Google Introduces New Productivity-Boosting Features in Gmail


Gmail Labs has been busy lately, it would seem, and has introduced a number of new features for the web-based email service that have me, once again, considering going back to it (I generally use my MobileMe account, because it allows me to sync across my Macs and my iPhone and iPod Touch). These new features are generally useful for anyone, but they can also add to a web worker’s productivity, especially if you use your Gmail account for both private and professional correspondence.


First up, there’s a feature I know I’ve wished I had many, many times. And generally, when I found myself wanting it, my career was somehow involved. Basically, Gmail now has a take-back button for undoing a “Send” command. It actually holds the email for five seconds after you’ve pressed the send button, so it can’t actually reach out and steal a sent email back from the receiving server, but that five seconds is often all I need to realize that I’ve forgotten an important attachment in a client-facing email.

picture-22They’ve also added new preview features for a variety of services. This might not seem like a big thing either, but the cumulative time-savings the previews offers amount to a potentially significant productivity boost. Gmail now automatically detects YouTube, Picasa, and Flickr links, and also Yelp reviews, and gives you the ability to preview the associated content without leaving the page or opening a new tab or browser window.

In all cases, that means you no longer have to go clicking links and possibly getting lost along the way when dealing with these kind of potentially distracting emails. Yelp integration is especially handy if you’re trying to set up a lunch meeting or sales call, as long as all parties are using Gmail.

picture-13These new features aren’t enabled by default, so if you want to take advantage of them, go into your Settings and activate the options under the Labs tab. They’re available now for all users, including Google Apps account holders.

What are your favorite Gmail Labs features?


Simon Mackie

@Bob I haven’t seen that, but it sounds nifty. I like the simple things that Google does to make life a little easier.

Bob Roberts

Has anyone else noticed the “auto FedEx tracking” on the right side pane? I once got an email that had a FedEx tracking number that was just the number and not a link. Gmail seemed to decipher it and place a tracking link in a separate column for me. Pretty cool.

Ken Gordon

Gmail still, though, suffers from the dreaded “on behalf of” problem discussed at great and increasingly ill-tempered length here.

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