Official Gmail Blog
News, tips and tricks from Google's Gmail team and friends.
A holiday break to play with all the new stuff
December 22, 2008
Posted by Zach Yeskel, Product Marketing Manager
It's been another busy year for the Gmail elves, trying to find places to store all these emails (don't you people ever sleep?)... If you're finding it hard to keep track of all the new things we've added to Gmail over the last few months, here are some of our favorites to check out while you're sipping your eggnog this week:
Catch up with distant friends and family with
Gmail voice and video chat
, or send them a text message with
When you're having trouble putting your feelings into words, try an
(There's nothing quite like a virtual emoticon hug...)
and spice up your inbox.
and keep track of your holiday shopping.
See your calendar, documents, and email all at once with
Calendar and Docs gadgets
Get a new, faster Gmail app on your
to avoid sending out that embarrassing email after the company holiday party.
Send in your self-addressed stamped envelope and get yourself some
And there's more in
– forgotten attachment detector, superstars, and advanced IMAP controls – check out all the new stuff in the
On behalf of the entire Gmail team, happy holidays! We'll see you in 2009.
New in Labs: Turn an email into a Google doc
December 16, 2008
Posted by Jeremie Lenfant-Engelmann, Software Engineer
More than once, I've had a conversation over email and later realized that the information contained in the messages would make a great starting point for a document. So I built an experimental feature for Gmail Labs that does just that: with one simple click, "Create a document" converts an email into a
No more copying and pasting the text from your email -- just open the message you wish to convert, click the "Create a document" link on the right side of the page, and voila, you have a brand new document which you can then modify and share!
Even if you're not interested in converting any of your current messages into documents, you can easily open up a blank doc by hitting
(just make sure you have
To turn on this feature, go to the
Gmail Labs tab
under Settings, select "Enable" next to "Create a document" and hit "Save Changes" at the bottom. Though we're temporarily missing the "Send feedback" link for this feature on the Labs page (oops!), we're still anxious to
hear what you think
Fast PDF viewing right in your browser
December 12, 2008
Posted by Marc Miller, Software Engineer
When I get sent a PDF, sometimes I just want to view it -- I don't always need to download and save it right then. So starting today, you'll see a new "View" link next to PDF attachments you get in Gmail:
Clicking "View" quickly opens the PDF inside your browser, complete with the graphics and formatting you expect to see in a PDF. You may have seen this feature before, in
. It's the way that we did uploading and viewing of PDFs online. Here's a screen shot:
If you want, you can still view in plain HTML from a link at the top of the new viewer. And if you want to download, save, and view your PDFs later while offline using client software, you can still do that by hitting the "Download" link.
Really new in Labs this time: SMS Text Messaging for chat
December 10, 2008
Posted by Leo Dirac, Product Manager
How often do you try to chat with somebody and they don't respond because they just walked away from their computer? Or maybe you're in the middle of chatting with them just as they need to leave. But you still need to tell them something -- something really important like you've moved where you're meeting...or ice cream! We need ice cream! This is why we built a way to chat with your friends even when they're away from their computers. Now you can keep the conversations going with a new
feature that lets you send SMS text messages right from Gmail. It combines the best parts of IM and texting: you chat from the comfort of your computer, and your friends can peck out replies on their little keyboards.
A few weeks back, we
ran into a few snags
when we first started rolling this out, but starting today you can turn on text messaging for chat. Just click on Settings, and go to the Labs tab. Scroll down until you see "Text Messaging (SMS) in Chat" and select Enable and Save Changes.
We're just trying it out for cell phones in the United States right now, but you can send texts to your friends with US phone numbers from anywhere in the world. You can start by just typing a phone number into the search box in the chat window on the left, then select "Send SMS." You can also select the contact you want to SMS first and then add their phone number.
Once you give us a name for that phone number, you'll be able to start chatting.
We'll save your friends' numbers in your
, so next time you can just type their name in the chat box and select Send SMS.
On the receiving end, when you get a text message from Gmail on your phone, it will come from a number in the 406 area code. (The l33t folks in the crowd will note that this spells G0O.) You can reply to this text on your phone just like you'd reply to any other text. The reply gets routed back to our Gmail servers and shows up in your friend's Gmail chat window. Each of your friends' messages will come from a different 406 number so you can reply to any message and it will get back to the right person. Messages from the same person will always come from the same number, so you can even bookmark it in your phone.
If you get a message from somebody you don't want to chat with from your phone, just reply with the word BLOCK. If you don't want to get texts from anybody using Gmail, reply with the word STOP and we'll leave you alone. Keep in mind that all these text messages count as part of your regular mobile messaging plan and might incur fees. So unless you know your friends have unlimited text message plans, please be sensitive to their phone bills.
New in Labs: Tasks
December 8, 2008
Posted by Jonathan Terleski, Michael Lancaster, and Brett Lider, Tasks team
People use Gmail to get stuff done, so we've added a lightweight way to keep track of what you need to do, right from within Gmail.
