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Many of us are guilty of constantly switching back to Gmail to check for new messages. And if you’re like me, you’ve probably missed an important chat message because you weren’t looking at your Gmail window when it came in. If you use Google Chrome, these days can be over since we just launched HTML5 desktop notifications which display pop-ups whenever a chat message or new email arrives.


To turn them on, click on the Settings link in the top right corner of Gmail and scroll down to the “Desktop Notifications” section. If you just want to get notified about chat messages, or if you use Priority Inbox and only want to get notifications for important messages, you can customize your settings from there too.


This functionality is currently only available for people using Google Chrome, but we’re working to make notifications part of the standard Web platform.

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When you’re visiting sites other than Gmail, it’s easy to find out how many unread messages are in your inbox by glancing at the title of your Gmail tab or window. However, if you have a ton of tabs open, or if you use Chrome’s “Pin Tab” feature that hides everything except the tab’s icon, it can be tricky to figure out without switching tabs.

If you’ve ever found yourself in this situation, you may like the new Unread message icon we just added to Gmail Labs. It embeds the number of unread messages you have right into the Gmail icon itself, like this:


To turn it on, go to the Labs tab in Settings, enable this lab, and click the “Save Changes” button at the very bottom of the page. Note that it’ll only works in Chrome (version 6 and above) and Firefox (version 2 and above).

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Let’s say you need to print an important email attachment on your way to work so that it’s waiting for you when you walk in the door. With Gmail for mobile and Google Cloud Print — a service that allows printing from any app on any device, OS or browser without the need to install drivers — you can.

To get started, you’ll first need to connect your printer to Google Cloud Print. For now, this step requires a Windows PC but Linux and Mac support are coming soon. Once you’re set up, just go to gmail.com from your iPhone or Android browser and choose “Print” from the dropdown menu in the top right corner. You can also print eligible email attachments (such as .pdf or .doc) by clicking the “Print” link that appears next to them.


We’re rolling this feature out in U.S. English over the next few days, so if you don’t see it right away please check back. In the meantime, you can learn more in the Google Cloud Print help center.

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Have you ever found it just a little bit tricky to find what you were looking for on the Gmail Labs Settings page? Scrolling was ok when there were a handful of Labs, but now that there are over 50 it’s another story. A lunchtime discussion made us realize that having to rely on the browser’s search function or endless scrolling makes it hard to find the Labs features you want. So another Gmail engineer named Manu and I decided take an afternoon and address this. The result is an addition to the Settings page which filters the visible Labs as you type.


You can also link directly to the search results (e.g. http://mail.google.com/mail#settings/labs/video) if you’d like.

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A few months ago, we asked for your help to make Tasks better by voting on your top feature requests. We were blown away by the number of responses we received, with over 17,000 people participating and an overwhelming 185,000 votes.

Now, we’re preparing to tackle some of your top requests. In no specific order, here are the top five feature requests that emerged from the Tasks product ideas page:
  • Ability to create repeating tasks
  • Reminders and notifications
  • Sharable task lists
  • Tasks API and synchronization
  • Visual distinction for overdue tasks
So thanks for all the feedback and stay tuned for changes to Tasks throughout the year. In the meantime, we wish you a productive (and Tasks-filled) 2011!