11 Gmail Features That Will Certainly Improve Your Webmail Experience
Most people use Gmail to check and manage their mail from a computer or smartphone, but what is it that makes it stand out from other email services? Here are 11 features in Gmail that make it one of the best webmail services.
- A few words about Gmail
- Apps and add-ons
- The most useful labs
- Fetching files from Dropbox
- Multiple usernames
- Minor visual and speed improvements
- Inbox by Gmail
Gmail is one of the most popular webmail services, with over one billion active users worldwide. It was launched in April 2004 and was initially available to only a limited number of invited users.
In February 2007, it became available to the general public, but remained in a beta version. The full version of the application was published two years later- on July 7, 2009.
When it turned 10 years old, Gmail was the most popular webmail service, having more users even than older services, such as Yahoo. Actually, Yahoo Mail has only a quarter of Gmail’s users.
Gmail became the mainstream email service after the arrival of Android smartphones. More specifically, in 2014, 90 million people registered for a Google account (and subsequently a Gmail account) due to Android devices.
In terms of functionality, Gmail has a fairly effective spam detection system, with a percentage of false identification being limited to only 0.05% of legit messages.
Next, we will present 11 unique Gmail features that make it one of the best choices of its kind.
In this section we’ll go through a few apps and add-ons which expand Gmail’s functionality. Even though they are not pre-installed in Gmail by default, these apps are particularly useful to most users.
One disadvantage of most webmail services is the need for a continuous internet connection.
Unlike email clients, webmail services do not store data locally on your computer, and require constant communication with the service’s server.
If you wanted to manage your mail offline, but do not want to install any email client, Gmail Offline is what you need. With Gmail Offline, you can read and organize the already synchronized messages, view attachments, print emails, etc.
The changes you make will be synced the next time you connect to the internet. The first time you launch the add-on, you'll see a window like the one you see in the image.
To access your email offline, you must check the Allow offline mail option.
It should be mentioned that the add-on does not create a shortcut or icon in your browser. To open the application’s window, you should visit its respective page. For your convenience, you can save the link as a bookmark in your browser.
Sometimes you may need to schedule an email to be sent some hours or days later, and that’s what Boomerang does. It also supports conditions for scheduled emails.
For example, you can configure it to send an email to an account, if you don’t receive a reply within a time frame.
To install Boomerang, simply visit the extension's website and select Add this to your Gmail.
After installation, you will notice that a new field has been added to the email editor. In this field you can fill in the scheduled time and condition for sending the email.
With Checker Plus for Gmail you can have access to all of Gmail's features from any tab or window of your browser. You can check your inbox, create new emails, move existing email, and use any other feature of Gmail.
To install it, navigate to the add-on’s website and select Install. After the installation is complete, an icon you will be added to your browser, from where you can access the application.
Now, every time you receive incoming messages, that icon will turn red and a pop-up notification will be added to the bottom of the window.
Apart from add-ons of third party developers, Gmail offers a small collection of built-in labs. Labs, in this case, are small beta apps that add some functions on your account. Although they are likely to have some bugs, usually they work fine.
To enable a lab, go to Settings, and navigate to the Labs tab. There, you will find a small collection of add-ons, such as the ones presented below.
Note that any labs may be removed at any time, or make it into Gmail’s main settings instead.
So, the first add-on is called Preview Pane and adds a major feature in Gmail. Unlike other webmail services, Gmail does not have a preview pane where you can preview messages. With this extension you can fill in this gap, without the need for third-party apps.
The second add-on is called Custom Keyboard Shortcuts, and allows you to define your own shortcuts for specific tasks. It is very useful and will help you become familiar with the use of keyboard shortcuts. As a result, you can dramatically reduce the time needed to organize your emails.
Another lab are Canned Responses. This add-on is necessary for composing emails which have a fixed structure, such particular blocks of text.
To create a canned response, open a message (new or existing), click on the arrow button located on the bottom right corner of the editor, and select Canned response.
After giving a name to your reply, write in your email the text you want it to contain and click on Save. Then, your message will be saved and you will be able to add it every time by clicking on Insert.
With the continuous expansion of cloud services, it is almost certain that you will need, at some point, to send an email with files from your cloud storage. By installing the Dropbox add-on for Gmail, you can import files directly to your email from your cloud quite easily.
To import a file, simply click on the corresponding Dropbox icon the new message composition window.
You can more about the features of Dropbox in the following article:
Most users believe that their Gmail account is represented exclusively by a single username. However, in practice, you can have several similar usernames, by simply adding dots on your existing username.
Suppose you have created an account with the address firstname.lastname@example.org. Apart from that one, however, you can also use email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and any other variation, without restriction.
This feature is particularly useful for organizing incoming emails- you can use different addresses for different contact groups, avoiding the use of complicated filters.
Apart from dots, you can also use the plus sign, upper/lower case letters, as well as combinations of them, such as sample+Download.3K@gmail.com
Even the settings mentioned in this section are relatively simple, they can greatly improve your Gmail experience.
The first tweak is called Maximum page size, and is located under the General tab, in the Settings menu.
If you have a fast internet connection and a decent computer, you can choose the maximum number of pages and contacts per page, so that you can quickly navigate between them without having to switch pages. On computers with limited resources, there may be delays in loading pages.
As for the interface, you also have the ability to change the theme of the main window, by navigating to the Settings menu, then to Themes and finally click on Set theme. A list of thumbnails will open with the available themes, from where you can select the one you wish.
Last but not least, a basic HTML Gmail page for slow computers exists as well.
Gmail’s reliability and features are constantly changing, but its interface is reminiscent of an older tech era. If you wish to manage your mail through a modern environment, you can Inbox by Gmail instead.
Inbox by Gmail is an enhanced version of the classic Gmail, which has a minimalist design and some additional management and organization options. Unlike the simple Gmail, it has a relatively large list of message categories.
As you see, Gmail has plenty of features and options that give the ability to its users have a better webmail experience. If you have any suggestions or problems, don’t hesitate to let us know by posting in the comments section below!
Bonus tip: How to undo/delay sending a Gmail message.