There’s an old saying that “Google loves Google.” It’s evident in the way that Google products work well together. Today, we’ll look at a recent add-on that pulls Google Contacts information into Gmail just when you need it. With as much time as people spend in email, the Google Contacts Gmail Add-On is a welcome enhancement.

We’re flooded with information. However, our information is only as good as our ability to put our hands on what we need and do so instantly. In the middle of composing an email, we need to look up a phone number, access a previous email to that person, or find some other information about them. Gmail has just made the job easier.

Google Contacts Add-On

The next time you have Gmail open on a computer, take a good look at the right-hand panel. By default, Gmail displays small icons representing Google Calendar, Google Tasks, and Google Keep. If you don’t see those icons, go to the bottom right-hand part of the window and look for a small arrow. Click on it and the panel expands to show those icons.

Recently, something new appeared. You’ll see an icon for Google Contacts. If it’s not there now, it will be soon. Google has been rolling out this feature, and you probably have it by now.

Click on the Google Contacts icon you see in the sidebar. The right-hand pane displays a list of your Google Contacts without ever leaving Gmail.

The real value comes when reading or responding to an email. Click on the icon in the right-hand pane for Google Contacts and you see contact records for the person or the people in that email thread. One click on the contact displays the phone numbers, recent interactions with that person, and notes made in the contact record. If the person’s picture is displayed in Google Contacts, you’ll also see it here.

Sometimes the best way to respond to an email is by phone. Imagine being able to get the phone number without leaving the email message. If that person is in your Google Contacts, the phone number is in the sidebar.

What if you want to schedule a meeting with that person? Toward to top of the contact record is an icon representing the calendar. Clicking it creates a Google Calendar event with that person added as a guest. Set a date, time, and location. Add videoconference information, such as a Zoom link. When you save the event, the information is not only on your calendar, but a calendar invitation arrives in the other person’s email. When the recipient accepts the invitation, the event automatically appears on their Google Calendar.

What about the “Plus”?

While in the Gmail sidebar, look for something in addition to the icons for Google Calendar, Google Tasks, Google Keep, and Google Contacts. See the “plus” sign? Clicking it reveals other Gmail add-ons. In particular, I recommend adding the one for Evernote. The Evernote add-on saves a particularly important email to Evernote. Choose any destination notebook. Choose any tags. Add a title and any comments. It’s all saved to Evernote.

That same plus sign reveals a Gmail add-on for Remember The Milk. Clicking the icon saves the email directly to Remember The Milk so you can take the appropriate action at the appropriate time.

Having information is one thing. Having information at your fingertips instantly makes that information infinitely more valuable. Experiment with the Google Contacts add-on and see how it can make communication easier.