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10 Most Useful Gmail Labs Features Worth Activating in your Account

written by: Arnold Zafra•edited by: Misty Faucheux•updated: 5/18/2009

Google has been consistently upgrading the functionality of Gmail by introducing many new features through the Gmail Labs. While most of these features are inherently useful, some are still utterly useless. We've picked 10 of the most useful Gmail Features which you may opt to enable in your Gmail.

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    1. Google Web Search

    I wonder what took Gmail this long to enable this feature. It is certainly one useful feature that you should enable as it provides a seamless interface connecting Google search with the different Gmail functionality. Not only does this feature allow you to search from within your Gmail Inbox, but more importantly it lets you use the search results in the body of your email message. With one click, you can append either the search result or its URL to the message that you are composing. To find out more about this feature, read our previous coverage on integrating Google Web Search to Gmail.

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    2. Offline Gmail

    Using Google Gears, this feature lets you use most of Gmail's functionality even if you're not online. It practically makes Gmail an offline email client. This feature allows you to search for your Gmail messages, write new message, and more. Once you get back online, this feature automatically syncs your online and offline Gmail account.

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    3. Gmail Tasks

    If you're like me who lets Gmail open in a browser window, you might as well activate this feature and turn your Gmail into a Task Management application. This feature puts a new window at the left navigation bar of your Gmail, alongside Chat and the Google Web Search box (provided you activated it). You can easily add new tasks, view current task you need to do as well as convert an email into a Task item.

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    4. Sender Time Zone

    I would have to admit that this is one cool Gmail feature that you should enable especially if you have many contacts from other countries. Once this feature is activated, you'll see green phone icons next to people who are already away and readily reachable. This means that it's between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm in their part of the world. While red phone icons indicate that they are asleep or out of the office. In addition, you can also view the date and time stamp of the message that you are reading by clicking on the "details" link.

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    5. Create a Document

    Activating this Gmail feature gives you the option to turn an email message containing valuable information as a starting point for a new Google docs document. This feature eliminates copying and pasting of text from your email to make them part of a Google docs document that you will be creating.

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    6. Send & Archive

    This nifty little feature allows you to send an email while saving a copy to your Archive folder. Once activated, you'll see another option labeled "Send& Archive" at the compose form of your Gmail account.

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    7. Undo Send

    A simple Gmail feature yet can probably save you the humiliation of sending incomplete or erroneous messages. Banking on the assumption that 5 seconds is enough for us to realize that something is wrong with the email we sent, enabling this feature would give you 5 seconds to "undo" the "send" command. Once you chose undo, Gmail will cancel the sending process and retrieve the email for you. Remember, you are only given 5 seconds to change your mind.

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    8. Search AutoComplete

    If you're like me who never bother to delete Gmail messages and just let them stay on my Inbox, this feature would come in handy when searching for important email you've previously received. In addition to automatic suggestion of search keywords as you type the first few letters of your search term, this feature also lets you search in specific places or search for email with attachments using advanced search operators.

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    9. Voice and Video Chat

    Now this is one feature that really illustrates how powerful Gmail could be. It provides an easy-to-use, seamless and high quality audio and video chat facility inside Gmail. After activating this feature, you must download and install the voice and video plugin to start using this feature.

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    10. Inserting Images

    If you often send out Gmail messages with image attachment, enabling this feature would help you to quickly insert images to your messages. Once activated, a new image icon will be displayed alongside the different rich formatting icons available for you to use. You can then upload image from your computer or link to an image online by providing its URL. Top protect you from spammers, Gmail will not show URL-based images in your messages. Once your recipients receive your message, they will still have to click the link "Display images below" or "Always display images from" to view the images you embed on your email.