As I’ve said before, Google loves to innovate. They have a staff of brainiacs that does nothing but think of new ideas and how they can be implemented. In fact, they create so many ideas that it gets difficult to implement them all. In order to regulate the flow of the think tank, Google has created a Labs section for Gmail. On your mail screen, click on the Settings icon and select Mail Settings, then you’ll see an option for Labs. This area contains some of the better ideas that have came through the pipeline. Features in the Labs section can enhance email functionality and save a lot of time. Here’s my 6 favorite:
#1 – Custom Keyboard Shortcuts
Reconfigure the keyboard shortcuts to do your bidding! Hit “N” to create a new email, ! to mark as spam…you can set any function to use any key you wish. Once I turned this the feature on, I found it hard to live without.
#2 – Canned Responses
I get tired of saying the same thing over and over and over again. The same questions get asked daily, and I send out the same responses daily. If only these responses could be generated automatically. It turns out they can! Enable Canned Responses and you can create standard responses to those pesky emails, saving you time and sanity. Reply, click to insert, and you’re done. Awesome time saver.
#3 – Google Calendar Gadget
Normally your calendar and email are on separate screens. This doesn’t have to be! Enable the Google Calendar in Labs and you will have access to your calendar and schedule on the same page as your email screen. It makes coordinating meetings via email much easier.
#4 – Google Maps preview
This is really cool. Turn on Google Maps Preview in Labs, and if someone sends you an address via email, it will automatically generate a map for you. Even cooler is if you read the email on a smartphone, you can automatically feed this map into your phone’s GPS and it will give you turn-by-turn directions to get there. It’s almost impossible to get lost anymore!
#5 – SMS in Chat
Admit it — sending a text message from your phone is a big pain. You use spelling that would get your hands slapped in 3rd grade, you have to fumble around on a tiny keyboard, deal with your contact list…it ain’t easy. I’ve recently enabled SMS in Labs, and now I can send text messages directly from my email screen. All it requires is your Contacts to have a cell phone number listed. Can’t recommend this enough.
#6 – Unsend Mail