All posts tagged ‘e-mail’

File Under: Software & Tools

New Labs Tools Turn Gmail Into an iGoogle Replacement

gmail gadgetsIf you’ve ever wanted to be able to directly access other Google services from within Gmail, the Gmail Labs team has your solution. Two new options in Labs add a quick overview of your Calendar and Google Docs documents to the Gmail sidebar.

Even if you use several Google services — Reader, Docs, Calendar, etc — you’ve probably noticed that you still spend the majority of your time in Gmail. Gmail acts as a kind of communication hub with e-mail, calendar reminders, event invites and more trickling in over the course of the day. It makes sense to have a quick view of other, related services and that’s exactly what the new Labs features offer.

The Calendar option adds a small list view of your upcoming events while the Docs gadget shows your most recently edited documents. Both gadgets can be customized to filter out unimportant items. The Calendar gadget allows you to show and hide individual calendars and there’s also a quick link for adding new events without leaving Gmail. The Google Docs gadget offers filters to show only specific kinds of documents and offers a quick link to the full Docs page.

If you use the new offerings in conjunction with the Labs tools that allow you to reposition your contacts and label boxes, it’s not hard to create a fully customized communication hub — Gmail messages in the middle of the screen with labels and chat in the right sidebar and Calendar and Docs gadgets in the left.

It’s also worth noting that the Docs and Calendar gadgets aren’t the only possibility — there’s also a new generic gadget feature which allows you to add any Google Gadget to Gmail by simply plugging in the URL. In the long run this might turn out to be the big news since it appears to open the door for Gmail-specific gadgets.

At the moment however you should keep in mind that not all Google gadgets are fully compatible with https, so if you’re connecting to Gmail via https (and you should be), you may see mixed content warnings caused by parts of the gadgets being served over http. The Gmail team is reportedly working on fixing the issue.

And remember that if the preview version of Calendar isn’t enough for you, you can try this Greasemonkey script, which will add your full Calendar page just below the main Gmail screen using an iFrame to insert the calendar.

To get in on fun, head to the Labs section of Gmail (click the green beaker icon at the top right hand side of the page) and enable the new features.

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File Under: Software & Tools

Streamline Your E-Mail Workflow With Gmail’s ‘Canned Responses’

Gmail Canned Response MenuGmail Labs has added a new “canned response” feature that allows you to create and save common e-mail responses for faster replies. Once you enable the new features, all you need to do is compose a message with the boilerplate text and then choose “save new canned response” in the canned responses menu.

Now whenever you want to send a quick response — something like, “thanks for the update” — just choose the saved response.

Perhaps the most useful part of canned responses comes from chaining them to a Gmail filter. Gmail allows you to create filters based on keywords, sender, recipients, and more in your incoming messages. Once you have a canned response saved you can set a filter to grab one, create an automated reply, and hit the Send button for you.

One thing to be aware of — the canned response will delete all the reply text so there’s no quoting from the original message (unless you save your canned response with part of the message response, but that would severely limit the canned aspect).

Google Operating System discovered an interesting bit of trivia about canned responses: they’re actually saved as invisible drafts. If you want to see them search for label:drafts, but by default they won’t show up in your drafts view.

It’s another very minor update — like the recent change in Contact List behavior — but if you find yourself repeated answering e-mails with the same boilerplate response, canned responses should make your life a little bit easier.

To enable the new features head to the Gmail Labs section (click the green beaker icon) and scroll down to the Canned Responses section.

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File Under: Software & Tools

Gmail Outage Hits Paying Customers Where it Hurts

gmail.jpgFor the second time in recent months Gmail has suffered a significant outage that left an unknown, but clearly upset, number of users without e-mail. This time the outage appears to have affected primarily Google Apps Premier Edition Gmail users.

The company apologized in a message posted to Google Groups saying, “we know how important Gmail is to our users, so we take issues like this very seriously, and we apologize for the inconvenience.”

Around 9 PM PDT Google claimed that service had been restored, but all total some users were left without e-mail for over a day. As for how many, Google hasn’t offered any details, but those affected lashed out at Google. One message from an affected customer reads: “we may have to make other arrangements… apparently Google mail is not very reliable.”

