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Gmail has been known to roll out new features every now and then. It has always been very user friendly and now, with all the new features coming out so quickly (in Gmail labs), it is becoming more interesting than ever. Being the Gmail fans that we are, here is a quick run down of recent features that Gmail has to offer:

Import mail and contacts from other accounts

You know the “Invite Mr. X to Gmail” notice that appears when you send an email to a non-Gmail user? Ever invited someone, only to get a response like, “I have all my mail and contacts in [Yahoo/Hotmail/other email provider], how can I possibly switch?” Or maybe, this very reason was holding you back to make a complete switch to Gmail? Earlier, you could do this via POP3, by exporting and importing contacts via CSV. Well, guess what? Importing contacts just got a heck of a lot easier — down to almost a no brainer.

All you have to do is click on “Settings” and then hop over to the “Accounts and Imports” tab. Specify the account you want to import the mail and contacts from, choose the options and you are done! Most of the major email providers are supported.

Gmail uses Trueswitch to transfer mail and contacts, so you might want to have a look at their Terms and Privacy Policy if you are concerned. The feature is available to newly created accounts but may take some time to reach you if you are a long time Gmail user.

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Oh and by the way, you can have new messages from your old account forwarded to Gmail for 30 days just in case you feel like Gmail isn’t for you, although I doubt you would!

Inbox Preview

You ought to try Gmail on slower connections to appreciate how wonderful the idea of Inbox Preview is. Imagine you are waiting for Gmail to load, looking at the progress bar, wondering if you could just grab it and pull it towards the right! Well, how about doing something worthwhile actually related to email? What if you could get a sneak peak of your account while Gmail is still loading?

That is precisely what Inbox Preview has to offer. It present a static (means you cannot read, delete or perform other operations) view of the 10 most recent messages in your account. So now, even before Gmail has finished loading, you’ll know that you only have got hate mail from your ex-girlfriend, so might as well close the browser. Never mind loading! On a more serious note though, I LOVE IT. Can’t believe it was not there all this while.

Insert Images

Nothing too fancy but useful all the same. You can now click a button, upload an image and insert it into the mail. No more copy and paste tricks to add images to your mail. Just enable “Insert Images” from the Labs settings page.

Sender time zone and automatic message translation

“Sender time zone” lets you know the current time in the part of the world from where your good old friend has sent you the email. Primarily, it shows a green or red phone icon depending on whether the sender would be probably awake (9am to 6pm) to receive a call. You can click on the “Show details” link and you will be shown the sender’s exact local time.

Automatic message translation, as the name implies, helps you translate emails written in a language other than your own. You get a “Translate message” link in your email if Gmail detects another language. Click on it and you are done. Useful if you have friends who can’t write/read language you are well versed in.

View PowerPoint and TIFF files

Gmail has always had the option to view PDF, .doc, .xls and .ppt files as HTML or provided you with a link to open them in Google Docs. Not so long ago, Gmail added an online PDF viewer that presents the file as it is, displaying images and proper formatting. Well now, you can view PowerPoint and TIFF files similarly with all the same features.

What do you think is the one feature is most useful to Gmail? Okay, make that two. Or as many as you like! We would love to hear about them in the comments. Also, what else would you like to be added to Gmail Labs next? How about a Google map showing where the email originated from?

  1. srdha
    June 2, 2009 at 12:16 am

    i gust want to say some thing "great job"

    Update your Twitter randomly according to your intrest Or, from Rss Feed Or, from your own tweet message list Or, Any combination of the above three feedmytwitter.com

  2. Alexa
    May 28, 2009 at 9:47 am

    I can't seem to find the Import Email from other Accounts function, where do I enable it? It's not in my Labs either.

  3. cate
    May 26, 2009 at 11:12 am

    Has anyone gotten the Insert Images thing to work? I've tried different file types (all small files) from my computer and from websites, and all I ever get is a "fail" message.

    Very frustrating, and apparently I'm not the only one:

    • Oron
      June 1, 2009 at 5:35 pm

      Works for me. Firefox 3.0.1.0 on Win XP. No suprises, no problems.

  4. Chris
    May 25, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    I wanted to move from Hotmail to Gmail, but transferring wasn't all that easy.

    With my Hotmail account, I could be alerted as soon as I get an email.

    Once I'd transferred all my emails to my Gmail account and set up an email forwarder, the problem with it was that Gmail has to keep checking my Hotmail inbox every x minutes. The x can range up to 10 minutes, and that's a big time gap if I'm waiting for an important email. You can't change when it checks, it just seems to check when it wants to.

    That's the only thing that annoyed me - I wasn't able to get my emails instantly.

    If anyone's got any comments or fixes for this, let me know.

  5. deepikaur
    May 25, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Very nice article!

    The preview really is quite helpful, though I've yet to get stuck in an instance where I would have a slow connection. Calendar gadget in Gamil = quite helpful. When I'm sending out an email, making plans for the upcoming weekend, I just glance over to see if there's anything else already planned. Title tweaks is also quite nice, as is Custom Label Colors and the Forgotten Attachment Detector...

    How about Gmail is just great in general? :) Been a fan since Gmail was in its invite-only phase!

    I'm sure whatever they come out with next will be just as great. The team seems to come out with things that just seem like they would naturally be a part of an email service, yet no one has it.

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