Sunday, 31 July 2011

Google Apps Blog update

Google Apps Blog update

Link to The Google Apps Blog

Gmail Snooze with Apps Script

Posted: 29 Jul 2011 12:48 PM PDT

Posted by Corey Goldfeder, Software Engineer

Editor's Note: For a more technical description, see the Google Apps Developer Blog

At Google, we all use email very heavily -- for communicating with other Googlers, for task management, and to mail around funny pictures of kittens. Because of the volume of email we all deal with, a lot of Googlers subscribe to the "inbox zero" philosophy where we try to keep our inboxes empty except for the messages we currently need to deal with.

What is Gmail Snooze?
One feature that some of us really wanted was for Gmail to let you "snooze" an email. Snoozing means archiving an email for now, but having it automatically reappear in the inbox at some specified time in the future. With Apps Script you can extend Gmail to add this functionality and a lot more yourself.

How to set it up
Even if you don't know how to write a script, it's pretty simple. Go to Google Docs and create a new spreadsheet, then choose "Script Editor" from the "Tools" menu. Paste in the following code:

var MARK_UNREAD = false;

function getLabelName(i) {
return "Snooze/Snooze " + i + " days";

function setup() {
// Create the labels we'll need for snoozing
for (var i = 1; i <= 7; ++i) {

function moveSnoozes() {
var oldLabel, newLabel, page;
for (var i = 1; i <= 7; ++i) {
newLabel = oldLabel;
oldLabel = GmailApp.getUserLabelByName(getLabelName(i));
page = null;
// Get threads in "pages" of 100 at a time
while(!page || page.length == 100) {
page = oldLabel.getThreads(0, 100);
if (page.length > 0) {
if (newLabel) {
// Move the threads into "today's" label
} else {
// Unless it's time to unsnooze it
// Move the threads out of "yesterday's" label
Then click the "Save" button and give it a name. In the dropdown labeled "Select a function to run," choose "setup" and click the blue run arrow to the left of it. This will ask you to authorize the script, and will create the necessary labels in your Gmail. Then go to the "Triggers" menu and choose "current script's triggers." Click the link to set up a new trigger, choosing the "moveSnoozes" function, a "time-driven" event, "day timer," and then "midnight to 1am." Click save and you're done.

Using the Snooze Label in Gmail
To "snooze" a thread, use Gmail's "Move To" button to move the thread into the "Snooze for X days" label and archive it. Every night, threads will move up through one day of the queue, and at the appointed number of days they will reappear in your inbox, unarchived.

Because this is an Apps Script, you can edit the code any way you like. If you'd like different snooze times or for unsnoozed messages to get starred, you can easily change the code. And if you have an even better idea for how to use Apps Script to improve Gmail, you can post it to our Gallery (Script Editor > Share > Publish Project) to share with the world.

Save your friends from outdated email—help them switch to Gmail

Posted: 27 Jul 2011 01:33 PM PDT

Posted by Peter Harbison, Product Marketing Manager

I switched to Gmail the first month it came out, mere seconds after receiving an invitation from a friend and two years before joining Google. Since then, I've invited hundreds of people, most of whom have happily made the switch to Gmail and never looked back.

But I have one friend, Andy, who's the straggler in the group. A couple months ago, I sent out an email about a barbecue I was having. On the "To:" line, there were 15 Gmail addresses and then Andy. He stuck out like a sore thumb. Shortly thereafter, Andy was complaining to us about how much spam he got. That was the last straw.

My friends and I sat Andy down and talked him through how to import his contacts. We answered his questions, guilt-tripped him a little, and a few painless minutes later we were done. Andy had Gmail.

We all have a story like this. On the Gmail team, we affectionately refer to them as "email interventions." We hear about them all the time: the cousin who finally switched from an embarassing address like hottie6elliot1977 to a more professional, a co-worker who helped his dentist switch after he heard her grumble about having to pay for IMAP access, etc.

It's for these folks we created, a site that makes it easier than ever to help your friends and family make the switch.

