Gmail Labs

Gmail Labs - answered by Matt Cutts

Matt's answer:

CUTTS: Hello again. This is Matt Cutts and I wanted to talk to you about the Gmail labs that I like to use. I made a John Q Public account, so I would be completely assured that this would only be gmail labs that the general public could see, not that they are available only to Googlers. And I thought I’d walk through gmail labs, how to turn it on, and the labs that I like to turn on. If you click on settings from the gmail tab, you’ll see that–all the way to the right, you’ll see over here labs, and once you turn on even a single lab, for example, let’s turn on offline gmail and click save changes, now when you go back to your inbox, you’ll see a little beaker that says one lab’s feature is enable and you can see the offline 0.2 as well. So you can click on this little beaker and it will take you back to labs, the beaker is like, you know, experimental sort of stuff. So let’s just look through gmail labs and see what I like to have on. Offline gmail is very handy. It’s gotten better recently, for example, if you’re going to go on a plane, you can often do email for about 4 or 5 hours, and then as soon as you get within a Wi-Fi connection, it will automatically synch all the stuff that’s in your outbox will just whoosh, go off to–to other people, so that’s often very, very handy. YouTube previews in mail, I also like, because if somebody sends me a link to YouTube video, I can see the thumbnail right there and see what’s its going to look like. Picasa previews, yap, yap, turn that on. Flickr previews, yup, yup, sure why not. I don’t really turn on Yelp because people don’t tend to send me stuff from Yelp that much. It is a great site, don’t get me wrong, but people tend not to mail me about restaurants for some reason. Message translation, I really like this one. If someone sends you email in French or Chinese, this is just a little tiny thing that it’ll say, “Translate to English.” And even if it’s a spam–like a Chinese spam or a French spam, you can see, “Oh it was a French version of a Nigerian 409 kind of letter,” which can be a lot of fun. My mom does–talks back and forth with some folks in China, and so she’ll get the letter in Chinese and can click right there and translate it into English. She finds it very, very handy. Back to Beta, gmail just come out of beta, so this adds the beta label back, you know, if you can’t stand losing your security blanket of the beta label, we’ll go ahead and leave that off because we embrace the future. Quick links, one of my favorites, definitely enable quick links. What does quick links let you do? It lets you save a link that can run anything, it can run a search, it can be a part of your inbox. So for example, I have a quick link that represents email from anyone on my team, and so if I click my team, that will run a search for the–however many engineers there are. So anyone who had emailed me, I can find out–okay, as someone–so, I’ve got my inbox, I click on my team, it will show me only the people in Web spam, that’s hugely useful. So if you want to take another good example, you can search for, you know, people who are not on, and you can give that a label like, “outside,” and then, you can save a quick link which will say, “Okay, I want to show all the people who are not sending me email from Google” so you can segment it into, you know, the tech support stuff where people who kind of email from outside Google, just your team, you can have a quick link for just your family, it’s really, really, really powerful, I highly recommend it. Superstars is fun, I don’t use it as much as I should but I enable it. If you’re a “getting things done” kind of person, it’s not just starred or unstarred. You’re able to get it like, three different colors of stars, you can give it a little yellow exclamation point or a big red exclamation point, like, “this needs to get done right now.” So that’s kind of fun to turn on. I don’t really use chat that much; I have to admit, so I haven’t turned on pictures and chat. I don’t need fix with fonts. I don’t do custom keyboard shortcuts because gmail has pretty good keyboard shortcuts already. I don’t use mouse gestures, maybe if you’re in Opera or, you know, someone who really likes mouse gestures, you might like it. I don’t really worry about signature tweaks. Random signatures, not too worried about. Sender time zone is kind of interesting but I tend to know who the people I’m talking to, where they are, so I don’t worry about that very much at all. Muzzle, old sneaky. Email addict, I probably should use because it’s good, you know, that make you take a break, but I don’t use it that much. I don’t really use right side chats. Hide unread counts, if you get stressed, knowing that you had a whole lot of email, hide unread counts will say, “oh okay, I don’t need to worry about these 428 emails that I have.” Maybe I’m a