Everyone on the internet by now knows that Gmail is a free email service available to anyone. Some people even consider it a religious practice to set up as many Gmail accounts as they can and e-mail themselves pretending they have friends. Some people have asked me, “Why should I use e-mail when I have a cell phone and texting and voicemail?” A lot of the kids nowadays aren’t even sure what e-mail is and have no concept of writing someone a letter that doesn’t involve some three-letter slang acronym.
Luckily Gmail is making things a little bit better in the e-mail world. Gmail Labs is an ongoing project from Google, and they just released several new features, but the older features are worth mentioning as well. With these, hopefully, Gmail will be able to replace a lot of the functions that we use on our cell phones. On phones like the T-Mobile G1 where Gmail is integrated, it could eventually negate the need for data or text messaging plans.
So let’s look at some of the features of Gmail’s new “Labs” project.
Text Messaging (SMS) in Chat
That’s right, Gmail is integrating their chat feature with phone text messaging. You just Type in the Phone Number you want to send your message to, and then Press Send SMS. This works for any phone carrier, and doesn’t require adding a specific @address to the end like in my Free Text Messaging From E-mail article. However it is still much more effective to use the technique in my other article for texting because the Chat system seems to be buggy, assigns you a random phone number, and sends a little bit of “This is from Gmail SMS” spam with each message.. The good news is that this is free, except that the cell phone you are sending messages too will still be charged for a “Incoming” text just as if it was texted by a regular cell phone.
This is an interesting add-on that will help you to impress your friends, making them think that you know many famous quotes. Random Signature will generate a different famous, or original quote for every e-mail you send. All quotes display at the very bottom of your e-mails under a “–“ line.
Custom keyboard shortcuts
Set up your Gmail so that you can use it faster than spicy Indian food shooting through your intestines. Gmail makes things very customizable and offers the use a few other features such as the Old Snakey game without having to memorize Gmail’s confusing default hotkeys.
Probably one of the coolest new features, Tasks allows you to convert your e-mails into an on-going To-Do list. This feature is ideal for use if you have eBay auctions you are purchasing, work deadlines, or lonely mother-in-laws you need to be reminded to call. Tasks also works great as favorites lists, as it links back to all the e-mails attached to each task. This feature can be a little bit complicated, so here’s a groovy-mini How to.
1. Just Click “More Actions > Add to Tasks” on any individual e-mail.
2. You can also Create a new non-email related Task by Pressing Enter in the Tasks window. You can also just use the context menus below if you prefer.
Tip from Google
After turning Tasks on, turn on Keyboard shortcuts in “Settings > General” and then use “SHIFT-T” to create tasks from your emails – even faster than using the More Actions menu.
There are many more features that Google has to offer and to find them go into your Gmail account, then Click the Settings link at the top right of the screen. Next just Click on the Labs tab and start enabling your extra features! Remember to Save Changes when you are done picking out the ones you want!