I used to have a problem. People would ask me questions, over chat or email, and I'd have to leave Gmail to search Google for an answer. Then I'd have to select the answer, copy it, go back to Gmail and paste the answer into the chat window or my reply. Sometimes I'd get distracted and forget to go back to Gmail, and I'd have to go through it all again when I remembered what I'd been doing.

With the new Google Search experiment in Gmail Labs, my problem is solved. When you turn this feature on from the Labs tab under Settings, you'll see a new search box on the left side of your inbox, like this:

Type your search in, and a window (like a chat window, but a bit bigger) appears at the bottom of your screen with the first few search results.

You can click on a search result and it'll open up in another window (or another tab) so you can make sure it's what you're looking for. Once you're sure it's a result you need, moving your mouse over the result back in Gmail reveals a pull-down menu that lets you do stuff with the search result.

What's in the menu depends on what you're doing in Gmail:
  • If you're reading a message, you can start a reply to the message with the search result as the first thing in your reply.
  • If you're writing a message, you can paste the result, or just the URL into your message.
  • If you're chatting with someone, you can send the result via chat.
  • You can also always compose a new message to send the search result.
If you have keyboard shortcuts turned on, typing g and then / will take you to the search box when you're not composing, and Ctrl + g will do it when you're composing (that's + g for Mac users).

Like all things in Gmail Labs, we're going to be tinkering with it, so let us know what you think.

Oh, and one other thing: with all the stuff we've been adding to Gmail Labs lately, the left side of your account might be getting crowded. A lot of the people who've been playing with this new feature have found it useful to turn on "Navbar drag and drop" in Labs so they can move the web search box up to the top where it's easy to get to.