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Google tests new Gmail features, adds Gmail Labs

Gmail Blog announced the additon of “Gmail labs” to showcase new experimental features created by Google engineers. Gmail Labs allows you to try out experimental new features in Gmail and send feedback to us so we can improve them. If you’re going to brave the Labs world, it’s important to keep the following things in mind about these features:

  • They may break at any time
  • Similarly, they may disappear temporarily or permanently
  • They may work so well that they graduate and become regular features

At 6 p.m. PDT Thursday, users will be able to select from 13 new features in a “labs” tab in the Gmail settings page, said Keith Coleman, a Gmail product manager, in a meeting with reporters here.

When you sign in, you’ll see a new page in Settings called Labs. It has a list of experimental new features, but unlike Google Experimental Search, you can enable or disable each one. Some of the popular ones will become core parts of the product, and we’ll eventually retire the ones that don’t get much use.

Among the new features that are possible:

  • A quick-link tool that lets people bookmark specific Gmail messages.
  • Superstars, which lets people select custom stars to label mail.
  • The “e-mail addict” tool that lets people lock themselves out of their e-mail account for 15 minutes.
  • A fixed-width font option to view a message within a font whose characters are the same width–handy for some formatting challenges.
  • Mouse gestures that let users take actions based on mouse movements.
  • Custom keyboard shortcuts.
  • Signature tweaks that let people automatically add a signature file above quoted text in an e-mail reply.
  • “Muzzle,” which conserves buddy-list screen real estate by hiding status messages.
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