Top 10 Gmail Labs Add-ons to Increase Your Productivity

For quite a while, Google has been releasing add-on features for a good number of their web applications. Gmail, Calendar and Reader all have several user selectable features. Links to these experimental add-ons can be found on the Google Labs page. Not all of the add-ons are perfect, but they are kid tested and mother approved.

Here is a quote about the Labs add-ons from the top of the Gmail Labs page:

“Gmail Labs is a testing ground for experimental features that aren’t quite ready for primetime. They may change,break or disappear at any time.

If (when) a Labs feature breaks, and you’re having trouble loading your inbox, there’s an escape hatch. Use”

I apparently have nothing better to do with my time than add fancy features to my Gmail. I’ll go ahead and save you the time of figuring out which of the Gmail Labs add-ons you should head for and give you the top 10 to get you started.

1. Send and Archive

This add on is great if, for example, you send a group email. Even if you have the original message in a folder and labeled, replies will often show up in your inbox. Instead of clicking on the send button when you send a follow up reply, click the Send and Archive button. Doing this will remove the message thread from your inbox making it viewable in the labeled folder.


2. Mark as Read Button

You would think this is a feature that was built in from the start, but it wasn’t. Having this button will let you batch mark all of the selected emails as read. Big time saver if you don’t want to open them all individually.


3. Hide Unread Counts

I don’t use this one anymore because I worked out a good system for automating most of my incoming emails. This feature, however, is a good one for people who leave everything in their inbox, yet hate knowing how many unread messages you are ignoring.


4. Canned Responses

Think of canned responses like a vacation or out of office reply. You can have this pre-thought out reply sent to anyone with selected keyword, email address, in response to an ad you posted or in reply to the contact form on your site. When setting up your filter(s), one of the actions you can select is to send a canned response.


5. Mail Goggles

If you are have poor math skills when you are not tired or haven’t been drinking, this add-on should probably be avoided. Here is how Mail Goggles works. If you try to send an email during a user specified time period, say 10 PM to 4 AM, you will be asked to do a 3 simple math problems. This may seem simple enough. If you get the problems wrong, the email is saved to your Drafts folder instead.


When basic addition and subtraction seem like quantum physics, it may be a good indicator you need to catch a couple hours sleep. Odds are your seemingly well crafted email, is probably not quite ready to be sent.


6. Text Messaging (SMS) in Chat

Sending a quick SMS is a nice little addition to the mini chat gadget in your Gmail navigation bar. When you hover over the contact you wish to SMS, a pop up box appears. In the “More” drop down is an option to send an SMS. If the person signs into to Gtalk, you have an option to toggle to chat. This keeps the previous conversation in the same window.

The SMS feature is currently for USA phones only.


7. Navbar Drag and Drop

Drag all of the widgets in the left sidebar to the order that makes sense to you.

8. Undo Send

How many times have you wanted to unsend an email because you forgot to add a file. Maybe you said something you instantly regret saying. This little gem gives you the chance you to unsend the email for up to 10 seconds after you sent it. You CAN actually take your words back.


9. Offline

If you activate this add-on, Gmail will place an optional shortcut icon on your Desktop. Each time you open up Gmail while you have an active internet connection, Offline will sync your email to your computer. You will have access to the majority of the features you need like composing, reading, searching, moving things into folder, etc.  You obviously can’t send or receive new emails if you do not have a network connection. When you reconnect, all of your changes are synced and composed emails are sent.


10. Filter Import/Export

Exporting all of the filters you have worked hard to create is just plain smart. Imagine having to redo all of them over again, one by one. I have about 40 filters so this is a huge time saver if anything were to happen. After you export the XML file, you can email it to yourself for safe keeping.


For those of you who aren’t using any of the additional 50+ add-on features Gmail has to offer… shame on you! Don’t you know there are needy people using Hotmail that would love to have what you have?

How have you personalized your Gmail inbox?


  1. The best Lab addon is Inserting Images, which allows you to insert images into a message body without attaching the image.

  2. well why cant they have something as basic as “reply in another color”?

    everytime you gotta write inline replies, you gotta keep changing the font color of your additions manually. that is so tedious, compared to outlook!

    gmail, maybe its time to focus on some more useful addons than the o-cho-chweet ones.


    bug in site:
    when i tried to add a comment, it told im “logged in as Damien Oh” for some reason. had to log out and come back.
    plus no scrollbars in comment box.
    Buggy site.

  3. I”d have to say, my personal favorite is Undo Send. This one has saved me many times. Another one I use pretty often, but I didn’t mention, is the Calendar gadget. Its handy to have it right there and not on a separate page sometimes.

  4. I’ve attempted to use Anatol P’s «Navbar Drag and Drop» to place my selection of widgets before my hundreds of labels, but no dice – in my experience this cannot be done as labels are not considered a separate widget, but an intergral part of Gmail’s left panel. The odd thing is that previous to the latest Gmail user interface update, labels, which after all tend to be rather many and increase in number with time, were placed at the bottom – or rather near the bottom, just above «Invites». At present the only thing one can do to gain access to one’s widgets without scrolling down a long list isto hide labels, but that I’d find far too inconvenient, as I find myself clicking on the list many times a day. I’d really like to see labels constructed as a widget, so that they could be moved around on the left panel according to the needs of the individual user, or, failing that, that they be placed at the bottom of the panel, so that users can access their widgets without scrolling through the list….


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