masochist, but I like to be, you know, know exactly what’s going on, so I don’t hide the unread counts, in fact, we’ll see in another lab, I like to show it right in the title, so I know exactly when I have a new email, I need to work on it. Advance IMAP Controls, oh, I haven’t seen this one before, but I don’t use that one. Canned Responses, I do use, in fact, sometimes people email around within the company and will get mixed up and will send stuff to a different Matt, so I have a canned response that says, “Did you mean to send this to another Matt?” And I have another canned response that’s like, “That’s okay, a lot of people do that with auto-complete.” So, I’ll send the first canned response and they’ll write back and say, “Oops, sorry, I didn’t mean that to send that to you, my apologies.” And I’ll send back the second canned response that’s like, “No worries, happens all the time.” Makes it a lot easier to deal with those kinds of emails, but canned response can be used for support things. So for example, if you use Google Apps for your domain, and you get, you know, a typical kind of complaint or a typical kind of piece of feedback, you could use that to say, “Thank you for your feedback, we are processing that,” then you don’t need to reply personally, you can just forward that right on to the person who can take care of it. I really like canned responses. Quote selected text, don’t really use that. Navbar drag and drop, I do use that because I like to rearrange the things that are on the left hand side, put things in a slightly different order. Mail Goggles, now that’s a neat feature. It won’t let you email until you solve some Math problems especially late at night. I try to always double check my email and I tend not to drink a lot, so I don’t use mail goggles that much. One great feature about gmail you might not know is the 5 second undo. So suppose you meant to reply to one person and say, “Ah, that Larry Page guy, he’s so silly,” and instead, you reply to the whole company. For about 5 seconds after you send that email, you’ll see a little label that says, “Undo” or you know, “Don’t send” or something like that. You just click that, and then you have not replied to the entire company, you’ve only replied to your single friend. I used that every so often, so it’s a very handy feature to know about. Forgot an attachment detector, I think I do turn that on. Vacation time, its pretty neat. You can sort of say, “I know I’m going on vacation in a month, I’ll just go ahead and set that up,” and then you’re not two minutes from walking out from vacation. You’re trying to set up your auto response and all that sort of stuff. Custom label colors, I haven’t really used that. I’m not a “getting things done” kind of guy. I might have turned that on and tweaked a few colors but it doesn’t, it didn’t make that much difference for me. Mark as read, I tend to use the keyboard shortcut, so I’ll just yank something directly, get it out of my inbox and archive it, and so I don’t really need to worry about marking things as read. Go to label, I don’t use that many labels either, which is kind of strange. Inbox preview is kind of nice. If you’re on a–for example, a dial-up connection and we’re loading all the Ajax of gmail, inbox preview will just sort of show you a little heads up of what’s going to be in your inbox while we’re loading the full gmail experience, so that’s kind of fun and sort of handy. Multiple inboxes, I played with. I don’t use it right now but it is fun. You can show, you know, different searches, so you might have searches from the outside–people from the outside world, you know, your boss, your team, so you can have your general inbox over here, and you can have different ways of looking at your inbox over on the right hand side. It’s pretty cool; I recommend that you play with it. I don’t turn it on personally, but especially if you handle a ton of email, it can be useful. Google search, yes, I always like to have a Google search box everywhere that I am. Create a document from an email, it’s kind of cool, but I tend not to use that very much. Filter import and export, yes, so filters is a really powerful feature of gmail. It lets you say, things from this mailing list just automatically archive, or something that is coming from, you know, this particular address, mark it as spam. And I like to know that I can save those filters, like an import them and export them as text files because if something crazy happens and there’s an earthquake and gmail is down, I like to know that I can just have the filters that I’ve already pre selected. Oh, this one’s fun, authentication icon for verified senders, so this is–if eBay or Paypal send a link, we will double check that it really comes from those domains, and if it does, we’ll show a little key, that’s a golden key that says, “Yes, this really is from Paypal, it’s not a phishing email.” So it