Priority Inbox: Gmail Tells You What Messages are Important, You Profit (?)

Busy people, rejoice.  Gmail, the primary electronic mail client offered by the giant Google, is getting a simple add-on sometime in the near future (it’s actually rolling out right now, but it will be a week before everybody has it).

What does it entail, one might ask?  Well, its a filter.  Not a new spam filter (Gmail already has one of those), but a new new filter that tells you, the user, what emails are important or not.  Yes, you hear me right: Google will soon tell you what emails are a priority or not.  Consider it a Priority Inbox – a new tier of mail sorting.  A bold step forward in email efficiency.

Still not convinced?  See for yourself in this nifty YouTube video.

According to Google, this filter is for sorting out the “bologna” or “bacn” emails (Are there any other email terms that use meat references?), or rather the mail that we don’t want immediately but would still like to read later.  Using what I can only assume is magic, the new filter also will note the frequency of emails from contacts as well as how often you reply to them and add them to the priority list.

If you do not like what Gmail is deeming important, buttons will be available to confirm or deny the priority of the emails coming in.  As the cute animated video mentioned, the system should adaptively get better and better the more you use it, eventually knowing what you personally like to see first when you check your mail.  Just like Skynet.

This cool new feature is currently in beta, but expect it to be coming to a Gmail inbox near you very soon (if it already hasn’t).  If more reading is necessary, the details of the Priority Inbox can be read on the official Gmail blog.

Thanks to Google, we can finally get some real work done (Like checking Facebook, surfing the web, and updating on Twitter).  Ah, the joys of efficiency.

Image Courtesy: GenBug’s Flickr

Gmail Improves Undo Send Feature, Saving Careers and Relationships

I’m probably a little over-paranoid, but I always get a slight wave of anxiety before I send an important email.  Questions like “Did I say the right things?”, “Did I address it to the correct person?”, and “Did I refrain from speaking like a pirate?” all rush through my head before I click that ominous little Send button.

As a relief to me, Gmail released an “Undo Send” feature quite awhile ago that gives you a small window of opportunity to un-send an email if you notice something wrong with it.  This feature is available in Gmail Labs, which you can access by clicking the small green beaker in the top right corner of Gmail.

You can then locate the “Undo Send” feature, click Enable, and scroll to the bottom of the page to click Save Changes.

Undo Send… Improved!

When Undo Send was first released, you had about 5-10 seconds to click the Undo button before the message was sent.  Now the good folks at Gmail have given us much more time (up to 30 seconds), and the ability to choose how much time we would like to have available.

After activating Undo Send in Gmail Labs, head over to the General tab of your Gmail Settings page.  Scroll down to the “Undo Send” options, where you can now use the dropdown menu to select the amount of time you would like to be able to un-send an email.

In my opinion, the more time, the better!

The next time you realize you just sent a steamy letter to your grandmother instead of your girlfriend, you can rest easy knowing that the email can be un-sent.

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out the rest of our great articles about Gmail.

Gmail Adds Highly Requested Feature – Rich Text Signatures

I have a very simple email signature in Gmail, but I’ve always been disappointed that I wasn’t able to add links or change the formatting.  I mean, we can use the rich text editor in the main composition window of Gmail, why can’t we use it in our signatures?

For example, I get away with having a link to Techerator in my signature by writing out the full URL (and hoping that the recipient’s email client converts it to a link), instead of using text and a link such as “Techerator.com“.

Being one of their most widely suggested features, Gmail just enabled rich text signatures for all users.  To create a rich text signature, simply head to your Settings page and customize it to your liking.

Even better, you can now use the email drop down menu to create a custom signature for each email address you use.  This means you can have a professional work signature, a personal signature (perhaps with your phone number), or even a casual signature for your friends.

[via Official Gmail Blog]

Gmail Tip: How to Quickly View Unread Messages

If you’re like me, your inbox can get pretty cluttered with unread messages after being away from my computer for a day. Since I use multiple inboxes to split my Gmail inbox into several smaller inboxes, I can have unread messages all over the place on a particularly busy day.

In this guide, I’ll show you how to turn a handy Gmail search query into a dedicated Unread Messages button.

Step One:  In Gmail, go to Gmail Labs and enable Quick Links.

