“Google Mail Labs is a testing ground for experimental features that aren’t quite ready for primetime. They may change, break, or disappear at any time.
“If (when) a Labs feature breaks, and you’re having trouble loading your inbox, there’s an escape hatch. Use https://mail.google.com/mail/?labs=0.”
—Actual note at top of Google Mail Labs
The above may scare you off from using Google Mail Labs, but it really needn’t. Mail Labs give Gmail users a chance to play around and test upcoming features and settings that could soon be put to use. Most of the new features they roll out to all Gmail users had these uncertain beginnings in the Labs. Below are a few of the features I’ve found useful:
- Undo send: When PRI switched to Gmail from Outlook, one of the main drawbacks was the loss of the familiar Outbox within Microsoft Outlook. If you sent an email and forgot to Cc someone, or realized you forgot to add something to your email, you had a little time to check the Outbox and edit your email before it was released. Originally in Gmail, after clicking Send, the email would be sent immediately. There was nothing you could do about it. This new feature provides you a few seconds after clicking Send to cancel the send and continue editing your email.
- Inserting images: This one seems like a no-brainer but was not part of the original Gmail either (you could only attach an image). This rather simple feature allows you to insert images within the body of your email so that your recipients don’t have to waste time opening an attached image.
- Apps Search, Google Calendar gadget, Google Docs gadget: These three features help streamline your Gmail. Apps Search also includes Google Docs in any Gmail search that you perform, while the Calendar and Docs gadgets will integrate your Google Calendar and Google Docs within your Gmail window.
- Old Snakey: Need a quick break in the day? Simply click on the ampersand (“&”) key and play a game of snake, the game that was a staple on cell phones in the early 2000s.
There are more Labs for you to explore and experiment with. Other interesting Labs include “Canned Responses,” “Mail Goggles,” and “Video Chat Enhancements.” Sound interesting?
Go ahead—get Gmail and play the role of mad scientist yourself. You’ll find Labs on the Google Products page under the “Innovation” category.