8 Google Labs tricks to make you more productive with Gmail
Ah, productivity. How to do more, in less time. One area many of us could be more efficient in is email. We heartily recommend Google Apps for your church or ministry email system. It’s free, easy to set up, and generous in what it offers.
What you might not know is that Google offers helpful little add-ons to Gmail to make the service even better. They are found in Google ‘Labs’. And they are all free.
To turn these features on, log in to your Gmail account. Click on the settings cog, and then select 'Settings' from the list. Select the 'Labs' tab and you will see a list of lots of new widgets, buttons and features that you can enable one by one.
While they might not be for everyone, the following add-ons have made me far more efficient in my use of email. In fact, set up right, they stop me from sitting in front of my inbox all day, allowing me to spend time on other projects that make a real difference.
Here are the features from Google Labs that have increased my productivity:
Small delays can get very frustrating if you experience them many times a day. If you don’t want to wait while Gmail thinks about sending your mail, then Background Send makes your life easier. Gmail can send your mail while you move on to more important things. Simply click ‘send’ and move on to the next message or task.
Just make sure that you stay logged in to your Google account until all the mail has been sent.
This is email for the truly lazy – or for those who frequently send out the same sort of messages. If your job involves standard or similar responses, save and then send your commonly used messages using a button next to the compose form.
I set up templates with this feature to save the time and effort in writing the same thing over and over again. Canned responses also automatically send emails using filters.
Custom keyboard shortcuts
You can set up your own keyboard shortcuts to perform common actions in Gmail with just a few memorable keystrokes. This feature adds a new ‘Settings’ tab from which you can remap keys to various actions. I use this a lot – and cunningly, the shortcuts apply to the keyboard of any device that you use to access Gmail.
Google Calendar gadget
Another annoyance in Gmail is having to open a new page to check your Google Calendar quickly while you are using Gmail. The Calendar Gadget adds a box in the left column that shows your Calendar. You can see upcoming events, locations and details at a glance, without having to wait for a new page to load. You can pop it up with a click or leave it open the whole time.
Mark as Read Button
Sometimes we get messages that we want to mark as read without having to read them. It’s only a small thing, but one which takes valuable time: normally in Gmail you have to click on the More Actions menu every time you want to do this.
With a Mark as Read button you can do it in one click. You just need to enable the label.
Send & Archive
You will have picked up by now that I love anything that saves me time. Send & Archive puts a button on the compose form that lets you send a reply message and archive the email conversation in a single action.
Why click twice when you can click only once?
Signature convention varies and people have strong preferences about these things. I like every email that I send to have my contact information clearly visible. Signature tweaks places your signature before the quoted text in a reply, and removes the "--" line that appears before signatures
Oops, ever hit "Send" too soon? What price being able to stop messages from being sent a few seconds after hitting the send button?
With Google Labs the feature is free. So the next time you realise just after you sent an email that you’ve forgotten something or sent it to the wrong person – just click Undo Send and no one needs to know.
The add-ons in Google Labs are only small modifications to Gmail, but they take off some of the rough edges of the system, and make it that bit easier and quicker to use. Find the ones that suit your own workflow best, and you can make yourself that bit more productive.
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