GMail’s already-marvelous interface need not deter our constructive “backseat engineering.” Here’s my wishlist.

  1. Endless popup warnings when replying to Trashed threads. Compose a reply to a deleted (not archived) thread. A warning dialog box pops up and steals focus every 30-60 seconds to say “This thread is in the trash.” Yep, just like it was a minute ago. I’m usually typing when dialog box grabs focus, and with keyboard shortcuts enabled, my next few compose keystrokes teleport me halfway through the UI.

    Wish: Show the dialog box once when I create the reply, or show a simple message in the compose window instead of taking focus. Then let me type.

  2. Awkward handling of seldomly-used labels. I have a few labels that are only attached to 10-20 thread, and many old labels that won’t ever get attached to another thread. The labeled threads would be hard to reconstitute through search.

    While I can now hide them in the inbox view (yay) and IMAP, and can search for labels when attaching one to a message, it still feels awkward to see “50 more” labels. Some of my label names were chosen to influence sort order (“lists/blah”).

    Wish: A place to stash archived labels. I’d be happy with an Archive flag on labels, which would display them in the folder list under a single expandable link, or onl “Show Archived” radio button. Existing Manage Labels options (show/hide, Show in IMAP) seem like client app-specific workarounds for not having Archive; show/hide is really “Show in Web.” Real hierarchical labels (nested “groups of labels”) is more than I need.

  3. Compose and Contact links behave differently than labels. Since the Compose and Contacts links are to Javascript targets, I can’t Ctrl+click to Compose in a new tab, or right-click and “Open in New Window” on Contacts. I leave the main GMail inbox tab open all the time, and I’m usually already looking at a thread when I want Compose or Contacts. I end up using the Inbox link to open a new tab and navigate from there.

    Wish: I think I’d accept a bit more latency for being able to use Compose and Contacts links like I do label links.

  4. Can’t auto-merge contacts (and until recently, not even a “Merge these 2 contacts”). Also, after manually merging contacts, I’m sent back to the top of the contact list (rather than the previous scroll position), so it’s painful to do with lots of contacts.

    Wish: “Auto-Merge All,” then show me a long list of affected contacts to skim/correct. Show 50 or 100 merged contacts per page, not 1. Stopgap: scroll to merged contact after a manual merge.

  5. “All Contacts” has a better memory than I do. GMail adds anyone I email to my “All Contacts” set, yet when composing, I sometimes remember the name of a company/domain name but not an individual.

    Wish: In the To field, search contacts’ email addresses (domain names, specifically). This already happens when no first or last names are defined. When find-as-you-type doesn’t match any contacts, consider waiting a couple seconds then showing “Search Contacts for ‘blah’.” That way I don’t have to delete my partial address, click “To” for the contact picker, and re-type my query.