The Most Useful Gmail Labs Features

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Wikimedia Commons/Own work

Some of Gmail's best features are in its labs. Gmail Labs is a testing ground for experimental features that aren't quite ready for primetime. They may change, break or disappear at any time. The experimental is exciting, of course, but certainly not dangerous.

By the way: If (when) a Labs feature breaks, and you're having trouble loading your inbox, there's an escape hatch. Use https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?labs=0.

Here are the most useful Gmail labs features for you to try now.

Authentication Icon for Verified Senders

Spammers can spoof a message to make it look like it's sent by a real website or company that you might trust. 

If you enable this lab, you will see a key icon next to authenticated messages from trusted senders, such as Google Wallet, eBay, and PayPal, who match the following criteria:

  • Send a high volume of messages over time that most Gmail users think are not spam.
  • Publish a DMARC reject policy, which means that the domain only sends authenticated mail and any unauthenticated mail sent by the domain should be rejected.

Auto-Advance

Automatically shows the next conversation instead of your inbox after you delete, archive, or mute a conversation. You can select whether to advance to the next or previous conversation in the "General" Settings page.

Canned Responses

Email for the truly lazy. Save and then send your common messages using a button next to the compose form. Also automatically send emails using filters.

Custom Keyboard Shortcuts

Lets you customize keyboard shortcut mappings. Adds a new Settings tab from which you can remap keys to various actions.

Google Calendar Gadget

Adds a box in the left column which shows your Google Calendar. See upcoming events, locations, and details.

Mark as Read Button

Tired of spending all that effort to click on the more actions menu every time you want to mark messages as read without reading them? Now just enable this lab and that is just a button click away.

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, configurable under Settings.

Pictures in Chat

See your friends' profile pictures when you chat with them

Preview Pane

Provides a preview pane to read mail right next to your list of conversations, making mail reading faster and adding more context.

Quick Links

Adds a box to the left column that gives you 1-click access to any bookmarkable URL in Gmail. You can use it for saving frequent searches, important individual messages, and more.

Quote Selected Text

Quote the text you have selected when you reply to a message. (Now works with the mouse, too.)

Smartlabels

Automatically categorizes incoming Bulk, Notification or Forum messages. Filters are created to label mail with these categories and Bulk is filtered out of the Inbox by default. Use Settings > Filters to modify these defaults or create new filters. Report miscategorized email from the 'Reply' drop-down menu.

Unread Message Icon

See how many unread messages are in your inbox with a quick glance at the tab's icon. This lab only works with Chrome (version 6 and above), Firefox (version 2 and above), and Opera.