Gmail has come a long way in 12 years. It’s not perfect and occasionally sends ripples of outrage across its user base. But let’s be honest: with Gmail you get plenty for nothing. As a Web app, Gmail is a work in progress, with Google occasionally adding new functions. The amount of under-the-hood power in Gmail is pretty staggering. That’s what we’re here to delve into: all the tools that lay below the surface of the Gmail inbox.
Let’s start with one thing right up front: Labs. Not the adorable fluffy dogs, but the “laboratory” of features that are still in testing by Google. You can access Labs by going to the Gear icon button in Gmail, selecting Settings, and the finding the Labs tab up top. I’m tempted to suggest that you turn them all on since they’re almost all that useful, but we’ll get into that in our slideshow. In addition to Labs, there’s plenty of browser add-ons and extensions that can enhance Gmail far beyond its original parameters.
Not every bit of power-user tech in Gmail requires special accessories. There’s plenty that’s possible via the main interface—or at your fingertips on the keyboard—without ever making a change to the settings or installing something extra. Mastering even a few of them will help you take full advantage of what Gmail has to offer beyond the basics of sending and receiving messages. Let’s get started.