Google Improves Gmail Search

Autocomplete and deep file format scanning added.

It’s early April and already Google’s refocused efforts on Gmail have probably made it the best year to date for the popular email service.

Latest in the long, long line of useful updates to land in 2009 (just check out the list of Associated Articles below) is the addition of ‘Search Autocomplete’ in Labs late last week.

“Turn on Search Autocomplete from the Labs tab under Gmail Settings, and you’ll get suggestions as you type in the search box,” explains Google software engineer Ibrahim Bokharouss. “One of the most popular searches in Gmail is for names or email addresses, so the first kind of suggestions you’ll see are contacts. Some names are not easy to remember (my last name is an excellent example!) – with this new Labs feature you can just type a couple letters and select the desired contact from the drop down list. Easy and quick as that.”

The functionality is also extended to include advanced search operators to further pinpoint specific messages. From example, you can search in specific places such as chats or sent items or look for certain attachment types or even file formats. All this works using plain language too so you can type ‘has’ and a drop down list for attachments, documents, photos, videos, calendar events will be provided, otherwise type ‘photos’, ‘videos’ etc to get exact file types (which can be edited to include/exclude your choice of formats).

Even more cleverly, Search Autocomplete combines the recently added YouTube, Flickr and Picasa integration so that a picture search will include emails with Picasa or Flickr urls and a video search will locate links to YouTube.

Are you really still using Hotmail…?

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