The New Gmail Features That Are Actually Useful

The New Gmail Features That Are Actually Useful

Google has officially announced the new look that’s coming to after images of its redesign leaked a few days prior. The revamp brings with it, besides a much-need paint job, some long-awaited features that users could only get through third-party email clients.

The visual refresh puts Gmail in line with the rest of Google’s “Material Design” look. It’s got rounded boxes, bold icons, and hints of the paper-like aesthetic that Google’s been expanding to all of its products, including its Chrome browser on Windows 10.

Hovering over messages now reveals quick actions like marking items as read, snoozing emails, or archiving them. You can also quickly access attachments below an email without having to comb through a list of replies for the one message with the little paperclip icon, which is nice. Gmail will, according to Google’s blog post, “nudge” you to respond to messages, reducing the number of excuses you may have at your disposal for not getting back to your sister-in-law.


Image: Google

But a lot of these features are old hat, so there isn’t exactly anything out of the ordinary here. For one, if you’re a hardcore Gmail user, you probably don’t care about many of the visual enhancements or the ability to hover over emails for actions. You’ve got the keyboard shortcuts down by now. Snoozing is old news, as smartphone email clients like Astro and the late Mailbox have long since incorporated the procrastinator-friendly feature.

What is useful is the addition of Smart Reply for web users. One crazy tidbit about this machine learning-enabled feature: Smart Reply now automatically generates more than 10 per cent of all email replies on smartphones, Google claims.

A few of the new additions are pretty damn clever, and definitely may be up your alley. When using Gmail on your smartphone, for example, the mobile app will now suggest which newsletters you should unsubscribe from based on your tendency (or lack thereof) to open them.


Screenshot: Google

There’s also a “confidential mode,” which lets you add expiration dates and SMS authentication to emails containing sensitive content. Google’s even giving users the power to basically revoke messages sent through this new mode.

You can disable printing, forwarding, copying, and downloading the message as well. It works by sending a link to the sensitive content in the email rather than the content itself. While secure, nothing is safe from the power of the screenshot, so keep that in mind. Both consumer and business Gmail users will be able to use the feature as it rolls out “in the coming weeks.”

To enable the new Gmail, head to your inbox, click the gear icon, and select “Try the new Gmail.” Google is reportedly rolling out the redesign today in “waves,” so don’t freak out if you don’t see the option just yet. And if you use your Gmail for work with a custom domain, you’ll have to wait for an admin to activate the new look.


  • I cannot get the attachment thing to work. Whenever I go near the paperclip icon, the for-symbol pop menu appears over the top of it – so I cannot click the paperclip. Anyone tried this successfully?

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