A lot of people were impressed by the recent changes to Gmail especially the feature that gives unique URL’s to folders and emails. So what can this feature actually do to make your emailing life a lot easier?
In case you’re wondering “huh? what’s he talking about?!”, take a look at the address bar of your new Gmail (if you have it of course) and you’ll see that the inbox has become https://mail.google.com/mail/#inbox, the archive has become https://mail.google.com/mail/#all and so on. These are unique bookmarkable URL’s that you can put in your browser favourites to be taken directly to those folders when you click on them. Even the labels have their own bookmarks now.
Imagine for a moment that you are browsing through a particular label such as https://mail.google.com/mail/#label/google+alert when the Firefox browser crashes. Assuming you have enabled Firefox’s Session Saver, you’ll be instantly taken back to that label when Firefox re-starts. No more being taken back to the inbox and then having to click your way around to find where you were.
Or perhaps you are monitoring an email conversation waiting for someone to respond. You can bookmark the email in your browser bookmarks and check back on it later. No more searching around in your archives. Now only one click on a link is required.
But the best part of this new feature (in my view) is the ability to go straight to the “compose new email” window – without having Gmail open first. This is especially useful if you want to fire off a quick email to someone but you don’t want to wait for Gmail to load up first. You can even specify a keyword that will activate a new Gmail “compose” window when you type that keyword into Firefox.
Here’s how to set up the ability to send Gmail emails without having to open Gmail first. This works for Mozilla Firefox.
- Open Gmail and then go to a new “compose” window.
- Save the window as a browser bookmark. Make sure the address bar says https://mail.google.com/mail/#compose
That by itself would be enough to trigger a new “compose” window if you wanted to send an email. But what if you wanted to go further and activate a new email window by typing a keyword into Firefox?
- Go to the link in your bookmarks, right-click on it and choose “properties” at the bottom.
- A box will pop up with the properties of the link. Here, you can change the name of the link, next is the actual URL and in the next box is the opportunity to enter a keyword. This is the box we need.
- So think of a keyword that you would like to use to send a Gmail email. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s use gmailnew
- In the keyword box, enter gmailnew, save it and close.
- Now open a new Firefox tab and in the address bar, type gmailnew
- A new Gmail compose window will now open!
Using keywords like this, you need never touch that bookmark ever again. Anytime you want to send emails, just open a new Firefox tab and enter your keyword. Your fingers won’t even have to leave the keyboard! Once the email is sent, the tab closes itself again.
Now before I get complaints from Internet Explorer users that I am being biased towards Firefox users, I think there IS a way to do it in Internet Explorer (although I haven’t tested this yet). If you bookmark the “compose email” page and then right-click on the bookmarked link, you can enter a key combination to be taken to that page (instead of specifying a keyword). So if you did say CTRL + F1 then it could open the Gmail window. If anyone wants to test that, let me know in the comments how it worked out.
Does anyone have any other unique uses for the Gmail bookmarkable URL’s? If you look at them closely, they are not such a useless feature. Introducing this was a rather inspired move on Google’s part. The question now is how long it will take for Yahoo and Microsoft to copy them.