Take entering a new task: just click in an empty part of your list and start typing. No buttons to click and it's saved automatically. Hit Return and you've got a new task right there.
You can also easily convert emails into tasks: select one or more messages and go to
Add to Tasks
. (Or turn on
<shift> + t
We put your tasks in the same kind of window as chats, so they're visible while you're scanning your inbox, reading mail, or searching (and in Settings, too!). Just pop your list out into a new window to use Tasks outside of Gmail.
To enable Tasks, go to Settings, click the Labs tab (or just
if you're signed in). Select "Enable" next to "Tasks" and then click "Save Changes" at the bottom. Then, after Gmail refreshes, on the left under the "Contacts" link, you'll see a "Tasks" link. Just click it to get started.
We have a list of things we'd like to do to make Tasks more useful, and we want to hear your ideas, too —
drop us a line
Get your Gmail stickers
December 4, 2008
Posted by Arielle Reinstein, Gmail Product Marketing Manager
Update 3/1/2009: Sorry, we're all out of free stickers. If you sent in a self-addressed stamped envelope postmarked by February 14, 2009, we hope you enjoy yours!
Not too long ago, one of the Gmail engineers broke out her vinyl cutter and made some Gmail m-velope stickers. Pretty soon, they were pasted to our desks, stuck on our laptops, and adorning the walls around the office. Then other people started asking us about them -- first it was just other Googlers. But when a guy I was sitting next to on an airplane asked where he could get a Gmail sticker, we realized other people might like them too.
So we designed some more, and printed up a whole bunch.
There's the standard Gmail m-velope -- dressed up in glitter. One of three bookplate style stickers you can stick on anything from the inside of a favorite book to your laptop or your skateboard. (Trading with friends is encouraged -- we realize the unicorn isn't for everyone.) And there's a sheet of keyboard shortcut stickers intended as a tool to help people learn Gmail's
. The adhesive is a bit more removable than standard stickiness, so you can take them off once you've
trained your fingers
So how do you get your stickers? We may be all about speedy electronic communication, but this time we're going old school with snail mail. Just send a self-addressed stamped envelope (along with a note if you're so inclined) to:
[removed address since we're out of stickers and no longer accepting requests]
Make sure to include enough postage to return a sticker pack via U.S. mail. It's less than one ounce, so a standard $0.42 stamp will do if you're in the United States; enclose an international reply coupon (IRC) if you're outside of the U.S. And be sure to send your envelope in soon -- one per person please.
*Our lawyers asked us to make sure it was clear that your contact information won't be maintained in any way and these stickers are "void where prohibited and only while supplies last."
(photos by Dustin Diaz)
Gmail on your Google Desktop
December 1, 2008
Posted by James Yum, Developer Programs Engineer, Google Desktop
Google Desktop gadgets
team, we've seen countless requests for a Gmail gadget over the years. That gadget is
, so if you've got
for Windows, give it a try.
You'll see that it covers the basics such as reading, searching, and sending messages. You can
, use the same
, and we didn't forget about
. It doesn't take up much space in your sidebar or desktop, and you can also resize it to show as few or as many messages as you'd like.
When I'm at work, I keep two instances of the gadget open: one logged into my personal Gmail account and the other set to my
account for work related stuff. Instead of getting lost in a sea of tabs or browser windows, I can bring up the gadgets in an instant (hint: pressing the shift key twice brings up all your hidden Desktop gadgets).
The Gmail gadget currently works with the
of Google Desktop for Windows.
Try it out
let us know
what you think.
: Changed title to clarify this is for Google Desktop.
Syncing your Google Calendar
November 25, 2008
Posted by Wen-Ai Yu, Support Strategist
We on the Google Calendar team work hard to play well with others, so you can synchronize your calendars with a number of mobile devices and desktop applications. This way, you can choose whichever calendars you want to use and keep all of them up to date. Most of these options have been around for a while, and we're happy to announce that Google Calendar now supports the CalDAV protocol -- an evolving, open standard for calendar synchronization.
Apple iCal and Mozilla Sunbird
You can now sync your calendar with applications that support CalDAV, such as Apple's iCal and Mozilla's Sunbird. Learn more about how to get started in our
Google Calendar Sync for Outlook
lets you sync events between Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook Calendar. You determine the direction of information flow, as well as the sync frequency. It's compatible with Microsoft Outlook versions 2003 and 2007, and operating systems Windows XP and Windows Vista.
BlackBerry mobile devices
If you carry a BlackBerry smartphone,
Google Sync for BlackBerry
synchronizes your device's native calendar with Google. You can access your Google Calendar even when you don't have network coverage and get alerts for upcoming appointments with sound or vibration. It automatically runs in the background, so you can attend to other tasks and still be reminded of your appointments.
