Posted: 16 Apr 2009 07:34 AM PDTGmail, without a doubt, is the only email application that keeps on innovating and adding new features. The introduction of Gmail Labs in June last year was a significant move in this direction and since then, it has added some amazing features which make working with the web interface of Gmail an absolute bliss.
Most of the Labs features are aimed at increasing your productivity when you are reading and answering emails. I have listed ten of them which are my personal favorites and I am sure the productivity nuts among you would waste no time in enabling them.
Go To Label
For someone like me who has a long list of labels, this feature is a godsend. I just have to enable keyboard shortcuts in the settings and then whenever I wish to go to a particular label, I need to press "g" and then "l". Then, I type in the label name, press enter and that's it.
The best thing - it auto-completes the label name as you type. A huge time saver.
Mark As Read Button
Probably the simplest of Labs' features, but a very useful one. Gmail by default doesn't have a 'mark as read' button. It's there in a drop down menu. Once you enable this feature in Labs, it places a separate button for mark as read and hence saves you time when you need to quickly mark emails as read.
If you get a lot of notification emails each day which you don't need to read by opening then this feature is for you. Sure it saves just 2-3 seconds but they do add up over a period of time.
One of the coolest features in Labs. It helps you divide your main Gmail interface into separate boxes which could contain emails of your choice. For more on how to implement it, read this blog entry.
It uses Google Gears to store a local cache of your email. If you lose the internet connection, you could still work in the email and when you come online again, all the things get synchronized with the Gmail servers.
Another exceptional feature. I am sure every one of you have regretted sending certain emails. With this feature, you won't have to regret again; but you need to be quick. The Undo button appears only for five seconds. That's the time you've got to take action.
This feature helps you to search your Gmail more efficiently. As the name suggests, enabling this feature would bring autocomplete to your Gmail search box which helps you to get to search results quickly.
Forgotten Attachment Detector
Like the Undo Send feature, this is also aimed at avoiding embarrassment and doing the right thing the first time. It alerts you when you try to send an email whose body has something written about attaching a file but doesn't have an attached file.
Right Side Labels/Chat
If you don't work on those big 30-inch monitors then this feature should help you prevent scrolling down each time to take a look at your labels or the chat list.
Right Side Labels and Right Side Chat are listed as two separate features in Gmail. Hence you could move either of them to the right side of your Gmail.
This is another wonderful feature. Here's what Gmail team has to say about it.
" Quick Links allows you to create a shortcut to any bookmarkable URL in Gmail. Just click "Add Quick Link" to save a link to the page you are currently viewing. You can then jump to that page any time with one click. For example, you can add a link to a draft email where you keep your to do list, or an email with your frequent flyer information. You can also save a common Gmail search by conducting the search (let's say for "is:unread" -- which brings up all your unread mail) and then clicking "Add Quick Link."
Last but by no means the least, Canned Responses is a feature for those who get a huge number of emails everyday, most of which need a similar one line reply. Save those replies in Canned Responses and you don't need to type them again. You could even create filters which automatically reply certain emails with a canned response you've saved for the purpose.
Apart from the aforementioned features, there are many more cool features in Gmail Labs. If you want to stay up-to-date with what's new in Labs then I'd suggest you to subscribe to the Gmail blog.