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Google makes Gmail search accessible to all comers

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Google has released a new Gmail search tool that provides suggestions for messages, attachments and even file names in a move to degeekify its email service.

Search Autocomplete is Mountain View’s latest Labs add-on, and also highlights Google’s sluggish response to improving search in its webmail app for all its users.

The new feature throws up automatic suggestions for users when searching for messages from a specific person in their inbox, in much the same way that the function already works when composing a new email to existing contacts.

Usefully, Gmail users can now also search by date range, attachment type and file name.

Like all of Google’s experimental tools, the new search function can be enabled via Gmail Labs, which has to be activated in your account. You can then select Search Autocomplete from the list of options.

The company has been fiddling with ways of souping up its search options within Gmail for some time.

In February it added a new experimental feature - the misleadingly named “Multiple Inboxes" - offering improved search results, which up to now have been an unwieldy mess.

Until now users of Gmail who were looking for a tucked-away message had to type in what Google described as “geeky” code to track down an email by using the service’s advanced search tool.

It’s good to see Google finally get its house in order with a more user-friendly approach to search in Gmail, but one can’t help but wonder why it’s taken the web search kingpin so long to implement such a tool that is, after all, at the centre of what it does. ®

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