It's easy to connect an Android-powered phone to Google Calendar using the phone's
preloaded Calendar application
. New events are pushed in real-time to your phone and any changes you make on-the-go are immediately available on the web.
If you have another mobile device, just visit
from your phone, and you'll get a special version of Google Calendar optimized for the small screen.
Spice up your inbox with colors and themes
November 19, 2008
Posted by Annie Chen, Gmail engineer
Gmail fans have been building unofficial extensions to spice up their inboxes for a while, but up til now themes haven't been an integral part of Gmail. We wanted to go beyond simple color customization, so out of the 30 odd themes we're launching today, there's a shiny theme with chrome styling, another one that turns your inbox into a retro notepad, nature themes that change scenery over time, weather driven themes that can rain on your mailbox, and fun characters to keep you in good company. There's even an old school ascii theme (Terminal) which was the result of a bet between two engineers -- it's not exactly practical, but it's great for testing out your geek cred. We've also done a minor facelift to Gmail's default look to make it crisper and cleaner -- you might notice a few colors and pixels shifted around here and there.
As you can see from these photos taken around our office in Zurich, Switzerland, themes have made their way into more than our inboxes -- that's a character from the ninja theme made out of pixel blocks, customized laptop decals, and a giant Zoozimps character on a beam next to my desk:
To customize your inbox, go to the
Themes tab under Settings
. We'll be rolling out themes to everyone over the next couple of days, so if you don't see them yet, check back soon. As for which theme to choose, don't ask us. We're
Say hello to Gmail voice and video chat
November 11, 2008
Posted by Justin Uberti, Software Engineer
I'm a big user of Gmail chat. Being able to switch from email to chat as needed, all within the same app, is really great for productivity. But people can only type so fast, and even with our
, there are still some things that just can't be expressed in a chat message.
That's why today we're launching voice and video chat -- right inside Gmail. We've tried to make this an easy-to-use, seamless experience, with high-quality audio and video -- all for free. All you have to do is
download and install the voice and video plugin
and we take care of the rest. And in the
spirit of open communications
, we designed this feature using Internet standards such as XMPP, RTP, and H.264, which means that third-party applications and networks can choose to interoperate with Gmail voice and video chat.
Once you install the plugin, to start a video chat, just click on the "Video & more" menu at the bottom of your Gmail chat window, and choose "Start video chat." You'll have a few seconds to make sure you look presentable while it's ringing, and then you'll see and hear your friend live, right from within Gmail. You can click the "pop-out" icon
to make the video larger, or click the fullscreen icon
in the upper left-hand corner for a fully immersive experience. See this all in action in the video below:
Our team is spread between
Google offices in the US and Sweden
, and video has really changed the way we work. Collaborating across continents and timezones is a fact of life for us, and it sure is easier (and greener) to click "Start video chat" than to get on a plane! And when I do have to visit another Google office, I can use Gmail voice and video chat to check in with my family.
We've just started to roll out Gmail voice and video chat for both PCs and Macs, so if you don't see it right away, don't worry -- it could take a day or so for this feature to be available in all Gmail and Google Apps accounts. If you want to download the plugin right away, visit
. And if you need a webcam, there are a
few models with special discounts
through November 30th (I use the QuickCam Pro 9000 myself).
Tip: Your email, wherever you are on the web, with Toolbar
November 3, 2008
Posted by Aseem Sood, Product Manager, Google Toolbar
Are you addicted to email? Do you keep Gmail open on your browser, constantly hitting refresh to get your latest messages?
If you're using
Google Toolbar 5
for Internet Explorer (or Toolbar's Firefox
), you can add the
Gmail custom button
to make your life easier. With the Gmail button, you can get new message alerts, see previews of your mail and use Toolbar's search box to find any message no matter what page you're on.
Google Toolbar also has a "Send to" feature: when you click on the "Send to" icon, a Gmail compose window opens that automatically includes a link to the page you're currently on and any text you have highlighted on that page. This makes it easy to email your friends interesting pages you come across as you browse the web.
Plus, you can also add Google gadgets to your Toolbar to bring your favorite websites and online services closer to you. One of my favorites is the
Google Calendar gadget
: by clicking on the calendar icon, I can check out my schedule for the next few days and even add events.
To try out these gadgets for yourself, check out
Almost new in Labs: SMS Text Messaging for chat
October 31, 2008
Posted by Leo Dirac, Product Manager
Oh snap. Last night, we started rolling out a new feature to
that lets you send SMS text messages right from Gmail. It combines the best parts of IM and texting: you chat from your computer and reach your friends no matter where they are. Your friends who are away from their computers get your messages as texts and can peck out replies on their little keyboards. It was pretty cool for a few minutes last night when we were sitting around texting each other.
Then we found a glitch. When you'd try to turn it on, it wouldn't fully enable. We thought about keeping it out there -- bugs and all -- but the experience wasn't that great. So, in the spirit of Labs, we've pulled SMS chat back to fix it, and we'll get it back out to you as soon as it's ready -- probably within 2 weeks, so stay tuned.
