5 Gmail Labs Features Everyone Should Try

Sharninder 07-10-2008

5 Gmail Labs Features Everyone Should Try gmail logoHere at Make Use Of, we’re big fans of Gmail and use it all the time. We love the interface, the features and above all, It just works.


But, as with all software, there is room for improvement and although Google has been adding features to Gmail at a dizzying pace, there’s only so much they can do, without breaking up the thing for a whole bunch of users.

And that is where Gmail Labs come in. My guess is that the Gmail team at Google got tired of deciding if a feature was good enough to be in Gmail and so have designed Gmail Labs to let the users decide, which is an awesome idea if you ask me!

According to the Gmail team,

Gmail Labs is a way for us to take lots of the ideas we wouldn’t normally pick and let you all (who use Gmail) decide whether they’re good or not.

To enable the Labs features, log-in to your Gmail account and click on “Settings”. There you should see the Labs tab. Click on that for a list of all the available features.

Gmail Labs Features


Right Side Labels/Right Side Chat

Move Labels and Chat to the Right

This is one of my favorite extensions. All it does is take the list of labels and the chat box from the bottom-left of the page and places it at the top-right of the page. What a huge difference that makes.

The problem with the labels/chat box at the default location is that one has to do a bit of scrolling and clicking to reach there. This extension takes the pain out of using the labels.

Signature Tweaks

Gmail Signature


This is one of those things that has been, in my opinion, broken in Gmail since day one. I’m glad that the team has finally got around to providing a solution to the problem. The signature tweaks extension lets you place your signature before the quoted text when replying to an email. It also removes the ‘–‘ before the signature.

Quoted Text

Quoted Text

This extension is definite proof that God exists. Gone are the days of selecting and deleting irrelevant text when replying to a message. A huge time-saver if ever there was one.

Vacation Time

Vacation Time Auto-repsponder


This is another useful extension that lets you specify the start and end dates for your vacation, so that the auto-responder can stop auto-responding to emails when you’re back.

Now, I can see that grin on your faces, I know all of you have at some time forgot to disable the auto-responder ;)

Forgotten Attachment Detector

Gmail Attachment Reminder

We’re all guilty of forgetting to attach a file while sending an email. Hell, I’ve even sent job applications without attaching my resume :-) This extension is definitely a God-send for people like me … and I use it all the time.


Do you guys have any favourite Gmail Labs extensions ? Are there any extensions you would like Gmail Labs to invent? Please leave a comment and tell us your dream Gmail extension!

Related topics: Email Tips, Gmail.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Ron
    February 26, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    I should have also put the relevant point that I often want to do this from my BB, and you can't even go into settings and uncheck your signature in the smartphone Gmail.

    It'd be ideal if you could end your email with a string which would then block the signature from appending on.


  2. Ron
    February 25, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    I hope I'm not asking a question that is obvious... If so, sorry. I looked around a bit and couldn't seem to see anything relating...

    My issue is that once in a while I want to send an email without my signature block. Other than going into settings and checking "no signature" before I write the email, I can't find a way to do this.

    Any help?


    • Sharninder
      February 26, 2009 at 12:12 am


      I don't know of a solution for this other than removing the signature manually for those emails that you don't want a signature for. You don't have to go all the way to the settings pane, just delete the signature from the email.


  3. tips photo
    February 2, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    Some of these are great features that can be used in gmail. But there are a few that I don't see a real big use for or what anyone would use them for.

  4. momo
    December 11, 2008 at 4:44 am

    I want to be able to send emails at a specific date & time.

    • David C
      December 12, 2008 at 11:20 am

      The suggestion from momo could be useful.

      My wish would be to group all the conversations from a person or with a tag under the same conversation. Yeah, labels are great, but if you want to keep up to date with the usenet groups, it is much better to have all the new messages inside only one message. Currently, my inbox is overflooded and if i use the option to “label n archive” then i lose track of the new messages.

