Apr 08

New in Labs: Nested Labels and Message Sneak Peek

Labels are more flexible than folders because a given email can have several labels but can’t be in several folders at the same time. A highly requested feature for labels, though, comes from the world of folders: the ability to organize labels hierarchically.

If you think this might be useful to you, go to the Gmail Labs tab under Settings, look for “Nested Labels,” enable it and click “Save.” You’ll then need to name your label with slashes (/) to make it the child of another. For example, let’s say you wanted to create a simple hierarchy with a “Home” label, and inside it a “Family” and a “Vacation” label. Just create three labels with the following names:

Home
Home/Family
Home/Vacation

You can then create “Home/Family/Kids,” “Home/Pets,” etc., to get something like the screenshot on the left. If you had the parent label “Home” before you don’t have to create it from scratch.

You can create complex hierarchies of labels if that’s the way you like to organize your mail, and you can expand/collapse labels to save space. You’ll always be able to tell whether a given label contains unread messages in its collapsed child labels by looking at whether it’s bold or not.

Please note that this lab doesn’t play nicely with the “Hide Read Labels” lab. You might not get exactly what you expect if you have both labs enabled; for example, the collapse/expand icons won’t always appear when they should.

Another highly requested feature is the ability to preview messages to get a glimpse on what they contain and maybe take immediate action without opening them.

This is exactly what “Message Sneak Peek” does. After you turn it on, right-clicking on a line in your inbox shows a preview pane with the message in it.


You can also use keyboard shortcuts for a faster sneak-peeking flow (enable keyboard shortcuts in Settings first if you haven’t done so): hit ‘h’ to open a sneak peek card, then navigate with ‘j’ and ‘k,’ and dismiss the current card by pressing “Escape.” Messages you peak at will stay unread (or it wouldn’t really be a sneak peek, would it?).

Happy nesting and peeking!

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/official-gmail-news/new-in-labs-nested-labels-and-message-sneak-peek

Apr 05

Confirm your Buzz settings

Shortly after launching Google Buzz, we quickly realized we didn’t get everything right and moved as fast as possible to improve the Buzz experience. We made a number of changes to the getting started experience based on your feedback, the most significant of which was replacing auto-following with suggestions for people to follow.

Rather than automatically setting you up to follow the people you email and chat with most, Google Buzz now suggests people for you to follow instead. This way, Buzz is still simple to set up (no one wants to peck out an entire social network from scratch) but you aren’t set up to follow anyone until you choose to do so.

But many of you started using Google Buzz before we made these changes, and we want to help you ensure that Buzz is set up the way you want. Offering everyone who uses our products transparency and control is very important to us, so if you started using Google Buzz before we changed the start-up experience, you’ll see the following confirmation page the next time you click into the Buzz tab:

This page highlights your current Buzz settings and makes it easy to change anything you want. You can view and edit the people you’re following and the people following you, elect whether you want those lists appearing on your public Google profile, and modify any of the sites you have connected to Google Buzz, like Picasa, Google Reader, or Twitter. If everything looks good, you can confirm your Buzz set-up with a single click. And remember, you can always change who you’re following by clicking “Following XX people” from the Buzz tab or modify your preferences from the Buzz section of Gmail Settings.

To keep up to date with all of the improvements we’re making to Google Buzz and provide your feedback, follow our team’s Google Buzz account. For tips and tricks on using Google Buzz, check out the videos on our new YouTube channel: youtube.com/googlebuzz.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/official-gmail-news/confirm-your-buzz-settings

Apr 03

Gmail on the iPad

When the iPhone and Android devices came out, we started building for advanced mobile browsers and optimizing the Gmail interface for touchscreens, culminating in the Gmail for mobile HTML5 web app. As portable devices continue to evolve, we’re excited about the upcoming wave of tablet computers and the possibilities they bring.

With today’s release of the iPad, we’re launching an experimental two-pane user interface to take advantage of its large touchscreen and tablet form factor. Building upon the Gmail for mobile web app, this new interface displays your conversations on the left and your messages on the right hand side.


All the features of the Gmail web app that you’re used to, such as offline access and aggressive caching to reduce latency, are present in the iPad version. Tablet devices are still very new, so expect changes as we continue to optimize for this new format. We’d like to hear any ideas you may have on how we can make Gmail better for the iPad so don’t hesitate to let us know via the ‘Send feedback’ link at the bottom of your inbox on iPad.

To try out Gmail out on the iPad, just go to gmail.com in Safari. For quick access, try creating a homescreen link. Please note that the new interface is only available in US English for now. You can always access Gmail through the native Mail application using IMAP as well.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/official-gmail-news/gmail-on-the-ipad

Apr 02

Improved comment collapsing for Google Buzz posts

Any Google Buzz post can turn into a lively discussion. Sometimes these conversations can gather lots of new comments very quickly, turning them into “skyscraper” posts that can dominate your entire screen, especially if you don’t check Buzz for a few days. We’ve heard from many of you that these big posts can be a lot to skim over.

