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5 Gmail tips for power users

While there's no shortage of email providers, Gmail's simple design, ease of use and cool features continue to attract users. Whether you're sorting through hundreds of work emails a day or using the service to keep in touch with friends and family, keeping up to date on its latest features can help you get the most out of it.

Here's a look at five of Gmail's newest features, including quickly adding appointments to your calendar, customizing your background image and using advanced search to find the email you're looking for.

1. How to add events to your calendar

If you use Gmail to coordinate or schedule meetings, Google has made adding them to your Calendar—without leaving Gmail—easy.

Beginning last week, all dates and times in emails appear underlined. Hover over them to preview your schedule for the day and change the title, date or time of the event. Click "Add to Calendar" will do just that. The entry in your calendar will also include a link back to the original email, making the details easy to reference.

Because this feature is new, it may not be available to you yet. Google says it is rolling it out to users within the next week or so, with more languages to follow.

2. How to customize the background

When Gmail unveiled its redesign in November, it also introduced a number of HD themes you could add to personalize your Gmail background. Now, if you want to customize the background of your inbox with your own photos, you can do that, too.

To add your own images to Gmail's background, click the gear icon and select "Themes." Scroll to the bottom of the page and choose either "Light" or "Dark" under "Custom Themes." On the next page, you can choose to upload a photo from "My photos" in Google+, photos from your Android phone, a URL or upload a new image.

3. How to use Google Drive to send big files

If a file is too large to send as an email attachment, Google Drive offers a solution. The cloud storage feature, which is now a year old, lets you insert files up to 10GB—that's 400 times larger than what you can send as a traditional attachment.

To send an attachment via Google Drive, click the Google Drive icon, as seen above, and choose the file you want to send. Gmail will double-check that your recipients have access to the files, and if they dont, it will prompt you to change the sharing settings, without leaving Gmail.

Another option: Post the link to the Google Drive file in the body of your email. Gmail will take the same measures to ensure your recipients can access it.

4. How to use advanced search queries in Gmail

It's easy to accumulate thousands of emails, and sometimes finding the one you're looking for can be difficult. In these instances, use Gmail's advanced query words to quickly find what you're looking for.

The newest query words Google added to its list include searches for a specific file size (search "size:5m" for a 5MB email) and searches for the email's age (search "older_than:1y" for emails sent more than a year ago).

You can find Gmail's entire list of operators here.

5. How to add multiple inboxes to Gmail

"Multiple Inboxes," from Gmail Labs, is a feature that lets you add extra lists of emails in your inbox to see more at once. This could include, for example, labels, starred messages, drafts or any other search you want.

To enable this feature, visit your Settings page by clicking on the gear icon, then choose "Labs." Find "Add multiple inboxes," click "Enable," then "Save changes" at the bottom. When you return to Gmail, the page will refresh, displaying, for example, your inbox, starred items and drafts, all on one page.

To customize which inboxes you see, return to your settings page and click the "Multiple inboxes" tab. You can choose up to five panes to add to your main inbox view. You can also choose how many conversations per inbox you want to see and the positioning of the additional panes.

See also "Outlook.com vs. Gmail: What Microsoft is still missing."

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