It’s tempting to dismiss that person’s complaint by saying that you get what you pay for, but remember that, after the first 30 days, Google Apps Premier Edition is not free, it’s a paid service. Unlike the earlier outage, which affected mainly users of the free version, this one has hit paying customers where it hurts.

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File Under: Software & Tools

Gmail Expands IMAP Capabilities With New Labs Features

Gamil IMAP optionsGmail Labs keeps cranking out the hits — this time the experimental project is a collection of Advanced IMAP Controls. The most useful of the new features is a way to selectively control which of your Gmail labels are available to your IMAP mail client.

Of course controlling which IMAP folders show up in your desktop e-mail reader is something most mail clients already handle using a subscribe/unsubscribe option. But Gmail’s new controls are handy for mobile clients, many of which lack the per-folder subscription tools that desktop clients offer.

The ability to set your IMAP folder subscriptions on the Gmail side is also a handy way to hide Gmail’s “All Mail” folder, which can bring even the most robust clients to grinding halt if you have a sizable amount of archived e-mail. Depending on how your organize your e-mail, All Mail may also be storing duplicate messages you don’t need.

But selective folder subscriptions aren’t the only new options for Gmail’s IMAP feature, Gmail is also attempting to bring its implementation of IMAP more in line with the IMAP protocol. The Gmail blog explains:

The IMAP protocol allows messages to be marked for deletion, a sort of limbo state where a message is still present in the folder but slated to be deleted the next time the folder is expunged. In our standard IMAP implementation, when you mark a message as deleted, Gmail doesn’t let it linger in that state — it deletes (or auto-expunges) it from the folder right away. If you want the two-stage delete process, after you’ve enabled this Lab, just select ‘Do not automatically expunge messages’ under the ‘Forwarding and POP/IMAP’ tab in Settings.

Also new is a way to configure your IMAP client to behave more like a traditional IMAP provider. Since IMAP doesn’t inherently share Gmail’s concept of archiving messages to all “All Mail” (rather than Trash), it can make managing your mail across multiple clients a little tricky. The solution is to make Gmail behave like a normal IMAP provider:

If you’d prefer that deleted messages not remaining in any other visible IMAP folders are sent to [Gmail]/Trash instead, Advanced IMAP Controls lets you set your preferences this way. In the ‘IMAP Access:’ section of the ‘Forwarding and POP/IMAP’ tab, find the ‘When a message is deleted from the last visible IMAP folder:’ option. Select ‘Move the message to the Gmail Trash.’ If you want to take it one step further, you can select ‘Immediately delete the message forever.’

Gmail’s IMAP implementation is still a little bit different than most, but these new features should make it behave a bit more like what old school IMAP fans are used to.

To enable the new features, head to the Gmail Labs area (click the green beaker icon) and look for the “Advanced IMAP Controls” option. Once that’s enabled, head to Settings >> Forwarding and POP/IMAP, and tweak the settings to suit your workflow. To control which folders are visible, head to the labels section of Gmail where you’ll find a new “Show in IMAP” option next to each of your labels.

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File Under: Software & Tools

Gmail Helps Stop Your Drunken E-mail Rants

gmail logoIs your Saturday morning inbox filled with regret and self-loathing for the drunken e-mails you fired off the night before? If so, Gmail might have a solution for you. Google’s Gmail Labs has a new experimental featured dubbed “Mail Goggles” which will attempt to prevent you from sending out those ill-advised late night e-mails.

Gmail developer Jon Perlow created Mail Goggles as a kind of e-mail sobriety test. It works by stopping your message when you hit send and then presents a series of simple math problems you need to solve before you really send the e-mail.

The problems themselves aren’t very difficult, but they do serve the purpose — making you stop and think about what you’re doing.

By default Mail Goggles is set to catch late Friday and Saturday night e-mails, but you can set the days and times to whatever you like in the preferences.

To enable Mail Goggles, just head to the Labs section, select the times you want, and save your changes.

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