New in Labs: Calendar and Docs gadgets
October 27, 2008
Posted by Dan Pupius, Gmail engineer
Gmail Labs has been a really fun way to easily try out new ideas and get some of our pet feature requests implemented quickly. We wanted to take this to the next level and let you start adding your own stuff to Gmail. Today we're launching a few Labs experiments that let you add gadgets to the left-nav, next to Chat and Labels.
To get you started, we've worked with the engineers from the Calendar and Docs teams on two highly requested features: a simple way to see your Google Calendar agenda and get an alert when you have a meeting, and a gadget that shows a list of your recently accessed Google Docs and lets you search across all of your documents right from within Gmail.
There's a third Lab that allows you to add any gadget by pasting in the URL of its XML spec file (e.g. http://www.google.com/ig/modules/youtube_videos.xml). We realize this isn't very user friendly right now; it's a sandbox mainly aimed at developers who want to play around with gadgets in Gmail. We're not tied to the left-nav as a primary way to extend Gmail -- in fact we think it is relatively limited and doesn't offer scalable real estate. There are also some downsides to the iframe-style Gadgets we're using today -- they can sometimes slow down the page. We're fanatical about speed, so we'll be keeping a close eye on performance.
This is also a chance for us to test the developer infrastructure involved. We're using common gadget infrastructure, such as the Apache
project, and working with other gadget containers to make gadgets more portable.
We're looking forward to your comments in the
, so send us your ideas, let us know how you like the Calendar and Docs gadgets, and if you've written a gadget that you think works well in Gmail, post it and let us and other users try it out.
A couple of notes:
(1) Try out Anatol's
Navbar drag and drop
Labs feature so you can easily re-order all the boxes on Gmail's left hand side.
(2) Not all gadgets are fully compatible with https, so if you're connecting to Gmail via https, you may see mixed content warnings caused by parts of the gadgets being served over http. We're working on fixing this where we can.
: To turn on these gadgets, click Settings, then visit the Labs tab. Scroll to the bottom, select "Enable" next to the features you want to turn on, and then click "Save Changes."
A picture is worth a thousand words
October 23, 2008
Posted by Darren Lewis, Gmail engineer
Here on the Gmail team, we're always thinking of ways to help you communicate. Back in the day, we put chat right inside Gmail. Then along came
group chat and more emoticons
. And when we realized that late night communication had its downsides, we created a state-of-the-art
for after-hours email. Anyway, the black and white days of text-based emails have had their day. Following the evolutionary path blazed by
, we present, in all their technicolor glory, emoticons in your mail.
No more will you have to settle for a ;) when you can have a
. Out with the "XOXO" and in with the
. And of course, when the bad news smells really bad,
transcends all words.
So raise your
and welcome in the colorful new world of Gmail
P.S. For those of you who love our chat smileys,
we've also added a whole new set for your enjoyment.
Gmail for mobile: faster, smoother, and now in more languages
October 23, 2008
Posted by Peter Baldwin, Software Engineer, Google mobile team
When I joined the Gmail for mobile team a year ago, the mobile client worked like a web application designed for networks that were always available. This was fine on a fast and reliable network, but when you hopped on the subway, network reliability could be a big problem. Today, we're happy to announce Gmail for mobile 2.0 for J2ME-supported and BlackBerry phones. For this version, we changed our fundamental assumption about the network. We re-thought every action that you might perform with the app and tried to solve for the case where there is no signal. We wanted to make the mobile client faster and more reliable and added some other new features along the way.
If you haven't tried Gmail on your phone in a while, try this new version and
let us know
what you think. Gmail for mobile 2.0 is designed to be more reliable in low signal areas and provides basic offline support for phones like the Nokia N95, Sony Ericsson W910i, and BlackBerry Curve. You can now log into multiple accounts (including both Gmail and Google Apps email accounts) at the same time. Switching between them is as easy as a few button clicks or just hitting
+ j on phones that have a QWERTY keyboard. We've also added support for multiple mobile drafts, undo (using the menu or the z shortcut), and sending mail in the background (no more staring at the "Sending..." dialog until it finally gets sent). Be sure to check the help page from Gmail for mobile's main menu for a list of all keyboard shortcuts.
To download Gmail for mobile version 2.0, just go to
in your mobile browser.
Parlez-vous français? ¿Habla usted español? Gmail for mobile 2.0 supports over
, and the application language will automatically match your phone's language setting.
New in Labs: Canned Responses
October 21, 2008
Posted by Chad Parry, Gmail engineer
Hello, you've reached Chad's mailbox. Thanks for your email about the latest Labs feature: Canned Responses, or email for the truly lazy. I'm on paternity leave so I won't be able to respond personally. Instead, I hope you'll enjoy this automated message.