Be sure to click Save changes at the bottom of the page after you’ve clicked the Enable button.

Step Two: Type is:unread in the Gmail search bar and press enter.  This search query will display any unread message in your inbox.

Step 3: Locate the new Quick Links box on the left sidebar of Gmail.  Click Add Quick Link then give it a title.

That’s it!  You will now have a handy button to instantly view your unread messages.  This same technique can be applied to any Gmail search query to quickly view your messages.

How to Manage, Mute, or Complete Hide Google Buzz Notifications in Gmail

Love it or hate it, Google Buzz can make a lot of noise in your inbox if you have a few engaged followers.  When any of your followers reply to a message you post in Buzz, you will receive a notification in your inbox that contains a live view of the Buzz message.  This is really handy if you like staying up-to-date with your conversations, but if you’re like me and view your inbox as hallowed ground it can be quite distressing.

No more inbox zero.

Thankfully, you can use Gmail’s great filtering feature to either quiet these notifications or make them disappear completely.

Muting Google Buzz Notifications

If you want Google Buzz notifications to appear in your inbox but not increase the amount of unread messages you have, this is the guide you will want to follow.

Step 1: Click Create a filter at the top of Gmail, just to the right of the search bar.

Step 2: In the Has the words: field, enter label:buzz.  To see if it worked, you can click the Test Search button which will immediately show the messages that are affected.  Click Next Step.

Note: Gmail will notify you that you shouldn’t use the label: filter in this field, but it will still work just fine.  Click OK when notified to continue.

Step 3: Check the Mark as read box.  You can also check Also apply filter… to mark additional Buzz messages as read.  Click Create Filter.

You will continue to receive Buzz notifications, but they will automatically be marked as read when they appear in your inbox so you’ll never have an inflated unread messages count.

Hiding Google Buzz Notifications

If you want to use Google Buzz but don’t want to see notifications at all, this guide is for you.

Step 1: Click Create a filter at the top of Gmail, just to the right of the search bar.

Step 2: In the Has the words: field, enter label:buzz.  To see if it worked, you can click the Test Search button which will immediately show the messages that are affected.  Click Next Step.

Note: Gmail will notify you that you shouldn’t use the label: filter in this field, but it will still work just fine.  Click OK when notified to continue.

Step 3: Check the Skip the Inbox and Mark as read buttons.  You can also check Also apply filter… to hide any earlier notifications.

Now when you receive a Buzz notification, it will automatically be marked as read and will also be stored in Gmail’s archive and will not appear at all in your inbox.

Managing Google Buzz Notifications

If you want to still receive Google Buzz notifications but want them to be exclusively separated from the rest of your inbox, this guide is for you. This guide will use the Multiple Inbox feature which is available in Gmail Labs to separate Buzz notifications from the rest of your inbox.

Step 1: Activate Multiple Inboxes in Gmail Labs by clicking Enable then Save changes at the bottom of the list.

gmail_multipleinboxes_labsenable

Step 2: Click Create a filter at the top of Gmail, just to the right of the search bar.

Step 3: In the Has the words: field, enter label:buzz.  To see if it worked, you can click the Test Search button which will immediately show the messages that are affected.  Click Next Step.

Note: Gmail will notify you that you shouldn’t use the label: filter in this field, but it will still work just fine.  Click OK when notified to continue.

Step 4: Check the Skip the Inbox button.  You can also check Also apply filter… to manage any earlier notifications.

Step 5: Go to Gmail Settings and click the Multiple Inboxes tab.  Enter label:buzz in one of the Search query boxes and you can name it anything you like.  Click Save changes.

Now when you receive a Google Buzz notification, it will only appear in a secondary inbox and not get in the way of your other important messages.

Have any Google Buzz tips?  Share them with us in the comments!

Gmail Now Uses Secure HTTPS Connection by Default

When you see a web address that starts with https, it’s typically for something important like your bank account or online shopping.  That prefix means the information you submit – credit cards, home addresses, or social security numbers – are kept private between your computer and the site you’re visiting.

Gmail started offering secure https access to their web-based email service in 2008, but it was optional and had to be manually enabled in your settings.  Google explains that they were reluctant to push https access to all users because with extra security comes a compromise: secure data travels slower than unsecure data.  After looking at the security/latency tradeoff for web applications, however, they decided to encrypt all traffic by default.

