Gmail - New Features

Category: Email

Google recently added some nifty new features to Gmail, their free web-based email service. Here's a look a what's new in Gmail...

Gmail logo

What's New in Gmail?

Many people use Gmail as a primary email account for personal and business purposes, instead of the email service provided by their ISP. The popularity of Gmail has skyrocketed over the last few years, as people discover the convenience of web-based email and the benefits of not being held hostage by any Internet service provider.

But wait... there's more! Google has recently updated Gmail to include some new features, which include whitelisting, colored labels, new emoticons, chat improvements, virus scanning and the ability to access email from other email accounts. (Sorry, no free steak knives.) Here's a closer look at each of these new Gmail features.


For quite a while, I've been hoping for some sort of whitelisting feature in Gmail, to prevent stuff that I know is definitely not spam from ending up in the Spam folder. Lacking that feature, I've been scanning my Spam folder for false positives -- mail from certain people, or mail that contains certain keywords, dutifully marking them "Not Spam" and moving those messages to my Inbox. But oh happy day, there's a new Never send it to Spam option in the Create a Filter dialog. Now I can create filters to prevent the good stuff from going into the spam bucket.

It would be nice if Gmail would simply not mark an incoming message as Spam, when the sender is in my address book. What about it, Google Guys?

Colored Labels

Gmail colored labels One of the visual improvements that Gmail has implemented is the option to use colored labels to organize your Gmail messages. Labels, which are like email folders on steroids, are not new, but the ability to specify a color for a label is a handy new feature. To use this option all you have to do is click on the little swatch located next to the label, then select the color you want for that label. A little colored block with the label name will appear next to messages with that label.

Gmail Chat with AIM Users

Gmail hat a built-in chat feature, but now you can also chat with AIM users. Gmail uses Open AIM to connect Gmail users with their AIM account. When you select this new option a popup window will appear that will allow you to sign into your AIM account. Once signed in an AIM Buddies list will pop up and it will be populated with your AIM Buddies. After your list appears all you have to do is click on the Buddy you want to talk to, a talk field will be activated and you will be able to start typing in your messages.

New Chat Emoticons

gmail emoticons If you enjoy adding emoticons to your IMs then you will be happy to learn that Gmail now has 19 emoticons that you can use. Some of the emoticons you can add to your Gmail chat messages include: <3 (love) :(|) (it's a monkey!) and :P (face with tongue out). In order for the new emoticons to work, both people involved in the chat need to be using Gmail chat. (If you're new to emoticons, just turn your head sideways and everything will become clear.)

Get Gmail from Other Accounts

Gmail has added to features especially to better fit the mobile lifestyle people now have. One change that they have implemented is to allow people to access up to five different email accounts from their Gmail account. To use this option will need to enter the POP3 account address for each account you want to access via your Gmail account. This allows you to pull mail from your other POP3-based inboxes and read everything in your Gmail account. That's handy if you have ISP email accounts that can't be forwarded to another address. Use this feature, and pull it all together under the Gmail unbrella. Gmail also allows you to customize your "From" address so that when you send emails from your Gmail account it will look like it came from the POP3 account that you want.

Virus Scanning

Safety is another topic the Gmail addressed in these recent updates. Now, like most other email accounts, they offer automatic virus scanning. Their new virus scanning program automatically scans both incoming and outgoing messages that have attachments. If a virus is detected in an incoming message, Gmail will try to clean the virus from the email. If it is successful you will get your message, if the virus can't be removed you will received an error message. If the Gmail virus scanning program detects a virus in one of the emails that you are trying to send you will get an error message, the system will not try to remove it.

gmail phishing warning

Gmail also has anti-phishing built-in, so if you get a bogus message that looks like it's from eBay, PayPal, your bank or the IRS, you'll get a warning that it might not be safe to click any links contained in the message.

In addition to the above improvements, Gmail has made several others. For more information on all of the updates offered by Gmail visit the Gmail news page. Are you using any of the new Gmail features? Is there something missing from Gmail that you want to see? Post a comment below if you want to rant, rave or ask a question about Gmail...

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Most recent comments on "Gmail - New Features"

Posted by:

Charlie W.
30 Aug 2008

Hi Bob, You write,"It would be nice if Gmail would simply not mark an incoming message as Spam, when the sender is in my address book. What about it, Google Guys?"

But this is already true, and has been for quite a while on Gmail. Actually, when you are looking at a message in the spam folder, there's a pulldown that offers "add to my contacts" just for this reason.


Additionally, this Gmail help page --

-- even states that simply *unmarking* a message as spam will automatically add the sender to your contacts.

There is a small exception to this rule -- whenever the TO and FROM headers are identical and the message is not authenticated. This could affect a legit email from a listed contact if that person was using the ol' BCC technique to send to you and others on a list. But if the message is TO you and FROM a contact in your Gmail address book, it won't ever go to the spam folder.

All of that said, it is nice to have the new feature -- I use it to filter on tags in the subject line so that mail sent to a Yahoo Group will not go to my spam folder. I sure don't want to add a thousand group members to my contacts to keep their occasional messages from false-positiving to spam! Thanks for your great web pages!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Charlie, thanks for the imformative post. I understand that having a FROM address in your address list can help, but I get stuff sent to my Spam folder EVERY DAY where the sender is a known contact. There must be other factors that come into play.

Posted by:

03 Sep 2008

In my other email accounts, I send myself zipped, self-extracting archives for reasons of data security in case of, for example, a house fire. Gmail doesn't allow this as it sees such files as threats. I would prefer to be warned, but left to make up my own mind about it, rather than cop the heavy handed approach taken by Google.

EDITOR'S NOTE: How about plain ZIP files, instead of the EXE format?

Posted by:

03 Sep 2008

It's nice to hear that there are some spiffy new features in Gmail, but I wouldn't use Gmail no matter what features it had.

Why? Because Google has the reputation of collecting all sorts of information from users (with or without permission) and using it for whatever Google wants to use it for. I wouldn't trust Google with any information I wouldn't want published on the front pages of the world's major newspapers.

In an age when identity theft is the fastest growing crime I want to be sure that nobody but the intended recipient has access to my email. I's not possible. But my ISP is a whole lot more secure than Google is!

EDITOR'S NOTE: I wonder why you trust your ISP more than Google. These accusations you've made about Google collecting and using personal information are nothing more than the rantings of self-important privacy pundits, repeated as fact by people who are frightened by the stories. Here's a challenge -- give me a link to a *credible* news story where Google is found to have misused or abused any individual's privacy.

Posted by:

04 Sep 2008

To me G mail is the best thing since sliced bread for reasons you have eloquently, if not elegantly, pointed out Bob.

Barney's post regarding the vague allegation of Google collecting all sorts of private information is merely a symptom of the growing Tin Foil Hat brigade which seem to think that 'they' (aliens perhaps?)have extended their clandestine activities from anal to email probing.

Been a tacit fan of yours for as long as I can remember. You are a legend and if there was somewhere I could nominate you for and an award of selflessly helping us great unwashed I would do so in a heartbeat.

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Gmail - New Features (Posted: 30 Aug 2008)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved