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Up until today, it's been a little tedious to send large or multiple attachments with an email. You had to select each attachment individually and you never knew how long it would be before those bigger files were ready to send.

Today, we're making some changes to the way Gmail attachments work. If you want to send a few files from the same folder, simply hold down the Ctrl key (Cmd on OS X) and click on each file you want to attach to your message. You can also hold down the Shift key to select a continuous list of files. A definite time saver.



You'll not only save a few mouse clicks selecting files, but you'll also see progress bars on each file as it uploads.

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I'm often doing something on my computer and want to know if I have new mail without having to keep my Gmail window open. But if you keep Gmail minimized or in an inactive tab sometimes all you see in the browser title bar is something like "Gmail - Inbo..."

It gets worse if you use Gmail through Google Apps and/or in a language that tends to have longer words. You have to open the window to see if there is anything new.

So I added a tiny new feature to Gmail Labs called Title Tweaks that changes the order of the elements in the browser title bar to put the more important things first. Once you turn on Title Tweaks from the Labs tab under Settings, your browser title bar will display something more like "Inbox (3) - Gma...".



That way you can see how many unread messages you have even if the window is minimized.

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Gmail had a major outage early this morning: for about two and a half hours starting at 1:30 am PST while many of our users in the US were asleep, many people couldn't access their email. Lots of people around the world who rely on Gmail were disrupted during their waking and working hours, and we’re very sorry. We did everything we could to restore access as soon as possible, and the issue is now resolved.

Before you can access your account, you may be asked to complete a CAPTCHA which asks you to type in a word or some letters. It's normal for this to happen any time you repeatedly request access to your account — it’s just to make sure you're not a robot.

Thank you for bearing with us.

Update (3:49 pm)
: Lots of folks are asking what happened, so we thought you'd like an explanation. This morning, there was a routine maintenance event in one of our European data centers. This typically causes no disruption because accounts are simply served out of another data center.

Unexpected side effects of some new code that tries to keep data geographically close to its owner caused another data center in Europe to become overloaded, and that caused cascading problems from one data center to another. It took us about an hour to get it all back under control.

The bugs have been found and fixed, and we're in the process of pushing out changes. We know how painful an outage like this is — we run Google on Gmail, so outages like this affect us the same way they affect you. We always investigate the root causes of rare outages like this one, so we can prevent similar problems in the future.

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A couple weeks back we launched Multiple Inboxes, an experimental feature in Gmail Labs that you can use to customize the different "inboxes" you see in one view when you log into Gmail.

If you forward all your work or school email to Gmail, you can use Multiple Inboxes to see your two accounts separately within the same browser window. Here's how:

1. Turn on Multiple Inboxes from the Labs tab under Settings.
2. Set up a filter to auto-archive all mail sent to your work or school address.
3. Customize one of your multiple inboxes to show mail sent to your other address. To do this, go to the Multiple Inboxes tab under Settings and set up one of the panes to search for mail sent to your other address.



4. (Optional) Use a "custom from" address so that replies will be sent from Gmail but as if they're from your other account. This way, your coworkers or classmates won't know the difference.

I use Multiple Inboxes to keep track of email sent to my college alumni address which I forward to Gmail. I used to filter, label, and auto-archive all these messages (my alumni frisbee team listserve gets tons of mail), but found that I rarely looked at the relevant labels. Now with a separate "inbox" I can see them easily without cluttering my primary inbox.

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Since we launched themes for Gmail, many people have asked, not surprisingly, whether they can customize the look of their inboxes without having to use some advanced scripting magic. And while you can't make custom themes that change with the weather like some of the pre-set options, you can now choose your own Gmail colors.

Just click on the Settings link in the upper right hand corner of your screen, select the Themes tab, and find the "Choose your own colors" option at the bottom of that page. You'll be able to select colors for everything from the background of your inbox to link text.