Staging an intervention is simple:
  1. Visit
  2. Sign in and automatically identify who from your contacts has yet to make the switch, or just enter a friend's email address manually
  3. Choose from one of three intervention message templates ("straightforward", "concerned" or " embarrassed"), and add your own intervention video if you'd like
  4. Send a customized email and follow up as needed

Your loved ones are counting on you. Even if they don't know it yet.

Review your mail forwarding and delegation settings

Posted: 26 Jul 2011 02:05 PM PDT

Posted by Saurabh Sharma, Product Manager

A number of Gmail settings are the kinds of things you can set and forget — like mail forwarding and delegation. When I was in college, I used filters to forward bills I received via email to my parents (lucky them!). That was useful for a few years, but not so much now that I've been paying my own bills for a while.

It can be pretty easy to forget about all the settings we've enabled years earlier. So, for about the next week, if you use Gmail's forwarding or delegation features you'll see a message at the top of your inbox each time you sign in. The notice asks you to review your settings and confirm they're still what you want.

If things look right, you're good to go. The message will stop appearing in about a week. If you see any unfamiliar accounts or forwarding setups you no longer need, review your settings and change them as appropriate. Note that any unfamiliar accounts may indicate that your password has been compromised and you should change it immediately.

Your initial feedback on Gmail’s new look

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 03:02 PM PDT

Posted by Mark Striebeck, Engineering Manager

A few weeks ago, we released a preview of Gmail's new look via two new themes. We asked you to try them out and send us your feedback. So far, less than 5% of Gmail usage is happening through these themes, but we're getting some good feedback on what's working and useful advice about what to improve from you early adopters.

What you like
  • The clean and minimalist look of the new design
  • Seeing a consistent "look" across Google products
"The new Preview theme is wonderful! It's clean and crisp, easy to read and really focused on the one thing that matters most in Gmail — the mail! Thanks!"
What you want to change
  • Too much whitespace and not enough information (though interestingly, many people reported that they appreciated to lower information density after a while)
  • Not enough contrast
  • Darker theme options
"Even with the 'dense' version, I still have listings of about 30% fewer messages. The lack of visual differentiation between content and UI chrome is also harder to process (e.g., where does the conversation list end and the toolbar begin)."
We're working on improvements for the final release, but it is very encouraging that a visual update like this was generally greeted with such a positive response. If you haven't tried out the new themes yet, give them a go and tell us what you think.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Google Apps Blog update

Google Apps Blog update

Link to The Google Apps Blog

Faces of Gmail: Sarah Price

Posted: 21 Jul 2011 12:19 PM PDT

Posted by Kathleen Chen, Consumer Operations

In this month's Faces of Gmail we're profiling Sarah Price, our history-loving, lindy-hopping community manager.

What do you do on the Gmail team?
I'm the Community Manager for Gmail. That means that I watch over Gmail's user forum and talk with Gmail users in other places. For example, I'm one of the people behind @gmail on Twitter and Facebook. If you use Google+, you can follow me there, too!

What's the most challenging part of your job?
Gmail users have high expectations for us. They think of Gmail as their own and have great ideas about how to make it better. I love this about our users. Sometimes, though, we make a change that some people love and some people don't like as much. For the people who don't like the change, it can be hard to help them understand why we made it, and that we are still listening to their feedback.

What's your favorite part of your job?
I love that I get to work with such an amazing product, and I love meeting Gmail users from all over the world, including the "Top Contributors" in our Help Forum. I also love helping people get to know each other. It's very powerful when people come together over a common interest in Gmail.

What did you do before coming to Google?
I studied Latin Literature at Yale and Ancient History at Oxford. You are probably wondering how I ended up at Google! While I was a student, I also worked as a computer repair technician. I enjoy solving problems and teaching people about technology.

What's your favorite lab?
How can I pick just one? I couldn't live without Multiple Inboxes, which I combine with Superstars. Inbox Preview is really cool, too.

Which theme do you use?
I recently switched to the Preview (Dense) theme. It took a day or two to get used to it, but I like how clean it feels.

