For those of you who are already Gmail users, you know that Gmail – for better or worse – uses a system of organization based on “filters” and “labels” instead of “folders.” This can take some getting used to for those newcomers to Gmail, and for my part, I am still not entirely a fan of the system. Old habits die hard, as they say.
Nevertheless, Gmail remains an excellent system for email because of its many other applications and integration with other Google products, such as Google Tasks and Google Calendar. If you want to increase your ability to organize your Gmail email, here are a few quick and easy tips you can do today:
1. Educate yourself about “filters” – Creating a “filter” system is the first step toward managing your Gmail. You can create any number of filters based on certain criteria such as identity of sender or keywords in an incoming email, just to name a couple. With that information, you can then tell Gmail what to do with an incoming email. For example, you can have it automatically archived, sent to another email address, or even trashed. There are many other options as well. Learning about “filters” is key to successful and stress-free use of Gmail, and it is something that should be reviewed periodically by you.
2. Educate yourself about “labels” – In addition, educating yourself about how “labels” function is key. What do I mean by that? First, educate yourself about what options you have with the labels. For example, my office has always depended on a color-coding system for file folders and activities because I am a very visual person. In my office, you would find a client’s pleadings folder to be red, discovery to be blue, medical to be purple, and so on. Obviously, I am referring to traditional, paper file folders. One benefit of Gmail labels, however, is that they, too, can be color coded to match this kind of traditional system. Color coding your labels also makes them easier to spot.
Another tip is to learn some tricks about how Gmail alphabetizes things. I have clipped a part of the screen from my Gmail and shared it below to illustrate what I mean. If you want certain labels to always appear first in your list, you can make use of the apostrophe symbol – ‘ – which causes a label to be alphabetized first. Prior to learning this trick, I relied on an older trick, which involved putting “AAA” before the name of a folder to ensure it would be alphabetized first. The apostrophe symbol is much less intrusive than that.
Just today, I realized another trick, which is also illustrated below. Dashes are alphabetized earlier in a sequence than slashes. My practice is to use slashes, but this morning, I created a new “Admin” label and mistakenly used a dash. As you can see, this caused an incorrect alphabetizing of my “Admin” categories.
From time to time, I will provide more tips along these lines. If you have learned of some similar tips, please let me know in your comments so that I and other readers can benefit. If you are a wiz at another email system – such as Outlook, etc. – and would like to contribute a post, please contact me. I would be happy to feature a well-written article describing tips on how to use other email systems.