Orli Yakuel noticed that Google has quietly added a new icon in the ‘Compose Mail’ window of its free webmail service Gmail, enabling users to run search queries from within the interface and insert results and URLs straight into drafted e-mails or open chat conversations.
The first iteration of the labs feature added a ‘Web Search’ box next to the main column (left side on the screenshot) that provides much of the same functionality, only you needed to remember to go to the side column to run a search. Now, enabling the feature also adds an icon to the top toolbar in the ‘Compose Mail’ window, where you can also customize colors and fonts for your message, add links and emoticons and more.
It’s unclear when the icon was added, but we can’t retrieve any mention about this on the Gmail blog and today marks the first time we’ve seen it.
The icon opens up a search box at the bottom of your screen and lets you run a search like you would using the regular Google search interface. A small arrow opens up a limited menu where you can paste results, paste URL and send by e-mail (which is kind of redundant in this case, since you’re already in a new e-mail). If you have a chat conversation open in Gmail, you’ll also get an extra option to send search results to your contact.
Obviously, this isn’t a ground-breaking feature, but if you’re a Gmail user you might want to (re-)enable the Labs feature in Settings. Guaranteed to save you quite some time.