Five (More) Favorite Gmail Add-Ons

Did you take our recent advice about the free add-ons from Gmail Labs that turn Google's Web-based e-mail service from good to great? Here's five more free add-ons that will improve your productivity with Gmail.

By C.G. Lynch
Fri, January 09, 2009

CIO — Last month, I reviewed my five favorite Gmail add-ons, which included helpful widgets that you could easily embed in the screen real-estate surrounding your inbox. You can access all of them from Gmail labs, a service that lets you test (and use) these additional features while they're being tweaked by the developers at Google. (To access labs, click on the green beaker in the upper right side of Gmail, near where your e-mail address appears in bold lettering).

This week, I've tried out some additional helpful add-ons, in a quest to make the free e-mail service more customized for me and my needs. The only drawback: The more of them I add, the slower Gmail runs. But I don't care. Any time I lose in load time is made up for my toggling between tabs (and the apps in them) fewer times a day, increasing my productivity.

1. Tasks

How it helps do no evil: Think of tasks as a very lightweight post-it note for your Gmail inbox. Simply add an errand or to-do item, such as "write article on Gmail add-ons," and the item will appear as part of a list form at the bottom of your Gmail page (it almost looks like a Gmail Chat window). All you have to do to add a new task is click "enter" and type it in. When you're done, click on the check-box next to it.

Tasks list

This is an especially worthwhile add-on if you're a list-y type of person, and you feel like you're getting through your day by (in this case literally) checking the boxes.

One other really cool feature is in the way Tasks integrates with incoming e-mails. Whenever you have an e-mail open in Gmail, you see a drop down menu beside it that says "more actions." This allows you to do things like archive or filter an e-mail. After you start using Tasks, an "add to tasks" option will appear in that drop down menu also. So if you receive an e-mail from your boss with a subject line of "new deadline for project," you can easily add it to your task menu.

How to set it up: Go to Gmail labs (as described in introduction), scroll to the tasks add-on, and click "enable." Notice, also, that the developer made a list of keyboard shortcuts there for you to use. Don't forget to click "save" at the bottom of the Labs page.

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