Things You Didn't Know Gmail Did

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Gmail is really useful. It's free without feeling cheap. It doesn't add ads to the signature line of your email messages, and it gives you a very generous amount of storage space. Gmail also has a lot of hidden features and hacks. 

Here are a few things you may not have known you can do with Gmail.

Turn on Experimental Features With Gmail Labs

gmail on laptop computer

Gmail Labs is a feature of Gmail that allows you to experiment with features that aren't necessarily ready for wide release. If they're popular, they might eventually be incorporated into the main Gmail interface.

Example tools have included Mail Goggles, A feature that attempted to give you a sobriety test before allowing you to send email on weekends. 

Have an Infinite Number of Alternate Email Addresses

 By adding a dot or a + and changing capitalization, you can actually configure one Gmail account into many different addresses. This is useful to pre-filter messages. I use a different variation of my email address for each Wordpress site I manage, for example. 

Add Gmail Themes

Rather than using the same Gmail background, you can use Gmail themes. Some themes even change during the day, similar to iGoogle themes. Some of them make your email harder to read, but most of them are pure fun.

Get Free IMAP and POP Mail

Don't like the Gmail interface? No problem.

Gmail supports both POP and IMAP, which are industry standards for desktop email clients. That means you can use Outlook, Thunderbird, or Mac Mail with your Gmail account.

Get Driving Directions From Gmail

Did someone send you an invitation with an address? Google automatically detects addresses in messages and creates a link to the right of your message asking if you would like to map it. It also asks if you'd like to track packages when you receive messages that contain them.

Use Google Apps to Send Gmail From Your Own Domain

I've seen plenty of people give out Gmail addresses as their professional contact, but you might still be worried that this might not look professional. There's an easy solution. If you own your own domain, you can use  Google Apps for Work to turn your domain address into your personal Gmail account. (Google used to offer a free version of this service, but now you have to pay.)  

Alternatively, you can check other email accounts from within your Gmail window instead of going through a different mail app. 

Send and Receive Video Hangouts from Your Email

Gmail is integrated with Google Hangouts and lets you send instant messages with your contacts. You can also engage in voice and video Hangout calls.

If you've been using Gmail for a while, this feature used to be known as Google Talk. 

Check the Gmail Server Status

Gmail is reliable enough that outages make the news. That doesn't mean they don't happen. If you ever wonder if Gmail is down, you can check the Google Apps Status Dashboard. You'll find out if Gmail is running, and if it is down, you should find information about when they expect it to be online again.

Use Gmail Offline in Chrome

Gmail can be used offline in Chrome with the Offline Gmail Google Chrome app. If you send a message while you're offline, your message will be sent while you reconnect, and you can browse through the messages you've already received. 

This may be useful for times when you're traveling through areas with spotty phone access. 

Use Inbox for Free

"Inbox by Gmail" is an alternate app by Google that you can use with your Gmail account. You can switch seamlessly between Gmail and Inbox, so it really is a matter of preference as to which user interface you like better. You lose Labs and a few other features by using Inbox, but you gain a smoother interface with more intuitive sorting. Try it out. If you don't like it, click on the Gmail link on the Inbox sidebar and you'll go back to Gmail.