Using Colby Apps: Searching your e-mail and keyboard shortcuts

Two of the biggest frustrations I used to have when working in my Colby Apps E-mail were:

  • Difficulty finding e-mails I needed to reference
  • Having to take my hands off my keyboard to use my mouse to do things like click “Send” or “Inbox”.

Today I’m going to discuss ways to help prevent these frustrations.


Searching your Colby Apps E-mail

In the past I have discussed how to use the “Search Field” and “Advanced Search” to find e-mail messages, but I only briefly touched on how to use “Search Operators”. Those “Search Operators” are what I’m going to concentrate on today. Google has created a very handy “cheat-sheet” that lists all the available “Search Operators”, what they do, and examples of how to use them. I highly recommend you take a few minutes and read through the list, but I will tell you about some that I use frequently.

Operator: Explanation:
is:unread

This will show all messages and conversations that have a status of unread.

from:wadams@colby.edu

This will show all messages and conversations that have wadams@colby.edu in the From: field.

to:sabaker@colby.edu

This will show all the messages and conversations that have sabaker@colby.edu in the To: or CC: fields.
This includes messages I sent to Sally as well as messages I received from others that also went to Sally.

has:attachment

This will show all messages and conversations that have attachments.

after:2010/02/24

This will show all messages and conversations that arrived after February 24th, 2010.

before:2011/11/01

This will show all messages and conversations that arrived before November 1st, 2011.

The great thing about these “Search Operators” is they can be combined to create very powerful, very specific searches.  For example, if I entered this into my search field “from:sabaker@colby.edu has:attachment after:2010/01/01 before:2012/12/31″ I would be presented with all messages and conversations from Sally Baker, that have attachments, and were sent between January 1st, 2010 and December 31st, 2012.


Keyboard Shortcuts in your Colby Apps E-mail

When you are working in your Colby Apps E-mail it can be very inefficient to have to move your hand to your mouse to click “Send” to send a message, or if you are done reading one message and went to move to the next message in your Inbox you would have to click on “Inbox” and then click on the next message.  This may not seem like much, but it can add up.  Thankfully Google provides a host of keyboard shortcuts for your most common tasks.

By default keyboard shortcuts are turned off.  Here are the steps for turning them on:

  1. Open a web browser and log into your Colby Apps E-mail (http://email.colby.edu)
  2. Click on the gear icon in the top right corner
  3. Choose “Settings”
  4. In the “Settings” window scroll down and look for “Keyboard shortcuts” and choose the option to turn them “on”
  5. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the “Settings” window and click “Save Changes”

Now that keyboard shortcuts are turned on let me list a few that I use all the time:

Keyboard Shortcut: Action:
“c” This is like clicking the “Compose” button; it will bring up a new, blank e-mail.
“Tab” then “Enter” While composing a new e-mail message, this key combination will “Send” the message.
“g” then “i” If you are anywhere other than your “Inbox” this will bring you back to your “Inbox”.
“k”

This will advance you to the next newer message in your current message list

If you are in your “Inbox” it will move you to the next message in your “Inbox”.  If you are in another folder, say your “Sent” folder, this will move you to the next message in your “Sent” folder.  If you are viewing messages after performing a search, this will move you to the next message in your search results.

“j”

This will bring you to the previous (older) message in your current message list

This has the opposite behavior that “k” does.

There are dozens more keyboard shortcuts than these, so I recommend you read through Google’s list of keyboard shortcuts.  You can also type a question mark (?) anywhere in your Colby Apps E-mail, as long as you aren’t in a text field like the search field or a message body, and you will be presented with a list of all keyboard shortcuts.