“A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history – with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila.”
~ Mitch Radcliffe (technology journalist)
That’s spot on. The Delete key is dangerous but we have Recycle Bin/Undo/Trash to help us bounce back. What sometimes seems even more deadly is the Send button under our quicksilver cursor. Making errors in email is not solely about grammatical errors or sending it to a non-existent address (though the former should also be unpardonable). Far more serious gaffes exist and we can all take to the stand on that.
How many times have we sent an email to the wrong guy? At least – once. How many times have we forgotten to include someone in the mail? Many times over! The end result may or may not be as bad as with handguns or as embarrassing as a tequila high, but email mistakes are unprofessional (and can be potentially a huge blow).
The good thing about Gmail is that the boffins in Google Labs have their empathy hat on. They know that foot-in-the-mouth disease is becoming quite common in the online world too, thanks to rapid tools like email and Twitter. That’s why Gmail has quite a few Google Labs email features inbuilt to prevent such errors.
We have brought up some of the features previously mentioned in a couple of Google Labs feature posts. Maybe, this one will help to put all of them on a common thread. Let’s start with two of the latest ones on the experimental block.
To access the Google Labs email features, click on the little green beaker icon at the top right.
Don’t Forget Bob
Who’s Bob? It could be your friend or your boss. But actually in Gmail it’s the new name for the old “˜Add More Recipients’. It’s Google’s way of suggesting adding guys you might have missed while filling your address fields. Click on Enable and it might help you avoid a bit of heartburn from ignored friends while emailing important announcements.
Got the wrong Bob?
Ignoring Bob is bad. What’s even worse is including the wrong Bob. Imagine sending a gossipy email to the wrong person”¦it will surely ignite the office grapevine. Unlike gossip, emails don’t give you a place to hide. The new feature in Gmail Labs prompts you if it thinks you’re about to e-mail the wrong person. This feature works for group mailing. Gmail looks at the groups you mail more often and alerts you if a new name gets added. If you think you didn’t make a mistake, just ignore it and move on.
Google’s cure for temporary blood rush to the head or for the dopey eyed. Enabling this feature forces you to do some basic math before sending out the mail. Gmail makes sure that you are in the right state of mind during the odd hours when email mistakes are more common.
After enabling it, you can manually adjust days, times and difficulty level under Settings – Generals.
Forgotten Attachment Detector
This reminder feature is for more professional email results rather than fatal goof-ups. No one will actually mind if you forget an attachment except the HR guy perhaps. The clever feature senses that you are sending a mail with attachment (say, you wrote: “I am attaching this doc file”) and alerts you if you forget to do so.
Authentication icon for verified senders
Falling for a scam is the ultimate email goof-up. Did you hear about the one where the FBI head honcho nearly fell for an email phishing scam? He was banned by his wife from further online transactions. The Gmail authentication icon protects you from such a fate by adding a layer of security. It scans the email headers and places a key icon next to verified emails that are super-trustworthy. The trust is limited to eBay and PayPal for now but as the official Gmail blog says, more senders will be added soon.
Keep your email conversations updated
This is supposed to work like this – if you are in the middle of reading a mail and someone sends in a response to it before you do, Gmail alerts you that a new message has arrived. Click Update conversation to see what you’ve missed. With this feature, you won’t fall out of the loop and can stay – updated. This is not strictly a Google Labs email feature but now a default feature for all incoming mails.
You have committed all the cardinal sins mentioned so far. No worries, Google has a workaround for it too. With Undo Send, you can quickly stop the email from being dispatched. The only problem is that you have to realize your mistake fast and click on the undo button faster. Undo Send gives you just 5 or 10 seconds to see the error of your ways. Ignore it and the e-mail goes through. Click Undo and you are returned to the Compose window.
Most of these are experimental Google Lab email features. They may or may not stand the test of time and use. But while they are there, they can help us keep our follies at bay.
Which feature do you like the best? Which one do you hate? Tell us your reasons in the comments below.