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When we added emoticons in Gmail, you responded with a nice big smile , but then you asked for more. So we added hundreds more emoticons through Gmail Labs. “But alas!” you cried. “How can I ever keep up with so many different choices? I am overwhelmed by the sheer immensity of emotion , amusement , and cute animals that Gmail has to offer." Well, don’t despair, fine purveyor of emoticons. There is now a solution: “Recently Used Emoji” in Gmail Labs, which keeps track of the ten most recent emoticons you’ve used, and saves them for easy access. To turn it on, just visit the Labs tab of Gmail Settings.


No more searching through dozens of cat faces for the one that says, “I miss you, but I’m still ambivalent about our weekend plans.” You can now triumph over the plethora of emoticons, and easily add a pile of emotion to any email that you choose — let us know how it goes.

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Time is one of our most precious resources. Despite their necessity, meetings tend to vary in importance for different attendees. John might be really interested in his team’s weekly meeting, whereas Jane, who is working on a unrelated project, may want to skip it.

Guests’ roles in meetings tend to vary as well. Some people have to be there to lead the meeting or help make decisions, whereas others are gathering information they may be able to digest just as well via the notes. Without knowing which attendees are crucial and which are optional, it can be difficult to know which meetings you really need to attend.

That’s where Google Calendar’s new “Optional attendees” feature comes in. With a couple clicks, you can openly communicate the importance of a meeting for each attendee. Click on the “Make some attendees optional link” above the guest list and then toggle the role of each attendee by clicking the icon next to his or her name. So far, this feature has helped us more effectively manage our own time on the Calendar team — we hope it does the same for you.

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If you visited the Gmail log-in page recently, you may have noticed that things looked a wee bit different. We decided to give this page a bit of a facelift and updated a few of Gmail’s other pages while we were at it. Our goal was to keep a familiar look while freshening up the graphics and trimming down the text (we cut out over 250 words in the process).

Here’s a before & after of the log-in page:


We also updated the Gmail logo, brightening the colors and making it more in line with the latest Google logo:

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Manu: Hey, how would you fancy some new Gmail themes?
Jake: Sure, I would love that! How usable are they?
Manu: Huh, usable? Well, there’s a flishy-flashy theme that blinks every...
Jake: What? I don’t want things to flash, I want to read my email.
Manu: No? Well then, what about this fluorescent pink theme that will make your screen look very special when your friends are looking at...
Jake: No pink please!
Manu: Oh. Then maybe this hyper dynamic and playful theme that makes all links on the page jump away each time you try to click on...
Jake: Are you insane? Please, just give me something usable. If I want flashy game-like graphics, I can use High Score. If I want something dapper for my friends to look at, I can use Shiny. If I want cartoon characters hanging out here and there in my Gmail, I can use Zoozimps. I just want something dead simple.
Manu: What about stripping the Gmail interface to the bare bones, like these two new themes, Basic Black and Basic White?


Jake: That’s better. The dark one may be good for my eyes.
Manu: Great! Do you have an Android phone?
Jake: Yes.
Manu: Then you may like this Android theme too. How about that?


Jake: Nice! Some graphics but still subtle. Give me more.
Manu: Relaxing tree tops? This one ain’t blinking.


Jake: Not bad! What about something that would feel more handmade?
Manu: You’re in luck, sir. I have this cool Marker theme in store for you. Very unprofessional.


Jake: Nice — I’m gonna stick with this one for now.
Manu: Good choice! See you next time for some more.