Google Gmail Gets Personal: Customizable Backgrounds, More E-mail Control


Google is putting a new coat of lipstick on its Gmail e-mail platform, letting users personalize their inbox backgrounds with their own photos or their own theme.

While personalized inboxes are nothing new -- Gmail e-mail has had themes for a while -- Google said users want to create their own and add more pop to their Gmail inboxes.

"But we've heard from many of you who thought it would be even better if you could give Gmail an ever more personalized look and create themes completely on your own," Google said in a blog post Thursday showcasing the new Google Gmail inbox background personalization options.

Gmail e-mail users can now click on the themes tab and choose "create your own theme," Google said.

Google also set out to make sure Gmail users don't forget to include someone in an e-mail and also ensure that users don't include the wrong person with a similar name on messages.

The new Gmail Labs features, dubbed "Don't forget Bob" and "Got the wrong Bob?" were designed to avoid embarrassing situations like forgetting to add a recipient or adding a similar-named recipient accidentally -- like when you're trying to e-mail your friend Bob, but the e-mail address of Bob, your boss, auto-populates. Both were launched into beta two years ago and were will be generally available in the next few days, Google said.

"We've received quite a bit of positive feedback from people who avoided some embarrassing situations thanks to these features," Google wrote in a Gmail blog announcing the new features. "And today, we're excited to graduate them from Gmail Labs and start turning them on for everyone (they should start working in all Gmail accounts over the next day or so)."

The "Don't forget Bob" feature will automatically make suggestions as users type in recipients to Gmail e-mail messages. Gmail will automatically suggest people based on groups of people users most frequently e-mail.

"When you see a suggestion to add a person you've forgotten, all you have to do is click on their name to add them," Google said.

Similarly, with the "Got the wrong Bob?" feature, if a user clicks on a suggestion to replace a mistakenly added recipient, the "wrong Bob" will be replaced with the right one. The feature is designed to spare embarrassment and cut down on the number of "Are you sure you meant to send this to me?" responses.

"We hope these suggestions help you avoid some sticky situations -- before you hit send," Google wrote.

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