Gmail has a wonderful sorting or filtering feature that makes it easy to sort your emails and get back to what’s most important in life – playing Poppit or reading about the latest celebrity/politician drama.
You can create filters by clicking the “Create a filter” link at the top of your Gmail screen, on the right hand side of the search box.
Here’s a screenshot (click on the image for a larger photo):
- Junk File. If people send me too many chain messages, forwards and the like, they get added to my “Junk File”. It’s a simple filter that looks at the “from” field and deletes the message if it’s one of the addresses I’ve added to the filter. To add someone to my “junk file.” To add someone new to the filter, I just open the filter and add their email address.
- Calendar/Reminders. I have set up Google Calendar to be a catch all for all of my scheduling needs. Thanks to its reminder service, each of my calendars sends me SMS messages as well as an emailed Daily Agenda. (Click here for directions on how to set up the reminder service.) I don’t want my Daily Agenda email to get lost in my inbox shuffle, so I set up a filter which sends these emails to their own label. That way, I can read those emails right away and not waste time labeling and archiving these emails every day.
- Email Lists. I am a member of 20 or so email lists. Since some are about similar topics, i.e. Gmail, I have set up a filter called “Gmail” and all of my group or email list emails go directly to this label. At a glance, I can see that I have 27 new emails from my email lists about Gmail – and I can choose to read them or not – but they don’t clutter my inbox.
- Attachments. A full inbox is annoying to me. So, I also have filters set up to file away emails with attachments. Typically, I don’t need to waste more time by looking at pictures when I should be working. But I do want an easy way to find documents, mp3s and other files. The filters I have set up look like this: “filename:wmv | filename:mov” for videos, “filename:mp3” for music, “filename:jpg | filename:gif” for photos and “filename:pdf | filename:doc” for documents) – without the quotes, of course. My Gmail inbox now has labels for Videos, Music, Photos and Documents. It also makes it easier to find an email with an attachment if necessary.
- Family and Friends. Again, an easy way to ensure that you don’t lose the most important emails from your family or friends is to set up filters with their email addresses. Simply separate them with a comma when adding them into the filter. If you need to add another email address, just open the filter (Settings>Filter) and edit it.
In all, what you want to do is to use the email filters to get as many emails out of your inbox as possible. This will help you in time management, as well as allowing you to take greater advantage of Gmail’s threading emails feature (conversations) and Google powered search.
What are some of your Gmail filters?
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