started out with eBay and Paypal, and I suspect that over time, they’ll roll it out to more and more sites. But the beauty of it is that you have authenticated email, you don’t have these phishers who claim to be coming from eBay or Paypal, and they’re not really coming from Paypal. I think that’s a fantastic idea. I want the whole world to have authenticated email. I want everybody to get on to this, and just sort of get this on as many places as possible because then you wouldn’t have to worry about other people pretending to be you or, you know, phishing or anything like that. So I think that’s a fantastic gmail lab and I definitely turn that on. If I had to vote for probably one gmail lab, just one, for me, it would be send and archive. Send and archive is a fantastic lab because you send an email and if your inbox is your to do list, then you want to archive it, so it’s no longer in your view. Send and archive lets you be typing an email, you hit tab and then your focus is on send and archive. You just hit return, the message goes out into the ether, and the message gets archived, so it’s out of your inbox. In terms of reducing the number of keystrokes, I have to do to reply the email; it’s one of the best ways to take two steps and compress it down into one. So that’s a fantastic gmail lab, I used that about 500 times a day. Undo send, yes. That’s the gmail lab where you didn’t want to tell the entire company that you thought “Larry Page was silly,” highly recommended. Title tweaks, yes, I turn that on. What it does is it shows–in the title of your browser window, just how many things you have in your inbox. So if you’ve been going out for a walk, you can come back and you can quickly see without even making gmail have, you know, the main part of your window, “oh, I’ve only got 3 emails, I don’t really need to go and tackle my gmail quite yet.” So that’s a very handy gmail lab. I don’t really use suggest more recipients, maybe other people would. But I do love search auto complete. Search auto complete, essentially lets you start typing in a person’s name into the search box and it will automatically figure out, oh, this is this email address. You could also, this just recently happened to me, I was typing JP and it suggested, “has photos” and if you click on that, it will say, “Jpeg” or “Jpeg spelled out” or “P and G.” You can also start to do, you know, “has attachments” so there’s all kinds are really nice things. I hope they turn on search auto complete just like, by default for everybody. Inserting images, I turn it on but I don’t really insert that many images into my gmail, I tend to stick with text mostly. Other than the next gmail lab which is called extra emoji, so evidently in Japan they are smart enough to have like, thousands of emoticons, which is really, really cool. So sometimes, there’s a person at Google that I’ll like send a whole bunch of emoticons to and he’ll send back like 4 times as many emoticons, and you try to figure out how to turn your message into something with nothing but emoticons. They’ve got some really strange ones, they’ve got some animated ones, you know, if you’re sending out 400 business related emails, sometimes you want to blow off some steam, and just have some fun, so I do recommend extra emoji. Google calendar gadget, the two tabs, I always have open in my browser are gmail pinned all the way to the left, and Google calendar just right beside it. So having a Google calendar gadget lets you see what your next appointment is going to be, so you don’t necessarily have to go to that tab. I always have them, but I really like having the Google calendar gadget. Google box gadget, it’s worth turning on. I don’t use it that much myself, but it’s handy to have around because it’s sort of like, recent documents that you’ve used, so I always just go to docs, but if I can get into the workflow, remember to use the Google box gadget, I think I find that very useful. And then finally, you can add a gadget by any URL, I tend not to use that very much but it looks like I probably have, let’s see exactly how many labs I have turned on. I’m saving these sort of labs that they’re all stored exactly how many I’m using–oh, and I have an inbox preview while it reloads, and I mouse over it and I use a total of 22 labs. So, I’m a bit of a power user. It doesn’t hurt to turn these on. It’s not like it really slows down the experience that much. What I do love is if you work at Google, you can sometimes get to preview a few, even neat ones before the rest of the world gets to see it. So I probably run 25 maybe 30 gmail labs total. These are the ones that I use. They can make you a lot more productive and they can also make emailing a lot more fun. So, check out gmail labs. It’s definitely got some good stuff in it.

by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team


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