Have Gmail write or improve your emails for you using its new experimental generative AI feature “Gadget Hacks
Thanks to rapid advancements in the field, generative AI can already do amazing things, from generating text, images, and videos with a simple prompt to automating tasks and developing new products and services. Now AI can even help you create emails right in Gmail.
Google’s email auto-composer is an experimental feature, and it’s currently only available for Gmail in desktop browsers. With it, you can enter a prompt for Gmail’s artificial intelligence to compose a message for you about just about anything. It can be a cover letter for a new job, an invitation to a vacation, a more diplomatic response to an irritating email, a work report, etc.
As this is an experimental feature, you must register for it in Workspace Labs. Just note that you should not include personal, confidential or sensitive information in requests. Since this is still a work in progress, Google may collect your prompts, inputs, generated results, improvements, and feedback to improve the tool. Human reviewers can even read, annotate and/or process your interactions.
Step 1: Sign up for Google Workspace Labs
Go to Google Labs at labs.withgoogle.com and select “Join Waitlist” in the Google Workspace section. You will be prompted to sign in to your Google account if you are not already signed in. After reading the User Agreement, check the three consumer acknowledgment boxes at the bottom and click “Submit”.
Depending on your account type and the number of registered users, you may get a “Success! You are registered” or “You are on the waiting list!” message. If you get the latter, it probably won’t be long before it’s available to you; It took me less than 24 hours after signing up to receive access.
Step 2: Enter the test
You will receive an email from “Labs in Google Workspace” confirming your admission to the test program. But don’t worry if you miss it; you’ll be greeted with a pop-up message welcoming you to Gmail’s “Help me write” feature the next time you open Gmail on a desktop browser. If you also miss this, you can still get accepted into the labs, so continue below to check.
Step 3: Compose a new email
As mentioned earlier, the “Help Me Write” generative AI tool in Gmail is only available on desktop browsers. It may one day make its way to Android and iOS mobile apps, but there’s no known timeline for that.
So, with Gmail open on your desktop browser, compose a new email or reply to or forward one. You can expand the new draft window, but not pop it up. For some reason, the AI tool is omitted from popups.
In the toolbar at the bottom of the draft, you’ll find an icon of a tilted pencil with a star next to it. This is the “Help me write” tool. The first time you hover over the icon, you may see a message describing “Help me write” with a link to learn more. Click the icon to start it.
Step 4: Get Gmail to compose your emails
A new text field replaces the toolbar, with pre-generated text walking through sample prompts to give you an idea of what it can do. Here are some examples :
A birthday invitation for my 5 year old A glowing review for a member of my team A thank you letter for my job interview An apology to my child’s teacher for his absence An email to find an old friend An introduction for someone I met at the conference Asking my friend for restaurant recommendations in Toronto Asking my uncle (again) if he can join Thanksgiving Wishing my friend a speedy recovery in hospital Write to my partner to wish him a happy birthday
Type a prompt in the field and press the “Create” button.
A box will appear in the body field of the email with an animation indicating that Google’s AI is thinking.
After a few seconds, your draft email will appear. You can press the “Insert” button if you are happy with the draft. Alternatively, you can press “Rebuild” on the toolbar or “Refine” for a pop-up menu of iteration options.
Formalize Elaborate Shorten I’m lucky
Formalize, shorten and elaborate what they say, but if you’re feeling lucky you can get crazier results. Pirate style, anyone?
Once the draft is pasted into your email, you can edit it as you see fit. For example, if you did not provide details, such as email address, you will need to fill in those blanks. If you have refined the draft, you may need to delete the notes added to the end of the draft. Then press “Send” as usual.
Step 5: Make Gmail correct your own words
When you have an empty draft, the “Help me write” tool will show the text field to request the email you want it to write. But if you’ve already started typing, you can see the same refine options to help you correct what you’ve already written.
Formalize Elaborate Shorten I’m lucky
Refinement tools only work if you’ve written at least six words, but they may not always appear depending on the draft.
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Cover photo and screenshots by Justin Meyers/Gadget Hacks