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We've had a busy year re-coding Gmail and providing you with a slew of new features before this holiday season. Now it's time for a break. We'll be back in January, but until then, we've assembled a list of things you can do using Gmail in case you get bored over the holiday*:
  • Try one of three new chat features to keep in better touch: group chat with your family, reconnect with your long lost AIM friends, or add some spirit to your smiley.
  • Grab a video camera and share your Gmail story with the world.
  • Send out your holiday cards by email -- it's cheaper than stamps and they're searchable that way.
  • Change your labels to holiday colors to make your inbox more festive.
  • Playing with your iPhone this holiday season? Then try out free IMAP access and sync your Gmail inbox across devices.

Thanks for all the feedback you've given us this year, and we hope you enjoy the newest features. On behalf of the entire Gmail team, happy holidays and have a wonderful New Year. See you in 2008.

*Some of these features only work in the latest version of Gmail, now available for English IE7 and Firefox 2 users.

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Colored labels make it easier to keep track of emails, and by using them with filters, I realized they can provide an almost entirely new way of visualizing my inbox based on context rather than order. By setting up filters so emails from certain senders (or on certain topics) automatically appear with colored labels, I can scan my inbox just by looking at the colors.

For example, I have filters that apply a red "Important!" label to emails sent to me by my manager, a purple "Vacation" label to emails that have "vacation" in the text, and a green "Industry News" label to emails that are sent to industry lists I subscribe to. Now when I open my email and see a bunch of red labeled messages, I know I have a lot of responding to do right away.

To set up a filter with a colored label, simply click the "Create a filter" link next to the search box. Add senders or certain words you want to keep a better eye on, click next, and assign a label by checking "apply the label" and choosing an appropriate one. Then just pick a label color by clicking the color swatch next to the label title in the left-hand navigation menu. Give colored labels with filters a try and see if it changes the way you read your inbox too.

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A few days after inviting you to share your Gmail stories, we're already impressed with the results. Among many others, so far we've heard from:

A father who uses Gmail as a digital journal for his son:


A soldier stationed in Iraq:


A record producer who completed an album without ever speaking to the artist in person:


A multi-tasking college student:


We've seen stories that are heartwarming, interesting, funny, and informative. Some people are singing, others are drawing, and some are using special effects. If you don't have a story to share, the responses might inspire you to think of a new way to use Gmail. (I'm already looking forward to starting that digital baby journal in a few years!)

Keep those stories -- and ideas -- coming; we can't wait to see what you'll think of next.

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Gmail shortcuts can save you a lot time, and recently we've added even more. But with so many shortcuts it can be a challenge to remember them all. For example, did you know that "s" applies a star, "!" reports spam, and "#" moves a message to the trash? For this reason, we added a shortcut reference menu you can call up by holding "shift" and hitting the "?" key while logged in. It's easy to remember: just type "?" any time you have a question about a shortcut and need a reminder. Then click anywhere off the shortcut menu in Gmail to dismiss it. This feature works in the latest version of Gmail, currently available for English IE7 and Firefox 2 users. Don't forget to enable shortcuts in Settings --"?" is a shortcut itself. Happy shortcutting and happy holidays.

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You might remember that we were inspired to launch Gmail in 2004 after hearing one frustrated emailer's story. Many years and iterations later, we're still listening -- whether you have a bug to report or a feature to suggest. It keeps us motivated (and entertained) when we hear stories about what you've done using Gmail. A man in Jakarta told us that he uses Gmail on his mobile phone to stay productive during his four hour daily commute, while an author in Florida wrote to us describing how he relies on Gmail in every step of his writing process.

To continually remind us of why we work so hard on Gmail, we started pinning these cool stories on the walls around Google. We quickly realized, however, that this wasn't very resource-friendly (and despite a past April Fool's announcement, we are quite eco-conscious) and it definitely wasn't the best way to share them with the rest of the Gmail community. So to save some wall space -- and paper -- we'd like to give you the opportunity to make a video of your Gmail story to share with the world.

All you need is a story about how you've used Gmail and a video camera. You don't even need to be creative; you can just tell it like it is. But if creativity is your thing (and we know you have it in you after all the awesome submissions we got from our last collaborative video), feel free to spice it up however you'd like. Just make sure it's 30 seconds or less and submitted by December 31st. Go to http://gmail.com/yourstory to find directions on how to submit yours.

We look forward to hearing – and seeing – your stories. And saving a tree or two.

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I was pretty excited when we launched chat integration in Gmail. Finally I could chat and email in one place--but I couldn't chat with friends using other instant messaging services.

From the beginning, Google has been committed to open standards and interoperation for instant messaging. So when our friends at AOL agreed to let Gmail users talk to users on their network, we jumped at the chance.

Today we are happy to tell you about a new feature we've started to roll out which will enable you to sign into your AIM account and chat with your AIM buddies right inside Gmail. When you log in to AIM through Gmail chat, your AOL buddies will appear in your chat list with friends from your Google Talk network, and you will see the yellow "running man" logo to the right of your AIM friends' screen names. To your AIM friends it will look like you are logged in to AIM as usual.

Having more friends to chat with is always more fun and we hope you enjoy this new feature, which we are rolling out today to English Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2 users.

P.S. If you own a large IM network and would like to work with us, have your people contact our people.

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Back in the Paleolithic Era, the world was a very different kind of place. People were hunter-gatherers, lived in caves, and kept all their email in folders*. You can't really blame them. Between tracking woolly mammoths, fashioning crude stone tools, and auditioning for commercials, having a highly tuned system for organizing email wasn't their highest priority.

But people changed. We moved out of caves and into skyscrapers. We hunt for bargains at the corner grocery. And we play video games simulating ourselves playing video games.

As we've changed, so too have our demands for email. Out of the email primordial ooze, Gmail was born with evolutionarily advantageous features like threaded conversations, a mitochondrial symbiosis between mail and chat, and labels. Most email solutions make users slot their emails into bland manila folders, classifying their contents as either black or white, with no subtle shades of gray. But where do you put the heated debate about M&M color superiority: the "ridiculous philosophical discussions," "all things brown," or "chats with mom" folder? With labels, you no longer have to choose. You can sort it all three ways.

Today, we're happy to announce the next evolution of labels: the colored label. Until now the label has been a little inconspicuous creature, subtly suggesting categorical associations in its simple green coat. Oh, we've seen the colored label here and there, its precursors surfacing in various experiments and Greasemonkey scripts; but the label has never before been so brazen, so bold. How will it use its new colors? Will it disguise itself with the chameleon's camouflage or clamor for attention with the monarch butterfly's vivid contrast?

Me? I'm subscribed to a lot of mailing lists: "The Britney Spears Fanboy Club," "Foie Gras Lovers Anonymous," and "UFO Sightings Daily," just to name a few. I get so much mail from my lists, I filter and archive most of it right away but I add labels just in case I need to find it again later. Those labels are my chameleons draped in subtle tones of green and blue. They're there doing their job, but I barely notice them. Every once in a while I get mail that's really important. These emails get my monarch butterfly labels, sporting bright red and yellow. Thanks to colored labels, it's easy to scan my inbox and immediately find all the emails that are really important to me.



Evolution is a great thing.

*P.S. We actually kinda like folders. In fact, we're doing some work to add some folder-y-ish functionality. Stay tuned.

P.P.S. Several new features we've launched, including colored labels, only work in the newest version of Gmail, currently available for IE7 and Firefox 2. Please upgrade your browser to start using those features now.