Many people have years (or even decades!) of muscle memory built on former email clients. This guide helps bridge the gap between old Gmail habits and new Shortwave workflows for a seamless transition.

Import your data & settings

This section covers Shortwave's Gmail sync settings and ways to fine-tune your Shortwave setup based on your existing Gmail settings.

πŸ”„ Sync changes from Gmail

Any time you modify settings in Gmail, you must re-sign into Shortwave for them to take effect


Your Gmail labels are automatically imported into Shortwave when you sign up. Any changes made in Shortwave are immediately synced back to Gmail, while changes made in Gmail are only synced back to Shortwave daily. To force Shortwave to fetch your latest Gmail labels, sign out and back into Shortwave.


You can add your existing Gmail signature to your outgoing emails from Shortwave. If you opt to enable a signature, you will see a signature icon at the bottom of the compose box. Clicking it will allow you to toggle between including / removing your signature for individual messages.

If you want to modify your signature, you can make edits from your Gmail general settings. See Gmail's documentation for more detailed instructions.


On sign-in, Shortwave syncs any aliases associated with your Gmail account. You can configure your aliases preferences to always reply from your default address, or from the same address the message was sent to.

To update your default address, you'll have to edit your account settings from Gmail. For further information, reference Gmail's help page.

When sending an email you can also choose to change the sending alias by clicking the reply arrow in the top left of the compose box.


Shortwave aims to keep your Shortwave and Gmail inboxes in sync. Therefore, Gmail filters causing threads to skip your Gmail inbox also skip your Shortwave inbox.

Skipped threads can be found via search, but if you want them to always enter your Shortwave inbox as well, go to Gmail's filter settings page.

For each filter containing "Skip Inbox", do either of the following:

  1. Delete the filter β€” Click "Delete" and then "OK" to confirm
  2. Edit the filter to make it no longer skip inbox β€” Click "Edit", then "Continue", uncheck "Skip the Inbox (Archive it)", and click "Update filter" to confirm

Email import

Shortwave imports your last 90 days of email history the first time you sign in. To import your entire Gmail history, you'll need to upgrade your account.

  1. From the account settings page in your Shortwave settings, click import full history
  2. The process will run in the background, so you can close the app any time
  3. Shortwave sends you an email when your import is complete

Transition your workflow

Below are best practices for migrating your triage process based on Gmail inbox type, keyboard shortcut usage, and available mobile apps.

Transition based on inbox type

Gmail has six inbox types πŸ‘‡

Here is how each inbox type can be configured in Shortwave for a smooth transition:

  1. Default
    • Gmail behavior: Tabbed inbox categories (Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates, and Forums)
    • Shortwave solution: Add the Social, Promotions, Forums and Updates labels as being bundled in Shortwave.
  2. Important first
    • Gmail behavior: Two inbox sections (Important and Everything else)
    • Shortwave solution:
      • Turn push on for any high priority senders or labels
      • Turn bundling on for Shortwave's built-in labels
      • Pin important threads to the top of your inbox, or drag 'n drop to reorder them
  3. Unread first
    • Gmail behavior: Two inbox sections (Unread and Everything else)
    • Shortwave solution:
      • Search "Unread" in the search box to view unread threads
      • From the search results (or from the inbox), pin all important threadsβ€”it's more reliable and actionable than the read/unread system
  4. Starred first
    • Gmail behavior: Two inbox sections (Starred and Everything else)
    • Shortwave solution: Use pin for important threads β€” it's less ambiguous than Starred or a specific label
  5. Priority inbox
    • Gmail behavior: Configurable inbox sections (default is Important & unread, Starred, Everything else)
    • Shortwave solution:
      • Turn push on for specific labels and senders
      • Turn bundling on for Shortwave's built-in labels
      • Pin important threads to the top of your inbox, or drag 'n drop to reorder them
  6. Multiple inboxes

Keyboard shortcuts

Shortwave supports a full set of keyboard shortcuts for app-wide actions and navigation. To activate keyboard shortcuts, just press ↓ or j to focus a thread. Like Gmail, a blue highlight indicates what thread or section keyboard shortcuts will affect.

To reference Shortwave's primary keyboard shortcuts from the app, press ⌘+/ (ctrl+/ on Windows) to launch the help box. For a full list of supported keys and shortcut descriptions, check out our keyboard shortcut guide.

Snoozed Gmail threads

If you have any snoozed threads in Gmail, they will still show up in your inbox at the right time in Shortwave. Due to technical limitations, snoozed threads in Gmail cannot be shown on the Snoozed page in Shortwave, but you can still find those threads in Shortwave via search. Instead of appearing on the Snoozed page, the threads are temporarily archived and then return to your inbox at the set time.

Mobile app

Use Shortwave on the go with our iOS and Android apps. Our iOS app is available through the App Store and our Android app is available through a private distribution.

Gmail extension

You can download the Shortwave Gmail extension from the Chrome Store. Installing it simply adds a button in Gmail that redirects you to your Shortwave inbox.

So next time you find yourself typing "g...m...a..." into your address bar, don't fret! Shortwave will be there to help you break the habit, and nudge you towards your new, organized inbox over at

πŸ‘― Multiple Accounts

If you want to use Shortwave with multiple Gmail accounts, here's how to manage account switching.