Gmail Guide 8

In this How-To Geek School lesson, we discuss how to use multiple accounts, sign out of your Gmail remotely, and how to use Gmail with keyboard shortcuts — one of the features that every power user needs to know.

Keyboard shortcuts are probably the most powerful feature in Gmail and mastering them can save you hours every month, or more. Rather than pointing your mouse at your email and clicking buttons, you can simply press a couple of buttons on the keyboard without even lifting your fingers from the home row, and check email, archive, reply, and more.

And, of course, if you forget to sign out of your account you can actually do that remotely. It’s really easy, we’ll cover that near the end of the lesson.

Sign in to Multiple Gmail Accounts on Your Computer

If you want to be able to check multiple Gmail accounts in a browser on your laptop or desktop computer, Gmail provides a way for you to sign into more than one account at a time in Gmail in a browser.

First sign into one of your accounts, any account you sign into first will be the primary account, so if you try to access certain Google Apps such as Drive, it will be for that account. If you want to access these apps from your other accounts, you will first need to completely sign out, and then log in under a different account.

Note now that you can access your other accounts by clicking on the icon in the upper-right corner. From the drop-down list, choose “Add account.”

If you have already done so, you can switch between accounts by clicking on it as shown in the following screenshot.

The other account opens in a new tab.

If you use Google Chrome, the browser will remember the accounts to which you sign in and save them so you can simply switch to them in the future. However, if you use any other browser you may have to add in additional Gmail accounts each time.

Sign in to Multiple Gmail Accounts on Your Phone

If you have an Android phone, you know that you must have at least one Gmail account associated with it. However, just like in a browser on a PC, you can access multiple Gmail accounts on your phone and switch among them.

To add another Gmail account to your Android phone, touch the menu button and select “Settings” from the menu. Touch the “Accounts” button at the top of the screen. Then touch “Add account” and follow the directions to add your Gmail account.

On the “Add a New Account” screen, choose Google from the list of available options.

Then choose “New” on the next screen. The setup wizard will walk you through the process of setting up a new account.

Once you’ve added an additional Gmail account, you can switch among your accounts in the Gmail app. To do so, touch the Gmail icon in the upper-left corner of the app screen.

All Gmail accounts you have added to your phone are listed at the top of the menu. Touch an email address to view the inbox for that account.

Sign Out of Gmail Remotely

One of the most convenient features of Gmail is that you can access your email from almost anywhere. However, what if you think you forgot to sign off from your aunt’s desktop PC and your cousins might get into your email?

Fortunately, Gmail allows you to sign out of your account remotely, making sure your all mischievous cousins see when they try to be nosy and read your emails is a login screen.

In your Gmail account in your browser, scroll down to the end of the message list. On the right side, the time since your “Last account activity” is listed and Gmail also tells you in how many other locations your account is open; click “Details.”

The “Activity information” dialog box displays showing you details about activity on your Gmail account, including locations in which your account is open other than your current, local session. To log out of all other open Gmail sessions, click “Sign out all other sessions.”

A message displays saying you successfully signed out of all other sessions. Gmail also warns you about changing your password if you think someone may be using your account without your permission.

Click the red “X” button in the upper-right corner of the dialog box to close it.

Save Time with Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts in Gmail can help you save time by allowing you to keep your hands on the keyboard at all times when working in email.

Some shortcuts are always available, while others must be enabled before you can use them.

Shortcuts that are always available include using the arrow keys to move around the main Gmail window and compose messages. You can move among your messages and conversations, labels and to highlight the “Compose” button, press “Enter” to select.

While a conversation is open, you can use “n” and “p” to go to the next and previous messages in the thread. Press “Enter” to open or collapse a message.

There are several shortcuts available while composing a message. See the “Navigate in compose” section on Google’s Keyboard shortcuts help page for a list of shortcuts for use in the Compose window.