So if you love purple, now you can stare at it every day. The color picker also allows people with visual disabilities to tweak Gmail into something more comfortable for them, whether it's increasing the contrast between colors or ridding their inbox of bright white.

If you ever get yourself into a state where your eyes start to hurt, the "Reset" button will let you revert to the defaults, so don't hesitate to try out crazy designs and share screenshots!

Companies that use Google Apps won't see the options for themes yet, but we're working on getting themes to you too.

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Over the past few days we've made a lot of small changes to Gmail's contact manager which, combined, should make it easier to organize the contacts you want and get rid of some of the cruft. Here's a quick summary:

1. Contact merge (and an important caveat about auto-complete)
Many of you may have seen Monday's blog post about Google Sync which mentioned contact merge. Nothing had been annoying me more than seeing several copies of "Jeff Jones" on my iPhone — only one of which actually contained his phone number. I now have one "Jeff Jones" which contains all of his contact information. To do this, select the contacts you want to merge and then click "Merge these..." as shown below:



Now that you can sync your contacts to a variety of devices, being able to merge contacts is more important than ever. Please note that as we mentioned on Monday, there's a known issue with merging contacts that affects address auto-complete, making merged addresses sometimes come up in a suboptimal order (e.g. auto-complete may bring up your friend's work address first even though you usually email their Gmail address). We're working on fixing this so the email address you use the most for any given contact will always come up first.

2. All Contacts
Instead of Suggested Contacts, you'll now see a group called All Contacts which, as the name would suggest, is where all of your contacts live and thus a good view for merging duplicate contacts. You can still see suggested contacts by clicking the "View Suggestions" button from My Contacts. From there, you can select frequently emailed contacts to add to My Contacts.



3. Remove people from My Contacts
You can finally move contacts out of the My Contacts group — especially useful if you're planning to sync your contact list to your phone. Prune the contacts you don't want synced to your phone from My Contacts (click "Groups" and then "Remove from My Contacts"), and they won't get synced.

4. Search across all contact fields
We've heard you loud and clear, and contact search now works much better: instead of just searching contact names and email addresses, it now includes phone numbers, notes fields, and mailing addresses as well. So, if you're visiting the Bay Area and looking for friends to catch up with, you could try typing "650" or "415" in the contact manager search box.

Please keep the feedback coming — we're working hard to make Contacts better and more useful for you.

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Sometime ago I noticed how all mail systems tell you when an email was written, but not where it was sent from. Because I love to travel, the first question in many messages I receive is "where are you?" and by the time I answer I am often somewhere else.

So in my 20% time, I wrote an experimental Gmail Labs feature that detects your location and appends the city region and country names to your signature, like this:



To try it, turn on Location in Signature from the Labs tab under Settings, then go to your signature preferences and check the box next to "Append your location to the signature."



It'll use your public IP address to determine your location, so it may not always be that accurate. For example, if you're at Heathrow airport, IP detection may put you in Germany. If you want more accurate location detection, make sure your browser has a version of Gears that supports the location module. That way, Gears can make use of wi-fi access point signals to recognize that you're actually in London.

You'll always be able to disable the option or just delete your location from specific emails whenever you want.

Update: Have feedback? Let us know.

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I'm not the most organized person in the world and that's especially true when it comes to my address book and calendar. My contacts are scattered all over the place: in my phone, in my Gmail account, on the back of business cards and even in a veritable little black book.

We're making staying organized a little easier with a beta version of Google Sync for the iPhone and Windows Mobile phones as well as a contacts-only version for many other devices. Sync uses push technology (Microsoft ActiveSync©) to automatically synchronize your Gmail contacts (using the 'My Contacts' group within Gmail) and/or your Google Calendar events in the background.

