November 9, 2012 • 09:25:03 a.m.

Gmail's buried tweaks


If you're a Gmail user, you might have noticed a new feature lately.

When clicking “compose,” instead of being directed to a new page, you can compose your message in a chat-like preview box. It's a interesting feature and I've been enjoying it so far. As of right now, you have the option to switch between the new style and old, but Google has stated they'll be switching to this new system eventually after some tweaks.

If you're looking for other ways to improve your email experience, you can find some fun tweaks buried in your settings that are easy to miss. By going into your settings and clicking on the “Labs” tab, you can test-drive all of Gmail's experimental features.

Here are the five Google Labs features I'm running right now.

Mark as Read Button: The mark as read button is in Gmail automatically, but, unfortunately, it's buried under the more actions menu. With this fix, you'll get an extremely useful button above your inbox to streamline the process.

Message Sneak Peek: This feature is one of my favorites, and makes me wonder why it's not a commonplace feature across all email services. Simply right-click on an email in your inbox and a small preview box will pop up, giving you a view of what's in the email without actually opening it.

Unread Message Icon: A simple feature, but it's a nice touch. This one adds a tiny number to the tab Gmail is in at the top of your browser, letting you know how many unread messages you have. This is a must for multi-taskers and businesses.

Google Maps Preview: If Gmail finds an address in one of your emails, it will automatically pull up a preview of the location from Google Maps. This is an awesome time saver to get you where you need to go.

Preview Pane: Google (finally) released this much asked for design last year, which is akin to desktop email programs such as Outlook. Preview Pane splits Gmail into the familiar three-panel system, which allows you to view and respond to email while navigating your inbox.

These are just the features I've found to be the most useful, but there are a slew of others I didn't mention. Not all of them are worth enabling, in my opinion, but browsing through them is a good idea.

Are you using one that I missed? Send me an email at or find me on Twitter @geekfeednews.


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