Make Your Email More Efficient With Gmail Templates

Use email templates in Gmail to quickly write messages

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Email templates let you type less and send faster, and ultimately make you more efficient at using Gmail.

Gmail templates involve canned responses that you can quickly insert into any email to fill out all the details you'd otherwise spend time writing with each new message.

Enable Canned Responses

The very first step is to actually enable message templates in Gmail, which you do with the Canned Response feature. However, it's not enabled by default.

Here's what to do:

Jump straight to Step 4 by going directly to your Gmail Advanced (Labs) page.

  1. Click the Settings gear in your Gmail's toolbar, just below your image.

  2. Select Settings from the menu.

    Settings menu item in gear icon in Gmail
  3. Go to the Advanced tab. This used to be called Labs.

    Advanced tab in Gmail Settings
  4. Make sure Enable is selected for Canned Responses.

    Enable button in Advanced tab for Gmail Canned Responses (Templates)
  5. Click the Save Changes button.

    Save Changes button in Gmail Advanced Settings tab

Save a Message as a Template in Gmail

Creating a template in Gmail is relevant to the Canned Responses feature. See the above section to make sure you've got the templates functionality enabled.

Here's how to save an email for future use as a template in Gmail:

  1. Compose a new message in Gmail that you want to use as the template. 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 since they are not saved along with the template.

  2. Click the More options downward-pointing triangle in the toolbar at the bottom of the message, next to the Discard draft button.

  3. From that new menu, choose Canned responses and then New canned response from the Save section.

    New canned response in Gmail
  4. Type the desired name for your template. This name will be for you to refer to later when you select the template, but it's also used as the subject of the message (though you can always change the subject once you've inserted the template).

    New Template name entry field, filled with
  5. Click OK to save the Gmail template.

Create a New Message or Reply Using a Template in Gmail

Here's how to send a canned message or reply in Gmail:

  1. Start a new message or reply.

  2. Click the More options button from the bottom right side of the message's formatting toolbar (it's the one that looks like a down triangle).

  3. Choose Canned responses from that menu.

  4. Select the desired template under the Insert area to immediately import that template into the message.

    Insert New Template button in Gmail
  5. Make sure you fill the To: and Subject: fields.

  6. Edit the message as needed and click Send as usual.

Note that Gmail will not overwrite any existing text except if you highlight it before inserting the template's text. For example, you could type something manually and then insert a templated message to have it included after your custom text.

You can also have Gmail send the canned replies for you. See How to Auto Reply in Gmail for more information.

Edit a Message Template in Gmail

You might need to change your Gmail template at some point.

  1. Start with a new message. It's best to make sure the entire message area is empty so that you can edit only the canned response.

  2. Click the More options button in the message's toolbar (the tiny down arrow at the bottom right).

  3. Click Canned responses.

  4. Choose the template you want to change, from the Insert section, so that it will be imported into the message.

  5. Make the desired changes to the template.

  6. Go back to the More options and Canned responses section.

  7. Select the same template as before, but under Save so that it will be saved over the existing template.

    Save new template in Gmail
  8. Click OK when you see the Confirm overwrite canned response prompt that reads This will overwrite your saved canned response. Are you sure you want to proceed?.

    Confirm overwrite canned response dialog, with OK button highlighted