Gmail Caters to the Busy and Just Plain Lazy

Dennis Faas's picture

Google has come up with yet another new feature for its Gmail system. This one allows users to store a range of 'standard' responses and even have them sent automatically to emails based on their content.

The 'Canned Responses' feature lets you set up a range of replies for particular situations that you experience commonly. It's the same kind of idea as an 'out of office' message but lets you tailor the response to different types of correspondence.

For example, as a tech writer, I receive emails from computer-related organisations with story ideas. When I'm pressed for time, I'll usually write a quick note to say I've received their message and will get back in touch with them if I follow up the idea. The new Gmail feature would allow me to save a standard response rather than have to choose between writing out a reply each time, or rely on a generic 'out of office' reply which treats every message the same way.

What makes the feature particularly neat is that you can add it to Gmail's filter system. This already allows you to customise the system to identify messages (for example by a sender or even a keyword in the text) and automatically delete them, mark them as important, file them in a particular folder or forward them to a different address. You'll now be able to have Gmail send an automatic response of your choice to emails which meet a particular filter. (Source:

Obviously, there's a danger this might not work and instead send an inappropriate response to someone who used a particular word in a different context. However, the system allows you to test a filter by looking through messages which are already in your inbox, so you should be able to figure out which filters are too ambiguous.

It's actually far from an original idea; Microsoft Outlook has a feature which works in pretty much the same way. Instead, it's a great example of how Google understands its audience (people who want a service that's simple to use and based around their needs) and markets its features in a non-stuffy manner. (Source:

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