GMail Updates Its Contacts Features

Aug 11, 2010

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Gmail has made some new changes recently and the big one is the change they have made to the contacts. A lot of people have been asking Google to update the way Gmail shows its contacts and features of how to show, sort and edit contacts. Now the contacts in Gmail is more like the email portion and they have moved the contacts and tasks to the top left.

gmail contacts update on left navigation

As you probably already noticed in the above picture that they made the Compose Mail a button rather than keeping it a link. If you want to eliminate the contacts and tasks links there then you can click near the right edge of Mail and those links will go away. Now in Gmail you can search for your contacts much easier and see them much faster.

Here are some of the new features:

  • Keyboard shortcuts (go to Contacts and hit “?” for the full list)
  • Sort by last name (look under “More actions”)
  • Custom labels for phone numbers and other fields
  • The ability to undo changes you’ve just made
  • Automatic saving
  • Structured name fields, so you can adjust titles, suffixes, and other name components
  • A bigger, more prominent notes field

When you add or edit a contacts information you do not need to worry about having to save it as Gmail will now automatically do so and there is an undo feature if you want it. They have also changed the look of how you edit your contacts now in an overlay system.

gmail contacts editing overlay

They have also made some changes to the top header by shrinking it allowing your first message to appear about 16 pixels higher on the screen. This was done by moving the Select All, None, Read, Unread and Starred that used to be in a bar, now is in a drop-down at the far left.

gmail new header with dropdown for starred and read messages

Right now these changes have only made to Gmail users and not Google Apps users. These changes will be made in effect to Google Apps users in the near future. Google has said “We’re actively working on making domain-specific features work well in the new interface and plan to make this new version of Contacts available to Google Apps customers too.” in regards to improving Gmail for Google Apps users.

This is just another step in the direction of Gmail treating its email client as more of an application and improving it more as a communication and management tool rather than a simple email inbox.

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