[Libs-Or] Tech-Talk: GOOGLE: Gmail is Getting Smarter

Darci Hanning darci.hanning at state.or.us
Wed Nov 14 08:52:38 PST 2018

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 This Week's Topic: GOOGLE / GMAIL
1. VIDEO ... Gmail is Getting Smarter
2. ARTICLE ... Gmail is Getting Smarter
3. COMMUNICATING ... Using Roundtables to Capture Ideas


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GOOGLE: Gmail is Getting Smarter

I don't know about you, but I can be a bit resistant to change sometimes. Yet when Google's Gmail started progressively rolling out the updated design of their Email, Contacts and Layout -- I was intrigued. I'm always looking for a way to work smarter with email so that my Inbox doesn't take over my day.

With over 1.2 Billion personal and organizational users, Gmail remains the most popular web-based email program today. With so many users, these changes were slowly revealed throughout 2018.

Are You Using the New View?

Google is in the process of rolling out a fresh look with additional functionality ... and doing so all around the world. Eventually they will phase out what they are now calling the Classic look and everyone will be using the New.

You may have been prompted to update and are using the new Gmail now. However, if you're not sure, it's easy to check. Then, if you don't like the new look, there is the option to switch back to the Classic view (as long as it is provided).

Go to the gear icon and in the drop-down list, if you see "Try the new Gmail" or if you have Google Apps, "Try the new [your organizations' s name]" -- just click the option to switch. Once activated, in a few seconds your Gmail will re-launch and change to the updated version.


[new Gmail]

Gmail's Updated Look and New Options

Once you're in the new look, you'll see a different layout with some cool and fresh opportunities to help you work faster and smarter when plowing through your email.

Let's take a look at a few that can make a big impact.
1.  Layout changes
2.  The "Act on Email from your Inbox" list
3.  Snooze emails until later
4.  Smart Reply
5.  Completing Sentences for you
6.  Undo Send
7.  Reply to All (an important tweak)

NOTE: The instructions below are for desktop use. Similar functions are available when viewing Gmail on a smartphone.

1. An Updated Layout

A few major changes happened in how you find some Google tools typically associated with email.. . .

Contacts – Where did my Contacts go?

In the prior version you could access your Contacts list right inside of Gmail by toggling back and forth between Email and Contacts. Now, so that "Contacts" are their own entity (so you can use this feature whether you use Gmail or not), Google has moved Contacts out of email and into its own app.

To access Contacts now, when you are signed into any Google account (not just Gmail):

·     Click on the Apps list icon in the upper right (the small grid of squares).
·     Select Contacts (blue icon) from the list of Apps.

[Gmail Contacts]

TIP: Did you know that you can drag and drop your Google Apps (the individual icons) within this view so that the ones you use the most are at the top? Just hover over any icon, click to engage it and drag and drop!

New Layout Option: Email AND Another App at Same Time

[Gmail view]

You can now view one of three additional Google Apps in the right side of your Gmail screen ... while you're in Email: Google Calendar, Tasks and Keep (the Google Notes tool). These icons appear on the right as in this image.

Personally, when I work, I have two tabs always open -- Gmail and Calendar. Now I can view both of them at the same time, as you see below.


So when I click on the Calendar icon in the right column of Gmail, I can view a slice of my day in the same window. Then...

·     I can click the X in the upper right to close it when I'm finished.
·     Or, I can open the App in a full browser window, by selecting the icon to the left of the X, the square with a slanted arrow in it.


2. Act on Email from Your Inbox

IMPORTANT: Some of the features listed below are not visible unless you have the "Conversation View" turned on (this is the option to view emails of the same subject heading grouped together). To turn this feature ON, go to Settings and in the General tab, scroll down to find the Conversation View section and turn it to On.


Email Action Buttons


If you have the Conversation View turned on, when you mouse over an email in your Inbox, to the very right, four options appear:

1.  Archive
2.  Delete
3.  Mark as un-read
4.  Snooze (new feature)

The first three actions are pretty self-explanatory, and very useful. Now you don't have to open an email to take action. Let's look at the new feature to "Snooze" an email.

3. Snooze Emails Until Later

With Snooze you can postpone an email and temporarily remove it from your Inbox until you want to read and take action on it later. The email will reappear at the top of your Inbox based on the date/time you pre-select -- like later in the day, tomorrow, or a custom date and time.

NOTE: Again, this option is only available to use if Conversation view is turned on. If you don't like working in this mode, there's a Gmail add-on that works like the Snooze feature – see the Tech-Talk article on Boomerang here<http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001f1DogPaRjQMT_nLZtTMpQD0wdYLDP4x4-oYmGGrPj1S4tYxOqpTIy9ZhN_709FTEPa3SXqOOcJITz7qoQ18iWDI-2qzXwI8HxXvoPnb76e5mOXQW3l8DFBfpu0GaOkW-aUS0asxBmY-1utLdoAc7E3Kw1HcYHOGsrpjDlA17wgEHwPLTPfAiDaPbk17z9Y2-m6a95AcsgFy7zBuSbMqZ0Q==&c=6Z1yMB9Vj5vB4z4pQtxYk4sGltLD00FRe-xbgH7kIPAjsI4t5h5MhA==&ch=eGYGU2wtm4X-YkPUilm7UwSbpSO9voa_89YPbg2ix5rlvZlWyaxFzA==>.


