Gmail is inarguably the best web based email service in the world. We, at Make Tech Easier, use Gmail for all our email communication needs and have never felt the need to rethink on the decision.
Google is also famous for their developer friendly culture and one of the offshoots of that is the 20% time that the developers are allowed to work on side projects that aren’t directly related to their products. Some of those features make it to the public and the Gmail Labs is an example of that. These are experimental features that the Gmail team doesn’t consider ready for prime time yet but they still release it for their users to use and benefit from them, at their own risk. None of these features will harm you or gobble up your email but they’re just not as polished at Google would want them to be.
To enable the Labs features, you need to log-in to your Gmail account, click on the Settings link and select the Labs tab. Select the Add-ons that you want by checking the “Enable/Disable” radio button and click the Save Changes button.
With all that theory behind us, let’s dive into some of the Add-ons that I recommend.
1. Right Side Chat
This add-on puts the Gmail chat box on the right of your inbox and is an absolutely must have for anyone who wants to use their on screen real estate efficiently. Another bonus is that you no longer see the advertisements on the right when you’re reading an email.
2. Advanced IMAP controls
If you use IMAP to access your Gmail account, do yourself a favor and enable this extension. This lets you select labels that you want to see via IMAP, Turn off messaging expunging and trash messages as soon as they’re deleted from IMAP. Very useful extension, if you ask me.
3. Canned Responses
If you’re one of those people who like to reply to emails in terse one liners or if you’re Steve Jobs, enable this extension. You get the ability to save your own Canned Responses and use them when replying to/composing an email instead of typing out the same thing everytime. Real timesaver.
4. Create a document
Have you ever felt the need to add some information from an email to a document that you need to make? Do you do this often ? If the answer to both the questions is yes, I’d suggest that you enable this extension that lets you create a Google Docs document straight from your email.
5. Custom Keyboard shortcuts
Gmail already supports a large number of keyboard shortcuts and for the Unix nerds among us, those shortcuts just make sense. If you’re not a Unix or Emacs guy and really wished that you could somehow remap the shortcut keys, use this add-on that lets you do exactly that.
6. Default ‘Reply to All’
This is for all those corporate types who love to mark a hundred people on an email and then always use ‘Reply to All’ on every email. This add-on makes ‘Reply to All’ as the default option for replying to emails. Isn’t this fun ?
7. Multiple Inboxes
I’ll admit first hand that this is one extension that I haven’t tried myself because of the simple reason that I don’t need it, yet. But, if you are someone who deals with hundreds of emails everyday and would like to have quick access to emails from multiple labels, then you should use it. You can also have a search term as one of your inboxes. Very useful extension for the email ninjas among.
8. Quote selected text
This is an extension that I personally find very useful. I reply to a lot of emails everyday and, often, I have to quote a part of an email when replying. Using this extension I just select the part of the email that I want to quote in the reply and hit the reply button. Voila ! Only the part that I selected will be quoted.
9. Google calendar gadget
If you use Google Calendar, chances are that you live your life by it. Most of us anyway swear by email, so why not combine the two ? Enable this extension to display your Google Calendar alongside your email.
So, these were some of my favorite Labs features. Do you use any of these features ? Which ones are your favorite?