  5. Sharninder
    October 19, 2008 at 4:17 am

    @Munkypint: I agree gmail's address book is kinda broken in that sense. The ability to "deactivate" an email address is something I've wanted for some time too. Hopefully, google is listening :-)

  6. Sharninder
    October 19, 2008 at 4:15 am

    @Vijay: Which browser are you using ? I use firefox and safari and the right-side chat works perfectly.

  7. Munkypint
    October 15, 2008 at 3:13 am

    Other then the mass mailing mentioned by myself before, another useful feature would be the ability to disactivate an email without removing/deleting it. i.e. when someone retires and their professional email isn't valid anymore, I do not want that persons old address to appear when composing an email. But it could be interesting to still have that email for search reasons for example.

  8. Vijay
    October 14, 2008 at 9:08 am

    Nice compilation.

    I faced some issues on right side chat/label bar.

    When I read the mails, the google ads and these right side bar are clashing. Which is very ugly.

    I hope GMail will fix this.

  9. bob
    October 10, 2008 at 12:57 am

    I cant get the LABS tab to show up in my gmail account. It doesnt work for any of my gmail/google apps either.

    I've switched all settings to English UK and turned on next generation features etc

    Any ideas?

  10. David C.
    October 9, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Hi Mark, thanks for the recommendation! I will take a look on it, it seems very interesting. When I said "Invites" I was thinking of a better integration with the events of Google Calender: Maybe with a button. If your wish-list gets implemented, then I'll have to think harder of more suggestions!

  11. Karthik Balaguru
    October 9, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Gud one !!

    Karthik Balaguru

  12. Mark O'Neill
    October 9, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    I have a fairly short wishlist when it comes to Gmail as most of my wishes have already been done by Gmail :

    1) drag and drop attachments by default
    2) a more functional address book (mainly the ability to tick off the people you want to send the email to, instead of trying to remember who's in your address book)
    3) search inside attachments
    4) delete attachments but keep the email.
    5) a to-do list
    6) tighter integration with Google Calendar.

  13. David C.
    October 9, 2008 at 9:16 am

    My wishlist:
    1) Paste images into emails
    2) Drag&drop attachments
    3) Drag&drop emails over a label to "label and archive"
    4) Invites
    5) Mini-calender linked with the Google-Calender and the option to create events without going to the Calender page
    6) ability to open ZIP files without downloading them, and then select the files to unzip/download
    7) search into attachments
    8) option to save attachments in the Google documents web-space
    9) option to select as attachment a Google document
    10) to-do lists (with the option of linking important emails for the task)
    11) Program email (to be sent automaticaly in 2, 3, 4 days)
    12) sms notifications

    and so on...

    • Mark O'Neill
      October 9, 2008 at 12:13 pm

      If you want to drag and drop attachments, you can do this at the moment using a Firefox extension called "dragdropupload" - [Broken URL Removed]. I've been using it for a long time and it works perfectly. But you're right - Gmail should have this built in by default.

      Invites? To what?

  14. maltman
    October 9, 2008 at 8:34 am

    I want to be able to paste pictures in gmail. why can't we do that? it seems so simple

  15. Fish
    October 9, 2008 at 6:06 am

    Nice article, I'll check them out.

    BTW, you didn't do a great job blurring your email address, I can still read it when I look from above at my laptop screen

  16. wcoenen
    October 9, 2008 at 3:50 am

    Note that the "labs" tab in the gmail settings is not available if the language is not set to English.

  17. Shantanu Oak
    October 9, 2008 at 2:53 am

    I want a drop down next to "reply" that will have an option to reply using one of the templates that I have saved. I have to reply to a lot of e-mails and I will like to use templates like "general inquiry", "redressing complaint" etc. I have saved the text in draft folder. But I have to copy-paste it every time when I reply. I hope this will help a lot of people.

