Part of Gmail’s genius is the new ways of organizing it has introduced, but these new techniques can be confusing to a new user so here is how to organize Gmail emails.
- Use Labels Instead of Folders. Gmail uses labels. If you are familiar with tags from blogs and photo websites, all you need to know is that labels are Gmail’s version of tags. With the folders that most web mail providers use, you essentially are filing away each email. With labels, you are simply attaching a tag to it. The beauty of this is that you can put multiple tags on each email. For instance, if your sister emailed you a forward of funny pictures, you can label it as both “funny stuff” and “family.” Being able to put multiple labels on emails makes organizing and searching for emails a lot easier. With folders, you’d have to choose to file your sister’s email under either “family” or “funny stuff” and, when trying to find that email again, you would have to remember which folder you decided it belonged in. It is a good idea to tag every single email you get; otherwise, they will slip into the dark void of “All Mail” and be a pain to track down later on. Also note that you can pre-label emails from certain email addresses that contain certain words. Add your sister, father and daughter to your “family” label and emails from them will arrive in your inbox already labeled.
- Understand “Archive.” If you select an email and then label it via the “Label” drop down menu, the email will stay in your inbox. If you choose the “Move to” option, the email will disappear from your inbox. What’s the difference? “Move to” labels moves the email into your archives (“All Mail”) while “Label” just applies a label to the email. To archive an email without using the “Move to” option, just select the email and click “Archive.” If you archive an email without first labeling it, you can go to “All Mail” to find it again.
- Color Coordinate. Gmail is friendly to those who understand things organized by colors rather than alphabetical order. You can assign a color to any label you create, making it stand out when it’s in your inbox. One way to use the color coordinating option is to use bright colors such as red and yellow to mark emails from work or that deal with your professional life.
- Use Stars. There are many options on Gmail for organizing by starring emails. In fact, there are so many options that some of them aren’t even stars! If there are emails in your inbox that you need to deal with sooner than others, mark them with a yellow star or a red exclamation point. Click the star outline to the left of the email’s subject to mark it with a yellow star. Click it again and again to flip through all the starring options.
- Search Options. Another fantastic aspect of Gmail that aids organizing is the advanced searching options it offers. Type “label:family” into the search bar followed by key words from the email you are looking for to just search your “family” label. Of course, you could also just click on the “family” label and either browse through those emails or add your keywords to the search bar, so why is this so special? Try “label:family label:funny-stuff” and you’ll find all your emails that have both labels!