a new tab
Add cc recipients
Command + Shift + c or Ctrl + Shift + c
Add bcc recipients
Command + Shift + b or Ctrl + Shift + b
Insert a link
Command + K or Ctrl + K
Command + Enter or Ctrl + Enter
Reply all
Update conversation
Shift + n

3. Text Formatting Shortcuts

Composing an email is just one part of the process; the other half requires you to format the email to get the message across clearly and effectively. Gmail supports various formatting actions and has dedicated keyboard shortcuts for each of them to help you in the process.

Command + b or Ctrl + b
Command + i or Ctrl + i
Command + u or Ctrl + u
Numbered list
Command + Shift + 7 or Ctrl + Shift + 7
Bulleted list
Command + Shift + 8 or Ctrl + Shift + 8
Command + Shift + 9 or Ctrl + Shift + 9
Previous font
Command + Shift + 5 or Ctrl + Shift + 5
Next font
Command + Shift + 6 or Ctrl + Shift + 6
Increase text size
Command + Shift + + or Ctrl + Shift + +
Decrease text size
Command + Shift + - or Ctrl + Shift + -
Alight left
Command + Shift + l or Ctrl + Shift + l
Alight center
Command + Shift + e or Ctrl + Shift + e
Alight right
Command + Shift + r or Ctrl + Shift + r
Remove formatting
Command + \ or Ctrl + \

4. Shortcuts for Email Selection

At times, you may need to select all conversations of a particular type in your inbox, perhaps to mark them as read/unread or delete them. In Gmail, you have dedicated keyboard shortcuts for different kinds of email selections, which can come in handy in such situations.

Select all conversations
* + a
Deselect all conversations
* + n
Select read conversations
* + r
Select unread conversations
* + u
Select starred conversations
* + s
Select unstarred conversations
* + t
Select an email individually

5. Email Management Shortcuts

If you exchange a lot of emails, chances are your inbox is cluttered with all sorts of emails. A good way to ensure this clutter doesn’t hamper your emailing experience is to organize and manage your inbox timely, and the following Gmail shortcuts are aimed towards helping you with the same.

Search mail
Open "More actions" menu
Open "Move to" menu
Open "Label as" menu
Archive email
Mute conversation
Report as spam
Mark as read
Shift + i
Mark as unread
Shift + u
Mark as important
Mark as unimportant
Delete a mail
Undo last action

How to Customize Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts

If you use custom keyboard shortcuts on your Mac or Windows PC, and you’re experiencing a conflict between them and one of the Gmail shortcuts, you can change that shortcut to some other key combination. Here’s how:

  1. Click on Settings and select See all settings from the menu.
  2. Go to the Advanced tab, scroll down to the Custom keyboard shortcuts option, and select the Enable radio button.
    gmail custom keyboard shortcuts option
  3. Click Save Changes.

Now, go back to the Settings page, and you’ll see a Keyboard Shortcuts tab on it. Click on this tab to view a list of all keyboard shortcuts available in Gmail.

If you want to change the shortcut for action, select the keyboard action for it in the Rows column and press your preferred key combination.

gmail keyboard shortcuts list

Once done, click the Save Changes button to save your changes. And you should now be able to use it to perform the action linked to it.

Do Things in Gmail Quickly and Efficiently

As you’ve seen, keyboard shortcuts can significantly speed up various email-related tasks in Gmail. Not only does this save you time, but it also lets you power through various tasks quickly, which, in turn, helps you do more in the same time period.

Of course, getting used to these shortcuts can take some time. And that’s precisely why Google has a Help page for all its keyboard shortcuts. So whenever you need to look up a Gmail keyboard shortcut, press the ? key on your keyboard in Gmail, and it’ll show you a list of all the available shortcuts.

Was this article helpful?