Automate Me: Use Gmail’s ‘canned responses’ to reply to emails faster

Image: ambar del moral

What’s more of a time-suck than spending all day writing email?

You could probably name a few things like vacuuming, getting lost in subreddits, and browsing through Instagram. But still, nothing is worse than wasting your life away responding to emails.

Just look at this statistic from an Adobe survey released in 2015 that says U.S. workers spend 6.3 hours a day checking email. That’s more than half the workday, and that number is sure to be higher today!

Luckily, there’s a way to automate the process (and maybe even prevent early carpal tunnel syndrome from kicking in) in Gmail, especially if you tend to send the same redundant email all day, every day.

There’s a feature in Gmail called “Canned Responses” that lets you create email templates that you can reuse later, so you’re not writing things like thank you letters over and over. And, it’s free!

Setting up

Turning on Canned Responses couldn’t be simpler:

1. Click the gear icon in the upper right corner of your Gmail account:


2. Then, click on “Settings”:


3. Click on the “Labs” setting and scroll down and click “Enable” for Canned Responses:


4. And then, scroll to the bottom and click “Save Changes” (you must do this or the feature won’t activate):

Image: raymond wong/mashable

Creating templates:

Once your Gmail tab refreshes, compose a new email. My suggestion is to leave the “To” and “Subject” fields blank, but you can fill in either if you prefer.

Now we’re going to create a new template. In the new message window, click on the down arrow in the lower right corner:

Image: raymond wong/mashable

Then, click “Canned responses” and “New canned response…”:

Image: raymond wong/mashable

Give your canned response template a name, and then you can get to work writing a template. Below, I’ve written a generic “thank you” reply:

Image: raymond wong/mashable

For fields you’ll change, like a person’s name, date, or time, it might be helpful to put them in brackets so you remember to fill them in. Nothing’s more embarrassing than accidentally sending an email template that starts with “Hi name”.

Finally, after you’ve written out your template email, click on the down arrow again, then “Canned responses” and select the template name from earlier before to save it:

Image: raymond wong/mashable

The next time you go to compose an email, you can just load up a canned response, fill out the necessary details and tada! save yourself a whole lot of stress. Maybe use all the saved time to meditate or stand up (Because sitting all day will kill you faster!). And you can make as many canned responses as you want for different responses.

It may not seem faster at first, but trust me, if all of the minutes do add up over time.

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