The new https feature is currently being rolled out to all Gmail users, but you can set it manually yourself in Gmail settings if it hasn’t taken effect yet.  For users already using https in Gmail – good work, you’ll notice no difference!

[Official Gmail Blog]

How to Manage Attachments in Gmail

gmail_logoSince Gmail offers nearly unlimited storage space, most people keep emails with attachments archived so they can access important files later. This works great when you need to dig up pictures sent from a relative or print a copy of the report you wrote last year.

Unfortunately, it’s pretty easy for messages to get lost in the labyrinthine depths of a mature Gmail inbox.  A few weeks after you’ve received those baby pictures of yourself from grandma, they could easily be lost amidst hundreds of Facebook notifications.

Managing Attachments with Search

One of the most useful (and the least mentioned) perks of Gmail is the built-in search.  Using the search box at the top of every Gmail page, you can easily locate any attachments with a few handy search strings.

To show all messages with attachments, use:

has:attachment

To specify the type of attachment, use:

has:attachment filetype (just replace ‘filetype’ with the type you’re looking for, like .doc or .jpg)

Example: has:attachment .xls only displays emails with Excel file attachments.

If you know who sent the specific attachment, use:

has:attachment from:user (just replace ‘user’ with the person you want to display)

Example: has:attachment from:grandma to show only show messages with attachments sent from grandma.

If you want to show messages with multiple filetypes, use:

has:attachment (filetype1 OR filetype2 OR filetype3)

Example:  has:attachment (.doc OR .xls OR .ppt) only displays files from Word, Excel, or PowerPoint.

Managing Attachments with Filters and Labels

For even more control, you can set Gmail to automatically label messages that have attachments.  You can use any of the filters shown in the previous section (or create your own).

To add a new filter, click the Create a filter link to the right of the search box.

gmail_multipleinboxes_createfilterCheck the Has attachment box and enter the attachments you would like to manage in the Has the words: field.  You can group and separate multiple extensions by using the syntax (filetype1 OR filetype2 OR filetype3).  You can test your search query with the Test Filter button, otherwise click Next Step.

gmail-manage-attachments-createIn the next screen, check Apply the label: and enter the label for your query.  Since I was searching for Office documents, I named mine attachment/office doc.  Before you create the filter you can select the option to apply the filter to all current emails matching your criteria.

gmail-manage-attachments-applyNow when you want to view a specific label you can just click the link on your sidebar.  (Note:  I’m using the Better Gmail 2 add-on for Firefox which has a great feature called Folders4Gmail.)

gmail-manage-attachments-labelsAdding Icons for Attachments

If you use Firefox, you can add icons for attachments using the Better Gmail 2 add-on.  In Better Gmail 2’s options, click the Messages tab and enable Attachment Icons or Attachment Icons (native).  The only difference between the two is that the (native) version uses your system’s built-in icons.

gmail-manage-attachments-iconsHave any tips for handling attachments in Gmail?  Share them with us in the comments!

How to Access Gmail Without an Internet Connection

gmail-offline-thumbWe all love the freedom and accessibility provided by keeping our email in the digital “cloud“, but an inevitable problem always arises: what do we do when we aren’t able to access the internet?  Or, as we recently discovered, what do we do when the our web-based email provider crashes?

One solution is to activate Gmail’s Offline mode, which allows you to store copies of your emails on your computer using Google Gears (Gears is an extension for Firefox and Internet Explorer that allows internet content to be stored and synchronized on your hard drive).  When connected to Gmail, Gears will store your emails on your computer and periodically check to make sure they are updated.  If you want to access Gmail offline, Gears will allow you to use it like normal (aside from the fact that you can’t send or receive messages until you connect).

