How to Use Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts

Google’s email service is full of available functions that allow us to personalize our emails or move between trays, classify emails, conversations. But the Gmail keyboard shortcuts can be a good alternative to navigating the menus if we want to always have everything at hand and quickly and efficiently.

Here we explain how to enable keyboard shortcuts in Google mail, what are they or what are there. The first thing you should do is enable the key combinations so that you can then use them normally but you can also customize them to create your own with whatever is most comfortable for you.

What are keyboard shortcuts? And in Gmail?

The keyboard shortcuts allow us to perform quick functions without having to go to the settings or the options menu of that program or application, but it is enough to touch a couple of keys to make something work quickly. In the case of Gmail, we can execute simple actions without having to go to the settings , for example. You can use keyboard shortcuts to switch to a message in the conversation, to go to a chat, to open the compose window …

Keep in mind that in many cases of which we will read below, the combination of keys that we must press for the keyboard shortcut varies depending on whether you have a conventional keyboard or an Apple computer, since it will vary depending on how you have to press the Control button or the Command or CMD button.

Enable key combinations

The first thing you have to do to be able to use the Gmail keyboard shortcuts is to enable or activate the key combinations from the settings. First you have to activate them so that you can use them normally from that moment on.

  • Open Gmail
  • Go to the upper right corner of the screen
  • Tap on Settings and look for the section “See all settings”
  • In the tabs at the top go to “Advanced”
  • Find the Custom Keybindings section
  • You must activate the switch, tap on “Enable key combinations”
  • Save changes at the bottom of the screen

Once you have activated it, you will be able to use the Gmail keyboard shortcuts.

Keyboard shortcuts

We divide them by categories in the same way that Gmail divides them, grouping the key combinations according to their usefulness and according to when we may need them when using Google’s email service.

Writing and chat

We use a series of combinations and keys to move between the different messages, to select one window or another, to add recipients. It may be a single key, as in the case of previous message or next message, or a combination of keys to change chat or send a message.

  • Previous message in an open conversation: P key
  • Next message in an open conversation: n key
  • Select the main window: Shift + Esc keys
  • Select the most recent chat or compose window: Esc key
  • Go to the following compose window or chat: Ctrl +.
  • Go to chat or compose window above: Ctrl +,
  • Send message: ⌘ / Ctrl + Enter
  • Add recipients to Cc: ⌘ / Ctrl + Shift + c
  • Add recipients to Bcc: ⌘ / Ctrl + Shift + b
  • Access custom sender address: ⌘ / Ctrl + Shift + f
  • Insert a link: ⌘ / Ctrl + k
  • Go to the next misspelled word (Mac only): ⌘ +;
  • Open spelling suggestions: ⌘ / Ctrl + m

Text format

We can modify the text in Gmail so that different styles appear when we compose an email. We can change the font, change the size, add bold or italic or underlined options or change the indentation. We can do all this from a top panel when writing the email but there are also Gmail keyboard shortcuts that allow us to do it quickly.

  • Previous font: ⌘ / Ctrl + Shift + 5
  • Next font: ⌘ / Ctrl + Shift + 6
  • Reduce text size: ⌘ / Ctrl + Shift + –
  • Increase text size: ⌘ / Ctrl + Shift and +
  • Bold: ⌘ / Ctrl + b
  • Italic: ⌘ / Ctrl + i
  • Underline: ⌘ / Ctrl + u
  • Numbered list: ⌘ / Ctrl + Shift + 7
  • Bulleted list: ⌘ / Ctrl + Shift + 8
  • Quote: ⌘ / Ctrl + Shift + 9
  • Less indentation: ⌘ / Ctrl + [
  • More indentation: ⌘ / Ctrl +]
  • Align text left: ⌘ / Ctrl + Shift + l
  • Align text to center: ⌘ / Ctrl + Shift + e
  • Align text to the right: ⌘ / Ctrl + Shift + r
  • Remove formatting: ⌘ / Ctrl +

Of actions

If you want to open a menu, view conversation requests in Hangouts, or if you want to show the Hangouts conversations (Google’s chat service) that you have currently archived.

  • Show menu: h + m keys
  • Show archived Hangouts conversations: h + a keys
  • Show Hangouts conversation requests: h + i keys
  • Select the list of conversations: keys h + c
  • Open the phone: g + poh + p keys

Section changes

To switch between the different trays in Gmail you can also use some keyboard shortcuts in Google without using the mouse.

  • Go to Inbox: g + i keys
  • Go to Featured: g + s keys
  • Go to Sent: g + t keys
  • Go to Drafts: g + d keys
  • Go to All: g + a keys
  • Switch between the sidebar and the inbox: ⌘ / Ctrl + Alt +
  • Go to Tasks: g + k keys
  • Go to label: g + l keys

Selection in the conversation list

Within Gmail, you can choose which conversations you see or which ones you select at the moment. Those that are read, those that are not read, those that are or are not highlighted …

  • Select all conversations: Keys * + to
  • Stop selecting all conversations: * + n keys
  • Select the conversations read: Keys * + r
  • Select unread conversations: * + u keys
  • Select highlighted conversations: * + s keys
  • Select conversations without highlighting: * + t keys


Also to navigate between the different conversations we can use the keys although the logical thing and the most how it is to always use the computer keyboard but we cannot always use it:

  • Return to the conversation list: u key
  • Most recent conversation: k key
  • Previous conversation: j key
  • Open conversation: “or” or Enter keys
  • Go to the next section of the inbox: `key
  • Go to the previous section of the inbox: ~ key


If you want to use the key combination in the application:

  • Compose: c
  • Compose in a new tab: d
  • Search message: /
  • Search chat contacts: g
  • Open the «More actions» menu.
  • Open the «Move to» menu: v
  • Open the «Label as» menu: l
  • Open the help for the keyboard shortcuts:?

Modify keyboard shortcuts

If you want to use them as you wish and not be the ones that come by default, we can modify them if we want, enable custom combinations and change them. First, you must enable the custom key combinations and then you must modify and create the ones you want or need according to your uses.

  • Open Gmail
  • Go to Settings and open the full mail settings
  • Find the “Key Combinations” section at the top

Keep in mind that you cannot modify the keyboard shortcuts if you have not previously enabled the key combinations in the settings, as we have explained in the first section of this topic. This section will not appear in the menu if you have not activated it before so the first step should be that. Once you have done it, you will be able to get to “Key combinations” where you will see each of the actions and you will be able to choose which key or keys you assign to make it work.

Combinations on mobile or tablet

Keyboard shortcuts or key combinations from a touch screen do not make sense since it will generally be much more complicated to use this method than to use the device’s own screen. But you can also use them on Android if you have connected a Bluetooth keyboard to the device. There are fewer possible shortcuts but there are some that we should take into account.

In iOS you cannot use the key combinations because it does not support it in the case of the iPhone or if you are using a keyboard for the Apple tablet. Only on Android.

On Android

  • Compose a new email: Ctrl + n
  • Archive an email: Ctrl + d
  • Send an email: Ctrl + Enter
  • Save a draft: Ctrl + s
  • Refresh the inbox: Ctrl + u
  • Open selected conversation: Right arrow
  • Show or hide an email in a conversation: Enter
  • Cut, copy or paste: Ctrl + x, Ctrl + c or Ctrl + v
  • Select all: Ctrl + a
  • Open the side menu: Ctrl + m
  • Open settings: Ctrl +,
  • Open Help and Tips: Ctrl +?
  • Reply all: Ctrl + r
  • Mark as read or unread: Ctrl + i
  • Print: Ctrl + p
by Abdullah Sam
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