Gmail’s offering is one of the best available. Its simplicity coupled with its minimal interface make it a favorite amongst geeks and newbies alike. However, users need not feel constrained by Gmail’s simplistic interface as they can easily enable enhanced features provided by Google through “Google Labs” or from third-party sources through “Gadgets“. In this article I will outline some of my favourite Gadgets.
On a default Gmail account, Gadgets will be disabled. To enable it first select “Settings” from the Gmail home page after you have logged in.
This opens up Gmail’s settings page, here select “Labs“.
Finally, check the enable box alongside the “Add any gadget by URL” box and then select “Save Changes“.
To add a gadget, head over to the “Gadgets” tab and paste the URL of the gadget into the box.
Now let us add some fun and useful third-party gadgets.
Twitter users can be fanatical about keeping up with their tweets. In this respect the TwitterGadget is ideal because it takes up little space and simply displays the latest tweets from those you follow.
Gadget URL: http://www.twittergadget.com/gadget_gmail.xml
If you prefer Facebook, then be sure to add the gBook Facebook gadget which helps you keep track of all the status updates and notifications.
3. Remember the Milk
Remember the Milk is a useful web service to help keep your life in order. There are mobile and desktop apps and now you can even add a RTM gadget to Gmail itself to ensure you don’t miss an important appointment.
The gadget allows you to add tasks, view your upcoming tasks, and delete completed tasks.
4. Wikipedia Search
Wikipedia holds the collective knowledge of virtually every person on the internet and now you can tap this database of information straight from Gmail by adding the Official Wikipedia Gadget.
Gadget URL: http://www.google.com/ig/modules/wikipedia.xml
5. Google Map Search
I have lost count of the number of times I have received an email from someone with an address that I need to look-up on Google Maps. With the Google Map Search gadget you do not have to navigate away from Gmail when doing your location search.
The gadget is a very basic version of Maps, lacking some of its newer features.
6. Bit.ly URL Shortener
At times some of the links friends share with us become too unwieldy to forward. In these cases simply shorten the link using the Bit.ly URL shortener gadget.
No-one really has a physical calculator on their person, but it is often necessary to resort to one when large figures are involved. The Calculator gadget is a simple one that gets the job done.
Gadget URL: http://www.poturi.net/gadgets/calc/calc.xml
There are hundreds of different gadgets around the web. Some web services (such as Remember the Milk) have created their own and supply you with a URL. If you want other gadgets have a look at the iGoogle gadgets directory. To add a gadget from the iGoogle gadgets directory navigate to a gadget of your choice and copy everything after the “url=” tag in the address bar. For example, the Official Wikipedia Gadget for iGoogle has the following URL:
To add this gadget to Gmail simply copy the portion after “url=”, i.e.:
And paste it into the gadget URL box in Gmail.
Image credit: Claude