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21 tips for making Android a better personal assistant

JR Raphael | April 24, 2015
Here are 21 tips for making the most of your device's email, calendar, and contacts capabilities.

Tip No. 6:Finished with a message? You can archive it and get it out of your inbox by swiping on it (either to the left or to the right) from the main inbox view in the Gmail app. If you want to act on multiple messages — archiving them or performing any other action — tap the circular avatar next to each message you want to select, then find the action button for the command you need at the top of the screen.

Tip No. 7:If you prefer deleting over archiving — that is, moving a message to the trash, where it'll be permanently purged after a month, rather than keeping it filed away in your account for future reference — you can adjust Gmail's swipe gesture accordingly. All you need to do is change the Gmail Default Action field from Archive to Delete in the app's general settings.

Tip No. 8:Worried about sending something prematurely from your mobile device? Look at the very bottom of Gmail's general settings. There, you'll find an option to require confirmation before any email is sent. You can also activate a confirmation for archiving and deleting messages, if you want to be extracautious.

Tip No. 9:Frustratingly, there's no way to have a formatted signature appended to your messages with the Android Gmail app — even if you have one configured in the regular Web-based Gmail interface. If you want to use a signature from the app, your only option is to configure a plain-text, app-specific signature for that purpose. You'll find the option by going into the app's settings and tapping the relevant account name.

Tip No. 10:One option that has made its way from the Web to the mobile app is the ability to configure Gmail's automatic vacation response: Tap any account name in the app's settings, then tap Vacation Responder to activate, deactivate, or edit your preferences.

Tip No. 11:Perhaps the most powerful and least used feature of the Gmail Android app is its ability to set custom notifications for labels. Have you ever found yourself wishing your phone alerted you only when certain important email messages hit your inbox? Perhaps with different sounds for different types of messages? Custom notifications for labels is where this magic happens.

To take full advantage of the feature, you'll want to spend a few minutes creating custom labels and filters in the Gmail Web interface. Alternatively, if you use Gmail's Priority Inbox or categorized inbox, you can go with the default labels from those setups instead.

Once you've assigned your labels and filters, jump into the settings of the Gmail Android app and tap the name of your account. Look for the Manage Labels option, then find and tap the label you want to customize. Make sure it's set to sync messages for at least the last 30 days, then check the Label Notifications box and select whatever notification sound and vibrate setting you want.

 

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