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We've been constantly updating Google Buzz, adding features that you've requested and making small tweaks that improve the experience for power users. Here are three things that have rolled out over the last couple weeks, one as recently as today:

1. Deliver interesting posts to your inbox. Sometimes you're really interested in a certain conversation and would like to get it delivered to your inbox. You used to have to comment on a post in order to get updates sent to your inbox. Now, you can set the post to be delivered to your inbox regardless of whether or not you've participated. Click the down-arrow in the upper right-hand corner of a post, and select "Deliver to my Inbox."



2. Disable comments. If a conversation you've started has run its course, you can opt to prevent further comments. For example, we just closed comments on this post soliciting questions for our SXSW panel since the talk happened over a month ago.



3. Favicons for shared links. When you share a link in Google Buzz, we now grab the favicon associated with that page so it's easier than ever to see the source (in this case, Blogger).



If you want to keep up with the latest on Buzz developments large and small, follow the team at buzz.google.com/googlebuzz.

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I'm always looking for ways to save time. Suppose I want to attach some files to an email, and I already have a folder open containing those files.



I used to have to click "Attach a file," find the photos, click them, etc. Starting today, if I'm using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox 3.6, I can just drag and drop the files to attach them — easy as pie.





We'll enable this for other browsers as soon as they support this feature. For now, you can drag and drop attachments in Chrome and Firefox only.

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Since my friends share their schedules with me in Google Calendar, when I want to see a movie with them, I can check to see which nights they're free before sending out an email about it. However, I need to switch between Gmail and Calendar in order to check their availability and send an email invitation.

Today, we're launching a new feature that brings tighter integration between Gmail and Calendar, making it easier to create Calendar events from within Gmail. When you compose an email message, there's now an "Insert: Invitation" link right under the subject line.


When you click it, a small window appears that displays your availability as well as that of the people you're emailing provided you have permission to see their calendars.


You can check your friends' availability and choose an appropriate time for the event you're setting up right from there. When you've settled on the details of the event, click the "Insert Invitation" button and a preview of the invitation will appear in your email message:


When you send the email, the event gets added to your calendar as well as to your friends' calendars.

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We've seen lots of people using Google Buzz to share interesting links from around the web. To do so, you had to copy and paste the link from one browser window to another — there weren't buttons that made it easy to post to Google Buzz without leaving the site you're on. Savvy sites like Mashable and TechCrunch quickly got creative and implemented their own Buzz buttons, using Google Reader as the backend. But not every site owner should have to hack together their own version of these buttons (and not everyone who uses Buzz also uses Reader), so this morning we're making copy-and-paste Buzz buttons available for anyone to use.

Starting today, you'll see these buttons around the web on participating sites including: The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Glamour, YouTube, Blogger, MySpace, GigaOM, PBS Parents, PBS NewsHour, The Next Web, TweetDeck, SocialWok, Disqus, Vinehub, and Buzzzy. Mashable and TechCrunch have updated their sites to use these new buttons too.


A number of sharing platforms, including ShareThis (pictured below), Meebo, Shareholic, AddThis and AddtoAny have also incorporated the Google Buzz button into their sharing functionality, so you'll see Buzz listed as a choice when you go to share something on many other sites around the web as well.


If you want to add Google Buzz buttons to your site, just go to buzz.google.com/stuff, configure your buttons with a couple clicks and copy a few lines of JavaScript. Paste this code where you'd like the Buzz buttons to appear and you're all set.


And if you'd like to promote your own Google Buzz account, we have a button for you, which allows people to follow you on Buzz right from your blog or website. Here's an example using the Google Buzz team's own Buzz account (clicking it will take you to the Buzz team's profile page and from there you can easily follow our team's posts):

Follow on Buzz

You can grab that button code from buzz.google.com/stuff as well.

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Labels are more flexible than folders because a given email can have several labels but can't be in several folders at the same time. A highly requested feature for labels, though, comes from the world of folders: the ability to organize labels hierarchically.

If you think this might be useful to you, go to the Gmail Labs tab under Settings, look for "Nested Labels," enable it and click "Save." You'll then need to name your label with slashes (/) to make it the child of another. For example, let's say you wanted to create a simple hierarchy with a "Home" label, and inside it a "Family" and a "Vacation" label. Just create three labels with the following names:

Home
Home/Family
Home/Vacation

You can then create "Home/Family/Kids," "Home/Pets," etc., to get something like the screenshot on the left. If you had the parent label "Home" before you don't have to create it from scratch.

You can create complex hierarchies of labels if that's the way you like to organize your mail, and you can expand/collapse labels to save space. You'll always be able to tell whether a given label contains unread messages in its collapsed child labels by looking at whether it's bold or not.

Please note that this lab doesn't play nicely with the "Hide Read Labels" lab. You might not get exactly what you expect if you have both labs enabled; for example, the collapse/expand icons won't always appear when they should.

Another highly requested feature is the ability to preview messages to get a glimpse on what they contain and maybe take immediate action without opening them.

This is exactly what "Message Sneak Peek" does. After you turn it on, right-clicking on a line in your inbox shows a preview pane with the message in it.


You can also use keyboard shortcuts for a faster sneak-peeking flow (enable keyboard shortcuts in Settings first if you haven't done so): hit 'h' to open a sneak peek card, then navigate with 'j' and 'k,' and dismiss the current card by pressing "Escape." Messages you peak at will stay unread (or it wouldn't really be a sneak peek, would it?).