What's something you think every Gmail user should know about Gmail?
Everyone should take a tour through settings. Just click through the pages and see what you find. There's a lot of great stuff in there, and some really important things, too, like options for recovering your account if you ever lose access.

What do you do when you're not working on Gmail?
I rehearse and perform with my fusion social dance group, Decadance. We do everything from hip hop to waltz -- sometimes in the same piece! I joined Decadance because I love the lead/follow dynamic in partner dance. When I'm not dancing, I love to read, travel and play games, both board games and video games. I'm also starting to plan my wedding.

What's your biggest pet peeve?
I hate waste when it's easily avoidable. For example, when someone leaves the door ajar on the refrigerator in the office kitchen, or throws away a plastic bottle when there is a recycling bin nearby.

If you want to meet Sarah, she will be "hanging out" on Google+ today from 1-2:30pm PDT (8-9:30pm GMT).

Photos by Cody Bratt, Google Talk team

Update 12:18pm: Removed reference to Gmail Labs feature that's not out yet (but that Sarah was testing).

This week in Docs and Sites: A spreadsheets shortcuts menu, PPTX support and more

Posted: 20 Jul 2011 12:47 PM PDT

This week, we're introducing a number of enhancements to Google Docs and Sites: a spreadsheets shortcuts menu, support for PPTX conversion, a new RSS gadget, and improved mobile rendering for Sites.

Spreadsheets shortcuts
Although shortcuts have long been available in your Google spreadsheets, we've added a shortcuts menu to spreadsheets to make them easier to find -- saving you even more time. Hit Ctrl+/ (or Cmd+/ on a Mac) to pull up the list of shortcuts and learn new ways to sharpen your spreadsheet skills. Remember that shortcuts can vary depend on the operating system and browser you're using -- the example below is the menu you'd see if you were using a Chrome browser on a Mac.

Support for conversion of PPTX files to Google presentations
Starting today, you can convert PPTX files to Google presentations by either uploading the file from your desktop or converting the file from your documents list. Just follow the same simple steps as you normally would when converting files to Google Docs formats.

Better customization for your RSS Gadget in Sites
We've also added a new RSS gadget for Google Sites to our "Featured" gallery.

The new RSS gadget gives you complete control over the appearance of the gadget: You can customize any aspect of the feed, including font, color, size, number of items to display, and post length.

To set your gadget, go to Insert > More Gadgets > Featured, and look for RSS Feed.

Improved mobile rendering
After we released our initial version of Google Sites automatic mobile rendering, you enabled the option for over 50,000 sites, making it clear that you're looking for a better way to easily publish content for mobile devices.

Based on what you've told us, we're adding the additional behaviors to make automatic mobile rendering on Google Sites even better, including:
  • Images and header logos automatically scale in mobile mode
  • Gadgets and text boxes have widths that fit mobile devices
  • Pages with multi-column layouts stack columns vertically on mobile


Thanks for continuing to let us know what you think about our products -- these changes wouldn't be possible without you.

Posted by: Rajiv Bammi, Software Engineer

Make multiple calls in Gmail

Posted: 20 Jul 2011 05:46 PM PDT

Posted by Richard Dunn, Software Engineer

Over the years, we've expanded Gmail's communication abilities by allowing you to make voice and video calls to other computers and more recently call phones. Until now, though, you were limited to making one call at a time. Today we're excited to relax that restriction and allow you to make or receive multiple calls in Gmail.

If you're in a call and make a second one, your first call will be put on hold while you talk on your new call. You can switch between calls by pressing the "Resume" button on the call you want to talk on, which will automatically put the previous call on hold.

Receiving incoming calls while you're in another call is just as easy: you'll receive a notification of the incoming call and can choose to accept it or not. If you take the new call, the previous call will be put on hold.

Whether you make a second call or not, you can now put any call on hold — useful in case you need to talk to someone in the room or grab something off the stove. Just press the "Hold" button and then "Resume" to start talking again.

