Ah, Gmail. It has become an integral part of our connected lives, ingrained in our daily flow of getting things done. The downside of that is that, like me, you might have missed out on a few new features Gmail has gradually added in the past year. So let’s look at what deserves our attention.
We won’t be looking at third-party tools like Sortd, a smart skin to turn Gmail into a Trello-like board. All the features here are built into your Gmail and you don’t need to download or install anything.
Emojis! And More Themes!
The Internet’s most popular new language is emojis, the spiritual successor to emoticons. Emojis can transcend languages, so it’s only natural that any form of text communication should support them. Google recently announced that it now has added a plethora of new emojis to Gmail.
To insert an emoji, just click the “Insert Emoticon” icon in your Compose window and choose what you want. The emojis are still rolling out to all users, so in case you don’t see them yet, be patient, they are coming soon.
Gmail has also added a whole bunch of new Themes, apart from letting you upload your own photos. Plus, you can now also customize the theme using three editing tools: blur, vignette, and text background.
To change themes:
- Click the gear in the top right.
- Select Themes
- Choose a theme from your images, from Google’s “Featured” collection, or upload your own.
- Change the blur, add a vignette, and choose a light or dark background for text.
You Can Now “Undo” Sent Emails
For a long time now, Google has kept some features available only as experiments in its innovative Gmail Labs. One of those experiments has finally been rolled out to be a part of Gmail forever: Undo Send.
That’s right! If you accidentally send an email, you now get the option to “Undo Send”. You can select a cancellation period between 5 and 30 seconds, which determines how long that option will be available for you after sending an email. Here’s how to enable it:
- Click the gear in the top right.
- Select Settings.
- Scroll down to “Undo Send” in the default General tab and click “Enable”.
- Set the cancellation period.
- Click “Save Changes” at the bottom of the page.
No More Attachment Limits!
For the longest time, Gmail limited the size of the file you can attach in an email to 25MB. While that technical limit still exists, it’s as good as gone because of Google Drive’s integration with Gmail.
Google Drive is the unified online cloud storage service for Gmail and other Google apps, which offers a minimum of 15GB of free storage. If a file you want to send is over 25MB, then you can simply insert it through Google Drive, an option available right in the Compose window, as shown above.
If you are primarily a Dropbox user, then Dropbox for Gmail offers similar features for Chrome. But it’s not baked into Gmail, so you’ll only get this on Chrome with that extension installed.
A Pinterest in Your Inbox
Two years ago, Gmail introduced category tabs for the inbox, which sorted your email by Primary, Social, Promotions, and so on. The Promotions tab was especially good for clearing the clutter without fear of missing out on a good deal.
Now, since Promotions is basically all about great deals, Gmail is testing a more visual-oriented way of looking at those emails. You guessed it, Gmail has adopted a tiled, Pinterest-like look.
To get this feature, you need to sign up for the field trial at g.co/gmailfieldtrial. Opt in, and in a few days, you should see a new “Grid View” option when you’re in the Promotions tab.
The All New Google Contacts
In the top-left corner of your inbox, if you ever click the drop-down arrow next to “Gmail”, you’ll find the option to go into Contacts or Tasks. Google Keep is the new Tasks, so that hasn’t got an update, but the all-new Contacts is fantastic.
If you don’t automatically get taken to the new Contacts, then visit contacts.google.com/preview to see it in action.
- It will offer to merge duplicate contacts into one.
- It will automatically update your contact’s info, such as their phone number, from their Google+ profiles.
- It will show your last few emails with that person, so you know where you left off.
Couple these features with some of our favorite tips to manage your Google contacts and your address book should look in great shape.
Bonus: Ditch Hangouts for Old Google Talk
Not every new feature is a winner. Sure, Hangouts is a brilliant messenger on Android, but it can be buggy and bloated when loaded in your Gmail. If you’re sick of it crashing your Chrome tab, there is help at hand: you can go back to good old Google Talk.
Hangouts is now the default messenger in Gmail, but you can still use the old view by clicking the little drop-down arrow next to your profile pic in the chat pane, and clicking “Revert to Old Chat”. Follow the instructions and you’ll be back to good old Google Talk before you know it.
Of course, this means you can’t participate in Hangout Calls or group chats, but you can just switch back and forth easily whenever the need arises.
Tell Us Your Favorite Gmail Tip
Gmail has so many features and everyone has some great ideas on how to use them effectively. For example, I recently rediscovered Labels to finally tame my inbox.
What’s your best Gmail tip?