If you're sick of typing out the same reply every time someone emails you with a common question, now you can compose your reply once and save the message text with the "Canned responses" button. Later, you can open that same message and send it again and again.
It couldn't get any easier unless Gmail automatically pushed the Send button. If you're lazy enough to think that would be a good idea, then read on, friend.
Gmail already lets you create
based on a combination of keywords, sender, recipients, and more in your incoming messages. Turn on Canned Responses in Labs, and you can set a filter to grab one of your saved responses, create an automated reply, and hit the Send button for you.
You can set up different automated messages for different keywords, just like
you said you wanted
. (We're friends, so I trust you to use this power responsibly.)
More changes to Gmail contact manager
October 21, 2008
Posted by Benjamin Grol, Product Manager, Google Contacts
After hearing consistent feedback that you wanted more control over your contacts, we've changed the way Gmail suggests contacts to you. Up to this point, if you emailed someone five times, we'd automatically move them into My Contacts. Now, we'll no longer automatically add contacts to your My Contacts group. Instead, you can go to Suggested Contacts, select the contacts you'd like and move them into My Contacts. All of your contacts -- whether they're in My Contacts or Suggested Contacts -- will continue to show in auto-complete as you're composing messages.
As part of this change, we're moving previously auto-added contacts back into Suggested Contacts. Only contacts that you've edited, imported or added to a group will remain in My Contacts. This will provide everyone with a clean slate and, we hope, a better point for syncing contacts with mobile devices (for example with
). We'll be rolling this change out to everyone over the next few days.
We realize there's a lot we can do to make Gmail contacts even more useful, and the feedback we received
we updated the contact manager was helpful, so keep
letting us know
what you think.
A sneak peek at Gmail on Android
October 17, 2008
Posted by Jonathan Matus, Product Marketing Manager, Android
The first Android-powered phone, the T-Mobile G1, is coming out on Wednesday. My friends know that I work on Android, and as you can imagine, I get asked about it all the time. I have a lot to say about the G1, but I always begin by telling them that lots of Google products, including Gmail, are available for free, on
several mobile devices
I've been using Gmail on the go for more than a year now and it's difficult to imagine my life without ubiquitous email access. It proves handy every day -- whether for keeping a close eye on a (very) busy inbox, finding the address of a party while already in the taxi, or sending out a spontaneous dinner plan while on the bus back home.
If you like using Gmail on your computer you'll feel very much at ease with Gmail on Android-powered phones. You can download documents and MP3s, manage and view labels, star and archive messages, save drafts and even report spam.
I check my email frequently and have two Gmail accounts -- one for work and one for personal life. Before I started using Gmail on the T-Mobile G1, I used to check my mail by actively reloading or refreshing my inbox on one of my other mobile devices. And with two email accounts, I had to repeat this twice each time.
Not anymore. With the combination of push email and notifications on the status-bar, I never have to check for new mail. Whenever a new message arrives, I immediately get notified (in real time) with a little "@" sign at the top (see image below on the left). With a single swipe I can pull down the notification pane and see my new messages (on the right).
But the best thing, in my mind, about Gmail on Android-powered phones, is the way email is deeply integrated with other applications. For instance, let's say I'm browsing the web, reading my favorite tech blog. When I come across a post that I'd like to share, I can simply press and hold my finger down on the link and then choose "share" to immediately create an email with that article's web address. The tight integration with Contacts on the device then allows Gmail to suggest contacts based on the first letters I type.
All of your Gmail contacts are immediately available on the phone upon first log-in. And whenever you create a new contact on the device it's automatically synced with your Gmail contacts and therefore immediately backed-up, so you never need to worry about losing your contacts if you lose or break your phone.
To learn more about Gmail on the world's first Android-powered phone, check out our
Mobile blog post
on mobile.google.com/android, or watch this instructional video:
Tip: Sending empty messages
October 15, 2008
Posted by Jon Kotker, Gmail engineering intern, Summer 2008
I often send messages where the subject is the entire message (e.g. "Want to grab lunch at 12:30?"), and Gmail would always prompt me to add in body text.
Now, however, you can add "EOM" or "(EOM)" at the end of the subject line (short for
essage), and Gmail will silently send the message without the unnecessary prompt.
New in Labs: Advanced IMAP Controls
October 9, 2008
Posted by Jamie Nicolson, Gmail engineer
From the team that brought you
, here comes...Advanced IMAP Controls, a Labs feature that lets you fine-tune your
experience. You can choose which labels to sync in IMAP -- useful if you find your mail client choking on a big [Gmail]/All Mail folder.
After enabling this Lab, just go to the Labels tab under Settings. You'll see a new 'Show in IMAP' checkbox next to each of your labels. Uncheck the box and the corresponding folder will disappear from IMAP.
There are also some more obscure options for those of you who want to make Gmail's IMAP work more like traditional IMAP providers: you can turn off auto-expunge or trash messages when they're no longer visible through IMAP.
