3 experimental Gmail features you need right now

Oh Gmail!  How can anyone seriously feel any antipathy against this super capable web application?  Sure it’s owned by Google but so what?  If you’re one of those people who avoids Gmail because of privacy issues then let me tell you straight:  Avoiding Gmail won’t get Google off your back.

Google probably already knows everything about you anyway so you might as well acquiesce and get on team Google.

If you’re already on team Google then I’ve got some goodies for you.

Today I’m going to show you three experimental Gmail features that you need to turn on immediately.  These settings aren’t standard though so if it razzels (I just made that word up) your inbox you can always reset them by clicking this safe link:

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?labs=0

Most people don’t know about the stuff I’m about to show you but after you check these out you’ll be part of a exclusive coterie of insiders with Gmail secrets that people would die for.

Okay, I’m being dramatic but who cares.  Come inside to see what I’m talking about.

Just a decade ago I was a fairly immature person.

If someone at work made me mad, especially over email, I would often just bang out an angry reply, full of invective, designed to let that person know exactly how I felt.  Telling off your brother is one thing but your boss is another.

Yeah, don’t hit send.  Just open a draft, type it out and hit Save.  It’ll save both your career and your dignity.

But anyway, being the impetuous, emotionally immature man that I was, I remember shooting an incendiary email to a coworker at IBM.

Seconds after clicking send I gulped… no I gasped… no I choked! <cough>

I realized that I shouldn’t have done that but now it was too late.  The email was racing through the interwebs at lightspeed and would land in my adversaries inbox in seconds.

Stupid stupid stupid.

1. Undo Send

If you’re using Gmail (and you have a mercurial or impetuous personality) the first thing you absolutely need to do is enable Undo Send.

Honesty I don’t know why this isn’t enabled by default.

When you turn it on you’ll have a full 10 seconds to contemplate whether telling off your boss was worth it.  After that it’s too late.

To change the send cancellation period to 5, 20 or 30 seconds go to your General settings and scroll down midway to the Undo Send option.

Using Undo Send in Gmail

Enable it and scroll down to Save

2. View previews

How large is your monitor?  Monitors are getting bigger and bigger these days but few web applications effectively use all that space.  I actually have dual 27 inch displays but even if yours are smaller than mine you can still benefit from seeing a preview pane in your emails.

Did you know you can make Gmail feel a little more like Outlook?

Watch this.

Go to back to your Gmail settings (it’s the little gear icon in the upper right corner of the browser) and click the Labs tab that runs along the top options bar.

Google Labs Tab

Now scroll down until you see Preview Pane.

Gmail preview pane

Click Enable then scroll down to the very bottom and click the Save Changes button.

Now if you go back to your inbox everything will look exactly as it did before.

What gives?

Well, we need to tell Gmail how we want the preview pane to appear.

In the upper right corner butted up against the Settings icon you’ll see a new icon that looks like four stacked horizontal lines.  Clicking that lets you pick how your split layout.

Setting Gmail to a horizontal preview pane

Horizontal for Outlook fans or Vertical for tablet aficionados.

Either way should make it easier to read your emails and consequently become more productive.

Setting Gmail to a vertical preview pane

3. Google Maps Previews in Mail

Are you seeing a theme here?  It’s all about the previews!

Google Map previews is simply kickass.

How many times have you received an email from someone with an address in the signature and then had to copy and paste it into Google Maps?  Or maybe your friend sent you directions to see a Broadway play but now you’re copying and pasting text from Gmail into Google maps.

That’s so… so…

Year 2014.

It’s 2015 and now you don’t have to do anything silly like that.  Actually this feature is over four years old… but I just discovered it today so let’s just pretend like it’s sparkling and new.

After enabling this feature, all properly formatted United States addresses will have a little Map Preview section appear in your inbox.  If you live outside of the US (many of my readers do) let me know what you see.

I didn’t test this for anything other than the US so can you help me with that?

The address has to be properly formatted for it to work.  I tested this without a zipcode and didn’t get the preview button.  Zipcode required.

Enabling Google Maps in Gmail messages

The Bottom Line

So there you have it.

Three tips to galvanize your Gmail experience.

  • Undo Send
  • Message Previews
  • Map Previews

How many did you already know about?  Do you use any others that I didn’t mentioned?  Talk to me in the comments below!

I’m out!

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Posted in Google Chrome, Mobile, Web Browsers Tagged with: , ,