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Gmail Adds ‘Canned Responses’ and Saves Us all Time with FAQs

Posted By Darren Rowse 23rd of October 2008 Blogging Tools and Services 0 Comments

If you’re a blogger with even a smallish readership you probably get asked the same questions over and over again by readers.

Oe great way to save yourself a lot of time when it comes to these frequently asked questions is to have pre-prepared answers that you can email back to those asking the questions. Up until now I’d been using a little program called ‘TextExpander’ (a Mac application) to speed up the process of getting these answers into emails – but in the last 24 hours Gmail came to the party with a new featured called ‘Canned Responses‘.

Canned Responses

Canned Responses is a feature you can turn on in Google Labs and allows you to type up responses and to save them as templates. I know a lot of other email programs have this capability already – but as a Gmail convert it’s exciting news to me and I know will save me a lot of time.

I’ve already got a few Canned Responses drafted including:

  • A couple for most commonly asked questions – pointing people to articles I’ve written on these common topics.
  • One as a response to a problem that some of my forum users have with logging in.
  • Another as a response to people wanting consulting.

What would you use Canned Responses (or draft templates in your email client) for?

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • Cool new feature! Thanks for the heads up, especially since I use Gmail for my blog’s email. I don’t have enough readers yet to need canned responses, but I hope someday I will! I definitely wouldn’t want to rely solely on them as I don’t want to just sound like a robot to my readers, but I agree that if people are asking the same questions over and over or if there is frequent problem you have to address, then using that system seems to be the ideal option.

  • This is great news for blogger’s because it will help free up some time to get responses sent and because of this they’ll be able to get more responses sent out, pleasing more people.

  • This is great! I’ve used it before on other email platforms. It’s a great way to save time, especially if you have a business that uses the same email templates over and over again. I’m glad to see google implement this on their gmail.

  • I love how google is constantly updating their stuff. It’s fun to log into gmail on the morning and finding a new little feature or tweak (and they’re ALWAYS improvements)!

  • Perhaps as a thank you for a track-back link or comment that I wanted to acknowledge? Or perhaps for an acceptance of a bug that I needed to look into and fix.

    Sometimes it seems to take too much time to type out a simple acknowledgment when you’re going to fix something right away, but I know from personal experience that it gets frustrating very quickly to feel like your emails are disappearing into the void. Even if it’s just a strict “Hi, I have your problem and I am going to work on it in the next hour / day / week” that’s better than no response, by a long shot.


  • I would be using it to send standard Emails to Subscribers. Like a Welcome message. Also recently I started accepting contributions from other authors to post on my blog. I would use it to send then standard email for instructions on how to write a post. This is a great add on from Google.

  • This will be an amazing tool. I don’t think that it will decrease the personality of emails. If it’s common enough to have a canned response you most likely wouldn’t have gotten a response anyway.

  • I would use it to answer common questions and to tell people I’ll get back to them as soon as possible.

  • I don’t use Gmail as my site’s email, but I might now. I was playing around with MailChimp, but I haven’t even started my newsletter yet. I really like this feature. The other alternative is to just have your responses in a word file you can copy and paste, but this is much easier. Thanks for the heads up.

  • Dan tanner

    I always answer every email personally.

    Its taxing and grinding work, sometimes my office assistant answers for me but she is not witty enough and comes off in a way that turn back readers. You just can’t employ a robot to do something so personal.

  • Thank You!

    You have no idea how long I have been looking for this!

    What would I use it for? To answer the questions I keep getting about my themes… that are the same! :)

  • Darren,

    I can’t see it. Do you have to activate this feautre ?
    If yes, where and how do you do it ?



  • oh thank you! this is exactly what i needed, because before I just used stickies to keep all that information. and pretty soon my virtual desktop looked like my actual desktop. covered in post-its

    here are the email messages i’d can:

    login to forum information
    linking group information
    community membership acceptance letters
    community membership rejection letters
    please send correct url letter
    link to faq’s
    thanks for getting in touch with your new product_____, i’ve added it to my bookmarks for further review letter

    mom, i’d like to call you tomorrow is that ok? (we’re on opposites sides of the world) and i’m kiddng. i’ll still type that.

  • This is cool. I have started using TextExpander for the mac and it works brilliantly. So now all my responses are available no matter if I am writing an email, creating a post, or answering a forum thread, or typing code.

    It has been a lifesaver. Well worth the little money it costs.

  • Oh, i found it. I had first to switch my Gmail settings back to english language.


  • ok i just installed this.. and i tell you it’s going to save me tons of time!


  • Gmail just gets better and better. I think I’ll write up a bunch of canned responses and use them all the time for everything, whether they’re appropriate or not. Each one will say CANNED RESPONSE at the top.

    I think that will go over well.

  • This is so cool. I never saw this before! Haha!

    Great, thanks for the tip!

  • This is a great tool from google.It gives a lot of freedom of pre made content.

  • Thanks for the tip on that one, I had no idea and I had been using text files and copying and pasting. Great tip

    Make it great,

  • Have been looking for this feature in my outlook…no luck! Google keep improving user experience, I truly love Google.

  • Good thing I don’t have to worry about that yet. My email system is not even set up. That’s something I plan on getting around to asap

  • Jessica N

    Fantastic! I use gmail for work purposes – and once my blog is finally launched my other account will definitely make use of that (although it’s probably safe to say that there won’t be a flood of mail heading my way, at least for several months!).

    Copying and pasting was REALLY becoming a drag.

    Today Google is my new bestest friend! Three Cheers For Google! Huzzah!

  • I think “Canned Responses” is sort of a misnomer for this feature, since it doesn’t have to be used only for responses. I just used it to set up a message to send to unconfirmed subscribers on my blog, to thank them for visiting and subscribing, remind them they haven’t confirmed yet, and offer to confirm them manually in case their confirmation e-mail got lost. I can think of a lot of other non-reply uses for it, too… like contest winner notifications. Maybe they should have just called it “Message Templates”.

  • Is the program now stable or the program still got some few errors? Anyway, its a good thing to hear about the new feature gmail has. I have been waiting for this all along and thanks to TextExpander and Canned Responses.

  • I have quite a few Gmail addresses, all of which are checked from a single account inside Outlook Express.
    I’ve been doing “canned responses” for a long time in Outlook Express. I simply save my canned responses with descriptive subjects in a folder called Form Letters.
    Then when I need one, I copy the text into a reply, customize if appropriate, and hit the send button.
    I suspect Google has made it even easier, but it’s certainly not a novel idea.

  • Thanks for the tip! Great feature. I run a big forum and this is perfect to answer the daily returning “howto”-questions which are always the same.

  • Forget the canned responses. I always just want to send dumb people who ask dumb questions to f*** Its a classic joke and clearly shows them they are being lazy!

  • I love this! I just enabled canned responses and will use it to respond to new product review submissions that I don’t have time to respond to right away.
    It’s important to me that I respond to submitters as quickly as possible and this will let them know that I received their submission and will contact them with further instructions as quickly as possible.

  • I didn’t know about this so THANKS. It’s what I’ve been dreaming of!

  • I always liked google gmail because they cut down on spam and they are just one of the easiest email accounts to use.

  • Gr8 feature. Thanks francis letting me know the feature. I use gmail for all my emails.