9 Google Lab features to enhance your Gmail

If you are a Gmail user, I suppose you are already aware of the Labs link in the Settings page of your Gmail which lets you add features and functionality to Gmail. Some of the features are quite useful while others you can definitely live without. Of course, it is purely a matter of opinion, and each user has his/her own idea of what is useful and what is not.

As of writing this post, there are a total of 43 Labs features available. Out of the lot, here are the ones that I believe could prove useful and might be worth enabling.

1. Tasks – Tasks adds a to-do list to Gmail. It is a very simple tool with no bells and whistles. But assuming that you would be checking your mail several times a day, it would be easy to keep track of your tasks and not forget them.

2. Quick Links – This adds a box to the left column that gives you 1-click access to any bookmarkable URL in Gmail. You can use it for saving frequent searches, important individual messages and more.

3. Custom keyboard shortcuts – Gmail has a great set of keyboard shortcuts that can keep your hands off the mouse and save you quite a bit of time. But if for some reason you are not happy with the default shortcuts, then enabling Labs feature, lets you customise keyboard shortcut mappings. Once enable a new Settings tab will appear called ‘Keyboard Shortcuts, from which you can remap keys to various actions.

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4. Navbar drag and drop – This feature allows you to re-order the items in your navbar using drag and drop. So, depending on your needs at any point of time, you can drag a particular item and place it at the top of the list, so that you can keep and eye on it while checking your new mails.

5. Forgotten Attachment Detector – If you one of the forgetful types who frequently sends a mail without the attachment (when you should have), then this feature is a must for you. Enabled, this feature prompts you if you mention attaching a file, but forgot to do so. But be warned that this feature is not foolproof. Sometimes Gmail fails to detect your ‘mention’ of a file attachment. Still, even if it works 50% of the time, you gain.

6. Mark as Read Button – Tired of spending all that effort to click on the More Actions menu every time you want to mark messages as read without reading them? Now just enable this label and that is just a button click away. Of course, you could also use the default shortcut ‘Shift+i’ (or I), if you have keyboard shortcuts enabled.

7. Multiple Inboxes – This feature adds extra lists of emails in your Inbox to see even more important email at once. The new lists of threads can be labels, your starred messages, drafts or any search you want, configurable under Settings. For instance, if you have a created a label to include your most important mails, then you can have them show up in a separate pane. You can add up to 5 additional panes.

8. Undo Send – There are probably a bunch of things in your life that you wish you could undo, but cannot. However, the next time you send a mail to someone but instantly realize that you shouldn’t have, you can undo your action and prevent the mail from being sent. After enabling the feature, Gmail shows an “undo” link whenever you send a message. If keyboard shortcuts are enabled in your Gmail account, a better option than clicking on “undo” is to press “z.” But you have only about 5 seconds to undo. It is debatable whether 5 seconds is enough for you to realize whether the message you sent was a mistake. When you undo the sending of a mail, Gmail saves it as a draft and you can continue editing the message or discard it.

9. Google Calendar gadget – Enabling this feature adds a box in the left column which shows your Google Calendar letting you quickly see upcoming events, locations and details.

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