  18. TheFix
    October 8, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    Excellent list...just rack up another GMail list that just plain 'makes sense'.

  19. Josh
    October 8, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    I discovered this one yesterday... they have a lab item called "Mail Goggles", which gives you a short test during specified times (which you can set, but there is a default) so that you don't send regretful emails while your not in your right mind (ie. drunk, high, etc). I think this will help a lot of people.

  20. peter
    October 8, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    They need to have one to automatically detect dates, then search for places and times, and then have a pop-up asking if you want to set an event with the sender at that place, time, and date, and let you deny or edit it. That would be incredibly cool.

  21. Caligula
    October 8, 2008 at 7:50 pm


    The signature goes at the BOTTOM. Where your REPLY should be.

    Pah. You are validating my inherent mistrust of strangers. Mackenzie, besides being cute as a button, has provided the canonical Q & A on this topic.

  22. AJ Batac
    October 8, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Temporary fix for the "Right Side Labels/Right Side Chat" horizontal scrollbar:

    When you are logged in to the Chat >> Click the "Options" Link >> Then click anywhere.

    That should temporarily fix it.

  23. Munkypint
    October 8, 2008 at 9:28 am

    Having a mail merge option to send mass emails without having to use thunderbird or otherwise. Could be made to use google docs' spreadsheet.

  24. Sharninder
    October 8, 2008 at 8:47 am

    @Jacob: LOL ... I sure can make use of (pun intended ;) ) of this new feature.

    @ Aoi: I can definitely use some of those myself. Google are you listening !

  25. Sean Wood
    October 8, 2008 at 8:42 am

    I want this stuff for the hosted Gmail - Now!


    • Peter Wemm
      October 8, 2008 at 7:18 pm

      You can get the new features on hosted email by sticking "?ui=2" at the end of your login url. eg: "". That includes the Labs features.

      • Sean Wood
        January 29, 2009 at 12:05 pm

        Peter, if Valentine's gifts are absent in your life, please let me know. That situation will end immediately.

  26. Mackenzie Morgan
    October 8, 2008 at 12:46 am

    Um, why would you get rid of the "-- " signature marker? That two-dashes-and-a-space is the standard way of marking the start of a signature block so that mail clients know not to quote anything after it, though I guess if you're being ridiculous and top-posting, that would result in having nothing quoted.

    A: Because it messes up the order in which people normally read text.
    Q: Why is top-posting such a bad thing?
    A: Top-posting.
    Q: What is the most annoying thing in e-mail?

    Now, that's not to say you put the *entire* email at the top. That's not what quoting's for. You quote the part to which you are replying. Snip out the irrelevant bits.

    • Peter Wemm
      October 8, 2008 at 9:39 pm

      I found a greasemonkey script that "fixes" gmail to make it work right. It gets rid of the top two lines and moves the cursor to the signature in the right spot. There are a couple of slightly broken ones on, so I fixed one up (I think) and put it here:

      I use that now and I'm much happier. And it stops me getting yelled at if I forget and accidently top-post on a mailing list.

  27. Aoi
    October 7, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    Great intro to the latest features. Features that I'm looking forward to:
    1. Multiple avatars you can assign based on categories you give to people in your address book
    2. Multiple signatures (same as above)
    3. Reply option that excludes quoted text beyond a certain depth
    4. PGP for really private email
    Just a few from my wish list.

    • Mackenzie Morgan
      October 8, 2008 at 12:25 pm

      No point to having PGP on GMail. It auto-saves drafts anyway, so your cleartext version would be saved on their servers. Type & encrypt it locally, as you've always done, if you actually want it to be private. Oh, um, save it in /tmp before the encryption, that way it's just a ramdisk, not your actual hard drive...because you don't want the cleartext to exist anywhere on any hard drive.

  28. imdragon
    October 7, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    I know I will be playing around with the custom colors for labels

  29. Jakob
    October 7, 2008 at 3:23 pm