Activating Offline Gmail

Step One: Login to your Gmail account and go to the Gmail Labs page.  Click the Enable button for Offline.  Click Save Changes.

gmail-labs-offline

Step Two: In your inbox, click the Offline button in the top right of the screen.

gmail-labs-offline-mode

If you haven’t already installed Google Gears, you will be prompted to do so now.  Please take heed of the message that you shouldn’t install Offline Gmail if you’re using a public or shared computer.  Click the Install button and follow the procedures to install Google Gears.  You will have to restart your browser once the installation is finished.

gmail-labs-offline-gears

Step 3: After you have installed Gears and restarted your browser, log back into your Gmail account.  You will now be prompted to allow Gmail to store messages to your computer.  Check the “I trust this site” box and click Allow.

gmail-labs-offline-gears-allow

You will also be given the opportunity to create shortcuts for Offline Gmail.

gmail-labs-offline-shortcuts

Offline Gmail will now be installed and will begin storing your messages on your computer.  This process will take some time (depending on the size of your inbox and attachments).  If you interrupt the downloading process, it will resume when you log back into Gmail.

gmail-labs-offline-downloading

A new Offline icon will be visible in the top right of your inbox (right next to the green Gmail Labs beaker).  The Offline icon will indicate current status of your local email copies and also allow you to enter “Flaky Internet Mode” if you’re having trouble connecting.

Now that you have Offline Gmail installed, you can access your email without an internet connection just by opening the shortcuts you saved to your computer.  You’ll have access to all emails stored by Google Gears, but you won’t be able to download new messages or compose messages until you connect to the internet.  Any gadgets you have activated will also be unavailable until you enter online mode again.

Offline Gmail is especially useful if you’ve got a netbook or laptop and need to access your emails on the go.  Offline Gmail saves 3 months of previous emails by default (which can be adjusted) and even stores copies of your attachments.  You can even continue composing new messages, they will just be stored in your Outbox until you have internet access.

Have any tips for staying connected when you’re off the grid?  Share them with us in the comments.

New Gmail Labs Feature Hides Labels, Shows Subjects Better

gmail_labs_hidelabels_badinboxI like using labels in Gmail, but they take up a ridiculous amount of real estate in your subject line (especially if you’re using labels as folders).  On a small screen like a netbook’s, labels can completely overshadow the subject line of your emails.

Gmail Labs comes to the rescue with the new Remove Labels from Subjects feature.  Once enabled, all labels in the subject line will be completely hidden, allowing you to read your email subjects without obstruction.  Labels will still be fully functional via the sidebar and search box.

To enable this feature, head over to the Gmail Labs page and click the ‘Enable’ button on Remove Labels from Subjects.

gmail_labs_hidelabels_goodinbox
Hidden labels, visible subjects!

For even more label-hiding goodness, check out the Better Gmail 2 add-on for Firefox or the Hide Labels in Message Row script for Greasemonkey.  Not only do those hide the labels, they will automatically display the labels when you hover your mouse over a message.

Manage Multiple Gmail Accounts with Google Account Multi-Login

gmail_logoFirefox only:  If you’re like me, you have multiple Gmail accounts and wish there was a quicker way to switch between them in the Gmail web interface.  With the Google Account Multi-Login script for Greasemonkey, you can do just that.

Step One – Prerequisites: To enable this feature, you’ll first need to be using Firefox with the Greasemonkey add-on installed.  Greasemonkey lets you to install user-generated scripts that can customize the way a webpage is displayed.  [New to Greasemonkey? Check out our guide.]

Step Two – Install Google Multi-Login: Head over to the Google Multi-Login script page and click the ‘Install’ button.  You’ll then have to click ‘Install’ again to add the script to Greasemonkey.

gmail_greasemonkey_multiaccounts_installOnce you’ve installed the script, it will automatically be activated (but if you already had Gmail open, you will need to refresh the page).  A new ‘Change User…’ menu will now appear in the top right of your inbox.

gmail_greasemonkey_multiaccounts_changeuserStep Three – Adding and Switching Accounts: To add a new account, click the ‘Change User…’ menu at the top of your screen and select ‘Add Account’.  Enter the account’s username followed by the password.

gmail_greasemonkey_multiaccounts_addaccountsFor increased security, you can leave the password blank and you will be prompted to enter it each time you switch to that account.  You will also have the option to enable autologin for your new account.

gmail_greasemonkey_multiaccounts_password

The next time you want to switch accounts, it can quickly be done by selecting that account in the ‘Change User…’ menu!

gmail_greasemonkey_multiaccounts_switchThe Google Multi-Login script isn’t just limited to Gmail; it also works in Google Search, iGoogle, Docs, Reader, Calendar, and several others.  For more information, check out the script homepage.