Gmail Labs

This entry is part 15 of 35 in the series Green Belt

The people at Google have found a creative way to let you try various experimental features of Gmail and provide feedback. They call it Gmail Labs. You can access these new features by clicking on the Settings link in the upper right, and then clicking on the tab labeled “Labs”. Some of these features are cosmetic such as date formats or removing the number of new messages from the various locations where messages are stored; others provide improved capabilities or time saving features like customizable keyboard shortcuts. Have a look in the Labs tab of the settings screen from time to time and see if there is anything of interest that might improve your Gmail experience.

You can choose to enable or disable any of them by using the appropriate radio button choice to the right of each option. When you’ve chosen which features to turn on or off, click “Save Changes” at the bottom of the screen.

According to the help page, there are a few things to keep in mind when you try these features out. First, they may break at any time. Remember, this is experimental software. Second, they may be removed from the feature set at any time. And third, they may work so well, that they may be promoted to regular features in Gmail.

If you use any of the Labs features and suspect you are having problems, you can temporarily disable them by modifying your web address, or URL, to https://mail.google.com/mail/?labs=0.

Feel free to provide feedback, report bugs, or suggest new features to Google by joining the Google group gmail-labs. Look under the “More” menu at the top of the screen for Groups, or follow the link in the show notes for this episode on the website.

Here’s a comment from listener Douglas E. Welch over at Technology IQ. It seems he had a stuck key on his keyboard and as a result, inadvertantly locked out his Gmail account “up to 24 hours” due to invalid access attempts. As Douglas stated in his blog posting, “It is a little distressing that a rather simple computer malfunction can result in a day-long lockout and the fact that there is no appeal process for such a lockout.”. Hopefully Google will remedy the situation and provide some sort of support mechanism for accidental technical difficults such as this in the future.

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