Most Gmail users are aware of its superior search capabilities, but there’s a whole lot more to love about this email program beyond that. Did you know it can save you from forgotten attachments or emailer’s remorse?
Read on to discover some of Gmail’s little known, but incredibly useful features. Most of these can be enabled under Gmail Labs (look for that little green beaker in the upper right corner of your browser window or go to Settings > Labs).
Forgotten Attachment Detector
We’ve all experienced the embarrassment of sending someone an email, only to get a curt response saying something to the effect of, “Great. Now, where’s that attachment?” Enabling Gmail’s “forgotten attachment detector” under labs can spare you this indignity and save you from having to send another email with the attachment (talk about a productivity killer!). It automatically scans your outgoing emails for phrases that might indicate you meant to attach a document and forgot. It will then prompt you by asking if you’d like to send as is or attach something.
Not that any of you dear readers need this feature, but just in case … Gmail labs has a feature that could prevent you from firing off a late-night email to your entire company–or to an ex. It’s called Mail Goggles. Once enabled, Mail Goggles will ask you to complete a few simple math problems to prove your sobriety before you send each message. The math equations are timed, and Mail Goggles’ default is set to turn on late at night (the assumption being that users are more likely to EUI or email under the influence then). You can change the time window to anything you want.
Similar to Mail Goggles, but perhaps more suited for emails composed in anger, is the Undo Send feature. This feature can’t actually unsend emails after they’ve gone out. Instead, once you enable this option it will hold each email for five seconds and give you the opportunity to rescind the message if you experience emailer’s remorse. So while it won’t help you make things better once you’ve made a mistake, it can buy you a few more seconds to make sure that you haven’t made one. I’ve sent a few email messages that I later regretted, so I’m sure I’m not the only person who will find this feature useful.
Wrong Recipient Detector
This handy little feature is appropriately called “Got the wrong Bob?” Based on the groups of people you email most often, it can detect when you might have inadvertently included the wrong person. For instance, if you usually email Sandy Smith and Bob Jensen together, but this time you’re emailing Sandy Smith and Bob Levy, it will point that out and given you the chance to correct it. I’ve gotten lots of email messages intended for a different Susan (and I’ve probably made this mistake myself on occasion), so I know that a lot of people could benefit from this feature. There’s a similar feature, Don’t forget Bob!, that can suggest more recipients based on the groups of people you email most often. Just don’t misuse this feature while planning a surprise for the “Bob” in your life or you might blow your cover.
For people who have spotty internet connections or carry around a laptop even when they can’t get online, Offline Gmail is a useful feature. It allows you to download a local cache of your Gmail account so you can open a browser window and access your old emails even when you can’t get online. You can also compose emails and include attachments while you’re offline. Anything you “send” while offline will be automatically sent the next time your computer connects to the internet. Google Reader has a similar mode available for reading your RSS feeds while you’re offline. In order to use Offline Gmail or Google Reader, you’ll need to download Gears, which unfortunately isn’t supported on Safari or Chrome at this time.
Do you use any of these features? Or are there other cool, useful features we missed? If you could come up with any new option in Gmail Labs, what would would it be? Leave a comment and let us know!
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