Automate Your Gmail in 4 Easy Steps

Hi Boss Ladies!! Thanks for joining in on our Automate Series - Week Three. Like we said last week, there's no reason to write the same email over and over when you can just set up canned responses in Gmail. If you find yourself sending the same text to the same or even different people, consider using the auto reply function to send these messages automatically.

The way this works is by setting up a filter in Gmail so that when certain conditions are met (like when a specific person emails you), a message of your choosing is automatically sent back to that address; these are called canned responses. But first thing first, setting up your Gmail email templates.....

STEP ONE: Set Up and Use Email Templates in Gmail

Email templates let you type less and send faster and more efficient email in Gmail which will keep your canned reply and insert it.

To enable message templates in Gmail:

  1. Click the Settings gear in your Gmail's toolbar.
  2. Select Settings from the menu.
  3. Go to the Labs tab.
  4. Make sure Enable is selected for Canned Responses.
  5. Click Save Changes.

STEP TWO: Save a Message as a Template in Gmail

To save an email for future use as a template in Gmail:

  1. Make sure "Canned Responses" is enabled. (See above.)
  2. Compose the message in Gmail.
    • Do leave the signature in place if you want it to appear in messages sent using the template.
    • You can leave both the Subject: and To: fields empty. They are not saved together with the template. (The subject, if you enter one, is suggested for the template name, though.)
  3. Click the More options downward-pointing triangle () in the toolbar at the message's bottom.
  4. Select Canned responses | New canned response... under Save from the menu that appears. 
  5. Type the desired name for your template.
  6. Click OK.

STEP THREE: Create a New Message or Reply, Using a Template in Gmail

To send a canned message or reply:

Make sure "Canned Responses" is enabled, of course, and the canned reply is created. (See above.)

  1. Start a new message or reply.
  2. Click the More options triangle () in the message's formatting toolbar (to the composition area's bottom).
  3. Point to Canned responses in the menu that shows.
  4. Select the desired template under Insert.
  5. Make sure you fill the To: and Subject: fields. 
  6. Edit the message as needed and click Send.

    Note that Gmail will not overwrite any existing text except if you highlight it before inserting the template's text.

    STEP FOUR: Have Gmail Send the Canned Replies for You

    Set up Automatic Email Replies in Gmail

    1. Turn on Canned Responses by opening Gmail's settings/gears button and enabling the Canned Responses option in Settings > Labs. You can also get to the Labs tab through this link.
    2. Create the template you wish to use for auto-replying to messages.
    3. Click the Show search options triangle in the search field at the top of Gmail. It's the small triangle on the right side of the text area.
    4. Define the criteria that should apply to the filter, such as the sender's email address and any words that should appear in the subject or body.
    5. Click the link at the bottom of the filtering options called Create filter with this search >>.
    6. Check the box next to the option called Send canned response:.
    7. Open the drop down menu next to that option and choose which canned response to sending out when the filtering criteria are met.

    Important Facts About Auto Responses

    Fact #1 : The filtering options only apply to new messages that come in after the filter is created.

    Fact #2 : Canned replies originate from an address that's still yours, or course, but with a slightly altered email address. For example, if your normal address is, sending out auto emails will change the address to This is still your email address, and so replies will still go to you, but the address is altered to indicate that it's coming from an automatically generated message.

    Fact # 3 : You can not send our auto-replies that include attachments, any text within the canned response will send out but not any attachments. 

    BONUS: Edit a Message Template in Gmail

    To change a template's content:

    1. Make sure "Canned Responses" is turned on. (See above.)
    2. Start with a new message.
    3. Typically, make sure the message is empty; delete the signature, too, to edit only the canned response.
      • It is enough to highlight all text in the message editing area.
    4. Click the More options button in the message's toolbar (displaying a triangle pointed downward: ).
    5. Point to Canned responses in the menu that has appeared.
    6. Select the desired template under Insert.
    7. Make the desired changes to the message.
    8. Click the More options triangle again.
    9. Point to Canned responses again.
    10. Select the same template as before but under Save.
    11. Click OK when prompted This will overwrite your saved canned response. Are you sure you want to proceed?


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