Posted June 6, 2008 9:55 am by with 53 comments

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Some of you may have noticed that yesterday’s 6pm PDT launch of Gmail Labs came and went. The Gmail team promises that “We are currently in the process of rolling Labs out to English users” but I’ve yet to see it in my Gmail account.

Still, we can get a sneak peak of what to expect, thanks to TechCrunch’s screenshots:

I looked through the list of the 13 new options we’re getting and, you know what, they all suck! I mean seriously, about the only thing of use is the option (finally) to place your signature file ahead of the quoted text and not at the bottom each time. We had to wait for that to be added as an experimental feature?!?

Here are the features Gmail desperately needs:

  1. One-click, this is spam, never show again. When I mark something as spam, please give me the option–not some complex filter–to never see email from that sender again. There are many times I mark an email spam, then have to mark it again, and again.
  2. This is not spam, ever! On the opposite side, why won’t Google let me white-list email addresses? I get many false-positives, that I mark as not spam, only to find them in my spam folder again. One example, emails sent from to end up in my spam folder–every time!
  3. When I say forward, forward! Similar to above. I have many email addresses that I run through Google Apps. I can’t possibly log into each account each day, so I forward them all to a central Gmail account. So, why is it that, even though I have a filter to send ALL email to that account, Gmail still wants to apply a spam filter first? I have to login to each account periodically, just to sift through and find the emails that should have been forwarded.
  4. Drag and drop. In Google Reader, I can drag and drop the order of my RSS feeds. Big deal. How about giving me the option to drag and drop emails into my “labels” (folders)? That would be so much easier than using the drop down menus.
  5. The Label Abyss. Speaking of labels, have you ever suffered from the label black hole? Here’s how it works. I label an email with, say, “conferences” and then hit archive. I then head to the “conferences” label and my email is not there! Nowhere to be found. If I search for the email, I find it in the search results, complete with the little icon that shows it’s labeled “conferences,” but I don’t see it when I directly navigate to that label.
  6. Mark as important, confidential etc. Maybe I’m missing it, but how about giving me the option to mark an email as confidential, private, or even important? While we’re at it, how about a read receipt request too?

I could actually go on, but I want to hear from you. Is your Gmail life complete, now that you can play a game of “Old Snakey” instead of composing an email? Or, are there Gmail features you’d like to see?

  • I guess you could say that the other things Gmail probably need is “everything that’s included into the “better gmail” firefox plugin. Considering how many times it’s been downloaded, one could assume that the features in there would appeal to a lot more people than the current offerings in gmail labs.

    Tristan Louis’s last blog post..Is Techmeme myopic?

  • Great points Andy!


    My Gmail often freezes the browser (FF), so that’s on my priority list.
    When I log in, first thing I have to do is switch to Older version to prevent freezing.

    For the rest, I’m with you and your requests.

  • I agree wholeheartedly! I love gmail, but hate gmail. I “like” the labels, but what if someone has their twitter, facebook, etc. etc. in their signature – I then have 15 labels and it becomes impossible to actually find what I was looking for OR it becomes impossible to delete without doing -filters first. Come ON people – isn’t there an easier option?

    I like the better gmail firefox plugin but it’s a resource hog – it literally would NOT let me load gmail without a 40-60 second wait. TOO long for me.

    You asked 😀

    Oh, and I do like the 6 you do recommend!

    Dawn @ Coming to a Nursery Near You’s last blog post..My Top 10 WordPress Plugins

  • Hey Andy,
    Old Snakey and Email Addict?? Yeah waste of features! I do agree with a white-list function and drag and drop. Those features would really be helpful. As for email forwarding. To fix that, what i do is i forward my emails from the backend on my server/domain configuration. That way, every single email goes to my central gmail account rather than going through google apps.

    Paul Baranda

    Paul Baranda’s last blog post..It’s All About the Men

  • I desperately want (and have requested) a feature that would allow us to set reminders to reply to individual e-mail messages after specific time periods.

