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Gmail has always been at the forefront of innovation. Over the years, it has adapted and evolved, not just to be a favorite email management system but to lead the charge into the future of email interactions. Today, its capabilities extend well beyond simple messaging, especially with artificial intelligence closely involved in the process.
Most people don’t even realize they have been using AI features in Gmail for years. And with the recent introduction of an AI assistant, Gmail’s powers bring the emailing experience to a whole new level.
In this article, I’ll walk you through seven useful AI features within Gmail and show several examples of how you can leverage each of them. From generating smart replies to changing the length and tone of your emails, these features are designed to make email writing less intimidating and time-consuming.
How does Gmail use AI?
Gmail has a bunch of useful AI features, from generating emails from scratch to categorizing incoming emails into tabs. For this guide, we’ll focus on the ones that have to do with writing emails and not managing them.
The purpose of using AI algorithms in an email app is to help you create a daily workflow where emails don’t feel like a chore. It’s all about guessing your next step, providing smart suggestions, and lifting the weight of writing long emails off your shoulders.
Leveraging the power of artificial intelligence, Gmail offers tools that assist you in crafting emails faster, saving you writing time and mental energy.
7 useful AI features in your Gmail inbox
1. Draft an email with AI
While there are a lot of AI generators available these days that can write emails for you among other things, Gmail recently introduced a native AI assistant that can draft your emails directly in your inbox.
It is called “Help me write,” and it literally generates a whole email in a matter of a few seconds. Quite an impressive feature, especially if you haven’t used AI generators before.
All you need to do is describe what your email is about in a few words, and Gmail’s AI algorithm turns it into a full polite email you can further edit to your liking.
Here is an example of Gmail’s AI generating a thank-you letter after an interview:
2. Write faster with suggestions
The process of typing out an email is not difficult, but it’s really time-consuming, especially if you receive dozens or even hundreds of emails every day.
Another AI feature in Gmail called ‘Smart Compose’ can accelerate this process at least several times by offering smart suggestions as you write.
When you are typing your message, Gmail predicts and suggests potential phrases to continue your sentences. If it fits, you can just press Tab, and it will insert that suggestion. As you get the hang of it, this AI feature can really speed up your writing.
This is one of my favorite features in Gmail as it actually saves me a lot of time typing. I feel like it gets even better at guessing over time as it learns your style and commonly used phrases.
That said, you can always turn it off in settings if you don’t like it:
3. Auto-generate a reply
According to email statistics, the average response rate for cold emails is less than 5%. This means that if you are sending an email to a hundred people who don’t know you, 95 of them will never get back to you.
Usually, this number can be improved with a level of personalization, a catchy title, and an appealing offer, but the point is – people are busy.
Surveys show that about every other person is overwhelmed by emails at work. Responding promptly to each one, especially the unsolicited ones, can take up significant time, which is why many of the emails are left unanswered.
Gmail’s intuitive AI attempts to bring some relief to the process of responding to emails. It scans your incoming email, understands the context of a conversation, and generates an appropriate reply based on your guidance.
What usually takes 5-10 minutes can now be done in just a few seconds, often not even requiring any further editing. Isn’t that an amazing example of how AI makes your life easier?
Let’s say you received an email from an angry customer who didn’t like your product. Just hit Reply and give Gmail’s AI assistant a general direction – and watch it do its magic!
4. Reply quickly with suggested responses
Every email requires thought, but not every email requires a long response. Sometimes, a standardized reply can effectively communicate the message, especially when time is of the essence.
Gmail’s “Smart Reply” feature is designed for these moments. Analyzing the content of the incoming message, it gives you a selection of relevant responses. This feature leverages internal machine learning algorithms to ensure that even when you are super busy, your replies remain appropriate and timely.
Sending an email without typing a single word? This is exactly the next-level productivity AI is capable of.
Clicking on one of the suggested responses will insert it into a reply message so you can edit it as you see fit, add more to it, or just press Send and get back to your work.