Today, we’re making some changes to how comments get collapsed in Google Buzz. In the past, old comments were sometimes collapsed, but new comments (posted since your last visit to the Buzz tab) were always expanded. Now, if there are enough of them, new comments may be collapsed as well. Here’s the nitty gritty on how it’ll work by the end of the day once we finish rolling out these changes:

  • If there are 3 or more previous or new comments, we collapse them into a group.
  • We leave the latest previous comment (from before your last visit) expanded to give you context.

  • We leave the last two new comments (since your last visit) expanded so you can get a taste of the ongoing conversation and decide if you’re interested.

  • If there are enough previous and new comments, we collapse them together into a single line to save space.

  • You’ll see the names of some of the people whose comments are collapsed, which can help you decide if you might be interested in diving into the conversation.

These changes will limit how much space any one post can take up in the Buzz tab and prevent the popular posts you’re not interested in from dominating the stream. We hope this helps make Google Buzz a little less noisy so you can focus on conversations you care about.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/official-gmail-news/improved-comment-collapsing-for-google-buzz-posts

Apr 01

Today’s vowel outage

If you logged into Gmail over the last hour (or visited the Gmail homepage), you probably noticed that something looked a bit off: all the vowels are missing. We realize this makes things difficult for all of you who rely on Gmail — whether at home or at work — and we’re incredibly sorry. We take morphological issues like this extremely seriously, so we want to let you all know what happened and what we’re doing about it.

At 6:01 am Pacific Time, during routine maintenance at one of our datacenters, the frontend web servers in that particular datacenter started failing to render the letter ‘a’ for a subset of users. As error rates escalated, the strain spread to other datacenters. We worked quickly to avoid a cascading failure of the entire alphabet by implementing a stopgap solution that limited the damage to the letters ‘a,’ ‘e,’ ‘i,’ ‘o,’ and ‘u.’ As a result, we’re experiencing Gmail’s first temporary vowel outage. (We’re still investigating whether the letter ‘y’ is impacted and will post an update here shortly.)

Over the last hour we’ve received numerous reports of this issue via our help forums, from colleagues at Google, and via email you’ve sent us. Some of you have already found creative workarounds for communicating without vowels, like Aaron, who sent us this:


Having 80.8% of the alphabet available is significantly below the 99.9% full letter uptime reliability we strive for. Since identifying the root case of this issue, we’ve started bringing vowels back to Gmail, so you should see them back in your account within the next few hours if you don’t already. In the meantime, while you may still see this issue in Gmail’s web interface, both IMAP and POP access are functioning normally. We’ll post an update as soon as things are fully resolved and, again, we’re v3ry s0rry.

Update (7:30 am): We’ve determined that the letter ‘y’ is not impacted.

Update (3:02 pm): This issue has been resolved.

Update (12:01 am): Also, this issue never happened. Happy April 1st.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/official-gmail-news/today%e2%80%99s-vowel-outage

Mar 24

Detecting suspicious account activity

A few weeks ago, I got an email presumably from a friend stuck in London asking for some money to help him out. It turned out that the email was sent by a scammer who had hijacked my friend’s account. By reading his email, the scammer had figured out my friend’s whereabouts and was emailing all of his contacts. Here at Google, we work hard to protect Gmail accounts against this kind of abuse. Today we’re introducing a new feature to notify you when we detect suspicious login activity on your account.

You may remember that a while back we launched remote sign out and information about recent account activity to help you understand and manage your account usage. This information is still at the bottom of your inbox. Now, if it looks like something unusual is going on with your account, we’ll also alert you by posting a warning message saying, “Warning: We believe your account was last accessed from…” along with the geographic region that we can best associate with the access.

To determine when to display this message, our automated system matches the relevant IP address, logged per the Gmail privacy policy, to a broad geographical location. While we don’t have the capability to determine the specific location from which an account is accessed, a login appearing to come from one country and occurring a few hours after a login from another country may trigger an alert.

By clicking on the “Details” link next to the message, you’ll see the last account activity window that you’re used to, along with the most recent access points.

If you think your account has been compromised, you can change your password from the same window. Or, if you know it was legitimate access (e.g. you were traveling, your husband/wife who accesses the account was also traveling, etc.), you can click “Dismiss” to remove the message.

Keep in mind that these notifications are meant to alert you of suspicious activity but are not a replacement for account security best practices. If you’d like more information on account security, read these tips on keeping your information secure or visit the Google Online Security Blog.

Finally, we know that security is also a top priority for businesses and schools, and we look forward to offering this feature to Google Apps customers once we have gathered and incorporated their feedback.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/official-gmail-news/detecting-suspicious-account-activity

Mar 18

Smart Rescheduler in Google Calendar Labs

As you can imagine, those of us on the Google Calendar team spend a lot of time thinking about scheduling. We regularly talk to people who schedule and reschedule a lot of meetings: administrative assistants. Talking to them, we understand just how much time they spend looking at schedules, investigating other people’s calendars, finding replacement conference rooms and rescheduling conflicts. And then some manager’s travel plans change and everything starts over again.