    Lenore Ramm’s last blog post..Merlion

  • Andy,

    You can mark a mail as important by clicking on the star icon. If you later go into the starred folder, you see all the ones you’ve marked as important. Not really sure if that’s what it’s there for, but that’s how I use it.

    Seologia’s last blog post..SEO y Shish Kebab – Un Resúmen Panel de SEO en Mix Essentials 2008

  • Forgot to say I’d add an option that allows me to place links on my signature. Every time I send an email I have to select both of my site’s URLs and click the “add link” button. Grrrr.

  • Thanks guys! I agree that Google should look at Better Gmail for ideas.

    @Seologia – the “star” icon is just to help you find important emails. I’d like to mark outgoing emails as important.

    Also, for adding links to your sigs, try this:

    Works great for me.

  • Would you like to hear something even more funny about Google spam filter? It blocks its own emails coming from Google search engine updates. I keep on marking them as “not spam” and they keep on getting filtered out.

    seo guy’s last blog post..Discovering your next niche

  • Fascinating, Andy: I don’t see any of the functionality errors you do with Gmail. Makes me wonder if we’re running the same code. What I would love to see, and what is rumoured to be coming, is “skins”. Generally Gmail functionality is sufficient for me, but I’m just a bit tired of the UI after all these years. (and no, I don’t like using third-party add-ons if I can help it)

  • @Paul – I just did the same with emails, now they’re all coming through. Thanks for the reminder!

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  • WOW – yeah it doesn’t seem like any of the new features they’re coming out with would be of much use to most people … some of them would help decrease productivity 🙂

    I think the rotating quote feature would be useful to a few people but that may be just because I’m tired of reading some quote they’ve had since email.

    I do think your 6 recommendations are right on – think some of them are the exact reason why I haven’t been using Gmail for all emails already. It’s just not as user-friendly as Outlook…yet

  • Cafc

    I’m surprised no one asks for a better way of quickly selecting multiple addressees, either to compose a new email or to forward one. The current dynamic option is a nightmare if you have many contacts yet only want to select a few of them 😛
    Yes, we have email groups, but the topics are different, so it doesn’t make sense to create a new group for each new occasion!
    A pop up window, using your mouse/cursor to check your desired set, is still the fastest way known to mankind to quickly select a few emails among a list of hundreds…

  • Cafc’s comments need serious consideration. This is a major frustration in selecting recipients from the whole list of addresses that one has.

  • PS3

    Second go at this comment, must learn to add 2 + 8 (:

    I’ve got the red tab “New in Google Labs” but not had the will to open it and be disappointed yet!

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  • I think forwarding not filtered mails isn’t possible because in this case you easily can run DoS on gmail.

    Symbian’s last blog post..Nokia S60 Symbian Windows Live client available in Europe

  • I disaggree with 3! Many people I know use gmail as spam protection, forwarding extra emails to other email boxes. At least default option should be filter the spam in the box.

    A way to overcome it is to create a mailing list instead a box. for example, would have only one recipient -> you. The emails in email list are NOT passed through mail filters.

    Also, showing that support requests land in spam box, means that they are formated incorrectly, or are similar to spam messages. Gmail anti-spam does not like too many links, and web-generated emails land much more often in spam than other.

  • Would like to see drag and drop functionality, along with skins. Skins for gmail could lead to a whole little mini industry blossoming.

  • With google already dominating the search market, i would never use gmail for my emails. There are many other services available and google already has forgotten the meaning of “don’t” in “don’t do evil”.
    Ne need to feed the big octopus

  • Drag and drop, desperately needed.

    Mult-level folders for archiving mail.

    And I’d really like to know who the genius is at Google who decided that people don’t archive outgoing mail.

    Oh, sure, I can put a label on outgoing mail, and it appears under the designated folder, but there it stubbornly sits (these days, hundreds of them) in the out box, as if I’d never archived it at all. If I file a mail I expect it to GO to the folder, I don’t want two instances of it cluttering things up!

  • If they’d just get rid of the ‘sent on behalf of’ bit… it’s not like I haven’t validated the address.

