Are you sick of typing out the same reply every time someone emails you with a common question? As a Gmail user, there’s a very nifty little feature called ‘Canned responses’ which allows you to create templates, or pre-written emails for these exact situations.
One: Set up the Canned Responses feature
- To set up the feature open gmail.com in a desktop browser window (you can only set this feature up on a desktop, not a mobile).
- Then, click on the Gear icon in the top right and select ‘Settings’
- Click on the ‘Labs’ tab and then scroll down and enable the ‘Canned Responses’ lab.
- Scroll all the way down and click on ‘Save changes’.
Now you’re ready to start creating your templates!
Two: Create the template or canned response
- Click on ‘Compose’ – again this has to be done via the desktop not the mobile app.
- Type in the body of the text that you wish to use in future. You can also put in a subject if you wish.
- Click on the drop down arrow in the bottom right of the email (next to the rubbish bin)
- Select Canned Responses and then New canned response.
- You’ll be asked to enter a name for the new response – if you’ve put in a subject this will be automatically used as the name but you can change this if you want.
- Click on OK.
- You can now discard this message by clicking on the rubbish bin icon.
- Repeat until you’ve finished creating all your templates.
Three: Use the Canned Response
Canned responses wouldn’t be much use if you couldn’t use them! To do this:
- Open the email you wish to reply to – again this is only possible on the desktop, not the mobile app.
- Click on Reply.
- Click on the drop down arrow in the bottom right of the email (next to the rubbish bin).
- Select Canned Responses and then under the ‘Insert’ list click on the name of the response you wish to use.
- Amend any information as necessary and then Send!
A bit more about Canned Responses
To delete a canned response:
- Open a new email.
- Click on the drop down arrow next to the rubbish bin
- Under the ‘Delete’ heading click on the name of the response you want to remove.
To edit a canned response:
- There’s currently no way to edit a canned response – you’ll need to delete the original canned response and then set up a new one with the changes in it.
Sadly, as already mentioned there’s no way to use Canned Responses via the mobile app. If this is something you’d like to see added, then I highly recommend submitting feedback to the Gmail project team.
Getting really tricky with Canned Responses
Want to forgo the hassle of manually selecting a canned response? If you want, you can set up a filter based on any combination of keywords, sender, recipients etc to grab a pre-set template and send it off for you.
I have done this in the past for sending tailored out of office responses – for example family and close friends get one message, whilst clients get another version. You could also use it for sending an automated response to contact queries, or perhaps to create an email with seasonal text (like a Christmas special) that you can then edit.
If you’ve got ideas of your own on how you use Canned Responses then please let me know in the comments below!
Labs are in Google’s own words “a testing ground for experimental features that aren’t quite ready for prime time. They may change, break or disappear at any time.”
So, always keep a back up of your canned responses somewhere outside of Gmail, so you can access them should the Canned Responses lab feature be pulled. I personally use Google Keep for this kind of storage, but choose the system that works best for you.
Want more information on using Gmail in your sole trader or small business? Get in touch to discuss how I can help you spend less time working out how to use tech, and more time actually using it to make your business run better.