gmail labs.pngThis Friday Gmail Labs will be celebrating its one year anniversary. That’s right… those “extras” that you’ve been enjoying in Gmail all started one year ago when they pulled the curtain off of 13 features that testers could enable in their Gmail accounts. At the time none of the ones available were anything to die for, but as time has progressed the things they’ve added have really changed the way I use Gmail. In fact one year ago I was using a desktop mail client, and as more Labs features were released it slowly converted me over to using the web-based mail client.

I counted up the number of Gmail Labs features available, and if my math skills are anything to go by it looks like there are 51 at the moment. That’s almost an average of one per week if you spread that number out over the course of a year. Of the 51 available I have 26 of them enabled.

I’ve been keeping a close eye on the new Gmail Labs features that Google has been releasing, and if I think they’ll be helpful to me I’ll go ahead and enable them. What’s impressive is that even though I have over half of them enabled I don’t see it affect the performance of the site.

I was going to list out all of the ones that I use, but after some careful thought I figured it would be better to only share my favorites:

  • Inbox Preview – Show a simple, static preview of the inbox while loading.
  • Multiple Inboxes – Add extra lists of emails in your inbox to see even more important email at once. The new lists of threads can be labels, your starred messages, drafts or any search you want.
  • Undo Send – Thankfully I haven’t had to use this yet, but I know the day will come! With it you can stop messages from being sent for a few seconds after hitting the send button.
  • Tasks – Lets me manage my to-do list from my Inbox.
  • Send and Archive – Adds a button to the compose form that lets you send a reply message and archive the email conversation in a single action.
  • Title Tweaks – Changes the order of the elements in the browser’s title bar… makes it easier to see how many new emails there are.

Those are the six Labs features that have really changed the way I use Gmail… particularly the Multiple Inboxes one. I love being able to see certain emails that I’ve tagged or starred right there in my Inbox. It gives me even less of a reason to leave an email sitting there not filed.

So here’s a big thanks to Google and even more specifically the Gmail team! Now they just need to come up with a more user-friendly way to manage which Gmail Labs features are enabled/disabled. Because now that there are over 50 items it can be rather tedious to scroll through the list to find one in particular.