The IMAP protocol allows messages to be marked for deletion, a sort of limbo state where a message is still present in the folder but slated to be deleted the next time the folder is expunged. In our standard IMAP implementation, when you mark a message as deleted, Gmail doesn't let it linger in that state -- it deletes (or auto-expunges) it from the folder right away. If you want the two-stage delete process, after you've enabled this Lab, just select 'Do not automatically expunge messages' under the 'Forwarding and POP/IMAP' tab in Settings.
Similarly, most IMAP systems don't share Gmail's concept of archiving messages (sending messages to the [Gmail]/All Mail folder rather than [Gmail]/Trash). If you'd prefer that deleted messages not remaining in any other visible IMAP folders are sent to [Gmail]/Trash instead, Advanced IMAP Controls lets you set your preferences this way. In the 'IMAP Access:' section of the 'Forwarding and POP/IMAP' tab, find the 'When a message is deleted from the last visible IMAP folder:' option. Select 'Move the message to the Gmail Trash.' If you want to take it one step further, you can select 'Immediately delete the message forever.'
New in Labs: Stop sending mail you later regret
October 6, 2008
Posted by Jon Perlow, Gmail engineer
Sometimes I send messages I shouldn't send. Like the time I told that girl I had a crush on her over text message. Or the time I sent that late night email to my ex-girlfriend that we should get back together. Gmail can't always prevent you from sending messages you might later regret, but today we're launching a new Labs feature I wrote called Mail Goggles which may help.
When you enable Mail Goggles, it will check that you're really sure you want to send that late night Friday email. And what better way to check than by making you solve a few simple math problems after you click send to verify you're in the right state of mind?
By default, Mail Goggles is only active late night on the weekend as that is the time you're most likely to need it. Once enabled, you can adjust when it's active in the General settings.
Hopefully Mail Goggles will prevent many of you out there from sending messages you wish you hadn't. Like that late night memo -- I mean mission statement -- to the entire firm.
Tip: Read your mail without touching your mouse
October 2, 2008
Posted by Arielle Reinstein, Gmail Product Marketing Manager
First, if you don't have
Gmail keyboard shortcuts
enabled, turn them on in Settings. You'll be glad you did. If you spend a lot of time in Gmail, you'll start shaving milliseconds of every action, which adds up. Get through a hundred or so messages every day and you'll end up with extra minutes each week to read your favorite blogs in Reader -- using
Reader's keyboard shortcuts
Here's how I read my mail:
1. Log in.
If I'm on my own computer I don't even have to do this, since I have the "Remember me on this computer" option checked on the Gmail homepage.
2. Get rid of stuff I obviously don't need to read.
I scan the senders and subjects of unread messages in my inbox, navigate through the messages using
to move the cursor (little black triangle) upwards and
to move it back down.
As I'm moving around, I select all of the messages I haven't already filtered but don't need to read using
And archive them all with
works for this too). Now I just have the messages I should read.
3. Get through the mail I do need to read.
I find a message that looks important or interesting, and open it using the
key. If I need to reply, I hit
. Reply all? That's
. Once my response is ready to go,
sends it on its way. Back to my inbox with
. More navigating around with
, selecting with
. Archiving (
) and replying (
). Starring some stuff for later (
). The occasional forward (
). Sending with
It may seem like a lot to remember, but for me, these eleven shortcuts have been invaluable and aside from
, which I just had to practice, pretty intuitive (
? that's for "
nbox"). If you ever need a quick
anytime to see the shortcut reference guide. And if you don't like any of them, you can edit the defaults and define your own by enabling Custom keyboard shortcuts in Labs.
New in Labs: Right-side Labels and Chat
September 17, 2008
Posted by Emily Chang, Gmail engineer
As a Google engineer, I get a 24-inch widescreen monitor and a huge amount of email. I built a Labs feature to use the former to mitigate the latter.
In my work email, I have painfully long lists in both Labels and Chat, so I used to scroll constantly in order to see my Labels. Now, with Right-side Labels enabled, I can see both my Labels and my Chat buddies at the same time, with one on the left and one on the right. (This is where that widescreen comes in handy.) Some of my coworkers preferred to move Chat instead of Labels, so I made that an option as well.
FYI: these Labs aren't currently compatible with the "Navbar drag and drop" Lab that allows you to drag and rearrange Chat and Labels on the left side.
New in Labs: Forgotten attachment detector
September 15, 2008
Posted by Jon Kotker, Gmail engineering intern, Summer 2008
I spent this last summer as many of the Gmail engineers do, armed with a cup of coffee or a can of soda, poring through lines of code, winding my way through the code base, and every once in a while taking a glance at the big
whiteboard of feature ideas
that the team maintains. When I had some spare time on my hands, I picked up a few of the ideas from that list and got started turning them into Labs features.