To Snooze an Email:

1.  In your Inbox, mouse over the email.
2.  On the right, click Snooze.
3.  Choose from the later days and times to retrieve the email.
4.  Or select Pick date & time to choose your own.

To Snooze multiple emails, select the messages by adding a check-mark in the box to the left of the message and from the top menu click the Snooze icon that will appear.

If you want to view the email or change the snoozed time/date before the pre-determined time, you can find these items in a folder aptly named Snoozed.

4. Smart Reply

Previously available only on mobile devices, Google has brought "Smart Reply" to the desktop. It's the same concept that has been around in texting for years. It saves you time by suggesting quick responses to the received email.

Smart Reply suggests three responses you might send based on the content of the email you received.


[smart reply]

With the Smart Reply options, you can:

·     Click on one of the suggestions and hit Send.
·     Choose an option and tweak it as desired before sending.
·     Ignore all three and write your own reply.

It's pretty cool how artificial intelligence technology works to "read" the email and suggests replies that can be very accurate. And, when you start using Smart Reply and modifying responses regularly, it will start to learn your tone and modify suggestions to sound more like you!

5. Smart Compose or Sentence Completion Suggestions

Gmail now also uses "artificial intelligence" or "machine learning" to help you compose messages. It uses predictive writing suggestions that appear as you compose an email.

You may have noticed that as you type, gray text appears making suggestions to complete your sentences. As these new words appear (that you didn't type), if you want to accept them, just hit the Tab key to go to the end of the suggested text to keep it.

If you don't want to include the proposed text, just keep typing.

For example, in the email reply below, I started typing "I'll take..." and Gmail suggested "a look."

[smart sentence completion]

6. Undo Send

An additional feature that can really be a lifesaver in certain situations is the Undo Send option. This setting delays the sending of an email message based on a "recall a message" time you set.

For instance, you compose an email and type in the wrong "Barbara" -- and notice it as you're clicking the Send key. With the Undo Send feature, you can stop that email from sending and correct the recipient's name.

By default, Gmail has set the cancellation time to only five seconds. This doesn't give you very much time to do anything though. To change the delay (or undo) send time:

·     Go to Settings, under the General tab.
·     In the Undo Send section, you can bump the value up to 10, 20, or even 30 seconds.
·     Save your changes.

This means that you can give yourself a bit more time if you have second thoughts about any message you send.

If you find after you've clicked "Send" (and it is within the delay time set), you can retrieve it. In the bottom left of your screen, you'll see Message sent and the option to Undo or View message. Choose one of these to cancel the message, or view so that you can make changes.


7. Reply to All

Another change Google made is in the default setting for Reply or Reply All. In the "old" Gmail, when you received a message that was CC'd to two or more people, the Reply option had Reply All as a choice within it - front and center.

In the latest version, you only see the Reply icon prominently. To Reply All, you need to click the three dots to the right of that option to find it.

Why is this problematic? Over and over in the past few weeks I have hit Reply instinctively and missed replying to everyone in the email thread, and then had to go back and forward the message.

New view with Reply as first option:

Setting changed so that Reply to all is visible:


[Reply to all]

Good news! You can change this setting back so that Reply All is more visible in the Reply section.

·     Go to Settings, the General tab.
·     In the Default reply behavior section, select Reply all.
·     Save your changes.

You can still choose to reply to just one person, but Reply to all will be the first option.

Or, you may be the kind of person who "accidentally" uses Reply to all when not necessary. In this case, you may want to leave the new default settings as is.


Communication: Listening
Using roundtables to capture ideas

When was the last time you held, or participated in, a roundtable?

You know ... where five to ten people get together to share their ideas on a particular topic? There is a facilitator who leads the session and asks the questions. These are mostly open-ended so that the participants can offer up something that is meaningful to them.

What's Important About Roundtables

Whenever you want people to know you are listening, a roundtable can be a productive tool ... if you sincerely want to know the answers, will take action and will provide feedback to the group on what you heard and plan to do.

There's no point in holding one if you just do it because it's a good communication tool. You have to be sincere, take action and give feedback. These three items are essential.

A roundtable can have a negative effect if you don't carry through to show you're striving for an environment of mutual respect. It will just make folks more skeptical and organizationally indifferent.

When to Hold a Roundtable

Examples of when to use roundtables ... when you want to know:

·     How they feel about the organization's vision, mission, purpose
·     Ideas for launching a new program or making a significant change
·     Solving a problem that affects everyone, e.g. getting more parent involvement
·     How to improve employee morale or customer service
·     Quarterly check-ins on the pulse of what's going on, how people are feeling, what suggestions they may have for improvement

People like having their opinions and ideas heard. In fact, it is the number one driver of work satisfaction. Holding roundtables, effectively, is a powerful tool for positive change.

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