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5 Gmail Labs Features for Bloggers

Posted by on 5th Mar 2009 | 10 comments

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Like it or not, email is still an important part of life for most bloggers. Even though many prefer IM, Twitter, Facebook and other means of contact, email still plays a big role in the lives of most Webmasters. Not only is it still one of the key methods of communication on the Web, but it is also the primary way we get a lot of our alerts and notifications.

With that in mind, Gmail has become the de facto leader in terms of email providers. Though not the most popular in terms of user count, it seems to be the provider of choice for power email users, including many bloggers.

One thing that Gmail has done well is innovate and grow its own product. A big part of that has been its “Labs” feature where users can enable experimental features and changes to Gmail for their account. Some of the changes are very powerful and useful, many are gimmicky and useless.

However, there are five Labs features that every blogger should consider activating in their Gmail or Google Apps account. They add features and tools that are just too valuable to pass up.

Multiple Inboxes

Most bloggers are following multiple streams of information. Incoming comments, Twitter alerts, regular email, etc. Multiple inboxes helps to sort through that by displaying them independently on one page, preventing you from either having to push these alerts out of your front page and into archived tabs or have them clutter up your regular mail stream.

The only caveat with multiple inboxes is that it requires a large monitor to make it work correctly. Those using netbooks, for example, will want to stay away.

Signature Tweaks

By default, Gmail puts your signature below the message you are replying to and separates it with a “–“. This means few people that receive emails see the signature as it is buried far below the original material and separated fro the rest of the email.

This is a problem since many bloggers use their signature lines to promote themselves by listing their URL, social networking information, etc. Fortunately, Signature Tweaks fixes that by moving the signature above the quoted reply and removing the separator. This makes the signature many times more likely to be seen and a much more powerful promotion tool.

Canned Responses

Email efficiency is important for just about anyone and, most likely, bloggers see a lot of the same questions and requests repeatedly. Gmail’s canned response feature makes it possible to save a draft email as a template and import it into any message you want in the future. This is ideal for things such as granting reprint permissions, answering link requests, etc.

The goal, of course is to not overuse the feature and to only use form letters when appropriate. Still, for those that get a lot of the same questions repeatedly, it’s a powerful tool to speed up replying to mail.

Title Tweaks

Most Gmail users want some kind of alert when they get new mail and, because of this, a slew of Gmail notifiers have been created for every operating system and every browser imaginable. Part of thereason this has been necessary is because, when looking at Gmail while in a different browser tab, it is impossible to tell if you have new mail.

Title Tweaks fixes that by putting the “Inbox (X)” before the other parts of the page title, making it visible even when you’re looking just the tab. This means you’ll always know at a glance how many new emails you have without having to have a separate program or extension running. Great for when you’re hammering out a long blog post and don’t want to be too distracted.

Add any Gadget by URL

The “Add Gadget” feature enables a new tab in the settings that lets you paste in the URL of a small page or tool you want displayed in the left hand sidebar of Gmail. Though the feature has only been available a few months, there is already a variety of gadgets available, including a Twitter client.

This is great if you have a feed you really want to monitor, if you want to manager your Twitter without a separate client or just want a simple sticky note function in Gmail. This feature can be turned into just about anything you need it to be so let your imagination roam.

Using Labs

If you want to add any of these features, just log into your Gmail or Google Apps Web interface and then click the green icon at the top. While you’re there look through the other labs features and see if any others might be useful.

Bottom Line

In the end, it seems like email is going to be a part of blogging for quite some time. So it makes sense to find ways to make the experience both more usable and more efficient.

Though few people like doing their email, most admit that it is important to their lives. As long as that’s the case, there’s no reason to suffer more than absolutely necessary.


10 comments - Leave a reply
  • Posted by Sinead on 6th Mar 2009

    I've use gmail for work and yahoo for personal, but only because I've used it for years. Gmail is way better – faster and more user friendly. I wonder if anyone will ver knock Google off the throne :)

  • Posted by Ken the tech on 6th Mar 2009

    I like especially the possibility of chat from inside of gmail page.

  • Posted by The Firm Wall on 6th Mar 2009

    Thank Jonathan Bailey for giving information.Out of 5 i used multiple inbox and bottem line.i think Gmail chat is the best feature of it..Really good post….keep it up..

  • Posted by jame on 6th Mar 2009

    thanks for giving information I like this

  • Posted by Rajeev Edmonds on 6th Mar 2009

    Out of these 5, I’m using ‘Muliple Inboxes’ & ‘Canned Responses’ feature. Perhaps the most powerful features of gmail when combined with the raw power of filters.

    Great post Jonathan.

  • Posted by Mom Most Traveled on 6th Mar 2009

    Hey thanks for this post! I followed your links and installed the Twitter gadget to my gmail. It’s a little small on the left side but I think it will help a lot by having one less tab open in Firefox!

  • Posted by Yasir Imran Mirza on 8th Mar 2009

    These are great features for blogging, specially Canned Responses, I always become lazy when I have to reply on blog comments, but this feature will really help me to get my visitors updated.

    Thanks bro

  • Posted by Fotos Engraça on 8th Mar 2009

    I like this! especially because now I can chat from inside of gmail page.

  • Posted by Francis Simisim on 9th Mar 2009

    Thank you for the tips, looks like I've got a lot of things to do with Gmail.

    Iendorser

  • Posted by Choose Your VoIP on 9th Mar 2009

    I did not know about this lab feature until I read this article. Thank you for the post, I will try it on my account at gmail and see if it would fit my needs and preferences.