The first one I worked on was something we had been experimenting with a few years ago here inside Google but had never launched -- a Forgotten Attachment Detector. Many of us have experienced the embarrassment of having sent a message without attaching the file we said we were going to attach. Turn on the Forgotten Attachment Detector in Labs, and you'll get an alert if you mention attaching a file but forget to do so.
My fellow intern Mark (the same guy who brought you
Custom Label Colors
) wrote this next one: the Mark as Read button. If you're tired of digging into the "More actions" menu every time you want to mark unread messages as read, just turn on this Labs feature to add a "Mark as read" button to the top of your inbox.
My summer on the Gmail team is over, and I'm back in school at Berkeley. That means I'm also back to being an avid Gmail user rather than one of its developers, but I remain ever excited about all of the new Gmail features -- both Labs and non-Labs -- that were in development while I was interning, and that we'll soon all be able to use.
New in Labs: Reply add-ons
September 11, 2008
Posted by Darick Tong, Gmail engineer
We Gmail developers are arguably among the most demanding of Gmail's users. So in addition to the feedback we get from all of you, a lot of the ideas for new features come from our own frustrations and experiences. We send and receive a lot of mail, and we've already started using these Labs features to make replying that much better.
Quote selected text, by Ryan A
Gmail makes it easy to manage long
or threads by hiding the text you've seen before. Unfortunately, this means that the people you're communicating with that aren't using Gmail sometimes get annoyed with you for leaving 25 pages of irrelevant conversation in the email. Also, sometimes you just want to reply to one small part of a conversation. Deleting lots of irrelevant text is rather annoying, so this Labs feature should make your life easier. Just highlight the text you want to include in your reply, hit the keyboard shortcut "r" to reply, and the compose template will be just what you selected! Note: This doesn't quite work in Chrome or Safari yet, but it will in a few weeks.
Default 'Reply to all,' by Mark K
When we're working on features for Gmail, the email etiquette on the team is to reply all so everyone involved is kept in the loop. Mark was an intern here this past summer who got frustrated when he'd reply to an email only to realize that he forgot to reply all and had to resend the message. Thus, this Labs feature, which makes reply all your default selection.
Vacation time, by Darick T
While planning my own vacation, I didn't want to worry about composing, starting and stopping my
while I was on vacation. Call me a purist, but that defeats the whole point of being on vacation! So, to make my vacation that much sweeter, I used a bit of my 20% time and whipped up Vacation Time, which lets you compose and schedule your vacation autoresponse while you're
your vacation, rather than while you're
vacation. And scheduling is as easy as it is in Google Calendar.
So go on, try it, and have a great vacation.
New in Labs: 3 experiments with labels
September 9, 2008
Posted by Keith Coleman, Gmail Product Manager
Since launching our first batch of 13
features, we've received a lot of
for more experimental features you'd like to see -- plus, we've had some of our own ideas. Today, there's a new batch of labs features to play with. If you like using Labels, we hope you like these.
Custom label colors, by Mark K
If the 24 standard color choices aren't your thing, enable this feature to create your own custom color combinations. Instead of choosing one of the standard colors from the label drop-down menu, click "Add custom colors," pick your palette, hit "Apply," and enjoy.
Go to label keyboard shortcut, by Bruce D
Never have to click on a label again. Instead, enable keyboard shortcuts and press "g" then "l" to display the "
abel" pop-up. Start typing, and your labels will be filtered as you go. You can use the arrow keys to select a label and hit "Enter" to select one.
Powertip: The pop-up searches each word in your labels for a match, so if you have multiple labels with the same prefix, simply add a space, dash or slash after the prefix and search for the second word. For example, typing "labs" will display labels named "gmail labs," "gmail-labs," or "gmail/labs" but won't display "gmaillabs."
Navbar drag and drop, by Anatol P
If Labels are more important to you than your Contacts, you can switch them around with this Labs feature, which allows you to reorder the items in Gmail's lefthand navigation bar using drag and drop.
To turn on these Labs features and more, just go to the Labs tab under Settings. Keep posting feedback on the
because we're reading what you have to say!
New Gmail code base now for IE6 too
September 5, 2008
Posted by Jon Perlow, Gmail engineer
Last October, we launched a
rewritten code base
for the Gmail user interface to Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2 users. Since then, we've added support for Safari 3 and Firefox 3 and improved performance in other browsers. This new code base included major performance improvements and provided us with a solid foundation for launching new features such as
group chat and rich emoticons
, an updated
remote sign out
This week, we've started to roll out Gmail's new code base to IE6 users. If you use IE6 and have the
latest IE6 updates from Microsoft
installed (or the
that's required), you'll start seeing the features listed above.
Try Gmail in Google Chrome
September 3, 2008
Posted by Brian Rakowski, Google Chrome Product Manager
launched Google Chrome
, a new approach to the web browser that comes with a few features that can give you a better Gmail experience:
A browser built for speed
: Google Chrome features a new
, that has been designed for performance from the ground up, so web applications like Gmail that use the browser to its fullest run lightning fast.
