Gmail is pretty powerful, but Google engineers never seem to be satisfied with what ain’t broke.
Gmail labs have been around for a while to soupe up your Gmail, bite-sized projects that Googlers are working on.
Many of them are wacky like “Gmail Goggles,” but many of them have become mainstays, helping us become a lot more productive in Gmail.
In order to turn on any of the following labs features, click the cog button in the top right corner of Gmail, then click Labs.
How often do you want to archive an email conversation once you tie off the conversation by replying?
Once you enable the Send And Archive labs feature, you can do it using just one button.
This way, you don't have to press Send, then once you're in your inbox, click the box next to the email and click Archive.
Opening an email in Gmail can take a couple seconds, even if you only need a tiny piece of information from that email.
With the 'Message Sneak Peak' lab enabled, you can right click any email to see a little preview of it.
When Gmail isn't open, it's impossible to tell if you're received any new emails (unless you have Google Desktop Notifications installed, of course).
With 'Unread Message Icon' enabled, the Gmail favicon constantly changes to reflect how many unread messages are in your inbox.
After using it for a while, it's irreplaceable. It works especially well with the Gmail tab 'pinned' (pictured).
Gmail takes a different approach towards reading email, refusing to let you browse your inbox while you read (like in many desktop clients like Apple Mail, Microsoft Outlook, and others).
With the new 'Preview Pane' lab enabled, you can choose whether you want to view a list of messages side by side with, or on top of, the message you're reading.
Once you click Send, there's a claustrophobia-inducing fear of clicking anything until Gmail sends the email.
You don't want to mess anything up.
With 'Send In Background' enabled, once you press Send, you can head back to your Inbox and start doing other things while your email is sending.
Whenever you delete, archive, or reply to a message, Gmail sends you back to your inbox.
But what if you want to take care of all your emails en masse, one by one? The 'Auto-Advance' labs feature is here for you.
Enable it, and whenever you click archive, delete, or reply to an email, instead of being sent back to your inbox screen, you'll see the next (or previous) email, based on what your preference is.
Once you enable it, these settings are in your General preferences pane.
Try this Labs feature if you use one email address for many things.
For example, once you activate 'multiple inboxes' in Gmail's Labs page under Settings, a new tab will show up in your Gmail settings. Click the tab, and try entering in a variety of 'operators' to create divisions within your inbox. Experiment with the minus sign (-) and different combinations of operators.
For example, we set up Gmail so anything that comes from an @businessinsider.com email address gets automatically labelled 'Business Insider.' So under the 'multiple inboxes' tab, we entered 'label:inbox label:business-insider' in Pane 0 (so emails we've archived don't come in), and then for Pane 1, we enter 'label:inbox -label:business-insider. Once you do this, everything stays separate, but still in your inbox!
Having your chat window underneath your left navigation items disables you from seeing all of your contacts at once without scrolling down.
By installing the 'Right Side Chat' labs feature, your Gchat buddy list will dock into the right side of your screen, giving you more space to interact with it and browse online buddies.
This feature is especially useful for computers with wide screens.
By enabling the 'Inbox Preview' lab feature, you can see your inbox while Gmail is taking its time loading each time you open it.
But with the 'Smart Mute' labs feature, even if you mute an annoying conversation with fifteen people tied into it, if someone replies only to you, you'll still see the email in your inbox.
Previously, the conversation would stay muted no matter what. This one's a no brainer to add.