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March 3, 2009

Gmail Brings Back the Web Search Button

Gmail's search lacks many useful features that are available in Google Web Search: the popular "did you mean" query suggestions, using synonyms to expand the query, searching inside PDF files or other documents, sorting the results by relevance.


It's one of the few areas that didn't evolve since Gmail's launch and I think it's embarrassing to place the "search mail" and "search the Web" buttons next to the same search box.

As you probably noticed, the web search button is now back in Gmail after a brief disappearance. A small number of vocal users complained and Google restored the button.

Here's how Gmail describes its search feature:

"You can use Gmail search the same way you'd use Google Search, by entering a word (or multiple words) that appears anywhere within the message you want to locate. If you're looking for a message that contains the word shopping, simply type shopping in the search field and press Search Mail. Your results will be displayed with your search terms highlighted in yellow. Gmail doesn't recognize special search characters like square brackets, parentheses, currency symbols, the ampersand, the pound sign, and asterisks. It also doesn't recognize partial or similar matches, so a search for travel will find travel, but not travels, traveler, or travle."

How would you improve Gmail search?

29 comments:

  1. I would like the from: operator to look at email addresses, names, and the name groups that are now used to organize contacts (Friends, Family, etc). This would help to improve the Gmail filters as well.

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  2. yess finally it s back.
    i was really upset because of this situation.

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  3. Search messages with attachments by minimum attachment size would be appreciated. Sooner or later you'll have to clean your mailbox to make space and starting to delete messages with big attachments is the fastest way to do it.

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  4. I think it's really annnoying that you can't search for a part of a word. Not even in the subject. All other web mail clients I've tried manages that!
    /michael

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  5. I guess Orli got her wish.

    http://blog.go2web20.net/2009/02/future-of-gmail.html

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  6. recognize special search characters - especially brackets.

    Like michael says above- parts of words, maybe even wildcards.

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  7. I'm happy that the web search button is back; if they do want to remove it I think that it would be a prime candidate for a Labs add-on to appease the vocal minority of users like myself that appreciate having the button.

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  8. I think the 'Search the Web' button is incredibly useless. How many ways do I need to search google? I can type "? string" into Firefox's location bar. I can use Firefox's search box, or I can simply navigate to google.com and search from there. I don't need to search the web constantly!

    Google, ignore the vocal minority and make Gmail simpler. And if you can't do that, make it an option. Just don't make me write a Grease Monkey script to remove a button that shouldn't be there in the first place.

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  9. "How would you improve Gmail search?"

    Stemming. That's it. "travel" should return "travels".

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  10. Bout time too. Should never of removed it!

    When you work in a business that still uses IE6 and has a mega slow broadband connection - leaving GMail open to search the web is so essential.

    Thank you Google.

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  11. Very interesting that they restored the button.. Say, does anybody else has a problem of rearraging the navbar items (offcourse the lab item is enabled!), since yesterday? Tried to clear the cache and a different browser but no luck!

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  12. "A small number of vocal users complained"? i disagree.
    this http://groups.google.com/group/Gmail-Help-Settings-en/browse_thread/thread/5d0a9b43c47ff225/911decc651d97c94 thread has 118 replies and there are few more i know of.
    i personally terribly missed it, used it at least 10 times a day.

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  13. Sooo stoked that the button is back. I used it all the time. Of course you could open a new window and search, but the 'search the web' button was (is!) awesome if you work within gmail a lot.

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  14. OMG YAYAYAYAAYAYAYAY!!! My gmail is my main window and it sucks to always go to a new tab to search the web. I've been dying over here! Thanks Google!!