More room for your stuff, less browser window
: We've removed all the unnecessary clutter from the browser window to give you more room for your favorite applications and websites. If you use an application shortcut (below), you can launch Gmail in its own streamlined window that gives you as much working room as possible, without the URL box or browser toolbar.
: You can create an application shortcut to access Gmail straight from your desktop. Simply go to Gmail while you're using Google Chrome, click the page menu and select 'create application shortcuts.' When you double-click a shortcut icon, it opens in a streamlined window.
: Every tab you use is run independently in Google Chrome, so if one tab crashes, it won't take the tab with your inbox down with it.
Ready to try it out?
Download Google Chrome
let us know
what you think. (Chrome is currently available for Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or later and Windows Vista. Mac and Linux versions are being developed, so stay tuned.)
News from the Picasa team
September 2, 2008
Posted by Miriam Schneider, Associate Product Marketing Manager
Aside from email, one of the most frequent things I do on my computer is manage my ever-growing digital photo collection. I'm no Annie Leibowitz, but I still enjoy taking and sharing my pictures with others. And this process just got a lot better, especially for people who already use Gmail.
Picasa Web Albums
introduced a new "
" feature to help you automatically organize your photos based on who's in each picture. Gmail's contact list plays a key role in making name tags work: not only does it help you quickly auto-complete names as you tag the people in your photos, but any new contacts you create in Picasa Web Albums automatically become accessible in Gmail.
Speaking of email and photos: alongside name tags and a shiny new UI, email upload is another new Picasa Web Albums feature. Sending a picture to a web album is now as easy as specifying the album name in the subject, giving you an ideal way to upload photos from your mobile phone. (It's also great for forwarding pictures sent to your Gmail account directly into a web album.)
It's worth noting that the next generation of Picasa software for your PC is available today as a beta, so you can organize, edit, and share all the photos on your home PC. Like earlier versions of Picasa,
integrates directly with Gmail, and allows you to email photos or entire albums with just a click. Of course, Picasa 3 introduces a number of other goodies, too, ranging from a powerful photo retouching tool to fun stuff like improved photo collages and simple video editing.
Check out the
Google Photos blog
for more information and head to picasaweb.google.com to get started.
Little things that matter
August 28, 2008
Posted by Prakash Chandran, User Experience Designer
Seemingly small improvements can make a surprisingly big difference to people who use our products every day. Take Google Calendar, where over the past few months we've made a bunch of little improvements in direct response to feedback from our most active users.
We've long offered the ability to email meeting attendees, which can be extremely useful for sharing last-minute details or distributing meeting minutes afterward. But it was an all-or-nothing affair -- if you wanted to email only those people who hadn't responded, for example, you needed to manually fiddle with a list of email addresses.
In response, we made several improvements to the email guests dialog. You can now select guests based on their response status or pick-and-choose them individually with checkboxes.
Adding a friend's calendar
Displaying another person's calendar used to be a many-stepped process. It wasn't such a big deal if you only did it occasionally, but many of you do this numerous times a day, especially if you manage co-workers' calendars. It's much easier now: you simply start typing a name in the "Add a friend's calendar" box and we'll match against your address book. Click the name, and the calendar will be added.
Dragging to create new events
Making a new event from the Day or Week view is really easy -- you simply click on the time, drag the duration and enter a name. But if you have a busy calendar (and who doesn't?) you probably bumped into some problems. If an event is already scheduled for that time, there was no way to click and drag without messing up the other events on your calendar. You told us you often worked around this by creating the meeting in an open slot and dragging it to the desired time. Lots of extra work.
Here's proof that little things really do matter -- in this case, just a few pixels. We added a "gutter" to the edge where you can click-and-drag no matter how many events you already have at that time. Here's a before and after:
Flexible reminder times
We got lots of feedback about our event reminders, and particularly the limited number of time choices. One Googler actually asked for the ability to set eight minute reminders. Why eight minutes? He found that 5 minutes wasn't enough time to get to his meetings and 10 minutes was so early he tended to ignore them. Not everyone needs such precision, of course, but everyone deserves more flexibility. As of today, you can now set a reminder for any time between 4 weeks and 5 minutes before your event.
Perhaps big launches and shiny new features get most of the attention, but little things matter too. Even just a few pixels can turn "arrghh!" into "ahhhh!"
See what Obama, McCain and leading political pundits are reading
August 18, 2008
Posted by Robby Stein, Associate Product Marketing Manager
that both the Obama and McCain campaigns as well as political contributors from Newsweek to POLITICO are sharing news with
this election season. You can see their most recently shared items at
, or add the feeds from your favorite campaign or journalist to Reader to keep up with newly posted items and comments.
P.S. If you want to follow these political shared news feeds right from within Gmail, check out
from a couple weeks ago about getting your favorite feeds in Gmail web clips.
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