No matter what line of work you're in, chances are you've got at least a few common questions that always land in your inbox. If you're a Gmail user, you can use a little Labs add-on called Canned Responses to take the drudgery out of those replies.
Rather than type out the same response over and over again, Canned Responses lets you type it once, save it, and then apply it to any given email at any time.
To add Canned Responses to Gmail, click the Settings button and then choose Mail Settings. Click the Labs tab, and then check the radio button labeled Enable for the Canned Responses entry. In my menu, it's the first item on the list under Labs.
Once you've enabled Canned Responses on your account, it's time to set up some boilerplate text. Canned Responses saves the entire text of a message, so if you want a clean set of boilerplate text, be sure to strip out things like your email signature (unless you want it in the canned response) and greetings from a message you want to put "in the can."
Just compose a new mail, type in whatever your message is, then click Canned Responses beneath the subject field. Under Save, click New canned response... and you'll be prompted to enter a name for this entry. Type in a make, click Save and you're done. The next time you click Canned Responses, you can choose it from your saved entries.
In addition to speeding up boilerplate answers to common questions, Canned Responses is a great tool for managing multiple signatures in Gmail. Perhaps you'd like to reserve your phone number for some contacts while not including it in emails for others. Or maybe (like me) you're an independent contractor whose title varies depending on the context of the message you're sending. With this little addon, you can enter preformatted text for any such situation.
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