Gmail Labs


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I think everyone I know has a Gmail account. Do you use it? Do you like it? If so… why? I’m interested in hearing your responses.

If you’re not familiar with the Labs feature, it’s something that will extend the capabilities of your Gmail account. Jamie submitted a top five list of Labs tips and features. I wanted to pass them along to you. Jamie has tried almost every Lab script there is, and compiled the following list of what he feels are the five best ones that you should be using.

  • Title Tweaks – This moves the “Inbox (n)” element of the page title to the front, meaning that when you have lots of tabs open you can still see when new emails come in. I’ve found this to be really handy as it means I no longer have the title “Google Mail” taking up space unnecessarily in my tabs… and I don’t have to open a tab/window to see if I have any new email. Really simple, but very helpful when you’ve right-clicked a number of links into new tabs.
  • Old Snakey – Email can be, and often is, dull. Sometimes it’s nice to distract ourselves with a simple game to take our mind off things for a couple of minutes. Old Snakey does exactly that. As long as you have keyboard shortcuts enabled pressing Shift + 7 (= & – which sort of resembles a snake, I guess!) will open up a simple game of Snake right inside your email window. No pop-ups, no new windows or tabs – and you can still see your inbox right behind the game. It’s an excellent stress reliever during the course of your day, as well.
  • Remove Labels from Subjects – This one is especially useful if, like me, you have a netbook with a small screen that you often use to check your email. This script hides the labels from the subject line, meaning that not only can you see more of the subject and snippet of an email, but also the subjects are properly aligned with each other – not zigzagging like they are when labels are enabled. I found that before using this script I’d started to almost ignore the subject completely, instead I was paying more attention to who an email was from and the labels it’d been assigned by my filters.
  • Inbox Preview – Inbox preview shows a static list of the emails in your inbox as Gmail is loading. Whilst Gmail is usually very fast to load, this allows me to see if I’ve got any new email immediately, and even provides a “Sign Out” link if I should decide there’s no need to go any further. This might also be useful to those that have Chat turned on in Gmail, and want to check their email quickly without popping up as “Available” in Chat. If there’s nothing that demands your attention, just sign out.
  • Mark as Read Button – I’m constantly marking email as read without actually opening them up. Notifications from sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube often don’t actually need to be read, but I still prefer to have them sent to my inbox as unread just in case. Of course, Gmail has had the “Mark as read” feature since the beginning, but this has always been hidden away in the “More Actions” menu. This script adds this option as a button next to “Delete”, so I can quickly clean my inbox of those emails that I don’t need to read. This Labs feature gets the number one spot not because of how amazingly technical or clever it is, but simply because it’s almost certainly the feature that I use the most.

If you’re using Gmail Labs, what are your favorites? Do you find that they are fun – or functional? Do they make your email experience better? Let’s hear what you have to say.

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