If you’re searching for something on the web, you don’t just start randomly visiting pages looking for relevant content, you use a search engine. So we decided to apply some of Google’s search experience to the problem of scheduling. We experimented with using ranking algorithms to return the most relevant meeting times based on specified criteria like attendees, schedule complexity, conference rooms, and time zones. Just like Google search ranks the web, our scheduling search algorithm returns a ranked set of the best candidate dates and times.

Today we’re launching the result of that experiment, a gadget called Smart Rescheduler, in Google Calendar Labs. Once you turn it on, just select an event you’d like to reschedule, then click “Find a new time…”:

You’ll see ranked list of possible times for your meeting. By investigating the calendars others have shared with you, Google Calendar can make some educated guesses about how easy it might be to reschedule a conflicting meeting and even find you a replacement conference room nearby. This process is 100% automated — no Google employees are doing any work behind the scenes. You can refine the results by marking people as optional, changing the meeting duration, ignoring certain conflicts, or specifying the earliest and latest times you’ll accept. The results will immediately update to reflect your new requirements.


This feature is still experimental, so we’d love your ideas and feedback. Of course, we can’t make meetings more interesting, but we can try to save you frustration leading up to them.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/official-gmail-news/smart-rescheduler-in-google-calendar-labs-2

Mar 13

Better controls for buzz in your inbox

When you participate in a conversation in Google Buzz, we bring that post to your inbox to make it easy to keep up with the discussion. But we’ve heard loud and clear that buzz in your inbox can get noisy — we feel it too, so today we’re launching two features to help with this:

1) Settings to control what gets sent to your inbox
From the Buzz tab of Gmail Settings, you’ll be able to choose whether the following buzz items get sent to your inbox:

  • Comments on your posts
  • Comments on posts after you comment on them
  • Comments on posts after you are @replied on them

2) Explanations for why posts get sent to your inbox and an easy-to-find “Mute” link
You’ll see a new message at the top of each post in your inbox that explains why it’s there: someone commented on your post, you were @replied, etc. We’ve also added an easy-to-find “mute” link that will stop subsequent comments from bringing the conversation back to your inbox.

These are just the first in series of features designed to help control the noise level in Google Buzz, so stay tuned for more. If you have ideas for Google Buzz you’d like to share with the team, you can post your ideas and vote for others on our official Product Ideas page.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/official-gmail-news/better-controls-for-buzz-in-your-inbox

Mar 10

3 new Calendar Labs

Today, we’re happy to announce three new features in Calendar Labs. To try them out, just go to the Labs tab under Calendar Settings.

1. Event flair by Dave Marmaros
Want a little airplane icon next to information about your upcoming flight? Or stars next to meetings with your boss? This experiment lets you choose from forty different icons and add one to each Calendar event. Even better, if you invite people to your events, they’ll be able to see the icon you added too. After you enable this feature, click on an event and look for the “Event flair” gadget to activate.

2. Gentle reminders by Sorin Mocanu
If you keep Google Calendar open all day long, you probably end up seeing quite a few reminders every day. Browser alerts are okay, but I tried to find a way for Calendar notifications to integrate smoothly with everything else.

Turn on “Gentle Reminders,” and when you get a notification, the title of your Calendar window or tab will start blinking and the event details will stay in Calendar.

If you’re using this lab in a supported browser (currently Google Chrome for Windows and Google Chrome beta for Linux), you’ll also have the option to get your reminders in the next generation of floating desktop notifications:

After you enable this feature, you can configure notification options on the Settings page.

3. Automatically declining events by Lucia Fedorova and Miguel García
Have you ever checked your calendar and noticed that someone scheduled a really important meeting during your vacation or at a time when you’re not available? Now there’s a way to automatically decline events when you’re not around. Turn on “Automatically declining events,” block off times when you’re unavailable, and event invitations during this period will get automatically declined.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/official-gmail-news/3-new-calendar-labs-3

Mar 08

New in Labs: Refresh POP accounts

My little sister recently setup her Gmail account to retrieve messages from her school address, so she can check all of her email accounts in one place. She no longer has to constantly log in to two email programs, and she likes using Gmail’s powerful interface for all her mail.

However, sometimes she knows an email has already been sent to her school address, and she just can’t wait for the next scheduled fetch to have it show up in her Gmail inbox. As any big brother would, I tried to solve this issue for her and millions of Gmail users.

Turn on “Refresh POP accounts” from the Labs tab under Settings, and the refresh link at the top of your inbox will not only update your inbox with your new Gmail messages, it will also fetch messages from any other accounts which you have set up.

Try it out, and let us know if you have any feedback.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/official-gmail-news/new-in-labs-refresh-pop-accounts-2

Page 5 of 35« First...34567...102030...Last »