5. Formalize your message
Not everyone excels at professional communication. Sadly, being friendly is not always enough – sometimes, you need to use the right words in order for people to take you seriously.
An email’s tone and structure can make a world of difference, especially when addressing potential employers, business partners, superiors, or clients.
Gmail’s AI is equipped to help you appear more professional. When you click Formalize, it refines the content of your email, transforming casual language into a tone that’s more formal and polished.
Let’s say you are applying for a job in software engineering and wrote this email:
Saw you guys are looking for a software engineer. I’ve done some coding stuff and built a few apps. Think I’d be a good fit. Check out my GitHub. Let me know what you think!
After you put it through Formalize in Gmail, the result is a much more professional-sounding email, and the transformation only took you a few seconds!
Dear [Hiring Manager name],
I hope this email finds you well.
I am writing to express my interest in the Software Engineer position at [Company name]. I have been working as a software engineer for the past five years, and I have extensive experience in developing and maintaining software applications. I am confident that my skills and experience would be a valuable addition to your team.
In my previous role at [Previous company name], I was responsible for developing and maintaining a large-scale web application. I also worked on several projects related to data science and machine learning. I am proficient in a variety of programming languages, including Java, Python, and C++. I am also familiar with a variety of software development tools and technologies.
I am a highly motivated and results-oriented individual. I am also a team player, and I am confident that I would be able to work effectively with your team. I am eager to learn new things and take on new challenges.
I have attached my resume for your review. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss my qualifications in more detail. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Of course, it still requires some polishing and personalization, but it gives you a really good foundation to work with. I also think AI features like this can be life-changing for non-native speakers.
And if you think this email is unnecessarily long, keep reading, Gmail can fix that too!
6. Make your email more concise
In a world where everyone is pressed for time, an email should ideally convey its message in as few words as possible.
Recognizing this, Gmail introduced the “Shorten” feature. It analyzes your draft, identifies redundancies and unnecessary fluff, and rewrites it to only be one to two paragraphs while keeping the important information.
Here is an example of shortening the previously formalized email with Gmail AI:
Dear [Hiring Manager name],
I am writing to express my interest in the Software Engineer position at [Company name]. I have five years of experience in developing and maintaining software applications. In my previous role at [Previous company name], I developed and maintained a large-scale web application. I am proficient in Java, Python, and C++. I am a highly motivated and results-oriented individual. I am confident that I would be a valuable addition to your team.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I have attached my resume for your review. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
From my experience, many people could really benefit from this feature and get a much higher response rate.
7. Add more details in one click
While brevity is valued, there are occasions where detail can enhance understanding and provide clarity. An email that’s too brief can sometimes leave the recipient confused.
Also, not everyone has the time for back-and-forth emails, so it’s better to put everything important in one email, especially if it’s something like a sales pitch.
Gmail’s “Elaborate” feature can give you a hand when you don’t want to type a long detailed email. The AI generator analyzes your content to find areas that could benefit from further detail and rewrites it accordingly.
Here is a quick example of what Gmail’s AI can do.
How to turn on Gmail AI features
Some AI features, such as Smart Compose or Smart Reply, are already available in your Gmail inbox. If you don’t see them, you might need to check your settings.
As for an AI generator that can write and rewrite your emails, it’s not rolled out to the general public yet, but you may request early access here. All you need is a Gmail account, and it takes several days (or sometimes weeks) to be approved if these features are available in your country.
If you get access to Gmail AI features and don’t find them useful, you can always opt out through settings.
Emails, for all their utility, are notorious time sinks. The daily routine of filtering, reading, and writing responses can account for a significant chunk of your workday, often leaving you wondering where the time went.
Gmail’s AI capabilities are meant to transform the mundane, often tedious process of email management into a dynamic, efficient activity. By leveraging these features, you can navigate your inbox with newfound agility, ensuring that emails become a tool for productivity rather than a drain on it.