Learn the Secrets of Gmail Labs
Over half a billion people use Gmail, but only a few know the secret that you'll learn today. Buried deep in Gmail’s settings is a playpen called Gmail Labs. It’s a place for the adventurous, the curious, the geeky, and everyday users who like to try new things. If you like to push the envelope until the bubble pops (and the metaphors mix), then come check out Gmail Labs...
Venturing Into the Gmail Laboratory
Google is constantly experimenting with new features for Gmail. Gadgets that activate these features in your Gmail account are listed on the Labs tab in the Gmail Settings that can be accessed by clicking on the gear icon in the upper-right corner of your Inbox page, underneath your profile picture.
The first thing to note is the "rescue link" at the end of the general description of Labs. Keep in mind that Labs are experimental features and Gmail warns that they may "change, break or disappear at any time." So I suggest you bookmark that link. If any of the Labs gadgets misbehaves, or just can't load your inbox, clicking that link will deactivate all gadgets and set you right again. Don’t worry about losing mail, none of the gadgets modifies the content of your email. But don't worry too much, I've tried LOTS of them over the years and never once had a problem.
There is a search box for finding Labs gadgets by keyword(s), but it’s really unnecessary. The list of all available Labs gadgets is not very long; there are only 19 as of this writing. That number will change as experiments are added and abandoned. If a Labs gadget is popular enough, Google will usually add it to the base code so that all Gmail users have the feature without having to venture into the experimental world of Labs.
When you find a gadget you want to try, just click the “enable” radio button next to it. Your Gmail Inbox page will reload with the new feature installed. If you decide you don't like the new feature, just return to the Labs tab via Settings to disable a gadget.
The utility of Labs gadgets is in the eye of the beholder. Some people really want to know how many unread messages they have to plow through; there’s a gadget that tells you at a glance, for any and all tabs you may have on your main Gmail page. Other people are fussy about the arrangement of sidebars, chat windows, and other furnishings; there are gadgets that do nothing more (or less) than change the way Gmail looks. Here are some of my favorite power user Labs gadgets:
A Few of My Favorite
Undo Send might be the most popular feature ever added to any email service. You get a few seconds after hitting the “send” button to change your mind and cancel sending of an email.
Apps Search extends Gmail’s search beyond email items to encompass content stored in Google Docs and Google Sites (Google’s free web-hosting and site-building service). Search results from these Google Apps sources appear at the bottom of the Gmail search results page, after matching Gmail items are listed.
The Google Calendar gadget adds a box to the left column of Gmail, showing events, appointments, and other Calendar items while you are in mail-processing mode.
Authentication Icon for Verified Senders can help you avoid being fooled by con artists who send fake emails. Widely known, high-volume email senders such as eBay and Paypal embed digital certificates in their mail, informing Gmail and other email services what to do with mail from their servers that lacks certificates. This gadget displays an icon next to verified authentic email.
Google Maps Preview displays any street addresses found in an email on a small Google Map.
Adding the Google Voicemail Player in your Gmail inbox lets you listen to voicemail while reading those hilarious mistranslations of it.
Quick Links is a handy tool for saving frequent Gmail searches. A new box in the left column of Gmail will give you 1-click access to all emails from your sister that mention her cats. If you don't have a sister, or your sister loves dogs, you'll figure out what to do.
Google wants your help on improving Gmail. That’s why Labs gadgets are provided for you to play with, and why there’s a “feedback” button beside each gadget. Give Labs a try and tell Google what you like, dislike, and what you want to see in the future of Gmail.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 24 Nov 2014
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Learn the Secrets of Gmail Labs (Posted: 24 Nov 2014)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved