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Google's new Gmail update makes big changes to email

Don't freak out, but Gmail is about to change in a big way.

Google is bringing Gmail into 2018 with its biggest makeover to date, giving its 1.4 billion users new tools and features, including most notably, disappearing messages.

The Gmail update was announced on Wednesday and is accessible to most users by clicking the settings cog at the top of their inbox and choosing "try new Gmail."

At first glance, the new Gmail doesn't look wildly different than the one the world has gotten to know over the past decade. The design tweaks are subtle, including a new side panel for accessing calendars and tasks and large, color-coded warnings on suspicious emails.

What's most exciting for many are the new tools. When sending a message, a user can decide whether it disappears in one day or five years from now — giving them the kind of control that previously had never been a part of email.

There's also an option to revoke an email at any time, even if it was sent to someone who does not use Gmail. That new feature was the most widely celebrated on Twitter, but many still reported they were not seeing the "confidential mode" setting on Tuesday.

While Google got plenty of kudos for the new security feature, another new addition, "nudge," might be more controversial.

Google will identify which messages are the most important and will "nudge" up to three per day to the top of a user's inbox.

It's a great productivity hack for those who may procrastinate with their replies, or receive a lot of email, but not every one was immediately sold on the idea.

Gmail will also offer other updates to help make users more productive, including desktop smart replies, which will offer pre-written versions of what Google thinks a person might want to say in reply.

Also expect to see more prompts offering the option to unsubscribe from a mailing list.

And for procrastinators, there's now a the email equivalent of a snooze button: Just click it and Gmail will remind a user later that they owe someone a reply.