Gmail Gets More Image Juice

Gmail Labs

Google’s experimental Gmail Labs has many free features users can add to the e-mail service. But that doesn’t mean all of them are cutting-edge.

“Well, it’s about time,” Google software engineer Kent Tamura wrote in a blog post announcing latest Labs feature: the ability to insert images directly in the body of an e-mail.

Most e-mail services have offered this capability for years, but Google Gmail users had to settle for sending images as attachments.

Now, however, once Labs users have activated the “Inserting images” feature, they can insert images in two ways, either uploading image files from their computers or pasting in an image URL.

Users can activate Labs features by enabling them within Gmail’s Settings.

One wrinkle of note that’s a bit different from other e-mail services: Even with the new Labs feature in place, Gmail doesn’t show URL-based images in messages by default as part of its spam filtering. When sending mail to other Gmail users, they’ll still have to click “Display images below” or “Always display images from… ” to see included images.

You also have to be using e-mails in “rich formatting” mode — not plain text — to see images.

The experimental tweak marks the latest addition to Google’s e-mail service, which has been experiencing a rash of improvements in the past several months. Google offers a number of other optional Gmail features under Labs, including Undo Send and offline access to Gmail.

Additionally, Gmail recently celebrated its fifth anniversary, though the popular service officially remains in beta testing.

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