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How to Set Up and Use Email Templates in Gmail


In the beginning, the typing practice was all good. We learned to type and type fast as lightning by keying in the same response some twenty times each day in Gmail.

Then, we learned to copy and paste. It was awkward, and it was not much faster than typing; it worked, though, and felt much better.

Now, we click. It's still the same canned reply, of course, but Gmail keeps and inserts it.

Set Up and Use Email Templates in Gmail

To enable message templates in Gmail:

  • Click the Settings gear in your Gmail's toolbar.
  • Select Settings from the menu.
  • Go to the Labs tab.
  • Make sure Enable is selected for Canned Responses.
  • Click Save Changes.

Save a Message as a Template in Gmail

To save an email for future use as a template in Gmail:

  • Make sure "Canned Responses" is enabled. (See above.)
  • Compose the message in Gmail.
    • Do 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. They are not saved together with the template. (The subject, if you enter one, is suggested for the template name, though.)
  • Click the More options downward-pointing triangle () in the toolbar at the message's bottom.
  • Select Canned responses | New canned response... under Save from the menu that appears.
  • Type the desired name for your template.
  • Click OK.

Create a New Message or Reply Using a Template in Gmail

To send a canned message or reply:

  • Do make sure "Canned Responses" is enabled, of course, and the canned reply is created. (See above.)
  • Start a new message or reply.
  • Click the More options triangle () in the message's formatting toolbar (to the composition area's bottom).
  • Point to Canned responses in the menu that shows.
  • Select the desired template under Insert.
  • Make sure you fill the To: and Subject: fields.
  • Edit the message as needed and click Send.

Note that Gmail will not overwrite any existing text except if you highlight it before inserting the template's text.

Have Gmail Send the Canned Replies for You

Using message filters, you can make Gmail reply with a template automatically.

Edit a Message Template in Gmail

To change a template's content:

  • Make sure "Canned Responses" is turned on. (See above.)
  • Start with a new message.
  • Typically, make sure the message is empty; delete the signature, too, to edit only the canned response.
    • It is enough to highlight all text in the message editing area.
  • Click the More options button in the message's toolbar (displaying a triangle pointed downward: ).
  • Point to Canned responses in the menu that has appeared.
  • Select the desired template under Insert.
  • Make the desired changes to the message.
  • Click the More options triangle again.
  • Point to Canned responses again.
  • Select the same template as before, but under Save.
  • Click OK when prompted This will overwrite your saved canned response. Are you sure you want to proceed?.

(Updated April 2014)

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