April 2nd, 2009 | Published in Gmail (Google Mail)
On the Gmail team, we believe finding the right email among thousands of messages can be as important as finding the right web page across the billions of web pages out there. So with the aim of making search in Gmail easier, we built a new experimental feature in Gmail Labs: Search Autocomplete.
Turn on Search Autocomplete from the Labs tab under Gmail Settings, and you'll get suggestions as you type in the search box. 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.
Gmail also offers a bunch of advanced search operators, which provide a powerful way to find that one message you have in mind. You can search in specific places (e.g. in chats or sent items), or search for messages with attachments of a certain type (e.g. docs or photos). Suppose I want to search for photos that were sent to me by my friend Chris. Normally, I would have to enter Chris' email address followed by filename:(jpg OR png), which I gladly admit is even a bit too geeky for me. With Search Autocomplete, I can just type "photos" or "pictures," select "has photos" from the drop down list (as in the screenshot below), and the search query (filename:(jpg OR png)) gets inserted for me. Similarly, you can type in the word "attachment" and Search Autocomplete will list the most common attachment types for you.
One of the reasons we still show you the geeky search query is to allow you to adapt it to your needs. For example, if you'd like to include tiff files in your search result, you can adapt the query manually to filename:(jpg OR png OR tiff).
That's it for now. Play around and make sure to use the time that you save on searching to let us know what you think.