Gmail Recommended Settings

When you first log in to your Gmail account, the appearance of the Gmail interface is its default.. There are many settings that you can customize to match your own preferences. Several of the main settings are described below, and, where appropriate, suggested changes based on customer feedback have been included.

In addition to settings that you can customize, there are also Gmail Labs that can be enabled. These labs are experimental features that have not been fully incorporated into the Gmail product. Several useful labs are discussed below.

For more general information on how to use Gmail, please see the G Suite Learning Center: Gmail.

IMAP Setting

See Choose your IMAP email client settings for Gmail.

Mail Settings

To change your mail settings click on the Options link (denoted by a gear) in the upper right hand corner and choose Mail Settings. You will have a list of categories (tabs) across the top of your screen (discussed further below).


  • Conversation view
    • On by default and recommended.
    • Groups all replies with the original message, creating what is referred to as a “single conversation” or “thread.”
    • Instead of reading separate messages to find replies, you see them all together.
    • Usually makes the context of the message easier to follow – much like a conversation.
  • Signature
    • Recommend you enter a signature that identifies you and provides other contact information as desired.
    • Typical signature information might include name, title, organization, and phone number.
  • Attachments
    • Basic attachment is the default, allows you to attach one file at a time.
    • Recommend you change to “Advanced,” which allows you to select multiple files for upload (requires Flash).
    • This option also shows the progress of attaching files (e.g., how long it is taking to upload and attach).
    • For attachments over Google’s 25MB limit, consider using the Velocity service.
      For more about the service, such as security, copyright, and file retention policy considerations, see Velocity.
  • Desktop notifications
    • Available only in the Google Chrome browser.
    • Default is “Off.”
    • When enabled, gives you a pop-up bubble on your desktop when new email or new chat messages arrive.
  • Vacation responder
    • Default is “Off.”
    • To create and turn on a vacation message, adjust beginning and end dates and provide a message.
    • Does not respond to message lists that honor the X-Message-List header.
    • Both Google Groups and MJ2 lists ( honor this header.
  • Keyboard shortcuts
    • Default is “Off.”
    • Many power users enjoy the convenience of being able to use keyboard combinations to do common tasks.
    • One helpful shortcut is the “shift C” key …. allows you to compose a new message with your Inbox in view.
    • For more, see Keyboard shortcuts for Gmail.
  • Snippets
    • Default is “On.”
    • Shows both the subject line and the beginning of a message in your Inbox.
    • Turning it off shows only the subject line.


  • Labels are very similar to folders, except that they do so much more! You can:
    • apply more than one label to a message (i.e., “file” the message in more than one “folder”)
    • view all messages with a given label
    • “move” messages to a label (they no longer appear in your Inbox)
    • search within a label.
    • easily create, edit or delete existing labels.
  • When you search from your Inbox without specifying a label, all mail is searched.
  • If you have a lot of labels, you can hide some or all of them.
  • Messages can still be easily labeled or moved by using the drop down menu across the top of your Inbox.
  • For more information, see Organize your Gmail inbox using labels.


The accounts tab allows you to:

  • change your password
  • set other security options
  • change your Send mail address
  • add other email accounts.

Send mail as

  • Your address is default.
  • Lets you configure additional addresses to use to send mail from; e.g., such as
  • Note: Messages you send to yourself will not appear in your inbox. They will instead be found in All Mail.


  • You can use a filter to manage incoming mail messages.
  • You can create filters to label, archive, delete, star or forward mail.
  • “Starring” an email makes it stand out; e.g., more important, needs re-reading, contains an action item.
  • For more information, see Create rules to filter your emails in Gmail.


  • If you want to jazz up the look and feel of your Gmail interface, test drive some of the many themes available.
  • They’re easily added or removed; you can vary your look in an instant!
  • For more information, see Gmail themes.

Google Labs

  • To continue enhancing your Web experience, Google takes suggestions from customers and often turns them into new services or features.
  • These may eventually become part of the product, but Google considers them “not quite ready for prime time” and separates them from regular “settings.”
  • OIT has found several of Labs to be quite useful; they often provide users with functionalities they have come to expect in an email client.
  • NOTE: The settings below are only recommendations. There are many others, both in the product and as Labs, that you can use.
  • After considering these, take some time to browse all the offerings to further enhance your Gmail experience.

The Google Implementation Team has found several of the many Labs useful:

  • Title tweaks
    Changes the order of elements in your browser title bar to let you quickly see at a glance how many new, unread messages you have in your Inbox. For example, it would change the title
    from: North Carolina State University Mail – Inbox (20) –
    to: Inbox (20) – – North Carolina State University.
  • Auto-advance
    By default, Gmail takes you back to your Inbox after you read a message. This option allows you to choose to automatically advance to the next or previous conversation instead of returning to your Inbox.
  • Undo Send
    • If you click Send too soon, you can have a few seconds to undo the Send.
    • However, your only options for undoing are only 5, 10, 15, 20 or 30 seconds.
    • After 30 seconds, the mail has already left your inbox and is on its way to the intended recipient.
  • Google calendar gadget
    If you use Google calendar, this adds a box to the left column showing shows upcoming events, locations, and details from your calendar for the next day (sometimes more).
  • Right-side chat
    Moves the chat box from the lower left to the upper right hand side of your Inbox. If you have a lot of labels, you might prefer to see your chat window without having to scroll down.
  • Signature tweaks
    Places your signature before the quoted text in a reply message and removes the “–” line that appears before a signature.
  • Default text styling
    Change your default styling.
  • Preview Pane
    Provides a preview pane to read mail right next to your list of conversations, making mail reading faster and adding more context. This allows the Gmail interface to look more like a traditional mail client such as Thunderbird or Outlook.
  • Canned Responses
    Save and then send your common messages using a button next to the compose form. Also automatically send emails using filters.

Using Multiple Google Accounts

There are several ways to access both your work and personal Gmail accounts:

  • Use a different browser for each service (e.g., Chrome for your work account, Firefox for your personal account).
  • Allow sign-ins from different accounts using the same browser.
    See Using multiple accounts simultaneously.
  • In Chrome, use the “incognito window” function (File → New Incognito Window).
  • In Firefox, use the “private browsing” feature.

Make Gmail your default “mailto” program

To open a Gmail compose window when you click on an online mailto: link, follow the instructions for your browser or OS.