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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Wait, Google Gears is not available in Google Chrome?
I can prove that wrong since I’m using this offline cache. 😉
Well, that’s not entirely true…Gears is not available in Chrome because it is part of Google Chrome. Sort of.
So you’re both right…from a certain point of view.
The “forgot attachment” I just found out about a couple days ago. When it happened I thought “wow, that is useful.”
The offline mode I just started too, as I have heard a couple of my friends got their accounts hacked.
Thanks for the great post!!!
I’m not one for paying for big phone plans, to save on texting I use the Gmail labs SMS messenger, plugs right into Google Talk!
Just to let you know, the ‘Undo Send’ time can be extended beyond 5 seconds.
The current options are:
Once you enable ‘undo send’ from the labs, go to settings, general, and under ‘Undo Send’, you will find ‘Send cancellation period’. Select the time from here and save.
I like the Mail Goggles feature, a few friends could use it.
Personally I think the Message translation feature is great. I work with a Danish company and, although the translation is not perfect, makes easier for me to know what is going on before getting into a meeting.
I use most of those features. Very useful. I get the most use of the Forgotten Attachment Detector.
I don’t love GMAIL but I am glad to know about these features. Maybe I will learn to use it SMARTER and like it more (yes, I have a Gmail account. It’s my everything else/public inbox… but not my main email address)
Good to know! My gmail has been languishing in favor of my out-of-date Yahoo! account.
You can hook ThunderBird to your Gmail account to download all your Gmail emails ever – and clean some space on your live Gmail account. That’s how i got rid of 2gb.
I switched to gmail for 6 months ago. And i will never go back. Really love all the tips i can get on additional use to make life easier!
Is there a good Content Mgmt System to use with Gmail? Gmail does have any sort of option along those lines, do they? I’m a new a rapidly growing freelance commercial copy writing business and I am going to need an easy system that will keep me organized but not bog me down with the setup…
I personally use Google Docs, which is pretty standard with every account. Its my main source of back up for all my writing files and story ideas. I also have used it to send files to other Gmail users that are too large to send the traditional way. Its good for co-writing stories, and my husband and I use it for a shared checkbook register, since we’re both in different states right now.
Another is a feature; labels. I attach labels to emails that I want to keep, and I color code them. Then, when I want to read a few back issues of a newsletter without going to their site, I click the label and read. This is also helpful for keeping emailed payment verifications so you don’t have to print them out and waste the paper…or delete them and find out later you needed it.
Nice litte Gmail tricks. Been aware of them for years but strangely never got to using them. They’s actually useful, especially the late night one 😉
~~ Sarah ~~
WOW. I only knew about the offline feature. Are there any more goodies in Gmail that I need to know about? Keep ’em coming!
That forgotten attachment detector gets me all the time, and I’ve had to use unsend more than once. I’ve re-routed all my work addresses to gmail.
I had to help someone set up some emails with yahoo recently, and I had a new appreciation on how much gmail doesn’t suck.
The last feature is the most useful and I’m guessing it syncs all you do offline once you connect as well.
Great post, Susan! I’m going to send a link to my Get Unstuck e-course students as a little extra boost this week.
I learned about the attachment feature myself last week when I wrote “I’ve attached an invoice” but forgot to actually, er, attach it. What a cool feature!
That’s so cool. I did not know most of the features. I must enable “Forgotten Attachment Detector”. I have made the mistake of sending mails without any attachments.
G mail is a very useful one we got a lots of profit from G mail.
hey I just sent an email with a forgotten attachment and noticed the Lab didn’t kick in – when I went to Settings – the lab is now missing – anyone else notice this too? it sure is my favorite one!
I noticed it’s gone too. Can’t figure out why.
just learned it’s a standard gmail feature now, but google thought it was catching too many false positives so they cut down on the triggers. Writing “I attached the file” does not get an alert, but writing “I have attached the file” does.
Speaking of features -we just held an event for entrepreneurs, and i want to create a gmail address that will forward to everyone in the group, so we can communicate using that address. Can a gmail address be set to forward to a whole group of other email addresses? i couldn’t find that feature.