We live in a day and age where those of us who use Gmail look down upon anyone who is still hanging onto their Hotmail, Yahoo!, or God forbid, Juno email addresses. Gmail has a lot of great advantages, and I'm not really writing this to convert people to it. This is meant for people who use Gmail to juggle their work and personal lives – especially if it's all from the same account.
Well, not a lot of people wade around in the Gmail Labs section, which is too bad, because it's basically the land of misfit toys Google is testing out that has the potential to transform your already great Gmail account into something much, much more powerful.
Since there are dozens and dozens of tweaks you can enable, I thought I'd just briefly highlight the nine that will help speed things up in your day-to-day.
Background Send. If you ever find yourself twiddling your thumb waiting for an email to send that maybe has a large attachment or if the server is just going slow for whatever reason, this lets you hit send and then get on with your super important life already.
Canned responses. If you're lazy and find you're often sending similar responses to people about this or that, this will let you pre-select messages you've written to shoot back. It's impersonal, but it'll take less time to add a bit here and there than to keep rewriting the same thing over and over.
Default reply to all. Exactly what it sounds like. Great if you're sick of hitting "reply," and then realizing you meant to hit "reply to all." It happens.
Google Docs gadget. If you use a separate chat client just for Gchat, then that lower-left corner of your screen is just blank space. With this, it'll become a handy pane to quickly navigate the Google Docs you most recently edited. This keeps you from having to click "documents" and then selecting what you want on another screen.
Preview pane or message sneak peek. Gmail as-is lets you see the first sentence or so of the message sitting in your inbox. This will let you have an entire pane or a window (preview pane and message sneak peek, respectively) to see much more of the message before you click in to see what's up.
Send and archive. Another quick time-saver. Lets you save and archive stuff in one fell swoop.
Send time zone. No more doing math on your fingers to figure out what time messages were sent to you. This show you what time it was for the sender when they got in touch with you. This'll prevent you from picking up the phone and waking someone in Switzerland up at 3 a.m. They might be neutral, but I bet even the kindest person would find it hard to be diplomatic being jolted awake by a phone call that could've waited 'til the afternoon.
SMS in chat. If you do use the chat function, this will let you send and receive text messages right in Gmail. Neat.
Undo send. This isn't quite the ace-in-the-hole it sounds like, but it will let you take back an email for a few seconds so you can finesse or change something at the last minute. It could save your time-saving hide.
David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.