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The way Gmail organizes mail into conversations is like cilantro. You either love it -- and, like me, enjoy the nice citrusy, herbal finish it gives to everything from salsa to curry -- or you hate it. And those of you who hate it hate it enough to launch sites like nocilantro.com and ihatecilantro.com (“an anti cilantro community”), where you can hate it together.

But my fondness for cilantro pales in comparison to my love for Gmail’s conversation view, or message threading. I haven’t had to wade through multiple messages to follow a conversation in years. A centithread hasn’t filled up the entire first page of my inbox in almost as long as I can remember. Having all the replies to an email (and replies to those replies) grouped with the original message simply makes communicating so much easier.

It turns out not everyone feels the same way. And just as an outspoken minority has banded together in unison to declare their distaste of one of nature’s most delicious herbs, some of you have been very vocal about your dislike of conversation threading. So just like you can order your baja fish tacos without cilantro, you can now get Gmail served up sans conversation view. Go to the main Settings page, look for the “Conversation View” section, select the option to turn it off, and save changes. If you change your mind, you can always go back.


This feature will be rolling out over the next few days so if you don’t see it immediately, check back in a bit. And once you try it out, let us know what you think.

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(Cross-posted from the Mobile Blog)

We just released a new version of the Gmail app in Android Market, so Gmail updates aren’t tied to Android version releases anymore. Now you can get new Gmail stuff faster without having to wait for system updates. To start you off, we’ve improved message replies, access to quoted text, and more.

As you scroll through a conversation, your most important message actions will now stick to the top of the screen, one click away, no matter how long the email is.

Don't remember what prompted the most recent email in a thread? Now you can view previous message content more easily, just like in the desktop version of Gmail. Tap “Show quoted text” to reveal the previous message.

Finally, this updated version of the Gmail app has limited support for Priority Inbox. If you’ve enabled Priority Inbox via the desktop version of Gmail, you’ll see an “Important” label that shows all messages flagged as important. You can even add a shortcut to “Important” to your home screen.

The Gmail update requires Froyo (Android version 2.2), so it’s available if you have a Nexus One, HTC EVO, Motorola Droid 2 or Motorola Droid. (Not sure if your device is running Android version 2.2? Check here.)

Get the update from Android Market (just scan the QR code below, or click here if you're on a phone) and check out the new Gmail. We’d love to hear what you think at android-apps-support@google.com.



Update 9/21/10 12:26pm PDT: There is a known issue where the headers don't stick properly on some HTC phones like the EVO 4G and Droid Incredible. We are working to address this.

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If you use video chat in Gmail, you might be interested in a new Labs feature we just rolled out that allows you to preview new video chat features before they're turned on for everyone. Visit the Gmail Labs tab under Settings, turn on "Video chat enhancements," and right away, you'll see higher resolution video and a bigger video chat window.



The higher resolution video uses a new playback mechanism which enables widescreen VGA and frees up valuable resources on your computer. For it to work, both you and the person you're chatting with will need to have the lab turned on. Remember that you can always revert to standard video chat by disabling the lab.

We plan to add more video chat enhancements to this lab in the future, so if you have it on you'll automatically get those too. Feel free to post your comments or report any issues you encounter in the video chat forum (we also follow #googlevideochat on Twitter).

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It’s been a week since we launched Priority Inbox, and now that you've hopefully had a chance to try it out, we wanted to share some tips to help you manage your email more efficiently. Here are five ways you can make Priority Inbox work even better for you:

1. Customize your sections
By default, Priority Inbox has three sections: "Important and Unread," "Starred" and "Everything Else.” But that doesn't mean you have to leave them that way. You can make a section show messages from a particular label (like your “Action” or “To-do” label), add a fourth section, or change the maximum size of any section. Visit the Priority Inbox tab under Settings to customize your sections, or do it right from the inline menus.



2. Train the system
If Gmail makes a mistake, you can help it learn to better categorize your messages. Select the misclassified message, then use the importance buttons at the top of your inbox to correctly mark it as important or not important.



For those of you who can't live without keyboard shortcuts, don’t worry, you can use the "+" and "-" keys to adjust importance as well.

3. See the best of your filtered messages
You can set up Priority Inbox to show you not just the best of your inbox, but also the best of messages you filter out of your inbox and might otherwise miss. Just change your Priority Inbox settings to “Override filters” and Gmail will surface any important messages that would otherwise skip your inbox.



With this option turned on, you can use filters to archive more aggressively and worry less about missing an important message.

4. Use filters to guarantee certain messages get marked important (or not)
If you read and reply to a lot of messages from your mom, Gmail should automatically put incoming messages from her in the “Important and unread” section. But if you want to be 100% sure that all messages from your mom (or your boss, boyfriend, client, landlord, etc.) are marked important, you can create a filter for messages from that sender and select “Always mark as important.” Similarly, if you regularly read messages from your favorite magazine, they should automatically get marked as important. If you’d rather they end up in the “Everything else” section, you can create a filter to never mark them as important.

5. Archive unimportant messages quickly
One of the features that can help make you more efficient is the ability to archive all of the visible messages in the "Everything Else" section at once. Just click on the down arrow next to "Everything Else" and select the "Archive all visible items" option. If you want to be able to archive even more messages at once, you can increase the maximum number of messages that show in that section from the same drop-down.

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(Cross-posted from the Google Blog)

Long, complicated and lawyerly—that's what most people think about privacy policies, and for good reason. Even taking into account that they’re legal documents, most privacy policies are still too hard to understand.

So we’re simplifying and updating Google’s privacy policies. To be clear, we aren’t changing any of our privacy practices; we want to make our policies more transparent and understandable. As a first step, we’re making two types of improvements:
  1. Most of our products and services are covered by our main Google Privacy Policy. Some, however, also have their own supplementary individual policies. Since there is a lot of repetition, we are deleting 12 of these product-specific policies. These changes are also in line with the way information is used between certain products—for example, since contacts are shared between services like Gmail, Talk, Calendar and Docs, it makes sense for those services to be governed by one privacy policy as well.
  2. We’re also simplifying our main Google Privacy Policy to make it more user-friendly by cutting down the parts that are redundant and rewriting the more legalistic bits so people can understand them more easily. For example, we’re deleting a sentence that reads, “The affiliated sites through which our services are offered may have different privacy practices and we encourage you to read their privacy policies,” since it seems obvious that sites not owned by Google might have their own privacy policies.
In addition, we’re adding:
  • More content to some of our product Help Centers so people will be able to find information about protecting their privacy more easily; and
  • A new privacy tools page to the Google Privacy Center. This will mean that our most popular privacy tools are now all in one place.
These privacy policy updates will take effect in a month, on October 3. You can see the new main Google Privacy Policy here, and if you have questions this FAQ should be helpful.

Our updated privacy policies still might not be your top choice for beach reading (I am, after all, still a lawyer), but hopefully you’ll find the improvements to be a step in the right direction.