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A few weeks ago, I got an email presumably from a friend stuck in London asking for some money to help him out. It turned out that the email was sent by a scammer who had hijacked my friend's account. By reading his email, the scammer had figured out my friend's whereabouts and was emailing all of his contacts. Here at Google, we work hard to protect Gmail accounts against this kind of abuse. Today we're introducing a new feature to notify you when we detect suspicious login activity on your account.

You may remember that a while back we launched remote sign out and information about recent account activity to help you understand and manage your account usage. This information is still at the bottom of your inbox. Now, if it looks like something unusual is going on with your account, we’ll also alert you by posting a warning message saying, "Warning: We believe your account was last accessed from…" along with the geographic region that we can best associate with the access.



To determine when to display this message, our automated system matches the relevant IP address, logged per the Gmail privacy policy, to a broad geographical location. While we don't have the capability to determine the specific location from which an account is accessed, a login appearing to come from one country and occurring a few hours after a login from another country may trigger an alert.

By clicking on the "Details" link next to the message, you'll see the last account activity window that you're used to, along with the most recent access points.



If you think your account has been compromised, you can change your password from the same window. Or, if you know it was legitimate access (e.g. you were traveling, your husband/wife who accesses the account was also traveling, etc.), you can click "Dismiss" to remove the message.

Keep in mind that these notifications are meant to alert you of suspicious activity but are not a replacement for account security best practices. If you'd like more information on account security, read these tips on keeping your information secure or visit the Google Online Security Blog.

Finally, we know that security is also a top priority for businesses and schools, and we look forward to offering this feature to Google Apps customers once we have gathered and incorporated their feedback.

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As you can imagine, those of us on the Google Calendar team spend a lot of time thinking about scheduling. We regularly talk to people who schedule and reschedule a lot of meetings: administrative assistants. Talking to them, we understand just how much time they spend looking at schedules, investigating other people's calendars, finding replacement conference rooms and rescheduling conflicts. And then some manager's travel plans change and everything starts over again.

If you're searching for something on the web, you don't just start randomly visiting pages looking for relevant content, you use a search engine. So we decided to apply some of Google's search experience to the problem of scheduling. We experimented with using ranking algorithms to return the most relevant meeting times based on specified criteria like attendees, schedule complexity, conference rooms, and time zones. Just like Google search ranks the web, our scheduling search algorithm returns a ranked set of the best candidate dates and times.

Today we're launching the result of that experiment, a gadget called Smart Rescheduler, in Google Calendar Labs. Once you turn it on, just select an event you'd like to reschedule, then click "Find a new time...":

You'll see ranked list of possible times for your meeting. By investigating the calendars others have shared with you, Google Calendar can make some educated guesses about how easy it might be to reschedule a conflicting meeting and even find you a replacement conference room nearby. This process is 100% automated — no Google employees are doing any work behind the scenes. You can refine the results by marking people as optional, changing the meeting duration, ignoring certain conflicts, or specifying the earliest and latest times you'll accept. The results will immediately update to reflect your new requirements.


This feature is still experimental, so we'd love your ideas and feedback. Of course, we can't make meetings more interesting, but we can try to save you frustration leading up to them.

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When you participate in a conversation in Google Buzz, we bring that post to your inbox to make it easy to keep up with the discussion. But we’ve heard loud and clear that buzz in your inbox can get noisy — we feel it too, so today we're launching two features to help with this:

1. Settings to control what gets sent to your inbox
From the Buzz tab of Gmail Settings, you’ll be able to choose whether the following buzz items get sent to your inbox:
  • Comments on your posts
  • Comments on posts after you comment on them
  • Comments on posts after you are @replied on them



2. Explanations for why posts get sent to your inbox and an easy-to-find “Mute” link
You'll see a new message at the top of each post in your inbox that explains why it’s there: someone commented on your post, you were @replied, etc. We’ve also added an easy-to-find “mute” link that will stop subsequent comments from bringing the conversation back to your inbox.



These are just the first in series of features designed to help control the noise level in Google Buzz, so stay tuned for more. If you have ideas for Google Buzz you'd like to share with the team, you can post your ideas and vote for others on our official Product Ideas page.

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Today, we're happy to announce three new features in Calendar Labs. To try them out, just go to the Labs tab under Calendar Settings.

1. Event flair by Dave Marmaros
Want a little airplane icon next to information about your upcoming flight? Or stars next to meetings with your boss? This experiment lets you choose from forty different icons and add one to each Calendar event. Even better, if you invite people to your events, they'll be able to see the icon you added too. After you enable this feature, click on an event and look for the "Event flair" gadget to activate.





2. Gentle reminders by Sorin Mocanu
If you keep Google Calendar open all day long, you probably end up seeing quite a few reminders every day. Browser alerts are okay, but I tried to find a way for Calendar notifications to integrate smoothly with everything else.

Turn on "Gentle Reminders," and when you get a notification, the title of your Calendar window or tab will start blinking and the event details will stay in Calendar.



If you're using this lab in a supported browser (currently Google Chrome for Windows and Google Chrome beta for Linux), you'll also have the option to get your reminders in the next generation of floating desktop notifications:



After you enable this feature, you can configure notification options on the Settings page.

3. Automatically declining events by Lucia Fedorova and Miguel GarcĂ­a
Have you ever checked your calendar and noticed that someone scheduled a really important meeting during your vacation or at a time when you're not available? Now there's a way to automatically decline events when you're not around. Turn on "Automatically declining events," block off times when you're unavailable, and event invitations during this period will get automatically declined.

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My little sister recently setup her Gmail account to retrieve messages from her school address, so she can check all of her email accounts in one place. She no longer has to constantly log in to two email programs, and she likes using Gmail's powerful interface for all her mail.

However, sometimes she knows an email has already been sent to her school address, and she just can't wait for the next scheduled fetch to have it show up in her Gmail inbox. As any big brother would, I tried to solve this issue for her and millions of Gmail users.

Turn on "Refresh POP accounts" from the Labs tab under Settings, and the refresh link at the top of your inbox will not only update your inbox with your new Gmail messages, it will also fetch messages from any other accounts which you have set up.



Try it out, and let us know if you have any feedback.

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One of the lesser-known features of Gmail is its ability to help with multitasking. Frequently, I find that I need to find an old message while I'm composing an email. When this happens, I click on the "new window" icon to pop my compose area into its own window:


There's only one problem — it's been slow! Today, we're rolling out a change that will fix this (reload your account to make sure you get this change). Now, popping out a window is much, much faster. No more "Loading..." progress bar.

There are a number of places you can pop up new windows in Gmail.
  • In chat, there's the little upward arrow in the title bar:


  • When writing a message, hold the "Shift" key while you click on the Compose Mail, Reply, Reply All or Forward links and you'll get a new window for your new message. (Holding the "Shift" key while typing the keyboard shortcut — in other words typing "C" "R" or "F" — has the same effect.)

  • When you're reading your mail, hold the "Shift" key while you click on a message to open the conversation in a new window. (Same holds true for the "Shift" key and the "o" or "Enter" shortcuts.)

  • If you're reading an email and want to save it for later, you can click the "New window" link in the upper-right hand corner of the conversation view:


Keep in mind that the popped out window does not outlive the closing of the original Gmail window, although we're working on a way to make that better. Unfortunately, we weren't able to make this work in Internet Explorer, so to see the speed-up, you'll need to be using Mozilla Firefox, Apple's Safari, or Google Chrome.