Your phone will sync using the your "My Contacts" group within Gmail. Here are some tips for cleaning up that group so it's exactly the people you want to sync, and some big caveats to be aware of in this beta release:
  • iPhone users: Google Sync will remove all existing contacts and calendar events from your phone, so make sure to back up (PC instructions, Mac instructions) your data before you set it up.
  • Remove contacts that you don't want to sync to your phone. From the "My Contacts" section of the contact manager, select the contact you want to remove, click "Groups" and then "Remove from My Contacts."
  • Merge duplicates so friend@theirgmailaddress.com and samefriend@theirworkaddress.com both belong to the same contact. To do so, select both contacts, and click "Merge these 2 contacts." When you merge contacts, your address auto-complete won't work as well as before. We're working on a fix for this, but until that's out you might notice addresses showing up in a suboptimal order in auto-complete, e.g. your friend's work address coming up first when you're used to emailing their Gmail address.
Once you set up Sync, changes you make to your calendar or contacts are reflected on your device within minutes since the connection is over-the-air and always on. And it's two way, so your calendar and contacts are always up-to-date, no matter whether you make changes on your phone or from your browser. Also, since your information is automatically backed up to your Google account, it's securely stored even if you accidentally drop your phone in the pool. Getting your address book and calendar to a new phone is as easy as setting up Sync again.

If you have an iPhone, Windows Mobile device, or a BlackBerry, you can choose to sync both your contacts and calendar, or just one of the two. For devices that support the open SyncML protocol, Google Sync will sync your contacts, but not your calendar.

Try Sync out by visiting m.google.com/sync or visit our Help Center to review device specific instructions.

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Since we first posted about Gmail stickers, we've sent out thousands of sticker packs, enjoyed reading hundreds of notes from Gmail fans around the world, and even received a not-so-happy call from the local post office about overflowing our P.O. box. From love letters to feature requests, thank you for all the mail! Here are some highlights:

Sparky, one of the Gmail team dogs, with our box of incoming letters



A doctored mother's day card and a birth announcement



Some toys



And other stickers we got in return


If you haven't sent in your self-addressed stamped envelope yet, it's not too late. Just make sure it's postmarked by February 14th, 2009 and sent to:

Send me some Gmail stickers already
P.O. Box 391420
Mountain View, CA 94039-1420


Check out our previous post for more details.

(photos by Dustin Diaz and Dave Cohen)

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I'm seriously into filters and labels. All the email I get related to Flash goes under my "flash" label, everything about paragliding goes under "flying," and they all skip my inbox because that's how I like to stay organized. But when new email arrives I have to switch to the "flash" label first, then click on "paragliding," etc. I wanted a way to see it all at once.

So when I heard about Gmail Labs, I started implementing a Labs feature in my 20% time that would help me (and you!) spend less time monitoring important messages that may end up getting filtered away. Starting today, you can try Multiple Inboxes, a Labs experiment which makes it possible to have more than one 'inbox' in your default Gmail view.

An image is worth a thousand words, so here's what my inbox looks like:



In addition to a quick view of my important labels, I also like to keep all my starred and draft messages in separate panels.

After you turn on Multiple Inboxes from the Labs tab under Settings, you can configure what you want to see, as well as set the number of messages displayed and the positioning of your panels from the Multiple Inboxes section under Settings.

However you choose to use it, let us know how we can improve the Multiple Inboxes experiment — all feedback is welcome.

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Gmail is about keeping you in touch with the people you care about, independent of the large, or sometimes small, distances that might separate you from them. That's precisely why email, IM, and voice and video chat are so powerful — the "where" is irrelevant.

With Google Latitude, a new feature on Google Maps for mobile and a gadget for iGoogle coming out today, we're kind of turning that idea on its head, making the "where" matter again. Latitude allows you to see where your friends are located in real time on a map, anywhere in the world.



Use your Gmail account to join Latitude and you can specify which of your Gmail contacts can see your location. You can choose to automatically detect your best location, share city-level information only, set your location manually, or hide your location altogether. (To learn more about Google Latitude's privacy controls, check out this video.)

