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Tips to manage important or sensitive emails

Google Workspace productivity guide

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Protect email with confidential mode

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Need to send sensitive content to people? With confidential mode in Gmail, you can protect sensitive information from unauthorized access. Set an expiration date for messages, revoke access to messages and attachments at any time, and disable recipients' access to forward, copy, print, and download material.

Learn how at the Gmail Help Center

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Know when a recipient reads your email

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This feature must be enabled by your administrator. If you are an admin, see Make read receipts available to users.

If you’re sending an important email to someone, find out when they’ve opened it by setting up a read receipt. A read request is sent to every recipient in the To and Cc fields, but not to recipients in the Bcc field, mailing lists, or aliases.

Learn how

Request a read receipt

  1. On your computer, open Gmail.
  2. Click Compose.
  3. Compose your email as you normally would. 
  4. At the bottom right, click More options More send options and then Request read receipt
  5. Send your message.

Important: You’ll see any read receipts in your Inbox. The person you sent the message to may have to approve the read receipt before you’re notified.

Return a read receipt

If you receive a message that requests a read receipt, and your organization wants you to approve it first:

  1. On your computer, open Gmail.
  2. Check your emails as you normally would.
  3. If a message tells you a sender has requested a read receipt, choose an option:
    • To send the receipt now, click Send receipts.
    • To send the receipt later, click Not now. You'll be asked to send the receipt the next time you open the message.

Tip: If someone requests a read receipt, but you don't see a message, your receipt was sent automatically.

Learn more at the Gmail Help Center

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Add an importance marker to a message

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Gmail uses several signals to decide which messages to automatically mark as important. You can also add or remove importance markers, yourself.

Learn how

Use importance markers

Click Important "" next to an email in your inbox to mark an important message.

To find all your important email, in the left sidebar, click Important "".

Train Gmail to prioritize messages

Learn more at the Gmail Help Center

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Highlight an email’s importance in the subject field

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Sending an urgent or time-sensitive email message to your team? Let recipients know a message needs their attention. Just add an appropriate heading to the subject of your message to highlight your request.

Learn how
  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Click Compose.
  3. Add recipients.
  4. In the Subject field, add a descriptor, such as:
  5. Compose your message and click Send.
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Label an email urgent or important

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You can create labels in Gmail to categorize messages as urgent or important.

Learn how
  1. Open Gmail.
  2. At the top right, click Settings ""and thenSee all settings..
  3. Click the Labels tab.
  4. Scroll to the Labels section and click Create new label.
  5. Enter a label name, such as URGENT or IMPORTANT and click Create.
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Auto-label email as urgent or important

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If you want to prioritize email from certain people, you can let Gmail filter those email addresses for you and label them accordingly.

Learn how

Filter and label messages from a particular sender

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. In the search box at the top, click Show search options "".
  3. In the From field, enter the email address of the person whose emails you want to label.
  4. At the bottom of the search window, click Create filter.
  5. Check the box to Apply your label. Then either choose or create the label URGENT or IMPORTANT.
  6. Click Create filter.

Messages you receive from that sender are automatically labeled URGENT or IMPORTANT.

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Have mail sorted by priority

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You can also have Gmail sort and prioritize email for you. Just set up a Priority inbox. Your emails are automatically split into three sections: important and unread, starred, and everything else.  

Learn how

Turn on Priority inbox

  1. On your computer, go to Gmail.
  2. To configure your inbox, go to the top right, then click Settings Settings.
  3. In the "Inbox type" section, select Priority Inbox.
  4. To customize priority inbox setting, click Customize
  5. Choose the inbox sections you want to show and then Save Changes.

Train Priority inbox

Gmail uses several signals to decide which messages to automatically mark as important, including:

  • Whom you email, and how often you email them
  • Which emails you open
  • Which emails you reply to
  • Keywords that are in emails you usually read
  • Which emails you star, archive, or delete

To see why an email was marked as important, hover over the importance marker Importance marker.

Note: If an email was marked as important but you don't want it to be, click the importance marker Importance marker to change it. This also helps Gmail learn which emails you think are important.

Train Gmail to prioritize messages


Google, Google Workspace, and related marks and logos are trademarks of Google LLC. All other company and product names are trademarks of the companies with which they are associated.

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