Gmail improved Label functions

Waking up to Gmail this morning gave me a nice surprise — they’ve finally implemented two long over-due features: assigning labels and archiving in one function, and assigning multiple labels to posts.

The original ‘Labels’ drop down was a bit clunky:

  • You could only assign one label to a message at a time. To do more than one, required you to keep going back to the drop down and selecting the next one
  • You couldn’t assign a label and archive it at the same time

The new labels features have now been split into two buttons: Move To and Labels.

Move To allows you to select a bunch of mails, go to the drop down and select a label to ‘move’ these mails to — what this does is actually assign the label AND archive all in one click. Much more efficient! The dropdown now also includes quick links to Spam and the Bin and you still get the ability to Create New and Manage your labels.

The old Labels tab has now been improved and instead of a simlpe list, it now uses checkboxes, so you can apply multiple labels all in one go. Yes! I’ve been waiting for this feature for ages. This will make it so much more usable. Since I switched from Outlook to Gmail and ditched folders in favour of labels, I’ve found this to be a much more efficient way of working, so I’m really pleased they’ve improved this. Thanks Google!

There are a few strange things here though: When you first open the Label drop down, the buttons at the bottom are Create New and Manage, but as soon as you click a check box, they both vanish and Apply is displayed instead. I think this is a bug — there’s no point removing those buttons at that point, you might still want to create more labels for this post. If it’s intentional, it’s not been clearly thought through.

The second issue is that different things happen depending where you click: Click the label name and it’s applied immediately and the drop down is closed automatically. Click the checkbox and it stays open waiting for more input. That could take a bit of getting used to and is a bit of an expected usability fail. Generally, labels of checkboxes don’t work like this, the label should just be a click zone for the checkbox. Anyway… Gmail is always evolving so I’m sure this will improve.

The only feature that’s still missing is the ability to assign labels while you’re writing a new mail. One must actually send the mail, then go into All Mail, open the message and assign labels after you’ve sent it. I’m sure they will fix this eventually.

I just loved Gmail a little more…

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