    Gidseo’s last blog post..Redesign for Forward Slash Marketing

  • I agree whole heartedly with number 1 and 2. Its just arrogant on Googles part to believe their spam filter is so good, that it’s smarter than I am.

    Top Rated’s last blog post..The Very Best Digital SLR Cameras

  • Yeah. The #1 and #2 things are most important. The rest if moments you talking about aren’t critical I think.

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  • james

    I believe you can actually whitelist by simply adding the e-mail address to your list of contacts…

  • @James – I tried that, and it didn’t work. 🙁

  • james

    I guess I don’t feel so bad about not trying it then. I remember seeing a tip in gmail somewhere about doing that, but I tend to just skim my spam folder quickly before I delete anyway (I’m sure I still miss an occasional thing).

  • I find that I keep loosing email in my Gmail account with the search and all. There is not enough space for the tags. I pop Gmails mail and use it as the best spam filter on the market. But I do agree that it is sometimes too harsh.

  • Pavan

    what are you? A moron or something!
    Clearly you barely even care to tweak browse through Gmail features.

    Like when you said , you press archive it vanishes, well then dude thats what the button does!! It archives it in the background. There is an option to just apply a label without pressing “archive”.

    And then you talk about “important” or whatever, there is something called “stars” present in gmail. I guess you missed it.

    And then there is number 3. Seriously dude, if I ever get your email adress, you dont think I can forward all the junk mail to you ? They dont need a confirmation mail to forward the emails from a particular domain name. You would end up with a lot of spam, if not for that filter. What you want is to create a filter of your own saying that particular emails should never be marked as spam.

    I agree with you on the drag and drop. But when you are giving your “expert” opinions, have the minimum sense to sift through all the services, the providers are offering.

  • Gee, so much for people freely expressing their thoughts about the functionality of a free app.

    No one has said anything moronic, they’re just mentioning their irritations with Gmail, no reason to get all histrionic about it.

    You seem to think that labels and stars are highly sophisticated organizational tools, which is blatantly false. It’s nice that they’re sufficient for your needs, but many other people find them limited in scope and flexibility. They have a different opinion, in other words, which is hardly a crime warranting your hysterics.

  • @Pavan – I use Gmail extensively. Either you didn’t fully read my post, or you’re the one not familiar with how Gmail works.

    I almost deleted your comment for violation of our comment policy. By all means disagree with me, but do so intelligently and without calling me a moron.

  • JM

    Gmail needs a “do not deliver before” (or an easier way to find it if it exists already). It’s easy enough to use Google Calendar to send scheduled reminder email to myself, but I want to be able to write email in advance and schedule when it is delivered to other people too.

  • Interesting thought, not a function that I’ve ever believed I needed … would be a rare thing, perhaps if I knew I was not going to have access to a PC it might be handy a couple of times a year. Otherwise drafts normally suffice, with manual intervention to send at a time of my choosing.

    A function mostly used by online businesses, I would imagine, eg, notifying cards or donations as gifts would be the obvious areas of need (with a nominated send date, rather than the ambiguous “do not deliver before”).

    Don’t really see it as a high priority one for Gmail (given how many other things are “needed”), but would be interesting to know if others have a burning need for the capability.

  • Maya

    Instead of the general quotes feed in Gmail Labs “Random Signature” feature, you can use customized quotes feeds by any tag, author or best, your personal favorites. you can get the fees at

  • Richie

    I’m surprised, no one has mentioned the ability to insert images into emails.

    This to me has been the biggest flaw/frustration I’ve had with Gmail.

    Yes, I know there is a work-around, but for Gmail to be out this long and to still not have added something so basic, surprises me to no end…

  • Richie, not sure what you are saying, you can add images to send.

  • Ganti Murty

    Hi Andy,
    Recently I am getting emails to my gmail address. It has my name as the sender
    and my name as the receiver and I have never sent these emails.
    What does this mean. a) compromised gmail account B) My computer has spy-ware
    c) Something I do not know

    Thank you for trying to “improve” the Gmail.
    I also very much liked the way you handled the moronic comment posted on “June 9th, 2008 at 10:59 pm ” Ganti

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