Shortcuts that Need to be Turned on

There are many other shortcuts available but they need to be turned on first. To do this, click the “Settings” gear button and select “Settings.” On the “General” screen, scroll down to the “Keyboard shortcuts” section and select “Keyboard shortcuts on.”

Click “Save Changes” at the bottom of the screen.

Here are some useful shortcuts:

Shortcut Key Definition Action
c Compose Allows you to compose a new message. “Shift + c” allows you to compose a message in a new window.
d Compose in a new tab Opens a compose window in a new tab.
r Reply Replies to the message sender. Shift + r allows you to reply to a message in a new window. (Only applicable in ‘Conversation View.’)
f Forward Forwards a message. “Shift + f” allows you to forward a message in a new window. (Only applicable in ‘Conversation View.’)
k Move to newer conversation Opens or moves your cursor to a more recent conversation. Press Enter to expand a conversation.
j Move to older conversation Opens or moves your cursor to the next oldest conversation. Press Enter to expand a conversation.
o or Enter Open Opens your conversation. Also expands or collapses a message if you are in “Conversation View.”
u Return to conversation list Refreshes your page and returns you to your inbox, or list of conversations.
y Remove from Current View Automatically removes the message or conversation from your current view.· From “Inbox,” ‘y’ means Archive· From “Starred,” ‘y’ means Unstar· From “Trash,” ‘y’ means Move to inbox· From any label, ‘y’ means Remove the label

Note that ‘y’ has no effect if you’re in “Spam,” “Sent,” or “All Mail.”

! Report spam Marks a message as spam and removes it from your conversation list.

There are also some useful combinations of keys to help you navigate through Gmail.

Shortcut Key Definition Action
Tab then Enter Send message After composing your message, use this combination to send it.
y then o Archive and next Archives your conversation and moves to the next one.
g then i Go to “Inbox” Returns you to the inbox.
g then l (lowercase L) Go to “Label” Takes you to the search box with the “label:” filled in for you. Simply enter your label and perform the search.
g then c Go to “Contacts” Takes you to your Contacts list.

For more shortcuts, see Google’s Keyboard shortcuts help page.

Learn Keyboard Shortcuts as You Work

Keyboard shortcuts are a useful tool if you can remember them.

If you are using Chrome as your browser, you can install an extension, called KeyRocket, which will help you learn keyboard shortcuts as you work with your email. As you use Gmail, KeyRocket recommends keyboard shortcuts for the actions you take. When you click something in Gmail, KeyRocket produces a small popup telling you what key(s) you could have pressed instead.

Google Hangouts

Hangouts is Google’s new version of Gtalk. It allows you to send messages, photos, emoji, and make video calls with your friends and family. It’s available through Google+, as an app on your Android or iOS device, and as a Chrome extension.

Hangouts is also integrated into Gmail, so you can send messages to people, have face-to-face video calls, and create new hangouts and invite people into them.

You can show and hide the Hangouts feature in Gmail using the Hangouts icon at the bottom of left pane of your screen.

To use Hangouts to talk with a contact, whether in a Hangout, through a video call, or through email, move your mouse over their name under the New Hangout edit box. There are several options on the popup dialog box that allow you to contact that person.

Hangouts is also available as an app on your Android or iOS device.

Hangouts is pretty simple and tightly integrated into Gmail so if you want a quick, easy way to shoot a quick message to your friends or family without actually composing an email, Hangouts is your tool.

Coming up Next …

This concludes Lesson 8 and we hope you can now use Google Hangouts to stay in touch with your friends and family, sign into multiple accounts from your computer or phone, and effectively use Gmail with a keyboard.

In tomorrow’s lesson, we will thoroughly cover everything you need to know on accessing your other email accounts using Gmail. This includes configuring your email client so you can download all your email locally to your favorite email program, e.g., Microsoft Outlook.

Profile Photo for Lori Kaufman Lori Kaufman
Lori Kaufman is a technology expert with 25 years of experience. She's been a senior technical writer, worked as a programmer, and has even run her own multi-location business.
Read Full Bio »