This feature works across all call types (voice, video, and phone); the only restriction is that a maximum of two outgoing calls to physical phones can be placed at once.

A new and improved Gmail gadget for iGoogle

Posted: 19 Jul 2011 08:42 AM PDT

Posted by David Yonge-Mallo, Software Engineer, Gmail

With iGoogle, you can personalize your homepage with the information on the web that's most useful and relevant to you. You can check email, watch videos, catch up on the latest news, check the weather, and more. One of the most common iGoogle requests we've been hearing is to update the iGoogle Gmail gadget. Because the Gmail gadget has to share space with other gadgets on the screen, the Gmail experience can be limited to an area not much larger than the size of a business card. Since we've already built an experience optimized for small screens with Gmail for mobile, we decided to adapt the mobile web version for iGoogle and are now rolling out an updated gadget.

The new Gmail gadget is pretty similar to the mobile experience — it's fast, looks good in small spaces, and includes popular features like search and labeling. By default, it appears in a minimized window (shown above); if you expand it into canvas mode by clicking on the maximize button in the upper right hand corner, you get the two pane view until now provided only on tablet devices (shown below). Going forward, the Gmail gadget will be updated with new features in tandem with the mobile edition.

Click the image above to see a larger version.

We'll be rolling out the new Gmail gadget over the next couple weeks. If you're already using the gadget, it will update automatically. If you're not, you can add it to your iGoogle page here. Keep in mind that the new gadget currently requires a WebKit compatible browser, such as Chrome or Safari.

Friday, 15 July 2011

My Google Account(s) History, and where to next?

In the beginning

Remember when GMail was creating the same kind of buzz that G+ is now? Remember how you could only get a GMail account by invitation? Well I was fortunate enough to be able to get the ID I wanted, and I was happy.

However, I also had my own domain name that I'd been using for years and that's where everyone emailed me. No problem; I just had GMail pull in my domain email and I was still happy.

Then came Google Apps for Your Domain (GAFYD), yes that's what we called Google Apps in those days. Now I could take my treasured domain name and get all the Google Apps goodness directly. I was even happier.

However, this meant I had a Google account at my GMail address with the ID/Profile name that I want to use, plus a Google Apps account at the email address that everyone uses (with no profile of course). No problem; I'll just make my Google Apps account a secondary email address on my Google account. Happy again.

Then came the Google Apps infrastructure transition. I've had to separate my Google Apps ID from my public Google ID. So I've got the profile name I want to use connected to the account I don't use and the email address I use with no profile. Not so happy now.

Now Google Plus has come along and I'm using my old GMail account once again because we don't have G+ in Google Apps yet.

So, I'm left with a situation where the ID/Profile name I want to use is now disconnected from the email address that I use. Yeah I know I could forward stuff and live in GMail instead of Apps but there ought to be a better way.

Somewhere along this journey things got even more messy when I had to associate a YouTube ID with my Google account. Naturally the YouTube ID that matched my Google account ID wasn't available so I have yet another ID.

Also as a PicasaWeb user I was able to select additional usernames for my album URL, this seemed great at the time and I tried out a few alternatives, only to find that they can't be changed or deleted afterwards. There was no warning of this at the time. So there's a another set of IDs I’ve got.

There is some good news though, products like Blogger and Analytics allow me to add users so I’m able to have a single account that can be accessed by either my Google or my Google Apps ID. Now that makes me really happy.

So, where to next?

First we need to be able to delete unneeded IDs such as those for PicasaWeb, apart from anything else it would free them up for others to use. Hey, Google this shouldn’t be hard.

Harder though is a process to match up our Google IDs with our YouTube IDs. Which takes precedence? How do you handle the dispute between JoBloggs on Google and JoBloggs on YouTube who both want the ID?

Secondly though, I think we should be able to use our Google profile names on whichever Google or Google Apps account we choose. One possibility that appeals to me is being able to "associate" two or more Google accounts together somehow on one profile.

Are you in the same situation with your IDs? How would you like to see this resolved?