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20 ways to maximize collaboration with the new Gmail interface


The inbox sure ain’t what it used to be.

It’s hard to even remember now, but way back in the prehistoric internet era of the early 2000s, an inbox was quite literally just an inbox — a place where your incoming email landed and waited for you to answer (or, perhaps more likely, ignore) it.

Now, following Google’s recent repositioning of Gmail as a collaboration-friendly productivity hub, email is only one small part of what the inbox represents. The new Gmail setup is a mashup of email, one-on-one messaging, channel-driven team chat, individual and group video meetings, and even multiperson document work. It’s a “new home for work,” as Google puts it, and there’s really no single point of focus — as the website’s newly expanded left-of-screen sidebar makes immediately apparent.

00 gmail collaboration interface JR Raphael/IDG

The new Gmail interface, with Mail, Chat, Rooms, and Meet in the sidebar and a team conversation in the main area of the screen. (Click image to enlarge it.)

While the new Gmail interface can be incredibly powerful, though, it can also be a lot to wrap your head around — with numerous panels, subwindows, and layers upon layers of overlapping menus. And that means you’re bound to overlook some useful stuff.

Well, overlook no more: This detailed guide will show you how to take full advantage of Gmail’s most potential-packed teamwork possibilities, from the cross-service collaboration basics to some awesome advanced options. Just make your way through the steps below, share the info with your colleagues, as needed — and before you know it, you’ll be a regular ol’ inbox collaboration pro.

(Note that the tips here apply mostly to the desktop Gmail website, except where noted. Also, the new Gmail interface elements are currently available only for paying subscribers of Google Workspace — formerly known as G Suite — but Google says they’ll roll out to regular consumer users, too, sometime over the coming months.)

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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