From within Latitude you can communicate with your friends via text message, Google Talk, Gmail, or a good old fashioned phone call. Your status messages and profile picture are synced with your Gmail account, so as you update them on the go, your Gmail contacts will see the changes in real time.

To try Google Latitude, go to google.com/latitude from your computer or your phone's mobile browser. Latitude is available on Android, Blackberry, S60, Winmo, and will be coming soon to the iPhone, through the Google Mobile App.

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One of the features that makes Gmail different is its use of labels instead of folders. Sure, labels can serve pretty much the same purpose -- they can help organize mail or flag messages for follow up. And unlike with folders, messages can have several labels, so if I get an email from a friend about a trip we're taking together, I can add both a "Friends" and a "Travel" label to it.

But it's not always obvious how to use labels, especially for people who are new to Gmail and used to using folders, and it hasn't helped that some common tasks have been more complicated than they should be. For instance, to move an email out of your inbox and into a label you first had to apply the label using the "More actions" menu and then click "Archive."

Starting today, the buttons and menus at the top of your inbox will look a bit different:



Instead of having to first apply the label and then archive, you can just use the "Move to" button to label and archive in a single step -- just like you would with a folder. If you just want to add or remove a label, use the new "Labels" button. Auto-complete works, so for those of you with a lot of labels, you can select the one you want just by typing the first couple characters.

We're also adding keyboard shortcuts: v for "Move to" and l (lowercase L) for "Labels." Make sure you have keyboard shortcuts turned on to use these.



We're making these changes for everyone over the course of today, so you may not see them right away. But between the shortcuts and auto-complete, you'll soon be able to add and remove labels without touching your mouse.

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Among the world's leading productivity tools is an advanced technology known as paper. Many of the world's top corporations and most active internet users have adopted paper as a method of organizing their daily lives. When they think of something they need to do, they write it down on a piece of paper and keep that piece of paper with them.

Though some advances have been made in paper's effectiveness -- such as the addition of a sticky section that allows you to attach a piece of paper to your monitor, your desktop, or even another piece of paper -- it turns out that paper is pretty hard to improve on, and reigns as a leading task management technology.



When we set out to build Tasks (now in Gmail Labs), one of our goals was to improve upon paper. With the version of Tasks in Gmail, we focused on making editing very fast and simple -- as close to paper as we could. But despite dual-core CPUs, 30" monitors, and high speed internet connections, many Googlers still found themselves using paper to track their tasks.

We did some competitive analysis and here is what we found.

Paper has a number of popular features:
  • Easy editing. Cross out with pen and write something new.
  • Works offline. You can read paper even when your PC is not connected to the internet.
  • Mobile. Fold paper and stick in pocket.
  • Instant boot up. Just pull paper out of pocket -- don't have to wait for it to load.

However, paper does have some limitations:
  • Limited availability. You don't always have a pad of paper with you to write new things.
  • Not ubiquitous. If you leave a piece of paper in one pair of jeans, you can't access it from the other jeans you're currently wearing.
  • Difficult to organize. Eventually turns into a giant mess on your desk.



We set out to fix this by making Tasks available from your phone with a version optimized for the small screen. And starting today, you can manage your task list from your iPhone or Android device, and access it from any xhtml enabled phone. (Mine's always with me, in whichever jeans I'm wearing.) Just go to gmail.com/tasks from your phone's browser and log in. If you already use the version of Tasks in Gmail Labs, you'll see the same task list that's always in sync. We focused on making it super easy and fast to update your Gmail task list -- you can add new tasks and check off completed ones, no matter where you are (like in a meeting or at the grocery store) even when you're in the bathroom.



A number of Googlers have told us that with this new mobile UI they've finally scrapped the paper task management that they never really liked but couldn't ever beat. We're interested to hear what you think, and how this compares to paper, so try it out and let us know.

P.S. There's a new gadget version of Tasks too -- so if you want to add your same task list to iGoogle, now you can.