Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Getting the most out of Gmail

[Cross-posted from the Google Enterprise Blog]

Last week we posted some tips to help you move from Microsoft Outlook® and other client-based software to Google Apps. Today we’d like to share some more thoughts on making the most of Gmail.

Save time with Priority Inbox
A busy day often affords few email breaks. When you do get a chance to scan your mail, Priority Inbox helps you prioritize by identifying the messages that require your immediate attention. Gmail uses a variety of signals to predict which messages are important, including the people you email most and which messages you open and reply to. The best part is it gets better the more you use it. Turn on and manage Priority Inbox in your mail Settings – and read our tips to become a real Priority Inbox whiz!

Seamless chat, video and calling
We work with people in multiple ways, and Gmail makes it easy for you to choose the most effective means to communicate: email, chat, text messaging, video chats and phone calls are all available from your inbox. For example, voice and video chat lets you have an actual conversation with someone or meet face-to-face in brilliant resolution. And for those early adopters transitioned to our new infrastructure, we recently added the ability to call phones in Gmail, so you can place phone calls from your computer to any landline or mobile phone number and receive calls as well. For phone calls and video chat, download this plugin to get started.

Get more attached to your email
Attachments in other email systems can be cumbersome; they take up space, can be hard to find and you have to open another program to take action, which slows you down. Gmail has some helpful features that let you quickly view attachments without the need to open or download them on client-side software. The Google Docs Viewer allows you to view .doc, .pdf, .ppt and other attachments in a new browser tab simply by clicking the "View" link at the bottom of a Gmail message. If you decide you want to edit the file, click "Edit online" to open it in Google Docs, or download it to your desktop.

Gmail also includes a Google Docs preview lab that lets you read the entire contents of a Google document, spreadsheet or presentation right in Gmail. Note that your administrator needs to have enabled Labs for you to access them.

Put email in context
Wouldn’t it be great if you could update a sales lead without leaving your inbox? With contextual gadgets, you can. They display information from social networks, business services, web applications and other systems, and let you interact with that data right within Gmail. Your administrator or any third-party developer can build and distribute Gmail contextual gadgets to the domain with just a few clicks via the Google Apps Marketplace, which we launched in March. To learn more, browse for apps in the Marketplace that have ‘Mail Integration’.

The keys to productivity
With Gmail, we built in keyboard shortcuts to help you get through your mail quickly and efficiently. Once you enable this feature in Settings, you can archive (e), reply (r), compose (c), delete (#) or take just about any other action with one key or a short combo. For a handy guide, type “?” while you’re in Gmail – for maximum efficiency, print it out and post it at your desk.

Experiment in our Labs
Gmail Labs give users experimental – sometimes whimsical – features to customize Gmail in a way that works best for them. Some Labs accommodate preferences, such as adding a “Send & Archive” button, while others help you communicate, such as the Google Voice player and SMS in Chat. Still others help you stay organized, like the Google Docs and Calendar gadgets. If your administrator has enabled Labs for your domain, check them out for yourself.

What’s your favorite feature in Gmail? Feel free to let us know in the comments below. Happy (productive) emailing!