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Top 10 improvements Google should make to Gmail

Google is set to change the way people interact with their networks. Its free email service, Gmail, came from nowhere to take the lead in terms of innovation. Its service is great but there are still a few additions that could ensure Gmail really does leave its competitors in the dust.

Here's a list of our top 10 must do and a check list of 38 more suggestions.

1. Gmail lite, Gmail ++

Consider what Yahoo is doing right now. They are launching a program to reward people for making Yahoo their primary search engine and are targeting Yahoo email users to achieve this.

The rewards range from no Yahoo Mail ads, unlimited Yahoo access, free music downloads, frequent flyer miles and vouchers/discounts. I would not mind getting paid for receiving and reading selected emails or being enrolled in a loyalty scheme like MutualPoints.

2. Notepad à la draft/tasklist

Gmail is very useful for storing notes and drafts that you are working on. You can always write something and get it stored in the "drafts" section. For example, I have "to do list" and an "interesting links" drafts that I regularly update at work and at home. This way, I don't need any synchronisation software or drives to carry my documents around. Obviously, you can upload a file at home as an attachment to a draft on your Gmail and get it at your work. Gmail allows attachment of up to 10MB.

3. Triple windows with AJAX.

Spymac and Yahoo do it quite well. The triple window interface for traditional computer-based email clients has worked wonders and would be a great idea if Gmail could come forth with a similar implementation. It might not be exactly the same but it's worth having to ease any transition from computer-based email clients to web-based ones.

4. Gmail Email Client

Google has already released the Google pack, a mix of software that were not really destined to be bundled together. I am one of those who believe that it would be in Google's own interest to launch a Gmail Email Client to get them used to the interface. It could be based on Thunderbird or another Open source email client.

5. Exporting your files/Downloading your messages

There are many horror stories of people getting their email accounts hijacked or pirated. A nice feature from Gmail could be to offer the possibility of downloading all your emails as a Zip file.

To save on bandwidth and size, the emails would be stripped of any unwanted content - formatting, images and attachment. 1000 emails would probably only take up 1MB under these conditions, quite acceptable and a potential life saver.

6. Open in New Window

This is arguably the most blatant omission of Gmail. Why can't it allow normal "right clicks - open in new window" is completely beyond me. Opening in new windows is something as natural as multi-tabbing in browsers and is something that the architects at Gmail should really look into. Hint - you can do this by switching to basic HTML but that removes some of the functionality.

7. Folders

Now that's very high on my list. Starring is nice but I just can't forget how folders were easy to use and reduce clutter when I was using Outlook Express.

Folders are still a nice way to keep messages organised and Gmail could at least offer them as an option. Folders allow the user to construct a hierarchy rather than the current flat structure.

8. Remove Invites

I've used the invite box only three times in the last year or so. For me it is therefore a waste of time and space. Now a much better solution, one which has been proved and approved is to have a simple tagline.

Yahoo, Hotmail and everyone else does it... except Gmail. Just remove the Invite box and replace it by a tagline and free entry for everyone.

9.Extendable editing areas.

Having an extendable editing area makes sense if, like me, you do not want to use that scroll button all too often in the plain version. The funny thing is that Gmail does offer a 90% browser width editing version when you compose your mails but only when you opt for the rich editing which is not good at all.

10. Go Corporate : GGroup and Gmail Pro

My gut feeling tells me that Google’s answer to Sharepoint is the next obvious step after Gtalk and Gmail came forward. Now Gmail has been in the air in 2001. I therefore suspect that GGroup or GPoint should probably be in Alpha by now.

Google will probably release a whole set of services including business oriented IM and ad free, branded Gmail with a regular backup service. See Netmongol (opens in new tab) as an example.

There are a few open source projects out there which Google could use for the GGroup. Now that would be a great idea, especially if it is priced right, offered as a free add on to webhosters (like Fantastico) and totally stable.

And here's the rest of our suggestions that did not made it to the top

10. Link to specific emails, contacts > favourites

11. Better Message Navigation > going straight to chosen emails rather than in 10 clicks

12. Save searches

13. Customisable Templates

14. Multiple email accounts on the same machine WITHOUT cookie

15. View more than 20 in search and more than 100 messages on one page.

16. Merge IG and Gmail

17. Get a capacity calculator ;-)

18. Remove the Beta

19. Have new Logo or rotate logo.

20. Remove invites

21. Ban Gmail invites on Ebay

22. No drop down please.

23. Better use of Interface

24. A regular nagging problem > Go to next unread rather than to next email simply

25. Attachments > Ability to transfer system files as well as larger attachments/attach multiple files rather than one at a time.

26. Improved label system > Sub/Outgoing, Smart/Auto labels

27. Sorting features > Sort by Date, File, etc.

28. Maling list > Smart, based on domain names, CCs and BCCs

29. A Gmail Log

30. Combine conversation

31. Have secured space/Shared accounts à la mydrive.

32. Remove Archiving

33. Introducing Gradating in Star system

34. Filter as you type in the search. Also Booleans and sort by

35. Better report phishing mechanism

36. Smarter searches > At least as smart as google, boolean as well

37. WTF, removing US/Rest of the world differences

38. Emptying trash

39. Better handling of HTML/CSS in emails 40. Smart Signatures

41. IMAP/LDAP support

42. Email sent Confirmation.

43. Threshold for email contacts to be added.

44. RSS feed rather than notifier - which takes too much memory space.

45. Be less evil.

46. Encourage/Develop plugins

47. Auto Spell Check

46. Customizable shortcuts

47. More intelligent inbox > Learns your manners

48. Disable some error messages like OOPS

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.