A Gmail Lab That Makes Life Easier: Canned Responses

February 15, 2012

I’m always on the lookout for tools and strategies to deal more efficiently with the overwhelming number of emails I get each day. Here’s something that’s helped out lately: Gmail’s Canned Responses.

Canned Responses lets you create a template for an email response that you write often, then import that response into your email with one click. Saves you LOADS of time.

Gmail logo

So, for example, I often get emails from Brazen Life fans (a blog I manage and edit) asking how they can contribute guest posts. For the last few months, I’ve been responding to each one individually, letting them know that we do accept guest posts, so long as the topic and voice are unique, and linking to our writer guidelines.

With Canned Responses, I save myself from having to write that email over and over. Now when I get that request via email, I press “respond,” choose the appropriate Canned Response from a drop-down menu, and boom, the response is ready to go.

How’s that for saving precious minutes?

Here’s what Canned Responses looks like in my email:

Canned Responses example

I’ve also created a Canned Response for passing on press releases and another that says I’m traveling and will respond when I can (for my Nicaragua trip next month — I’ll send that note selectively rather than using an autoresponder).

So how do you add Canned Responses to your email arsenal? Sign into your Gmail account, then navigate to “Settings” (upper right corner) and “Labs.” (Google Labs are features still in test mode, which means they don’t automatically work; you have to add them onto your email to take advantage.) Then type “Canned Responses” into the search box, and activate the Lab.

You’ll also want to create a few Canned Responses from the start, and you do this by drafting the response as an email, then clicking on the “Canned Responses” drop-down and choosing “Save” –> “New Canned Response.”

The first step though, is thinking about how you can make this work for you. What email responses do you write again and again? Maybe it’s a response that has to do with your blog or your business, or a pet project or side gig. How could you use this Lab to make your life easier?

Would love to hear your ideas in the comments!

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