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  15. Okay, great! The filter and search options links are now further about 8/more pixels away... hehe

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  16. The link in your first paragraph, "only a small number........", takes the reader to a page showing a mere nine posts by Gmailers unhappy about the peremptory dismissal of the Search the Web option. A host of other Gmail-ers who were dismayed about the apparent removal of the "Search Web" option may be found at the following locations:

    http://groups.google.com/group/Gmail-Help-Settings-en/t/5d0a9b43c47ff225?hl=en (Vanished Search Button)

    http://www.google.com/url?url=http://groups.google.com/g/80f7faa1/t/5424b4fa7bfee7e9/d/242a5601aaa3ddf%3Fq%3DGMAIL%2BSEARCH%2BOPTIONS%230242a5601aaa3ddf&ei=pKqJSZiQFYbg-gGL9eSuDA&sa=t&ct=res&cd=5&source=groups&usg=AFQjCNGD9uWVb6z8QAdqLjubUq8jBnkD0A (Search Web Option Missing)

    http://groups.google.com/group/gmail-labs-suggest-a-labs-feature/browse_thread/thread/6a665783cd040dc6 (Please Bring Back the Search the Web Button!)

    http://groups.google.com/group/Gmail-Help-Organizing-Messages-en/browse_thread/thread/111055e1fea7529a (Gmail "Search the Web" button missing)

    http://getsatisfaction.com/google/topics/bring_back_the_gmail_search_the_web_option (Bring Back the Gmail Search the Web Option at GetSatisfaction.com)

    Also, Gmailers signed various petitions, wrote blogs, posted comments to articles on technology news sites and at blogs, and submitted respectful suggestions to Google via this link:

    http://mail.google.com/support/bin/static.py?page=suggestions.cs (Suggestions > I have another idea > Other > Bring Back the "Search the Web" option!)

    A thorough reading of the posts at these sites and threads reveals it isn't just that the protesting Gmail-ers found it bizarre, ironic, and frustrating that Google, the leading search engine, should remove the "Search Web" option from their Gmail pages; you discover the incredibly diverse ways Gmail users found the "Search the Web" button useful, accomodating to their style or skills, and for those whose choice of browser is restricted by employers and institutions, necessary. Despite a variety of artful work-arounds suggested after the STW hijack, nothing worked as UNIVERSALLY well for ALL users as the Search the Web option on the Gmail page.

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  17. partial word search and/or wildcard support, that's what's missing

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  18. Yep, 100% agree with partial word search and wildcard support.

    The whole idea of Gmail was that you didn't need to organize your email, but simply search for it. Yet the search feature is incomplete and unless you know exactly the right keywords you'll never find it.

    I find it really astonishing that google use different search syntax between their services.

    JB

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  19. I use the web search button constantly throughout my work day. We have IE6 on our work computers and are unable to install Firefox. Having to click over to Google's web search page every time I needed to search for something was cumbersome and annoying.

    I can't imagine how the web search button interferes with anyone's use of Gmail, but it's certainly helpful to those of us are unable to use Firefox at work (a substantial number of people I know).

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  20. From Baby Boomer....
    Thank God and thank you Google for restoring the web search button.
    It was extremely annoying, extra work, to each and every time click on "older version" to Google something. I was thinking of leaving Gmail because of the inconvenience. I use Firefox, that isn't the problem. Gmail home page is where I search web from all day long. Thank you for listening Google. I'm sure you know we are not a teensie weensie majority. Or maybe you are just kind. I represent the voice of many who don't comment in print.

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  21. it's gone when you select a theme??

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  22. sorry found it.. have to turn off the labs google search feature

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  23. Yes, I have a theme, and it is NOT there. Is there anyway to get the search web button with a theme selected?

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  24. Agree with many others that partial word search and/or wild card support is a major missing functionality.

    Hope it can be done soon!

    Thanks...

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  25. Thanks for bringing the search button back, many may not have complained too loudly... but it was the #1 complaint on every home service call for me.

    Thank you for returning the search button :)

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  26. Wildcard search for email is painfully lacking. Otherwise happy with service and options.

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  27. NOT having wildcard for search AND part word search is an absolute PAIN IN THE REAR END. Please change it. You give the space to store but make it as difficult as possible to find the history when "Isn't this the main reason for having storage and keeping emails" To not be able to search efficiently is a BIGGGGGGGG! problem!

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  28. Google mail searching is irritating......

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  29. Well, folks, it's gone again! This is very annoying...

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