Managing Emails: Taming Gmail

Although emailclients such as outlook and Apple’s Mail are packed with features, they lack on very useful option: being available everywhere…
Luckily, there are other solutions, in the form of webmail, however, most of them lack the powerful features of an offline mailclient.
However, Google’s Gmail is the exception that sets the rule, by delivering a collection of features that even some
of the well known emailclients do not offer. Below a list of useful features that you can use to tame your incoming emails in Gmail.

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Labels

Instead of the well-known folder system, Gmail uses labels. Labels can be compared to tags or keywords that you
add to your mails. You need to make a small “switch” in your way of working and thinking to start working with
these labels, since your emails are not put in seperate folders, they are all in one place, but your view is
dependant on the labels your emails have. And since one email can have plenty of labels, this can be very handy.
Say, for instance, that a friend sent you an email with a joke, that you would like to post on your blog later on,
and, you want to reply to that friend to thank him for the great joke, but you do not have the time for that right now.
In normal emailclients, you would have to choose between folders where to put the email: friends, jokes, to reply,to
publish? In Gmail, you can add all these labels to your email, and you can find your email when you look at all your
joke-emails, or at all emails that you still have to reply to, or all mails that you still wanted to post on your blog.
For visibility, these labels can be colored too, so that in a glance, you can see all the mails in your inbox that
have the red label “ToDo” added to them.

Archive your emails

Keeping all your emails in your inbox just clutters things up, and makes sure you will overlook emails that are important.
If you have read an email, want to keep it for reference, but do not need it anymore anytime soon, add a label to it, and archive it.
If you need it again, you can use Google’s powerfull search function to find it, or you can find it via the label you added.
If you did not add a label it is not lost. Gmail keeps all your emails (that are not permanently deleted), and you can find it
labeled “all mail”. For your reference, your inbox is not really an inbox, you are just looking at all the emails that
have the label “Inbox” to it, which Gmail automatically adds to all incoming emails.

Filter your emails

Just as with the regular emailclients, Gmail can automatically filter your incomming emails, based on specific
characteristics, such as the From:, To:, Subject: and content. This way, you can easily label incomming messages
from mailinglists, and even archive them for later reading (at work, when you have nothing better to do ;-)). You
can add “stars” for emails that are important to you (or have any other meaning), or mark emails as read and
archive them as soon as they’re coming in. Which can come in very handy when your boss is emailing you outside
of your working hours! (“Nope, never seen that email…” will never again require you to lie 😉 )
To add filters, you can go to Gmail’s Settings screen, click on Filters to set the search criteria,
preview the results to check if it behaves as you expected, and configure what should happen to your email.
Or you can take the short route by first opening an example of the type of message you want to filter, clicking
on the Reply menu in the message’s right-hand corner, and selecting Filter Messages Like This.

Search your emails

Where is that email again that had that one part in it? You-know-who sent it around christmas I think…
Spend some time to get to know Gmail’s searching features. After all, Gmail is a product from the people who
learned the world to search!
By using specific email operators in the search enging on your Gmail, you can easily find the email you need. An example:
You need to find the email from Rebecca in which she says she likes your hair. Type from:Rebecca subject:hair in the search box.
Or try subject:”Capoueira moves” has:attachment to find back that movie of those great capoueira moves.
The quotation marks tell Gmail that the grouped words must appear next to eachother.
Using these techniques, you can easily build more complex queries: to find all messages from whatever.com,  except
those sent by Bill,you can type from:whatever.com AND -from:Bill@whatever.com.
You can find a full list of all operators you can use on this page:
https://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=7190

Of course there are plenty more things you can do using Gmail to manage your email, but that is for another article later this week my dear readers. So I hope you enjoyed this one, bookmark it everywhere, and come back for more later on!

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