GMail + Canned responses = Bye bye, “lost email”!

“Desperate times call for desperate measures.”


“If the teacher pops a test / I know I’m in a mess / And my dog ate all my homework last night / Ridin’ low in my chair / She won’t know that I’m there / If I can hand it in tomorrow, it’ll be all right…

~Saved by the Bell

I’m not going to lie—I’ve used it before. Teacher, you didn’t get my homework? Well I emailed it to you! Maybe you should check your spam folder… you did? Well maybe you should check your email settings… oh, you did that? Well maybe my email stopped working…

“Well, I sent the email; maybe something was wrong with the internet…” is Generation Y’s version of “The dog ate my homework”, but it doesn’t have to be. Inspired by the awesome 2-minute slam demonstrations I saw at Google Teacher Academy last week, I threw together my own 1 video of a Gmail work-flow hack that I developed a couple of years ago using 3 awesome GMail features—periods and plusses, canned responses, and filters—that, when combined, arm you with a powerful tool: the Secret GMail Address Auto Responder!

In a nutshell, when this is activated, specific emails sent to your GMail subaddresses 2 will trigger a pre-written response to the original sender. This is a great automated way of confirming to your students that you received their emailed-in homework; if they receive the auto-response, they know that it made it to your inbox safely. It’s also great for teacher; if you got the email and you automatically send the auto-response, it will be noted in your Sent folder as one more documentation location. Cool, ay?


  1. …which happens to be 4 minutes long… who’s counting…
  2. Basically, periods and plusses don’t matter in GMail.
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