Google has added a Gmail Labs option that lets people send and archive their e-mail at the same time.
The send function is obvious, but for those unfamiliar with Gmail, the archive is a potentially giant repository of all messages that aren't in your inbox or deleted. Stuffing a message there is a good way to file it; it's still available through search or by clicking on any label you attached to it, and if somebody replies to it, the conversation thread pops back into your inbox.
I switched this on the moment I heard about it. First, it saves a click of the mouse, or in my case, a keyboard shortcut. And second, unlike some Gmail commands (labeling a photo with a keyboard command, for example), this one doesn't leave me in some keyboard-inaccessible mode in which the browser's attention focused on some inappropriate window. Last, I want conversations archived more often than not, and the new button takes care of it during a convenient moment.
"In the coming weeks, I'm planning to add undo support, so if you accidentally archived a thread, you can easily get it back into your inbox," said engineering manager Pal Takacsi in a blog post about the feature.
The send-and-archive button illustrates the power of Gmail Labs, which lets people try out the features they like without burdening others with their interface changes. So far there are 33 options available.
Gmail Labs also lets Google better test the new features, of course, and add the good ones to the regular version, though no features have "graduated" yet to the production version. Superstars and pictures in chat are the two top features so far, though they're older and have had more time to catch on.