Happy nesting and peeking!

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Shortly after launching Google Buzz, we quickly realized we didn't get everything right and moved as fast as possible to improve the Buzz experience. We made a number of changes to the getting started experience based on your feedback, the most significant of which was replacing auto-following with suggestions for people to follow.

Rather than automatically setting you up to follow the people you email and chat with most, Google Buzz now suggests people for you to follow instead. This way, Buzz is still simple to set up (no one wants to peck out an entire social network from scratch) but you aren't set up to follow anyone until you choose to do so.

But many of you started using Google Buzz before we made these changes, and we want to help you ensure that Buzz is set up the way you want. Offering everyone who uses our products transparency and control is very important to us, so if you started using Google Buzz before we changed the start-up experience, you'll see the following confirmation page the next time you click into the Buzz tab:



This page highlights your current Buzz settings and makes it easy to change anything you want. You can view and edit the people you're following and the people following you, elect whether you want those lists appearing on your public Google profile, and modify any of the sites you have connected to Google Buzz, like Picasa, Google Reader, or Twitter. If everything looks good, you can confirm your Buzz set-up with a single click. And remember, you can always change who you're following by clicking "Following XX people" from the Buzz tab or modify your preferences from the Buzz section of Gmail Settings.

To keep up to date with all of the improvements we're making to Google Buzz and provide your feedback, follow our team's Google Buzz account. For tips and tricks on using Google Buzz, check out the videos on our new YouTube channel: youtube.com/googlebuzz.

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When the iPhone and Android devices came out, we started building for advanced mobile browsers and optimizing the Gmail interface for touchscreens, culminating in the Gmail for mobile HTML5 web app. As portable devices continue to evolve, we're excited about the upcoming wave of tablet computers and the possibilities they bring.

With today's release of the iPad, we're launching an experimental two-pane user interface to take advantage of its large touchscreen and tablet form factor. Building upon the Gmail for mobile web app, this new interface displays your conversations on the left and your messages on the right hand side.


All the features of the Gmail web app that you're used to, such as offline access and aggressive caching to reduce latency, are present in the iPad version. Tablet devices are still very new, so expect changes as we continue to optimize for this new format. We'd like to hear any ideas you may have on how we can make Gmail better for the iPad so don't hesitate to let us know via the 'Send feedback' link at the bottom of your inbox on iPad.

To try out Gmail out on the iPad, just go to gmail.com in Safari. For quick access, try creating a homescreen link. Please note that the new interface is only available in US English for now. You can always access Gmail through the native Mail application using IMAP as well.

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Any Google Buzz post can turn into a lively discussion. Sometimes these conversations can gather lots of new comments very quickly, turning them into "skyscraper" posts that can dominate your entire screen, especially if you don't check Buzz for a few days. We've heard from many of you that these big posts can be a lot to skim over.

Today, we’re making some changes to how comments get collapsed in Google Buzz. In the past, old comments were sometimes collapsed, but new comments (posted since your last visit to the Buzz tab) were always expanded. Now, if there are enough of them, new comments may be collapsed as well. Here’s the nitty gritty on how it'll work by the end of the day once we finish rolling out these changes:
  • If there are 3 or more previous or new comments, we collapse them into a group.

  • We leave the latest previous comment (from before your last visit) expanded to give you context.


  • We leave the last two new comments (since your last visit) expanded so you can get a taste of the ongoing conversation and decide if you’re interested.


  • If there are enough previous and new comments, we collapse them together into a single line to save space.


  • You'll see the names of some of the people whose comments are collapsed, which can help you decide if you might be interested in diving into the conversation.

These changes will limit how much space any one post can take up in the Buzz tab and prevent the popular posts you’re not interested in from dominating the stream. We hope this helps make Google Buzz a little less noisy so you can focus on conversations you care about.

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If you logged into Gmail over the last hour (or visited the Gmail homepage), you probably noticed that something looked a bit off: all the vowels are missing. We realize this makes things difficult for all of you who rely on Gmail — whether at home or at work — and we’re incredibly sorry. We take morphological issues like this extremely seriously, so we want to let you all know what happened and what we're doing about it.

At 6:01 am Pacific Time, during routine maintenance at one of our datacenters, the frontend web servers in that particular datacenter started failing to render the letter 'a' for a subset of users. As error rates escalated, the strain spread to other datacenters. We worked quickly to avoid a cascading failure of the entire alphabet by implementing a stopgap solution that limited the damage to the letters 'a,' 'e,' 'i,' 'o,' and 'u.' As a result, we're experiencing Gmail’s first temporary vowel outage. (We’re still investigating whether the letter 'y' is impacted and will post an update here shortly.)

Over the last hour we've received numerous reports of this issue via our help forums, from colleagues at Google, and via email you’ve sent us. Some of you have already found creative workarounds for communicating without vowels, like Aaron, who sent us this:


Having 80.8% of the alphabet available is significantly below the 99.9% full letter uptime reliability we strive for. Since identifying the root case of this issue, we’ve started bringing vowels back to Gmail, so you should see them back in your account within the next few hours if you don’t already. In the meantime, while you may still see this issue in Gmail's web interface, both IMAP and POP access are functioning normally. We'll post an update as soon as things are fully resolved and, again, we're v3ry s0rry.

Update (7:30 am): We’ve determined that the letter 'y' is not impacted.

Update (3:02 pm): This issue has been resolved.

Update (12:01 am): Also, this issue never happened. Happy April 1st.